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latest news on kurds

1. All about PJAK
2. Kurdish rebels threaten to attack Iran
3. Iran says U.S. aids rebels at its borders
4. Kurds Imprisoned by the Islamic Republic for Protesting
5. Report: Iran Frees Kurdish Labour Activist – AFP
6. Iran, Turkey to seek means of further cooperation against PKK, PJAK
7. Germany Concerned About PJAK Activities
8. Turkish Iranian gas deal takes shape
9. Turkey and Iran discuss PKK, security issues
10. Iran upholds death sentence for Kurdish activist: Lawyer
11. Iran upholds death sentence for Kurdish activist
12. Iranian Defectors Provide Crucial Intel
13. Pro-Iran Group Wants Iran Diplomacy
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1. All about PJAK

After 1945 and the time following, due to the fall of the former Soviet Union and especially after the involvement of the USA in Iraq, the classical freedom struggle in eastern Kurdistan (Iranian Kurdistan), was faced with a great crisis. For a period of almost ten years a vast emptiness in the political sphere in eastern Kurdistan arose.

The results of this were that the Iranian regime, easily could carry out their politics on the Kurdish people. With the capture of Abdullah Ocalan, on February 16, 1999, uprisings began in all parts of eastern Kurdistan. These uprisings were a point of renewal of the ongoing political struggle in eastern Kurdistan and could lead people into a higher sense of awareness, determinativeness, and also help structure a new democratic mind.

The will for equality and freedom of the Kurdish people in eastern Kurdistan needed new measures and consequently these uprisings could gain this from the experiences of previous revolts in entire Kurdistan, and especially from the drive force of the political, ideological and organizational uprisings of southern Kurdistan. This brought forth a new page in the Kurdish history of revolts and under the name of Democratic Union Movement and the new movement was able to make a landmark in this area. This movement moved beyond all the former ideas of political movement in this region. The new elements contained structuring with ideological awareness, educating members and raising the limit of intellect and political knowledge of the people of eastern Kurdistan.

By presenting the motives and goals of the political movement, this resistance movement achieved positive outcomes and could also make a name for it self. With all the above mentioned experiences, the movement could on April 25, 2004, put together the first congress under the name of PJAK- The Free Life Party of Kurdistan whereby the struggle for freedom could continue.

PJAK could, with a well-planned program for a democratic solution for the issues in Iran and especially Kurds, bring their struggle even further ahead.

In 2005 in an open and clear declaration, the democratic will of the Kurdish people and the unwillingness from their sides to legitimate the theocratic regime of Iran in the elections for president, showed an era of enlargement of the political struggle. This era, with the uprisings of the summer of 2005, a resistance movement never seen before, as well as the deaths of tens of people both members and civilians, showed the power holding of PJAK.

PJAK is in constant battle for the unity and freedom of the Iranian peoples, and to be able to change the functions and power of the Iranian system, and getting it to a level of self-defence, and community nurture.

PJAK is always continuing the work and struggle needed to achieve an increase in the level of intelligence, a democratic organization of people as well as practice of the democratic values, to achieve a radical type of democracy and to be able to launch a system of democratic confederacy in eastern Kurdistan.

Detailed declaration of the work of PJAK:

1.The governmental power in Iran is very strong and the government is not allowing it o spread to the different parts of society, which has become a great obstacle for development into a society of civil action. Theocracy is the very centre of the Iranian government. It is of great importance that the substance of ideology and the very essence of the government in Iran are forced to a foundational change. This change should come of the development of a radical form of democracy for the people. It is therefore important that the theocratic government of Iran changes the very contents of their governmental structure. To be able to achieve this, democratic beliefs should be introduced to the people of Iran. Furthermore the duties of the government ought to be changed from being what it is today to becoming a body which is simply there to perform the duties of a state which are to defence and maintain security and also to carry out social developments.

2.In Iran, there is on the one hand a firm belief in Omet, which is a system of sects with roots in the Shia religion, and also on the other hand there is system of state which functions on the principles of a state-nation perspective. The mixture of these two systems of state is a vast obstacle for the natural development of new forms of society and also new forms of state. Any movement within a mono-coloured and single discourse structure brings to the growth of a closed unnatural system where conflicts of national identity and belonging as well as religious belonging are deepened. It is also here that a growing point for radical opinions starts and breeds. With this negligence of people’s true identities, new groups are created in society. It is for this reason that reforms in the structure and form of the Islamic Omet as well as the achievement of a state must be connected to democracy. In the case of democracy building and increasing in this area, the potential of self-governance will also increase. Furthermore, the differences of religion, ethnicity and culture that are connected strongly to freedom and history are given an opportunity to grow larger and develop even further.

3.In the system of Peoples Radical Democracy, there is not any room for the abuse of people or for the undermining of their rights. Also, tribute of the higher classes and groups in power is considered an illness of old age with which democracy cannot live. It is therefore important that resistance for the achievement of a democratic society in which the mechanism that motivate individuals to join political and organizational associations are present. With the dynamism of change and development existing and progressing there is no need for a critical way.

4.Citizens of nation states where a one-discourse system in which ethnicity, culture, language, religion and sex are monotonous, exists. This is far away from what is right. In Iran the citizens that are of a different religion than Shia, and the different cultures, as well as women, are not part of macro politics or any kinds of leadership, neither do they participate in any other way. The right to hold the high position has only been given to the religious leaders, the mullahs and the leaders of a monotonous, male concentrated system. The regime has to stop describing citizenship on the basis of individual qualities and instead needs to re-describe the citizens Iran by a new template which includes the capacity of acceptance of all different cultural, religious differences for all groups of society as well as acceptance for women especially. The new standards should stand for acceptance and unity instead of prejudice and discrimination. The International templates must be taken as a foundation of decision-making whether it concerns economics, politics, culture or social issues.
The PJAK system of democratic confederacy, It seen as a way of self governance for the Kurds which has a base in the village leaderships and spreads to the organizations of the democratic, organic, society. The Peoples Congress of Kurdistan will start with these steps:

1.Village leadership and democratic elections of a village council.
2.Making of a council involving all village leaderships of a certain area and democratic elections of representatives.
3.The making of a City Council and of a Free Citizenship Council as well as councils for the Free Mayor of the City, Free Democratic Branches, Free Youth Branch, Free Cultural Branch etc.
4.A provincial council for the different provinces in the country and committees on democratic basis.
5.Finally the making of a Peoples Congress of Eastern Kurdistan as well as a committee and a democratic society on the basis of election and democracy.

