الرئيسية » English Articles » Kurds-Iran-Iraq-Barzani

Kurds-Iran-Iraq-Barzani

1. Kurdistan Region President: Kirkuk issue is a key for dealing with the other issues

2. US Ambassador Crocker meets Kurdistan Region’s President Masoud Barzani in Erbil

3. President Talabani receives Dr. Iyad Alawi

4. Momentum builds for a self-ruled southern Iraq

5. Chemical Ali joins Saddam cohorts on trial over Kurd crackdown
6. Clinton says Iranians face a choice on cooperation
7. Reports and Evidence of Torture and Illegal Actions of Army of Sepah-e Pasdaran Against the Residents of a Kurdish Village Near “Solmas”

8. ’Turkey pushed into international isolation’

9. Iranian opposition celebrates losing EU ‘terror’ tag

10. Concern for Mr. Amir Masbah Ghazi- 36 days after his Arrest

11. Religious persecution continues-Iran

12. Possible Iraqi-Turkish operations against PKK after US pullout

13. Arrest of Two Students and One Youth in “Ravansar”

14. Kurdistan leader Massoud Barzani discussed promotion of economic and trade ties in a meeting with a visiting delegation of senior Iranian diplomats


15. Iranian Kurd guilty of setting fire to Iranian embassy in London
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1. Kurdistan Region President: Kirkuk issue is a key for dealing with the other issues



PUKmedia

2009-02-27



Kurdistan Region President Massud Barzani today met with a delegation from the Arabic gathering bloc inside Kirkuk provincial council including deputy-governor of Kirkuk, Provincial council members, several Arab chieftains and several other officials.

Deputy-governor of Kirkuk indicated that there are several issues which require solutions, calling for activation of the power-sharing administration in the province.

The KRG minister for extra-regional affairs, Mohamed Ihsan, stressed that they are for a power-sharing administration in the province, hoping that the coming stage to be the era of dialogue in order every component to know their rights, indicating that returning to the Iraqi constitution is the real solution for the issues.

“We are committed to what his Excellency President Talabani promised the people of Kirkuk,” Kurdistan Region President said indicating that Kirkuk issue is a key for dealing with the other issues.

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2. US Ambassador Crocker meets Kurdistan Region’s President Masoud Barzani in Erbil



27 Jan. 2009



Erbil, Kurdistan Region – Iraq (KRP.org) United States Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker visited Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani and Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani as the Ambassador nears the completion of his tenure in Iraq.

Ambassador Crocker thanked President Barzani and the people of Kurdistan Region for their cooperation. He noted that Iraq has come a long way since he started his work as US Ambassador to Iraq. Mr Crocker arrived in Baghdad in March 2007.

For his part, President Barzani praised the US Ambassador’s role in Iraq and expressed his happiness with the relations that have developed between the Kurdistan Region and the United States of America. The President described Ambassador Crocker as a close personal friend and a friend of the people of the Kurdistan Region. He hoped that this friendship would continue beyond his departure from Iraq.

President Barzani talked about the sacrifices of the people of the Region. “Although our sacrifices far outweigh what we have achieved, our people are pleased with the new Iraq and we will continue to work for the building of a federal, democratic Iraq. We will defend the democratic process in Iraq and we will stand in the way of any efforts to return Iraq to dictatorship,” President Barzani added. He also reiterated the Kurdistan Region’s commitment to the Iraqi Constitution.

As a symbol of friendship and appreciation for his role in Iraq, President Barzani awarded the Ambassador with a medal engraved with the emblem of the Kurdistan Region Presidency.

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3. President Talabani receives Dr. Iyad Alawi


PUKmedia

27-01-2009



Iraqi President Jalal Talabani received today in his resident in Baghdad the secretary-general of Iraqi National Consensus movement and head of Iraqi National parliamentarian bloc Dr. Iyad Alawi and his accompanied delegation.

They discussed the developments in Iraq and the area and their reflects on the political process in Iraq, especially at the current year which will witness the provincial and general elections.

