Monday, July 04, 2005

New accusations against the Iranian president-elect Mahmoud Admadinejad have emerged

New accusations against the Iranian president-elect Mahmoud Admadinejad have emerged with the Czech daily, Pravo, claiming that the ultra-conservative former Tehran mayor was a former "high commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in the west of the country" and was in charge of the "supervision of its operations outside of the country," and in that capacity, masterminded a 1989 attack in Vienna in which three Kurdish leaders were killed. The accusation was made by Hossein Yazdanpanah, a member of the Iranian Kurdish opposition who is now a resident in Iraq.

Yazdanpanah made his declaration to the Czech newspaper because one of the men killed in Vienna, the Kurdish leader Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou lived for a long time in the then capital of Czechoslovakia, where he taught at the university's economics faculty.

The 58-year-old Ghassemlou was the secretary general of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI), when he was killed after being summoned to Vienna on the invitation of the Iranian authorities. After the murders, the three killers were allowed to easily leave the country.

According to Yazdanpanah who was quoted in the daily, Ahmadinejad had a personal role to play in Vienna before the operation: ''His job was to deliver the weapons to the Iranian embassy to the commander of the killers."

Iran's human face is gone. Hardline vote-riggers have spirited it away

The recent Iranian presidential elections were a triumph for the principle of one man, one vote. And the man with the vote this time, as always, was the country’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Iran’s new President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, may well be the choice of the urban poor, the anti-sleaze candidate and the favourite of the military. But ultimately, he’s the winner because he’s also the guy who did best with one key demographic — bearded sixtysomething clerics called Ali who enjoy wielding supreme power within theocratic republics.

Even before the first vote was cast, a thousand potential presidential candidates were barred from running by the state’s Guardian Council, itself hand-picked by Ayatollah Khamenei. The two rounds of voting that Iran just held were charades, Potemkin exercises designed to give the outside world the illusion that the Islamic Republic could hold an open election and sustain the lie that its leaders enjoy popular backing.

The television pictures of voters queueing to get to the polls were taken from previous elections, the polling stations themselves were policed by fundamentalist militias, ballot papers were held in reserve to ensure the vote went the prescribed way and the figures eventually announced were manufactured in a fashion that would have brought a tear to the eye of Saddam himself.

Iran's new leader: A familiar face?

As soon as I saw a picture of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's new president, I knew there was something faintly familiar about him.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the first non-cleric to become president

And it was not because he was mayor of Tehran, because, like many other Western journalists, I have been barred from visiting Iran in recent years.

But in the years soon after Iran's Islamic Revolution, I met him and interviewed him.

He was the kind of person you don't forget - intense, articulate, and very fierce in his opinions.

Looking back 20 years, it seemed to me I must have met him at the former US embassy, which had been taken over by revolutionary students some years earlier; but after two decades precise memories fade, and I can't be absolutely certain.

Ahmadinejad says Iran will go on with nuclear talks, does not need US

Iran's president-elect Mahmood Ahmadinejad insisted that his country had the right to pursue its nuclear programme and that the Islamic republic did not need relations with the United States.

But the surprise winner of Iran's second-round presidential election also said Sunday that Tehran would continue nuclear talks with the European Union and show moderation in its foreign and domestic policy.

"Moderation will be the main policy of the government of 70 million people," the ultra-conservative Ahmadinejad told his first news conference since winning the presidency. "There will be no place for extremism," he said.

"This government will be a government of friendship and compassion. This government will be a government of justice and fairness, in the service of the people... whatever views they have."

But the 49-year-old mayor of Tehran said Iran does "not really need" to restore relations with the United States, which were broken off a quarter of a century ago after the Islamic revolution.

"Iran is on a path of progress and elevation, and does not really need the United States on this path," he said, but added: "We can work with any country in the world that does not show animosity to Iran."