The goals and the duties of change for PJAK:

A. For the implementation of change in the theocratic system of Iran and to nurture a democracy which consists of en ecological view on the world as well as a view on gender as they self put it, “gender loving”, these are needed:

1.Struggle for limiting and changing the way of power is practiced as well as changing the power structure into a body, which works for the freedom of the people and for development of the Iranian society.
2.Struggle for a change in the system of classes in the Iran on the basis of four reforms that consists of; the reforms of state, nation, society and citizens.
3.Struggle against all traditionalistic views of and fanatic religiousness and narrow nationalism and chauvinistic ideas, are ongoing projects.
4.Resistance against all sorts of pressure on the ethnical and religious groups and struggle against all symbols and bodies working against law and order and who considers themselves above all laws.
5.Struggle against the politicisation of religion and usage of religion for a purpose far from the religious functions.
6.Moving away from a centralized way of leadership and struggling for the reinforcement and independence of a self-governance for the people.
7.Changing of the regime to a democratic system in which all citizens; Iranians, Kurds, Azaries, Baluchs, Turkomans and Arabs and all other ethnical groups within the framework of the democratic system, can govern themselves.
8.Establishment of a constitution on the basis of the international templates for human rights.
9.Struggling against profit making of and the spread of weapons of mass destruction and also working against the acts of terrorists both within but also outside the borders of Iran.
10.Working for a decrease in military force and a decrease in the military budget set out by the government as well as a decrease in the attack-mentality of the military and converting this into a self-defence policy.
11.Working for peace and struggle against any organization that in Iran as well as the world, is putting the safety of the people into jeopardy.
12.Increasing the civil society and organizing a democratic society as well as strengthening women’s democratic movement together with the democratic movements of the youths and the workers.
13.Organizing in all the different groups and classes of society as well as the groups in society that are followers of democracy.
14.being able to guarantee the freedom of speech, and the freedom to publish articles etc in newspapers, TV and radio that are free from censorship and also freedom to protest and start organizations etc.
15. Continue the work against all environmental destruction and struggle to raise awareness amongst people.
16.The making of a system of education that besides being independent also educates free and independent people and by doing that society is educated as well. And also to carry out different sporting-, cultural- and other kinds of activities.

B. The making of a democratic confederacy in Iranian Kurdistan. Below follows the detailed intentions.

1.The system of a democratic confederacy on the basis of a self nurtured power within the people and their common views, is taking place.
2.The paradigm of a democratic, ecological and gender loving society exists in all parts of the organization and leadership.
3.The organizational model, portrayed as a pyramid, where elections occur from the bottom and up as well as the power, exists here.
4.The making of village councils in the villages, councils of free citizenship in the cities, provincial councils. The goals with these councils are the ultimate organizational structure of the Peoples Congress of Kurdistan.
5.The system of a democratic confederacy is struggling to limit the power of the state and make reforms to the extent that it becomes a body that works with the law for the development of society as well for the democratic will of the people.
6.The main approaches of the Kurdish people are the making of a democratic organization, performing democratic activity and civil obedience as well as an uprising of the people.
7.Legitimate self-defence as a natural right by the international laws. The right to bear arms for the Kurdish people is essential and the usage of arms in all aspects of military defence is in needing times accepted.
8.The organizations of democracy for women as well as youths are the leading issues.
9.The geographical and political borders of Iran, will in this process not go through any changes and will not be seen as obstacles but as a bridge for communication between all Kurds in all the parts.
10. Struggle for the making of an official Kurdish language, and making of an educational system on the Kurdish language in all stages of education.
11.Struggle for a democratic change of the traditional structures and the reactionary society and tribe system as the religious sects, aghas, sheiks etc.
12.Struggle for an economical policy on the basis of equal use and not overspending. Organising production in all areas of society and struggle against an unfair economy driven by the government resulting in unemployment, hunger, inflation and poverty and making of projects to handle these issues.


C. For Women:

1.Struggle against the male driven society, male values, male mentality and the despotic leadership of the male population.
2.The making of activities for broadening the politicisation of women on the Women’s Freedom ideology.
3.Introducing of positive discrimination.
4.Promoting of women’s activities and organizations in all aspects of society and clearing a ground for free and equal participation for women in all walks of life.

D. Practicing the strategy of a democracy of unity and the democratic relations of the Iranian peoples:

1.Actively support the democratic resistance movements in all parts of Kurdistan and defence the rights of the Kurds in the Diaspora.
2.Guaranteeing the rights of the minorities living within Kurdish borders.
3.Promoting unity and relations of the Kurdish “parts” and support a democratic solution of the Kurdish issue in all parts and the promotion of amity with other nations in the world.
4.Mutual agreements with democratic followers in Iran.
5.Promotion of democratic relations between Iranian peoples on the basis of mutual cultural and historical aspects.
6.Making of relations and unity with the democratic groups, the environmental movements, women’s movements and the humanistic movements in Iran and the Middle East. Also the making of international platforms and democratic congress’ in the world.


The organisational structure of PJAK
1.The Congress
2.The Head of the Party
3.The Assembly
4.The General Coordination

The party bodies and branches
The Union of the Women of Eastern Kurdistan
The Union of the Youth of Eastern Kurdistan
The Democratic Press Union

The military forces of eastern Kurdistan, Hezi Rojhelati Kurdistan (HRK) is working in an autonomous way and parallel with the political goals of PJAK.
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2. Kurdish rebels threaten to attack Iran

4/14/2008
AFP

Mount qandil, Iraq • A Kurdish rebel group based in northern Iraq threatened yesterday to launch bomb attacks inside Iran if Tehran fails to halt anti-Kurdish policies in the Islamic country.
Pjak (Party of Free Life of Kurdistan) warned it has the ability to “carry out bombings against Iranian forces” inside Iran.
Ronahi Ahmed, a member of Pejak’s political bureau, said from the group’s hideout in Qandil mountain in northern Iraq that the rebels were ready for a long fight with Tehran.
“We can’t stand handcuffed when Iran is chasing us on daily basis. We have the ability to confront Iran inside Tehran. We are not accepting any threat from anybody,” she said.
“We don’t accept the religious suppression that is being carried out by the Iranians. We totally reject it.”
Ahmed said the group had recently attacked Iranian forces across the border.
“Last month our people were able to infiltrate Mahkook town in northwest Iran. They killed dozens of Iranian soldiers. In another incident in Iran’s Miryuwan town our guerrillas killed six soldiers,” she said.
“Iran should be aware that we have a long arm that can strike at significant places inside Iran, especially in the northwest reaching Tehran.”
The Iranian military often shells Iraqi border villages in an attempt to flush out Kurdish guerrillas, sending residents fleeing from
their homes.
“If they (Iran) continue to follow the policy of (Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad, then the battle will be more severe and the region where we are staying will be hit by a war,” Ahmed said.
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3. Iran says U.S. aids rebels at its borders


The violence may be driving Tehran’s efforts to back its own allies in Iraq.