On his part, President Talabani spoke on the major role of Iraq in the economical, social and development Arab summit in Kuwait (The Summit of Supporting the Palestinian People in Gaza). He also spoke on the results of his meetings with the Arab and Islamic leaders, especially his meeting with the Prince of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Jabber al-Sabah, which resulted in positive results.

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4. Momentum builds for a self-ruled southern Iraq



By HAMZA HENDAWI and QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA

Associated Press

Jan. 16, 2009,

NAJAF, Iraq — The country’s biggest Shiite party is hoping for a big win in elections across the oil-rich south to jump-start its campaign for a self-ruled region — a move that would transform Iraq and, critics say, give Iran its biggest prize since the ouster of Saddam Hussein.

To reach that goal, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council needs to win control of Najaf — which it wants as a future capital of an autonomous southern Iraq — when voters across the country choose members of ruling provincial councils Jan. 31.

But the Supreme Council faces strong opposition from other Shiite groups, including Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Dawa party and followers of anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Those groups fear regional self-rule, modeled after the Kurdish autonomous area in the north, would weaken Iraq, open the door to expanded Iranian influence and threaten the existence of the Iraqi state.

Zoheir al-Hakim, a senior Supreme Council official in Najaf, predicted a comfortable win in this urban center of Shiite learning about 100 miles south of Baghdad.

“Creating a region in the south is our right by law and under the constitution,” al-Hakim said. “Our loyal masses will take on anyone who tries to take this right away from us.”

The council’s campaign posters and banners outnumber the competition here in Najaf, dominating every available space in the heart of the city. The party has a hometown advantage — Najaf is home to the al-Hakims, a prominent family that has produced generations of top clerics and scholars and founders of the Supreme Council.

Even so, the large number of candidates — about 1,100 running for 28 seats — makes it difficult for any single party to take power alone.

Al-Hakim and other Supreme Council officials say they will take concrete steps toward creating a self-ruled region after the election but that the timing would depend on how well they do in the balloting.

To transform a province to self-rule, one-third of the members of a provincial council must call for a referendum that requires the support of a simple majority of the voters.

The law also provides a second, more cumbersome method involving collecting two sets of signatures of registered voters in support of self-rule. Once enough signatures are collected, the paperwork goes to the prime minister who has two weeks to forward the proposal to the election commission, which in turn must schedule a referendum within three months.

Under the constitution, self-ruled regions enjoy significant powers. They can write their own constitutions, amend federal laws that conflict with local ones, open representative offices abroad and assume responsibility for internal security.

The Supreme Council hopes to establish a self-ruled region encompassing all nine provinces south of Baghdad, but officials say they would settle for less if they don’t win everywhere.

Nevertheless, Najaf is a must-win, largely because of its prestige among the world’s Shiite Muslims.

The city includes the most venerated Shiite shrine: the tomb of Imam Ali, a cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad and the founding saint of the Shiite faith. The shrine and the

Shiite seminaries draw pilgrims and students from throughout the Shiite world.

It’s also the home of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s most powerful Shiite cleric and a close ally of the Supreme Council.

With the self-ruled Kurdish region already in a bitter quarrel with al-Maliki over the extent of one another’s powers, critics say another autonomous region in the south could lead to the breakup of Iraq along religious lines and open the door to domination by Shiite-led Iran.

The Supreme Council was founded in Iran in 1982 by Iraqi Shiites who fled Saddam’s rule. Its armed wing fought alongside the Iranians during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, and its leaders returned home after the fall of Saddam’s Sunni-dominated regime.

The proposed region in southern Iraq poses a dilemma for the United States, which for years counted on the Supreme Council as a partner in Iraq despite its close ties to Iran. U.S. officials have also encouraged Iraqis to consider giving more power to their provinces to prevent the rise of a new strongman after Saddam’s regime was toppled in the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

Vice President-elect Joe Biden, then a Democratic senator, proposed in a 2006 article in The New York Times to set up Kurdish, Shiite and Sunni self-ruled regions to defuse sectarian violence sweeping the country then. The proposal gained traction when the U.S. Senate approved a nonbinding resolution endorsing the formula.

