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Ayatollah Khatami: Protesters Should Be Punished “Ruthlessly and Savagely” — Guardian Council Calls Election “Healthiest” Since 1979 — Senators Seek Legislation to Help Iranians

June 29, 2009

unitedagainstnucleariran.com

26 June 09

The Washington Post reported that “An influential Iranian cleric told worshipers Friday that those stirring unrest in connection with the recent election should be punished ‘ruthlessly and savagely’ and convicted for waging war against God, a crime that under Shiite Islamic law is punishable by death. The sermon at Tehran University by Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami was broadcast live on state television, amplifying the ominous tone the state has adopted this week towards the tens of thousands of demonstrators who have massed in the streets to question the results of the June 12 presidential balloting. The government has deemed the gatherings illegal. ‘I want the judiciary to…punish leading rioters firmly and without showing any mercy to teach everyone a lesson,’ said Khatami, an influential cleric close to Iran’s supreme leader ayatollah Ali Khamenei. ‘Based on Islamic law, whoever confronts the Islamic state…should be convicted as mohareb…They should be punished ruthlessly and savagely.'” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/26/AR2009062600463.html)

The New York Times reported that “As Iran’s leaders push back threats to their authority after the disputed presidential election, crushing street protests and pressing challengers to withdraw or to limit their objections, the country’s main electoral oversight group ruled Friday that the ballot had been the “healthiest” since the Islamic revolution in 1979. The statement by the 12-member Guardian Council, which is charged with overseeing and vetting elections, fell short of formal certification of the ballot. But it offered further evidence that, despite mass demonstrations and violent confrontation with those who call the election a fraud, the authorities are intent on enforcing their writ and denying their adversaries a voice…’The reviews showed that the election was the healthiest since the revolution,’ Mr. Kadkhodaei said. ‘There were no major violations in the election.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/27/world/middleeast/27iran.html?_r=1&hp)

The Wall Street Journal reported that “Lawmakers are seeking to crack down on foreign companies that provide spy technology to Iran with a bipartisan bill that would bar firms that provide sensitive technologies to Iran from doing business with the U.S. government. The legislation responds to a Wall Street Journal article this week that Iran had built an extensive monitoring system, including equipment provided by a joint venture of Finnish cellphone maker Nokia Corp. and German conglomerate Siemens AG. Both companies do extensive business with U.S. agencies. Siemens has nearly 2,000 contracts with the U.S. government valued at a total of more than $250 million for 2009, according to a federal government spending Web site. It holds more than 300 contracts with the Pentagon alone, and many more with the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, and Energy. Nokia Siemens Networks, the joint venture, holds at least six contracts with the U.S. government totaling $5 million and covering communications and radiation detection, the site shows.” (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124597329897257219.html)   -our comments- and we are helpless?-

AFP reported that “US Senators bluntly charged Thursday that Iran’s presidential vote was rigged and vowed to help the opposition defeat curbs on news and the social networking Internet sites it has used to organize…Graham, McCain, and Independent Senator Joe Lieberman said they aimed to boost US-backed radio news broadcasts into Iran and help skirt Iranian restrictions on cellular phones and Internet access…’During the Cold War, we provided the Polish people and dissidents with printing presses. Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube are the modern-day printing presses. They are the way to spread information and keep the hope of freedom alive amongst the Iranian people, said McCain. The bill, to be written over the congressional break for the July 4 US independence day celebration, would seek to give Iranians the tools ‘to evade the censorship and surveillance of the regime online,’ he said. And McCain vowed to investigate charges that non-Iranian firms helped Tehran monitor and block cellular and online traffic ‘and even track down sources of political content deemed off limits by the regime.'” (http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hz3KQ7n6WyUtXyzbFavpoQZwuT2w)

The Wall Street Journal reported that “Iran opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi emerged Thursday from four days of silence, striking a defiant tone and making clear he is being pressured to cease contesting the results of the presidential election…In a statement published on the Web site of his newspaper, Mr. Mousavi said that he wouldn’t give in to ‘recent pressures’ that he said were aimed at isolating him and ‘making me change my position regarding the annulment of the election.’ Security forces in recent days have arrested key members of Mr. Mousavi’s campaign team as well as dozens of journalists working for his newspaper.” (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124594133755654091.html)