By Borzou Daragahi,
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
April 15, 2008

BAGHDAD — A series of conflicts with insurgent groups along Iran’s borders may be impelling Tehran to back its own allies in Iraq in what it regards as a proxy war with the U.S., according to security experts and officials in the U.S., Iran and Iraq.

Dozens of Iranian officials, members of the security forces and insurgents belonging to Kurdish, Arab Iranian and Baluch groups have died in the fighting in recent years. It now appears to be heating up once again after an unusually cold and snowy winter.
In recent weeks, Iranians have begun the now-routine bombardment of suspected rebel Iranian Kurd positions in northern Iraq, and guerrillas have claimed incursions into northwestern Iran.

Some Iranians blamed Sunni Arab radicals for an explosion Saturday that killed 12 and injured 202 at a gathering where a preacher criticized the Wahhabi form of Islam that inspires Osama bin Laden.

None of the groups appear to pose a serious threat to Iran, but Tehran regards them as Washington’s allies in an effort to pressure it to scale back its nuclear program and withhold support for militant groups fighting Israel. American and Iraqi officials in turn accuse Iran of supporting Shiite Muslim militias and other militant groups in Iraq to keep the U.S. preoccupied and the Baghdad government weak.

Although a U.S. intelligence estimate in December undercut claims that Iran has a secret nuclear weapons program and appeared to lower the possibility of a direct military conflict over Iran’s uranium enrichment operations, tensions over Iraq have increased. U.S. officials accuse Iran of backing Shiite militias close to cleric Muqtada Sadr that fought Iraqi government forces to a standstill in Basra and Baghdad two weeks ago.

Tempting assets

Analysts say the anti-Iranian groups are tempting assets for the U.S. They say it would be a surprise if the groups were not receiving U.S. funding, but that the strategy would probably not work.

“It will give more encouragement to Iran’s hard-liners to step up their own efforts to assist anti-American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst now at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.

Among the most active groups is the Party for Free Life in Kurdistan, known by its Kurdish acronym, PEJAK. It has hundreds of well-trained fighters along with camps in northern Iraq.

Iranian soldiers guarding the border are sometimes ambushed by PEJAK fighters. Iran responds with artillery attacks that send Iraqi villagers scurrying for cover. Border skirmishes last summer and fall between Iranian security forces and PEJAK left dozens dead on both sides.

PEJAK emerged this decade as an Iranian offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, an armed group formed to fight a separatist war against the Turkish government.

Former members say PEJAK was meant to circumvent Western restrictions on contacts with the PKK, which has been labeled a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department and the European Union.

“The PKK wanted to have a relationship with America, so it formed and used PEJAK,” said Mamand Rozhe, a former commander who defected from the group four years ago.

U.S. military officials visited PEJAK’s camps in northern Iraq just after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, said Osman Ocalan, a brother of the PKK’s imprisoned leader and a founder of PEJAK.

“Since the beginning, we thought we would get the American help,” said Ocalan, who left the group two years ago. “And it’s a good relationship now. . . . They are in talks with each other, and there is some military assistance.”

Ocalan and others say U.S. help has included foodstuffs, economic assistance, medical supplies and Russian military equipment, some of it funneled through nonprofit groups. Every two or three months, U.S. military vehicles can be seen entering PKK and PEJAK strongholds, Ocalan said.

“There’s no systematic relationship, no number to call,” he said. “Americans do not intend to have an official relationship. Whenever there’s any kind of question by the Turks, they can say we don’t have a relationship.”

A PJAK leader, Abdul Rahman Haji-Ahmadi, was publicly given a cold shoulder when he went to Washington last summer.

PJAK’s activities may have created obstacles for those working inside Iran for peaceful change. Dozens of Kurdish activists in Iran have been thrown in jail on charges of supporting the rebel group.
“I think that on balance PJAK does more harm than good,” said Aso Saleh, an Iranian journalist and ethnic Kurd who fled his country after being charged with state security crimes that carry a possible death sentence.

“PJAK’s actions give the government the excuse to militarize the region,” Saleh said. “It gives the Islamic Republic the excuse to crack down on civil opposition.”
Elsewhere, Iranian authorities blamed U.S.-backed elements for a series of bomb attacks in the oil-rich southwestern province of Khuzestan that killed dozens of people from 2005 to 2007. Baluch militants have killed dozens of members of Iran’s security forces, including 11 elite Revolutionary Guards in a car bomb attack last year in Zahedan, a town near the border with Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Last fall, a young Kurdish woman killed several officers and soldiers in a suicide attack along Iran’s northwestern border.

Other groups can provide precious intelligence to the U.S. The decades-old Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran, or KDPI, whose members have been the victims of scores of assassinations in Iraq and Europe, allegedly at the hands of Iranian intelligence operatives, has relations with Washington that stretch back decades.

“It’s a very warm relationship,” said Rostam Jahangiri, leader of the group’s Irbil, Iraq, office. “We interact here and in Washington. . . . Sometimes it’s once a month. Sometimes it’s after three or four months.”

The secretive Mujahedin Khalq, also regarded by the U.S. and EU as a terrorist organization, may have little support among Iranians, but its networks extend deep into Iranian territory, and it is credited with exposing Iran’s nuclear program in 2002.

Other groups include Jundollah, which operates out of the southwestern Pakistani province of Baluchistan, and Arab groups in Iran’s southwest.

The leftist Komala Party of Iran hasn’t staged any military operations inside Iran since 1992, but several hundred or so fighters continue to train at their base camp in Zergwe in the autonomous Kurdish northern region of Iraq.

Abdullah Mohtadi, a leader of one of two Komala factions, said he met with White House and State Department officials in 2005 and 2006 to discuss Iran.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asked Congress in early 2006 for $75 million to promote democracy in Iran, of which $66 million was approved — most of it for Persian-language broadcasting. But about $20 million was set aside for unidentified groups the State Department described as “nongovernmental organizations, businesses and universities,” for Internet development and “cultural affairs.” Congress set aside an additional $60 million for the effort in the current fiscal year.