Al-Maliki, whom the U.S. has strongly supported, is a staunch opponent of decentralized government and has warned that the current constitution has weakened the power of the Iraqi state.

“We will be doomed without a strong state,” al-Maliki warned last week.

In a sermon Friday in Baghdad, senior Supreme Council lawmaker Jalaluddin al-Saghir sharply criticized al-Maliki over his views, accusing the government of overstepping its authority and failing to implement constitutional provisions of transferring power to local administrations.

In a Friday sermon at Najaf’s twin city of Kufa, the chief spokesman for al-Sadr’s movement warned against what he said was a “serious project” to divide Iraq, arguing that a huge turnout in the Jan. 31 election could foil that plan.

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5. Chemical Ali joins Saddam cohorts on trial over Kurd crackdown


Ammar Karim

Tue Jan 27,



BAGHDAD (AFP) – Saddam Hussein’s notorious hatchet man known as “Chemical Ali” and former deputy premier Tareq Aziz are among 16 former officials on trial in Iraq for a brutal 1980s campaign against Shiite Kurds, a court official said on Tuesday.

The defendants are accused of using members of the Faily Kurd community as guinea pigs for chemicals weapons testing and as human shields during Iraq’s eight-year war with neighbouring Iran.

“The Iraqi High Tribunal, headed by judge Rauf Rashid Abdel-Rahman, began reading the charges against the 16 accused on Monday,” the official said.

Among the defendants are Ali Hassan al-Majid, better known as Chemical Ali, who already faces the death sentence for genocide against the Kurds, as well as Aziz, former interior minister Watban Ibrahim Hassan and Saddam’s private secretary Abed Hamud.

The charges relate to a violent campaign against the so-called Faily Kurds, who unlike most Kurds follow the Shiite branch of Islam and who live mainly in the Iraqi province of Diyala which borders Iran.

The defendants are accused of forcibly displacing Faily Kurds, confiscating their property and belongings, as well as using them for chemical weapons experiments and as human shields on the battle front during the Iran-Iraq war from 1980 to 1988.

Chemical Ali, Saddam’s cousin, has already been condemned to death for genocide over the so-called Anfal campaign against Kurds in the 1980s and for war crimes and crimes against humanity over the crackdown on Shiites during their ill-fated 1991 uprising after the first Gulf war.

He, Hassan and Aziz are also all on trial for crimes against humanity over the 1992 execution of 42 Baghdad merchants who were accused of speculating on food prices when Iraq was under punishing UN sanctions.

Aziz, 72, is a Christian who also served as foreign minister under the now executed Saddam and became regarded as the Iraqi dictator’s mouthpiece to the outside world.

He turned himself in to US forces in April 2003 after they overthrew Saddam’s regime, but his son last year complained that he was being held in very bad conditions and was suffering from a variety of ailments.

Hassan, a member of the Baath party from the very first day, is a half-brother to Saddam and was interior minister and an adviser to the Iraqi leader.

Abed Hamud, the head of Saddam’s office, also held the post of deputy prime minister under his regime.

Saddam himself was hanged in December 2006 for the killing of 148 Shiite villagers after an attempt on his life in 1982

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6. Clinton says Iranians face a choice on cooperation


Tuesday, 27 January 2009
The Associated Press


WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says Iran now has “a clear opportunity” to engage with the international community.
In her first remarks to reporters at the State Department, Clinton said President Barack Obama has made it clear in his first days in office that he welcomes a more open Iranian approach to the world.
She said it is up to the Iranians to decide whether they wish to take a less confrontational and more cooperative approach.
Clinton said the administration is undertaking a broad survey of policy options toward Iran.
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7. Reports and Evidence of Torture and Illegal Actions of Army of Sepah-e Pasdaran Against the Residents of a Kurdish Village Near “Solmas”



January 25, 2009



Student Council of Defense of Human Rights in Kurdistan:

The residents of a village near the city of Solmas have filed a formal complaint against the “Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution” (Sepah-e Pasdaran) for its systematic torture and abuse of the residents of this village.