AFP reported that “Top Iranian dissident cleric Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri warned on Thursday that continued suppression of opposition protests could threaten the very basis of the Islamic republic. ‘If Iranians cannot talk about their legitimate rights at peaceful gatherings and are instead suppressed, frustrations will build up which could possibly uproot the foundations of the government, no matter how powerful, the cleric said in a statement faxed to AFP. It was the latest broadside fired off against the regime by Montazeri, who was once tipped to take over from the father of the revolution Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini but fell out with the late leader before his death.” (http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5ih5WwdcC2A3bSE44i_MvccKr_sfA)

The Washington Post reported that “Across the Arab world, Iran’s massive opposition protests have triggered a wave of soul-searching and conflicting emotions. Many question why their own reform movements are unable to rally people to rise up against unpopular authoritarian regimes. In Egypt, the cradle of what was once the Arab world’s most ambitious push for democracy, Iran’s protests have served as a reminder of how much the notion has unraveled under President Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled the country for 30 years.” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/25/AR2009062504415.html?sid=ST2009062504596)

The Wall Street Journal reported that “Unrest in Iran has opened a theological rift within the Shiite sect of Islam, undermining the Iranian regime’s founding dogma that is shared by millions of fellow Shiites across the Middle East. The concept, known as wilayat al-faqihliterally ‘guardianship by a jurist’ — holds that, in an Islamic state, a divinely anointed scholar of Islamic law must exercise unquestioned authority over elected officials and the rest of the government…But, in recent weeks, this moral authority — and the wilayat al-faqih ideology that underpins it — has been shaken by Ayatollah Khamenei’s handling of Iran’s disputed June 12 presidential elections…This jolt from the turmoil in Iran is reverberating in Shiite communities throughout the Middle East, from the Levant to Iraq to Saudi Arabia and others. ‘For the Shiites in the Gulf, this situation is quite perplexing,’ says Sami al Faraj, head of the Kuwait Center for Strategic Studies. ‘The model of wilayat al-faqih has been fractured — and that’s happened because of events in Iran itself.'” (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124597231749357065.html)

AFP reported that “Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Thursday there is a ‘crisis of credibility’ between Iran’s government and its people, lamenting the ‘profound clampdown’ on protests over disputed elections. Miliband added that London — which ordered two Iranian diplomats out this week in tit-for-tat expulsions with Tehran — will press Iranian authorities over an Anglo-Greek journalist detained in the Islamic republic. ‘There certainly has been a profound clampdown in Iran… you’ve seen that with the clampdown on journalists as well as the attacks on foreigners,’ he told the BBC. ‘But I think the truth is that there is a crisis of credibility between the Iranian government and their own people.'” (http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iyFRdmqXvc6rvcIpaWcVHc8b9K9A?index=0)

AFP reported that “Group of Eight foreign ministers meeting in Italy were expected to condemn post-election violence in Iran while keeping the door open to dialogue with the Islamic republic. As the ministers opened the three days of talks Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned against isolating Iran, saying it was the ‘wrong approach.'” (http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20090626/wl_asia_afp/g8diplomacyitalyiranafghanistan)

AP reported that “American-Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi called Wednesday for the release of a former cellmate – a U.S. aid agency worker held in an Iranian prison – and expressed worry about those detained during opposition protests in Tehran. Saberi, jailed in Iran on spying charges and released last month, told The Associated Press she hopes to help other prisoners she says have been wrongly accused.” (http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5i0P1FHhvbrxk2e9MqSxMlouf_9EQD99188BO0)