U.S. officials did not respond to a request for comment on claims that PEJAK or other groups receive funding.

No group officially acknowledges receiving U.S. aid. But many say they would welcome it.

“If you’re a political movement that is part of an opposition, you need help from abroad,” Mohtadi said. “We’re not ashamed to admit it.”
A push for rebel aid

Many in Washington have advocated such aid. The rebels fight the same Revolutionary Guard that oversees at least part of Iran’s nuclear program and probably funnels support to militant groups in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.

“It would be a scandal if the U.S. was not funding these groups,” said John Pike, director of globalsecurity.org, a website about intelligence and military issues. “The support would be covert and might be done in ways that the groups themselves remain unaware of the ultimate source of their funding.”

Still, most of the groups suffer severe weaknesses. KDPI and Komala have endured tumultuous splits in recent years, KDPI in part over whether to align itself with the U.S.

Both PEJAK and the Mujahedin Khalq operate like cults, barring members from having sexual relations and discouraging personal lives. Each touts a strict Marxist ideology.

Iranian diplomats and politicians say they have intelligence to back up their claims that the U.S. aids these groups, but have never publicly provided proof.

“We know the MKO and PEJAK both have relations with the U.S.,” said Hamidreza Taraghi, an official of the Islamic Coalition Party, which is close to Iran’s conservative religious leadership.

“The Americans have given the MKO a lot of technology to monitor Iranian phone traffic,” he said in an interview. “Where is the Baluchistan separatist money coming from?”

Iraqi Kurds say perceived U.S. support for PEJAK and other anti-Iranian groups prompted Iranians to reactivate Ansar al Islam, a Sunni Muslim group with ties to Al Qaeda that has been launching attacks against Kurdish officials.

The Ansar al Islam fighters have been used as a “pressure card” by the Iranians, said Jafar Barzinji, the minister of affairs for peshmerga, or Kurdish security forces, who oversees military issues in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region.

Iraqi Kurds say they have asked Iranian authorities to rein in Ansar. “They never deny that they’re supporting them,” Barzinji said. “They always promise a solution in the near future.” Sometimes, he said, they bring up PEJAK.

Fareed Asasard, head of the Kurdish Strategic Studies Center, a think tank in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Sulaymaniya, recently visited Tehran to meet with analysts at a research institution close to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“The reason for their support of Ansar is PJAK,” he said. “They’re 100% worried about
PJAK’s actions.”
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4. Kurds Imprisoned by the Islamic Republic for Protesting

March 29th, 2008

On Tuesday, March 25th, 2008, the Islamic Republic’s revolutionary court sentenced 7 Kurdish detainees to 3 years imprisonment in the city of Baneh, located in the Iranian Kurdistan region, for their participation in general demonstrations throughout Iranian Kurdistan in 2005 as reported to KurdishMedia.com by the communiqué, which is issued by the Kurdistan Democratic Party –Iran or KDPI.
Mr. Sadiq Amin Nejad, Saman Rasoulian, Abdollah Ranjbari, Kaveh Hassani, Mohammad Bahrami, Rastgar Mesgari and Mohamad Amin Ghaderi were sentenced to various imprisonment terms for participating in demonstrations against the Islamic Republic, the communiqué stated.
According to Amnesty International, hundreds more were arrested throughout Iranian Kurdistan in the cities of Mahabad, Sanandaj, Kermanshah, Orumieh, Baneh, Shino and Maku just to name a few for simply participating in peaceful protests against the government. Security forces reportedly used light and heavy weaponry in response to the demonstrations. Up to 20 people were reportedly killed and hundreds more injured. The report also mentions that hundreds of Iranian forces were sent into the cities to attack the crowds and helicopter gunships fired at the crowds causing dozens of deaths.
“They acted against National Security, disturbed general order and participated in covert meeting,” according to their verdict. The communiqué reports that the victims are condemned to one year communion jail and two years unconditional jail. They have been held under captivity since their detainment following the demonstration in April of 2005.
The protests started after Iranian Security Forces killed Sayed Kamal Astam (aka Shivan Qaderi), who was the leader of a Kurdish youth organization that organized a celebration/demonstration when Kurdish leader, Jalal Talabani, was elected President of Iraq. The purpose of the celebration was to ask the Iranian government to allow Kurds to participate in high-ranking positions in Iran and to give them federal autonomy inside Iran, similar to that of the Kurds in Northern Iraq, as the government restricts cultural and political activities that stress the Kurdish language and identity. The Iranian Forces arrested Shivan and tied him to a truck and dragged his body around the streets of Mahabad for several hours until he died as a warning to the other Kurdish rights activists. After this event, photos of Shivan’s body began circulating the internet and people began pouring into the streets of Iranian Kurdistan demanding more rights for Kurds as well as justice for Shivan’s family. Amnesty International reports that recently, family and friends of Shivan have been beaten for simply attempting to visit his gravesite.
Iranian security responded by arresting hundreds and killing dozens. To this day, many are still being held without even having gone to trial. The Iranian government has tortured many journalists and editors of Kurdish newspapers on the grounds that their coverage of events in Iraqi Kurdistan was aimed at instigating separatist ambitions among Iranian Kurds. One of which is the torture of Dr. Roya Toloyee, a Kurdish women’s rights activist and head of the Rasan (”Rising”) newspaper in Sine who was tortured and raped for 66 days for alleged involvement in the organization of peaceful protests throughout Kurdistan province before being released on bail and eventually escaped Iran. Likewise, according to a report by the Human Rights Watch, just last month a Kurdish teacher by the name of Kamangar was sentenced to death for “endangering national security.” The prosecution claimed that Kamangar is a member of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). According to Kamangar’s lawyer, this trial violated the Iranian legal requirements that such cases must be tried publicly and in the presence of a jury. He also told Human Rights Watch that court officials ridiculed his requests that they follow mandated legal procedures.
In Iran, membership of any non-governmental political party could be punishable by persecution, imprisonment and even death. Unfortunately, the oppression faced by Kurds in Iranian Kurdistan today is not a new phenomenon. The Islamic Republic has very little patience for Kurdish demands and much too often opts for crushing unrest through military means. On August 17th 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini declared holy war against the Kurds, entire villages and towns were destroyed to force Kurds into submission. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps fought to reestablish government control in the Kurdish regions, as a result more than 10,000 Kurds were killed. The Kurds are among Iran’s largest ethnic minority groups, and number around 17% of the population. They mainly live in the province of Kordistan and neighboring provinces bordering Turkey and Iraq.
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5. Report: Iran Frees Kurdish Labour Activist – AFP

04-07-08

TEHRAN (AFP)–Iran has freed on bail a Kurdish labor activist after one year in jail, local press reports said Monday.
“Mahmoud Salehi was freed on Sunday on a 400-million-rial ($43,500) bail after more than a year in jail,” the Kargozaran newspaper reported.
A former leader of the bakers’ union in the town of Saqez, in the western Kordestan province, Salehi was jailed for one year on charges of harming national security in April 2007.
According to the rights watchdog Amnesty International, Salehi went on a total hunger strike in March amid fears that new charges issued against him would prolong his detention beyond his scheduled release date.