At 8:00am on Saturday January 17th 2009 Sepah-e Pasdaran officials invaded the village of “Khorkhora” attacked a residents’ home Mr. Sayed Taher Mohammadi 38 years old and after beating him severely, arrested him and took him to an unknown location. There has been no news about his whereabouts in the past week.

Further in the past week 6 other individuals have been arrested in the same way. These individuals are:

1. Davoud Pashayi (32)

2. Dariush Pashayi (29)

3. Amir Ahmadi (24)

4. Saman Laghyedi (25)

5. Jomhur Pashayi (24)

6. Mahmoud Hosseyni (47)

These 6 individuals are currently in Sepah-e Pasdaran detention centre and they have not been allowed any visitations.

The residents of “Khorkhora” have evidence to show that this is not the first time Sepah-e Pasdaran has attacked their village. Last June, Sepah once again attacked the village and arrested the sons of Mr. Ali Hamidi ( member of the village counsel). The two individuals arrested were Mr. Amir and Mr. Vali Hamidi.

After severe beatings and torture Mr. Vali Hamidi was able to escape and hide in the village. However Sepah officials attacked the homes of the villagers and started abusing and harassing them, under the guise of searching for Vali Hamidi. Eventually Mr. Ali Hamidi and his son Amir Hamidi were arrested.

Mr. Vali Hamidi is currently living underground due to his fear of what Sepah-e Pasdaran may do to him if he is found.

As a result of this incident, the residents of this village have filed a formal complaint against Sepah-e Pasdaran with the authorities. However the authorities have completely ignored their complaint and Sepah-e Pasdaran has not been held responsible for their illegal actions.

The residents of the village of “Khorakho” have asked the Student Council of Defense of Human Rights in Kurdistan to inform the general public and the international community of the situation of the residents of “Solmas” and in particular the village of “Khorakho.” They have further asked for the support of the international community and all human rights organizations.

The pictures below are of the formal complaint filed by the village counsel, as well as signs of torture on Mr. Vali Hamidi’s face.

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8. ’Turkey pushed into international isolation’


26 January, 2008

Hurriyet



ISTANBUL – Another criticism to Prime Minister Erdoğan’s harsh words toward Israel comes from a former ambassador who argues that the government’s pro-Hamas stance pushes Turkey into international isolation and damages the country’s mediation potential
Criticizing Israel and projecting a pro-Hamas stance is pushing Turkey into isolation in the international arena, Turkey’s former ambassador to Washington said in an interview with daily Milliyet published yesterday.

Stating that defending the Palestinian people and defending Hamas was not the same thing, Loğoğlu said being closer to Hamas would mean losing the role of mediator between Hamas and Fatah. “If Turkey was able to preserve its previous distance to Hamas and El Fetih it would be better for everyone. But right now Turkey is situated right next to Hamas and against Israel and Fatah,” he noted.

Loğoğlu said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had failed to keep a balance in his criticism of Israel and Turkey’s role as mediator in the Middle East had been damaged, although not destroyed. Furthermore, Erdoğan’s statements led to disappointment within Jewish lobby groups, he said.

Hamas not political party

“The Jewish lobby is the strongest in the United States and the only one supporting Turkey. Therefore, the letter of disappointment sent to Erdoğan is of great importance in terms of highlighting the future of ties,” Loğoğlu said.
When asked about Prime Minister Erdoğan’s statement that Hamas was a democratically elected government, Loğoğlu said he did not think Hamas was a political party. “A political party seeks to reach its goals through political means. Hamas on the other hand is a party and a terrorist organization,” he said.