AP reported that “An Iranian doctor who claims he tried to save Neda Agha Soltan as the young Iranian protester bled to death on the streets of Tehran said Thursday that she apparently was shot by a member of Iran’s pro-government Basij militia…The protesters first thought the gunshot had come from a nearby rooftop, but later spotted an armed member of Iran’s Basij militia on a motorcycle, and stopped and disarmed him, the doctor said…’They are going to denounce what I am saying. They are going to put so many things on me. I have never been in politics. I am jeopardizing my situation because of the innocent look in her (Neda’s) eyes,’ he said. But, the doctor told the BBC, ‘It was a tough decision to make to come out and talk about it, but she died for a cause. She was fighting for basic rights … I don’t want her blood to have been shed in vain.'” (http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5i5o8ARu_hcsGcsJCXyc0IWyaIMkQD991TDN00)

The Los Angeles Times reported that “Security was tight around the bare grave of Neda Agha-Soltan on Thursday. Militiamen and police stood nearby, witnesses said, and it was difficult for visitors to hold a conversation within sight and hearing of the glaring officers. But the visitors come nonetheless to pay their respects to Agha-Soltan, who was fatally shot by an unknown assailant during the protests Saturday over Iran’s disputed presidential election. Her dying moments were captured in a video that made its way onto the Internet and the international airwaves.” (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-iran-neda26-2009jun26,0,600301.story)

Charles Krauthammer wrote in today’s Washington Post that “Iran today is a revolution in search of its Yeltsin. Without leadership, demonstrators will take to the street only so many times to face tear gas, batons and bullets. They need a leader like Boris Yeltsin: a former establishment figure with newly revolutionary credentials and legitimacy, who stands on a tank and gives the opposition direction by calling for the unthinkable — the abolition of the old political order…As Mousavi hovers between Gorbachev and Yeltsin, between reformer and revolutionary, between figurehead and leader, the revolution hangs in the balance. The regime may neutralize him by arrest or even murder. It may buy him off with offers of safety and a sinecure. He may well prefer to let this cup pass from his lips. But choose he must, and choose quickly. This is his moment, and it is fading rapidly. Unless Mousavi rises to it, or another rises in his place, Iran’s democratic uprising will end not as Russia 1991, but as China 1989.” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/25/AR2009062503361.html?hpid=opinionsbox1)

Robert McFarlane wrote it today’s Wall Street Journal that “Dealing with Iran, the president needs to use all the tools of diplomacy at his disposal. First, the president needs to strengthen our position by adding partners. Mr. Obama should sit down with moderate Arab states. He should listen to their views and forge an agreed regional security strategy. Such a strategy should include a vigorous program of support for the Iranian opposition, based on a well-funded program of broadcasts and other communications into Iran. This would help the opposition become better organized and grow. Recent surveys reflect that Iran is the most ‘wired’ nation in the Middle East. Nearly 35% of its population is connected to the Internet. Further, Mr. Obama must raise awareness among our European and Asian allies of how serious a threat to regional peace Iran has become. He should then launch an effort at the United Nations Security Council to impose strong sanctions on anyone supplying gasoline to Iran. This will underline what should be our commitment to defang Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Barack Obama is seeking to craft a doctrine of effective realism, a doctrine that advances our own interests and those of democratic aspirants throughout the world. It will stand or fall on his actions toward Iran in the weeks and months ahead.” (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124597229537457063.html)

Minxin Pei and Ali Wyne wrote in today’s New York Times that “If, as Iran’s opposition has alleged, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has rigged the country’s presidential election, he will join a long roster of autocrats who have tried to preserve their power through fraudulent means. But election-stealing is a risky gamble. Although the perpetrators have sometimes succeeded, typically by deploying brutal force, they have seldom evaded justice when their ploy failed…At the moment, at least part of Iran’s ruling elites appear to have lined up behind Ahmadinejad, thus increasing the odds of a violent crackdown on protesters. But if that falls short of completely crushing the opposition, Tiananmen-style, history suggests that Iran’s opposition forces may still be able to right a wrong. They have already demonstrated impressive skills in organizing large rallies and using new information technologies to mobilize Iran’s middle class. Such organizational capacity, plus political stamina, will serve the opposition well in exploiting the ensuing political stalemate and gradually eroding support for Ahmadinejad within the Iranian regime.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/26/opinion/26iht-edpei.html?ref=global)

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