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6. Iran, Turkey to seek means of further cooperation against PKK, PJAK

12.04.2008
SEDAT GÜNEÇ ANKARA
Today’s Zaman

Ankara will next week host the 12th Turkey-Iran High Security Commission meetings, during which the neighboring countries will look at joint measures to deal with threats posed by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK) operating in Iran.
The latest round of the commission meetings at the undersecretary level was held back in February 2006 in Tehran. The five-day upcoming meeting will kick off on Monday, also marking the first senior-level meeting in the security field between Iranian and Turkish officials following an eight-day ground incursion by the Turkish military into northern Iraq in order to eliminate the PKK members based there.
The eight-member Iranian delegation, led by a deputy interior minister, is expected to arrive in Ankara tomorrow. The Turkish delegation will be led by Interior Ministry Undersecretary Osman Güneş, with senior officials from the police department, the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), the Gendarmerie Command and the Foreign Ministry participating in the meeting.
The Turkish military launched a ground offensive against the PKK in northern Iraq on Feb. 21 and announced that it had destroyed dozens of PKK targets and killed at least 240 before the operation was called off on Feb. 29. The US has been sharing intelligence on PKK targets with NATO-ally Turkey since November. Turkey carried out several cross-border operations against the PKK after Parliament gave the government authorization in October for sending troops into Iraq to fight the terrorist organization. The ground incursion in late February was the only confirmed ground incursion during this period. It was also the first of its kind since the US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq in 2003.
Iran is fighting the PJAK. Late last month, an Iraqi Kurdish official said Iran had shelled three border towns in northern Iraq where PJAK members are believed to be operating. Tehran has long accused the United States of supporting anti-Iranian groups.
The PKK is considered a terrorist organization by the European Union and the United States.
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7. Germany Concerned About PJAK Activities

By Stefan Buchen, John Goetz and Sven Röbel,
The Spiegel, Germany
14 April 2008

A new Kurdish party, the PJAK, is causing Germany’s intelligence agencies concern. Public prosecutors are investigating whether the group, whose leader
lives in Cologne, is a terrorist organization.

No one knows exactly when Umut C., an inconspicuous building cleaner from the southern German state of Baden-Württemberg, became a fanatic Kurdish
fighter. It must have some time in 2006 when the hip hop posters disappeared from his bedroom, followed by his dumb bells, and then finally himself. The last that Umut’s grandmother heard from him were a few brief words over the telephone: “I have to go away now.”

It seems very likely that the 21-year-old German-born Turk is now in the inhospitable mountains along Iraq’s border with Iran. The young man from
Göppingen is thought to be training as a guerrilla to fight against the Iranian army – sent by the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK).

The group, which was only founded in 2004, has close ties with the successor organization to the banned Kurdish separatist group, the PKK, and now
operates a militia in northern Iraq. PJAK troops have repeatedly launched operations inside Iranian territory and, according to the Kurdish group, more than 100 Iranian soldiers have been killed in clashes.

In Germany, the previously unknown group is now causing a considerable amount of disquiet — amongst politicians and intelligence agencies. Last July,
Tehran sent a verbal note to the German ambassador to protest about the alleged indifference on the part of the German government to the PJAK’s “terrorist activities.”

The Iranians are particularly annoyed by the fact that the political leader of the PJAK is a man with a German passport: Abdul Rahman Haji Ahmadi, who was born in Iran in 1941 and now lives in Cologne. When Ahmadi, an agricultural engineer by training, is not inspecting the troops in Kurdistan, he lives in an inconspicuous apartment in Germany whose walls are covered with images of Kurdish martyrs. It is from here that he coordinates what he calls the
“freedom campaign” of the Kurdish people for “political and cultural human rights.”

German security experts hold very different views of the PJAK. While the domestic intelligence agency, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution,
says the PJAK’s activities in Germany are barely worth mentioning, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office has already launched an investigation — although not against any specific individual. The prosecutor’s office is investigating whether Ahmadi’s PJAK is a “terrorist group,” as defined by German law, and is taking a close look at its structure and members.

Ahmadi, however, rejects any terrorism allegations. He told SPIEGEL the clashes with the Iranian military were merely intended to aid the “self-defence
of Kurds”, who were “constantly being attacked” by Iran. He added that he hoped “democracy would be introduced in Iran.”

Ahmadi also admitted there were “dead on both sides” and that it was “normal” for his followers to be armed with pistols and Kalashnikovs. Asked about an Iranian helicopter which is believed to have been shot down by the PJAK, Ahmadi explained: “That could also be done with a single shot.” A uniformed guerrilla from Germany told the German TV show “Monitor” in detail about his Russian sniper-rifle and remote-controlled booby-trap training.

The actions of the so-called freedom fighters could have wider consequences for German politics than the mere exchange of diplomatic notes. A German
security expert warned about the “nightmare scenario” of a PJAK partisan with a German passport being locked up in Iran. He says the German government would then have to offer consular support for its imprisoned citizen — and would end up being dragged inadvertently into the Iranian crisis.

The German government’s position is already complicated enough, as militias are of strategic use — especially now — to the United States. On the one
hand they secure America’s influence in northern Iraq, while on the other hand they destabilize the arch-enemy Iran and tie down its troops in impassable
border areas.

Robert Baer, a former CIA operative who worked for many years in northern Iraq and who retains strong ties to the Kurdish political scene, told SPIEGEL:
“I understand that the US provides intelligence to PJAK so that they are better able to protect themselves in any conflict with the Iranians. This force
protection intelligence is given to them through the Delta Forces.”

The German foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), is also interested in the PJAK: one of its agents has already visited Ahmadi.