Commenting on remarks that Turkish foreign policy had taken a new course under the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, Loğoğlu said this was nothing new. “The policy of zero problem with neighbors (voiced by the prime minister’s adviser Ahmet Davutoğlu) is not new in Turkey. What’s more, all the problems, including the Cyprus issue, the Aegean problem and the problems with Armenia, remain unsolved,” he said.

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9. Iranian opposition celebrates losing EU ‘terror’ tag


27 January 2009



BRUSSELS (AFP) — The exiled Iranian opposition on Tuesday celebrated being taken off the EU’s terror list and called for the United States to do the same, arguing it is Tehran that should be sanctioned.

“The European Union has conceded to the rule of law,” Maryam Rajavi, the president of the the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran (PMOI), told reporters as a crowd of supporters thronged to celebrate victory outside the main EU buildings in Brussels.

“The time has come to place the illegitimate regime on the terrorist list,” she added.

The European Union struck the main Iranian opposition group in exile from its list of terrorist organisations Monday but refused to rule out future action against it.

EU foreign ministers, meeting in Brussels, rubber-stamped a decision to drop the PMOI from the blacklist, bringing an end to a long legal battle, even though the move has angered Tehran.

The Luxembourg-based Court of First Instance ruled last month that the EU had wrongly frozen the funds of the opposition group and violated its rights by not justifying why it was placed on the list.

It was the third such ruling by Europe’s second-highest tribunal.

It may not be the end of the story for the group, which was placed on the terror lists in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.

France has announced that it would appeal the tribunal’s ruling.

The EU’s move to drop the PMOI from its terror list followed a similar legal battle and result in Britain which has done the same.

However, the group remains on the US list and is now turning its eyes to the new US administration of President Barack Obama to remove the “unjust label” of terrorist group.

“The PMOI should be removed from the United States terror list, this is the best policy even for negotiations with the mullah regime,” said Rajavi, referring to Iran.



“The new US administration must not give more concessions to the mullah regime. The new government must stop them with regard to their project for nuclear weapons and the war-mongering in the Middle East and the oppression of the Iranian people.”

Iran on Monday angrily condemned the EU’s removal of the PMOI from its terror blacklist, accusing the bloc of “encouraging terrorism.”

Brussels police estimated that some 2,000 supporters turned out for the noisy celebration in the Belgian capital, far fewer than the organisers had predicted but enough to close down part of the road outside the European Council building.

One of the organisers, Shahid Gobadi, estimated that 15,000 supporters had taken part in the celebrations throughout the day.

“I think the policy of appeasement has been crushed,” he said. “The wheels of change will start now.”

Rajavi was joined at her platform by European parliamentarians who have supported her group’s cause over the years, with interventions from British, Belgian, French and Italian lawmakers among others.

For one of those, European Parliament vice president Alejo Vidal-Quadras, the removal of the group from the EU’s black list put an end to an ignominous chapter in EU history.

“Today I feel proud to be a European, because during all this fight I was not so proud sometimes,” he said.

Founded in 1965 with the aim of replacing first the shah and then the Islamic clerical regime in

Iran, the PMOI — led by Rajavi, who lives in France — has in the past operated an armed group inside Iran.

It was the armed wing of the France-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) but it renounced violence in June 2001.

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10. Concern for Mr. Amir Masbah Ghazi- 36 days after his Arrest



January 26, 2009



Student Council of Defense of Human Rights in Kurdistan:

Mr. Amir Masbah Ghazi, a Kurdish student in the city of Mahabad was arrested and continues to be imprisoned for unknown reasons. Mr. Amir Masbah Ghazi is a Kurdish social and literally activist.

Mr. Ghazi is a student in the Private University of Mahabad and was arrested 36 days ago by security forces. He was taken to a detention centre of the Ministry of Intelligence in the city of Orumiyeh.

Mr. Ghazi is a member of Literacy Association in Mahabad, an organization that operates legally and focuses on Kurdish culture and literature.

Mr. Ghazi was also arrested three years ago by security forces and spent some time in custody.

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11. Religious persecution continues-Iran



Jan. 27, 2009
Kenneth R. Timmerman
www.iran.org



The Judiciary announced today that it has arrested six Bahai’s and a Christian for alleged propaganda against the Islamic republic and insulting Islam, spokesman Ali Reza Jamshidi said on Tuesday. “These people were not arrested for their faith. The six Bahais are accused of insulting religious sanctities and the Christian citizen of propaganda against the system,” Jamshidi said.

This news came as Compass Direct News reported today that three Christians were arrested in Tehran on January 21 as part of a larger operation in which as many as 50 people were rounded up. “The arrests come as part of a tsunami of arrests in the past several months,” the news service reported. Whereas past waves of harassment and arrests of Christians eventually have subsided, recent pressure has been “continuously high,” with reports of arrests in almost every month of 2008, the news service added. Compass Direct News focuses on endangered Christian communities being persecuted around the world.

FDI deplores the ongoing persecution of Bahai’s, whose faith is outlawed under the Islamic Republic constitution, and efforts by the Islamic Republic authorities to marginizalise and harrass Christians, especially Muslim Background Believers. In recent years, as the house church movement in Iran has grown dramatically, the Judiciary has arrested priests, pastors and lay persons in increasingly large numbers. Many have been murdered because of their faith.

Since 1999, the Department of State has designated the Islamic Republic of Iran as a “Country of Particular Concern” (CPC) under the International Religious Freedom Act for its “particularly egregious violations of religious freedom.” The 2008 State Department report on International Religious Freedom documents the arrest of 41 Bahai’s and notes that the government now requires evangelical Christian groups “to compile and submit membership lists for their congregations” in an effort to discourage Christian groups from bearing witness to Muslims.

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12. Possible Iraqi-Turkish operations against PKK after US pullout


KurdishMedia.com –

By Vladimir van Wilgenburg

27/01/2009



Today’s Zaman reported that a new joint command centre is going to be established in the capital of regional Kurdistan administration. Both America, Iraq and Turkey are involved in the new centre in Hawler (Erbil). The move comes after a visit of Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari to Turkey. The plan is probable influenced by America, who want to bring her two allies – Turkey and the Regional Government of Kurdistan (KRG) – closer together.

The Kurdish newspaper Awene claimed that both Turkey and Iraq have plans to begin a joint military operation against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) after the American troops leave Iraq in 2011. According to Awene the Turkish envoy to Iraq, Murat Ozcelik, tried to convince the KRG to join these planned operations against the PKK in a recent visit to Erbil in January. It’s not clear if the KRG accepted this idea. Although the establishment of the centre in Hawler (Erbil) could be a sign of more cooperation of the Kurdish government.

The official position of the Kurdish government is that the Kurdish issue in Turkey should be solved with dialogue and not with weapons. Barzani held several emotional speeches in which he said Kurds aren’t to going to shed ‘Kurdish blood’ again. The KRG wants Turkey to talk with PKK and respond to the ceasefires of the PKK.

But it’s clear Turkey is not going to accept this. The Turkish government is against talks with a ‘terrorist organization’. Although there have been news reports of talks between the Turkish national intelligence services (MIT) with Ocalan to curb the growing influence of the KRG-president Massoud Barzani.

The independent Kurdish Iraqi mp Mahmud Osman said that the ‘Kurdistan region’ wants a peaceful solution to the PKK question and a dialogue. “But Turkey refused a peaceful solution.” Osman thinks the new command centre is a dangerous development and emphasised that the KRG should press Turkey to accept ‘dialogue’.

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13. Arrest of Two Students and One Youth in “Ravansar”



January 26, 2009

Student Council of Defense of Human Rights in Kurdistan: Two Kurdish students in the city of Ravansar were arrested on January 18th 2009 and there has been no news about them since that date.