But these kinds of associations are not much good for the party’s public reputation. Instead, the party’s members prefer to dream suitably propagandistic dreams about “the sun of freedom” in Persia. But when it comes to the fate of Umut C., the young Kurd from Göppingen, they are keeping quiet.
==============
8. Turkish Iranian gas deal takes shape

Friday, April 11, 2008

Turkey and Iran take one step further toward concluding a deal on development of Iran’s three South Pars gas fields, as delegations from the two neighbors discuss investment models during the week. Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) will look for partners once a final deal is reached on the $3-4 billion project

ANKARA – Turkish Daily News

Delegations from Turkey and Iran met in Ankara yesterday to solidify the memorandum of understanding signed last year to develop Iran’s three phases in South Pars gas fields.
The Iranian officials arrived Monday and held talks with officials from the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) and state owned Turkish Pipeline Company (BOTAŞ) for three days. The Iranian delegation submitted its report to the Turkish Energy Ministry and returned home yesterday.
Energy Minister Hilmi Güler signed a memorandum of understanding with Iran’s former Oil Minister Kazem Vaziri-Hamaneh on July 13, 2007 allowing TPAO to produce 20 billion cubic meters of natural gas in phases 22, 23 and 24 of Iran’s South Pars gas field. The plans also include an agreement to use Iran as a transit country for Turkmenistan’s natural gas.
Investment model to be finalized soon
The delegations discussed the investment model for TPAO, a high-level energy ministry official said. “TPAO and Iran are still elaborating on the investment model. We are close to reaching a conclusion. Technical teams will convene in Ankara or Tehran in a month,” he said. The official said there is no reason not to sign the contract with Iran this year.
No developments took place in the electricity deal with Iran, the same official said. Turkey declared in August last year that it will help build a hydroelectric plant in Iran and will purchase three to six billion kilowatt-hours of electricity from Iran to cover its shortages.
The TPAO will look for partners following finalization of the deal, as investment costs are expected to reach $3-4 billion, officials said. Iran will pay cash or natural gas in exchange for TPAO’s production in the three fields. The annual gas flow expected is 20 billion cubic meters, which amounts to two-thirds of Turkey’s gas needs. Gas will be transferred to Turkey through a pipeline to be built by BOTAŞ and Iran’s concerned companies. Some of this gas will be used in Turkey, while the rest will be delivered to Europe, officials said. Turkey acquires around 65 percent of its natural gas from Russia and is looking for ways to divert its sources. Iran, the second-largest gas supplier to Turkey, had difficulties sustaining its natural gas flow to Turkey during previous winters, due to extraordinary cold weather and supply cuts by Turkmenistan.
=============
9. Turkey and Iran discuss PKK, security issues

The New Anatolian / Ankara
15 April 2008

Senior Turkish and Iranian security officials met in Ankara Tuesday to discuss the PKK and PJAK presence in northern Iraq. Meanwhile, Iran announced it has killed a senior PJAK official.

The two sides also discussed activities of PJAK, a seperatist Kurdish group in norhern Iraq which is affiliated to the PKK and launches attacks inside Iran.

The meetings that will last for two days is being held at the Turkish Interior Ministry.

The Turkish delegation is headed by Undersecretary of Ministry of Interior, Osman Gunes, while the Iranian delegation is headed by Abbas Mohtaj, Deputy Interior Minister in charge of security.

Iran and Turkey consider PJAK a terrorist organization and attach special importance to curbing militia activity, Mohtaj added.

The two countries established the High Security Commission in 1988 to coordinate efforts against, and the exchange of information about terrorism, and in particular, activities related to the PKK.

The US State Department considers the PKK as a terrorist organization but has long been accused of supplying PJAK with arms to provoke ethnic unrest in Iran.

In his November 2006 article published in the New Yorker, journalist Seymour Hersh revealed that the US military and Israel are assisting PJAK by providing the group with equipment, training, and vital intelligence to create problems inside Iran.

Also on the agenda of the meeting fight against illicit drugs trafficking, issues related to the citizens of both countries and border related matters. Previously the senior security officials of the two countries met in Tehran in February 2006. Meanwhile, Iran announced it has killed a senior commander of the PJAK.

Iran says its forces have killed a senior commander PJAK in the northwestern province of Iranian Kurdistan on April 9, near the border with northern Iraq.

“The senior commander who has entered Iran to conduct terrorist activities was killed on the 8th of April, near the village of Nejmar 10 kilometers from the Iraqi border,” an informed source told Mehr News Agency.
============
10. Iran upholds death sentence for Kurdish activist: Lawyer

April 14, 2008
Kuwait Times
AFP

TEHRAN: Iran has upheld a death sentence for a Kurdish activist convicted of links to an outlawed separatist group after the supreme court quashed the original hanging verdict, his lawyer said yesterday. “A revolutionary court in the town of Marivan has sentenced Hiva Botimar to death for the second time after the supreme court quashed its first verdict and ordered a new trial,” lawyer Saleh Nikbakht told AFP.

He said the court in western Kordestan province had found 31-year-old environmental activist Botimar guilty of “moharebeh” (being an enemy of god) and having ties with Turkey’s outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Nikbakht said the court cited as evidence of guilt hundreds of bullets found in Botimar’s possession which he had recovered from an abandoned army camp in a Kordestan village when he was 14.

The court gave its ruling regardless of the army’s official explanations,” the lawyer said, adding that he had 20 days to appeal the verdict against his client who has been in jail since December 2006. In a separate ruling, the supreme court has quashed a death sentence against another Kurdish man accused of espionage and imprisoned since January 2007, Nikbakht said.

Adnan Hassanpour, 26, who briefly worked as a journalist for a local publication in Kordestan province, “was approached by some political people to gather information about military sites,” the lawyer said. “He has denied any systematic ties with outlawed political groups,” Nikbakht said, adding that he awaited a judiciary ruling for a retrial.

The death sentences were in July 2007 condemned in Europe and raised the concern of press and human rights watchdogs. But Nikbakht said the charges against Hassanpour were unrelated to his journalistic work. Iran has been battling separatist rebels of the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), in its western Kurdish-populated areas. Tehran has repeatedly accused the United States of seeking to stir up ethnic unrest by providing material support to PJAK, which has bases in north eastern neighbouring Iraq.
============
11. Iran upholds death sentence for Kurdish activist

4/14/2008
AFP
tehran • Iran has upheld a death sentence for a Kurdish activist convicted of links to an outlawed separatist group after the supreme court quashed the original hanging verdict, his lawyer said yesterday.
“A revolutionary court in the town of Marivan has sentenced Hiva Botimar to death for the second time after the supreme court quashed its first verdict and ordered a new trial,” lawyer Saleh Nikbakht said.
He said the court in western Kordestan province had found the 31-year-old environmental activist guilty of “moharebeh” (being an enemy of god) and having ties with Turkey’s outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party.
=============
12. Iranian Defectors Provide Crucial Intel

Newsmax.com

Tuesday, April 1, 2008 8:24 AM

By: Kenneth R. Timmerman


Iranian intelligence and security operatives know they have an address in the West should they be seeking to defect from the Islamic Republic, says human rights activist Dr. Amir Farshad Ebrahimi.

In an exclusive interview just days after the Iranian regime attempted to kidnap him in Istanbul and take him back to Iran, the former Revolutionary Guards officer told Newsmax that he and other former Iranian officials and like-minded friends in the West have established a “Salvation Committee” to help high-level defectors seeking to leave Iran.

But such actions do not come without a price.

Ebrahimi’s role in helping a top Iranian government official defect to the United States last spring made him a target of Iranian intelligence last week.

The official he helped, former Deputy Defense Minister Gen. Ali Reza Asgari, is credited with having provided the CIA and other Western intelligence agencies with critical new intelligence on Iran’s nuclear weapons programs, as well an insider’s account of Iran’s overseas terrorist apparatus.

Without Ebrahimi’s help, however, Asgari would most likely have returned to Iran after his special “pilgrimage” passport to Damascus, Syria expired last February.

“We were at the [Iranian] embassy together in Beirut in the mid-1990s,” Ebrahimi told Newsmax. “That’s where we knew each other. That’s why General Asgari called me when he was in Damascus last year. He reminded me that we had been together in Beirut.”

During that fateful call and in other communications, Asgari told Ebrahimi that he didn’t want to return to Iran, but that he only had two days left on his special passport.

Ebrahimi was then living in Germany, and instructed the would-be defector to rent a car and drive to Turkey, leaving his second wife behind in the Damascus hotel room.

From that moment on, the two men remained in constant contact.

After paying a Turkish border guard $1,500 to let him enter Turkey without a visa, Asgari was supposed to rendezvous with Ebrahimi’s contacts at the Gilan hotel in Istanbul, in rooms Ebrahimi had rented for him. But the sudden appearance of Turkish police in front of the hotel scuttled that plan.

As a fall-back plan, Ebrahimi arranged for Asgari to meet with a U.S. embassy official in the Turkish capitol, Ankara. Another U.S. official came from the United States to interview Asgari.

The Americans suggested that the potential defector approach United Nations-affiliated organizations in Ankara and apply for political refugee status, which was approved in a record one week’s time.

Newsmax obtained copies of Asgari’s refugee documents last year and showed them to outside experts who said they were authentic.

From Ankara, Asgari flew to Hamburg, Germany, where he and Ebrahimi saw each other one last time.

“Four hours after his flight arrived in Germany from Ankara, General Asgari changed planes and flew with a U.S. official to Washington, DC,” Ebrahimi told Newsmax.

As a backup plan, Ebrahimi arranged with other members of his Salvation Committee to shelter Asgari in a safe house in Cyprus, but never put that plan into motion because the U.S. government kicked in.

“After he arrived in the United States, Asgari called me and asked me to tell his second wife in Iran that he was OK,” Ebrahimi told Newsmax.

Two weeks later, Asgari had been taken to a safe house in Texas. The last time he contacted Ebrahimi, in early summer of last year, was to encourage him to help other Iranian government officials to defect.

“Did Asgari realize that the CIA was misusing his information to claim that the Iranian nuclear weapons program had been shut down?” speculated Pooya Dayanim, a Los Angeles developer who aided Ebrahimi and was familiar with the Asgari case.

“I believe that his call to encourage other defectors was motivated by a conviction that the nuclear weapons program was still up and running,” Dayanim told Newsmax.

A National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran’s nuclear programs, released in December 2007, claimed on the basis of defector information — presumably from Asgari — that a key segment of the nuclear weapons had been shut down.

But the director of National Intelligence, Vice Adm. Mike McConnell, appeared to walk back that conclusion of the NIE in congressional testimony in early February

He pleaded that a lack of time led to careless wording in the unclassified version of the NIE that was ultimately released to the public. “So if I’d had until now to think about it, I probably would have changed a thing or two,” the DNI acknowledged.

(See the Newsmax report on McConnell back-peddling on the NIE.)

Another report, “U.S. Intel Possibly Duped by Iran,” focuses on how U.S. intel misinterpreted this information.

Sources with knowledge of what Asgari told the CIA about the Iranian nuclear weapons program tell Newsmax they are convinced that CIA analysts cherry-picked Asgari’s information.

These sources believe that CIA analysts included information from Asgari that fit their concept of a politically-ordered “halt” to nuclear weaponization by the Iranian leadership, while neglecting other information he divulged that suggested ongoing nuclear weapons work.

The NIE “was an incredibly shoddy piece of work that made selective use of sources,” a senior U.S. government official who had reviewed the classified source material told Newsmax.

A closed-door briefing to diplomats in Vienna by the International Atomic Energy Agency’s chief weapons inspector on Feb. 25 also directly contradicted the NIE report, as Newsmax reported last month.

Among the documents presented by IAEA Safeguards Deputy Director General Olli Heinonen was an internal Iranian government PowerPoint report detailing progress on a nuclear missile re-entry vehicle through early 2004, well after the NIE claimed the program had been shut down.

Newsmax covered the critical report in a related article.

Ebrahimi said that his Salvation Committee was committed to helping other defectors escape Iran with knowledge of Iran’s nuclear weapons programs and its support for international terrorist organizations, including al-Qaida.

© 2008 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Original: http://newsmax.com/timmerman/defector_Amir_Ebrahimi/2008/04/01/84566.html

Kenneth R. Timmerman
President, Middle East Data Project, Inc.
Author: Countdown to Crisis: The Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran
Contributing editor: Newsmax.com
================
13. Pro-Iran Group Wants Iran Diplomacy

Tuesday, April 8, 2008 8:54 AM

By: Kenneth R. Timmerman

An Iranian-American lobbying organization that has been funded by grants from the congressionally-mandated National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and by left-wing groups is holding an invitation-only conference in a U.S. Senate office building on Tuesday, calling for “reassessing” U.S. strategy toward Iran.