These two students are Mr. Rahim Mohammadi and Mr. Mohammad Sadeghi. Further an 18 years old youth named Behzad was also arrested. These three individuals were arrested without being charged and for unknown reasons, beaten and taken to an “unknown” location.

The families of these individuals have tried to get information about their whereabouts however they have not been successful. Also neither Mr. Mohammadi, Mr. Sadeghi or Behzad have been able to call their families.

There is no information about what kind of charges these individuals may be facing

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14. Kurdistan leader Massoud Barzani discussed promotion of economic and trade ties in a meeting with a visiting delegation of senior Iranian diplomats



26 January, 2009

Iran Daily


According to ISNA, Barzani and the Iranian delegation, including Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hassan Qashqavi and Iranian Ambassador to Baghdad Hassan Kazemi Qomi, conferred on boosting cooperation and exchanging views on other issues of mutual interest.
The Iranian delegation also attended a meeting with Kurdistan Regional Government’s Prime Minister Neshervan Barzani, where the two sides stressed the need for adopting a series of measures to help boost the activities and the presence of Iranian investors in the Iraqi Kurdistan region.
Trade between the western Iranian provinces and Iraq has grown as economic ties between strengthened, provincial officials said.
Abdul Sattar Jamal, the provincial envoy for Iraq in the western Iranian province of Kermanshah, said Iraq and Iran enjoy strong trade relations, stemming in part from the flow of pilgrims.
Governor of Ilam Mir-Mohammad Gharavi also echoed those sentiments but added that more could be done to increase border crossings to boost the regional economy via religious activities.
The economic statements come as Iranian commerce officials said trade among members of the regional Economic Cooperation Organization reached $5 billion per year.
ECO is a trade organization including Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The objective is to create a common market similar to the European Union.
Almost 97 percent of the $2 billion worth of bilateral trade with Iraq consists of Iranian exports to that country, Iran’s envoy to Baghdad said.
“Iran has a significant potential to participate in Iraq’s reconstruction,“ Hassan Kazemi Qomi said, adding that presently the contracts to build Baghdad’s 300 Megawatt power plant and 2 pipelines to transfer 350 thousand barrels of crude oil per day from Basra to Abadan are also underway.
“The 400 Megawatt electricity power transmission line from Abadan to Al-Hares is among the most important projects being implemented by Iran,“ Kazemi Qomi said.
He also noted that Pars Wagon Company can play a positive role in the development of Iraq’s railway network.
Signing technical cooperation documents for the expansion of Iraq’s railroad is among the future cooperation in this field.
Kazemi Qomi referred to these projects as a sign of Iran’s willingness to contribute to Iraq’s reconstruction, mentioning that Iranian pilgrims’ visit to Iraq by train is another important option in future ties.
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15. Iranian Kurd guilty of setting fire to Iranian embassy in London


27 January 2008



LONDON (AFP) – An Iranian Kurd who sought asylum in Britain was handed a 50-week suspended jail sentence Tuesday for trying to burn down the Iranian embassy in London.

Ali Rahmi, 21, pleaded guilty at Southwark crown court to one count of arson on September 29, 2008. He had drenched the armour-plated front doors of the embassy in petrol and set them alight with a cigarette lighter.

No-one was hurt in the incident, which the court heard came just days after Rahmi received news that a relative had been killed in Iran.

Rahmi himself had arrived in Britain two years earlier seeking asylum, claiming Iranian security forces had tried to kill him. His request was refused but he appealed and the case was under review at the time of the attack.

Prosecutor Peter Zinner told the court that the attack was a “venting of anger… a totally irrational outburst of violence to protest against what he perceives to be his mistreatment”.

Judge James Wadsworth said it was a “clearly serious crime” but he would spare him immediate imprisonment because of his experiences.

“However, because this was such a betrayal of your position in this country, there must be a sentence of imprisonment, although the 50 weeks I am imposing will be suspended for two years,” he said.

The embassy, in the affluent London district of Knightsbridge, was the scene of a siege in 1980 when it was taken over by Iranian Arab separatists.