The lobbying group, the National Iranian-American Council (NIAC), boasts on its Web site of the grant money received “in the past” from NED, which by statute is not allowed to fund groups whose purpose is to lobby Congress. The group also says it has received funding from the Open Society Institute of left-wing billionaire, George Soros.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., is listed as a keynote speaker for Tuesday’s event. Her appearance as the congressional host of the conference has angered many Iranian-Americans. Some 700,000 Iranian-Americans live in California, many of whom fled Iran after the fall of the Shah in 1979.

Dr. Mohammad Parvin, a human rights activist in the San Francisco bay area, called NIAC “a group that lobbies for unconditional relations with the religious dictatorship in Iran.”

Parvin has posted an online petition at www.mehr.org asking Feinstein to withdraw her patronage of the conference.

“Having known you as an advocate and defender of the human rights, it was a shock to hear the news of your participation as a keynote speaker in a conference held by National Iranian American Council (NIAC) on April 8, 2008,” the petition says.

The pro-government Tehran daily Aftab has referred to the NIAC as the “Iranian lobby” in the United States and said the group was pursuing “unofficial diplomacy” to get U.S. economic sanctions lifted.

NIAC denies that it is a lobbying group, but acknowledges that it does “advocate the interests of the Iranian-American community . . . on Capitol Hill.”

In a 1999 presentation at a conference held in Cyprus, NIAC founders Trita Parsi and Siamak Namazi, a U.S.-trained lawyer, called for the creation of an Iranian-American lobby “to create a balance between the competing Middle Eastern lobbies. Without it, Iran-bashing may become popular in the Congress again.”

Parsi and Namazi made clear in their written presentation that the “competing lobby” was the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, AIPAC.

According to Hassan Dailoleslam, an Iranian-American political activist who has researched the Tehran ties of NIAC’s founders, Namazi controls the “Atieh Bahar” company in Tehran, “the leading consulting firm for foreign oil companies dealing with Tehran,” and has close, ongoing contacts “with the top leaders in Iran.”

Dailoeslam calls Namazi a member of “Iran’s oil mafia,” because of his company’s role as an intermediary for companies such as Norway’s Statoil and France’s Total.

“The most recent debacle of Atieh enterprise was in March of 2007, when the CEO of the French oil company Total SA was charged for bribery of Iranian high officials to secure contracts,” Dailoeslam says.

During several previous events on Capitol Hill, NIAC has attempted to build support in Congress for direct U.S.-Iran negotiations, and an end to U.S. sanctions on Iran.

The U.S. sanctions, which date from a 1995 executive order signed by President Clinton, make it illegal for U.S. companies to do business in Iran. But some U.S. companies continue to sell products in Iran through foreign subsidiaries and offshore companies.

NIAC received a $50,000 grant last year from the PARSA Community Foundation, a non-profit grant-making association to which many wealthy Iranians in exile have contributed.

Vahid Alaghband, a partner in the London-based Balli Group plc, has been an “ambassador” and major donor of the PARSA Community Foundation.

The U.S. Department of Commerce issued a Temporary Denial Order against Balli and several of its subsidiaries on March 21, suspending the group’s ability to export licensed U.S. high technology products.

The Commerce Department acted after obtaining evidence showing that Balli and others cited in the Order “knowingly reexported three U.S. origin aircraft to Iran in violation of the Export Administration Regulations [EAR], and are preparing to reexport three additional U.S. origin aircraft to Iran in further violation of the EAR.”

Balli purchased three of the Boeing 747s from United Airlines and leased them to Blue Airways in Armenia, which reportedly is operating the aircraft on flights in and out of Iran on behalf of an Iranian company, Mahan Airways, controlled by the family of former president Ali Akbar Rafsanjani.

The other three aircraft are being overhauled in South Korea, Alaghband told Newsmax on Monday.

“These aircraft definitely have not been subleased to Mahan,” Alaghband told Newsmax. “We would have had to approve that, and we haven’t,” he added.

However, Alaghband said he and his partners took “very seriously” the U.S. Commerce Department Denial Order, which also placed him on the list of Denied Persons, a black list that is widely distributed within the exporting community.

He did not exclude the possibility that the planes were being used to carry passengers and cargo in and out of Iran. “We’ve told our leasee to satisfy the Americans, or we will cancel the lease,” he said. “We have served them notice.”

Alaghband’s company controls the aircraft through subsidiaries based in London, which are wholly owned by two companies registered in the Cayman Islands, according to the British corporate registry.

Information on who owns the Cayman Island companies — Crypton, Ltd, and Global Securities Ltd. — is not publicly available.

Balli also represents Caterpillar and Xerox through its subsidiaries in Iran.

During a conference in Tehran last June organized by NIAC co-founder Siamak Namazi, Vahid Alaghband’s brother and business partner, Hassan Alaghband, made a PowerPoint presentation on doing business with Iran that used the group’s Caterpillar franchise as a case in point.

Namazi was one of a “generation of Westernized Iranians who went back to Iran” after the 1979 Revolution, Vahid Alaghband told Newsmax. “He set up a legal practice to counsel Western companies” on how to do business in Iran, he added.

The June 2007 conference was not aimed at violating U.S. sanctions, but at training a new generation of business leaders who would have a “more normal way of dealing with the world.”

“These are people the government of Iran hates,” he said. “This is not a government organization.”

Nevertheless, among the speakers at the conference was Abbas Maleki, a former deputy foreign minister and advisor to the Supreme Leader, who has frequently been used in the past when the regime wants to “make nice to foreigners,” says Washington Institute for Near East Policy scholar, Dr. Patrick Clawson.

Alaghband said he did not know Trita Parsi. PARSA has described the grant to Parsi’s organization as intended for purposes of voter registration, not lobbying.

NIAC has invited former Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering and former U.N. weapons inspectors Hans Blix and David Albright to lead a panel on “finding the nuclear fix” to end the stand-off between Iran and the international community.

Writing to protest the NIAC event on behalf of the National Union for Democracy in Iran, Dr. Saeed Ganji said that NIAC poses as a group seeking to advance the interests of Iranian-Americans. “It has spent the great majority of its energy and time, however, on promoting the interests of the Islamic Republic. For this reason, only a small number of Iranians support NIAC or participate in its activities.”

NIAC refused Ganji’s request to attend the conference as a simple observer on the grounds that it was only open to media and congressional staff.

© 2008 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Original: http://newsmax.com/timmerman/iranian_lobby_group/2008/04/08/86286.html