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Entries in Abdollah Momeni (3)


The Latest from Iran (15 April): Accepting Authority?

1315 GMT: We'll be on extended break today, as I'll be lost in the wilds of Georgia in the US. While I make my way back, EA readers --- as they did yesterday --- will be keeping the news and chatter going.

1300 GMT: The Oil Squeeze (cont.). This time, it's exports rather than imports (see 0920 GMT) causing an issue. Khabar Online reports, "From the early 2010 Iran’s oil export has dropped by 378,000 barrels a day compared to 2009 and it will cause a $9.5 billion deficit in the country’s oil revenues this year."

NEW Iran: A View From Tehran “The New Year Challenges”
NEW Iran: A Note About the Voice of America, NIAC, and the “Journalism” of The Washington Times
Iran’s Nukes: Can Tehran and the US Make A Deal?
The Latest from Iran (14 April): Ahmadinejad’s Struggle

Still, Iranian officials maintain a positive line:
Iran's Oil Minister says US-led sanctions against Iran have failed as the country has managed to become self-sufficient in oil production and products.

"International sanctions are not a new issue and we have no problem in dealing with them," Masoud Mirkazemi told reporters on Wednesday after a cabinet session.

1105 GMT: We've posted a separate analysis, "A Note About the Voice of America, NIAC, and the 'Journalism' of The Washington Times". And we also open a window on analysis inside Iran with a piece from Iran Review, "The New Year Challenges".

1055 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. RAHANA claims that Mottahareh Bahrami, currently detained in Evin’s women’s ward, has been sentenced to death, pending appeal, for alleged links to the Mujahedin-e-Khalq "terrorist" organisation. Bahrami was arrested on Ashura (27 December 27), along with her husband, her son and 2 friends.

1050 GMT: The Subsidy Battle. More back-and-forth over the Ahmadinejad fight with Parliament on subsidy reductions and spending. Mohammad Reza Khabbaz of the Majlis' Economics Committee has reiterated that the Government must implement the Parliament-approved subsidy plan; however, Ahmadinejad backer Ali Asghar Zarei has insisted that implementation is up to the President.

On another front, Fereydoun Hemmati of the Supreme Audit Committee has insisted that the budget report for last year cannot be altered. The report has a number of provocative claims, including the "loss" of oil revenues by the state.

1035 GMT: The Corruption Allegations. As the charges of corruption by prominent MP Elyas Naderan against First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi resonate, the "hard-line" newspaper Kayhan has called for an end to fighting amongst "fundamentalists".

1025 GMT: Rumour of Day. Khabar Online suggests that former President Mohammad Khatami will be attending a global disarmament conference in Japan next week. The Japan event comes after this week's nuclear summit, led by President Obama, in Washington and Iran's own gathering this weekend.

0930 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Peyke Iran claims news of an "unknown" prisoner, student and Mousavi campaigner Yasser Yousefzadeh, who has been held incommunicado for more than a month.

Baha’i photographer and musician Artin Ghazanfari, released last week on $50,000 bail, has been re-arrested.

Human rights activists, via A Street Journalist, offers a full summary of developments, including the report that almost 30 detainees across Iran are now on hunger strike.

0920 GMT: The Oil Squeeze. Another intriguing report this morning, and one arguably with far more significance than the Iran Parliament's reported retreat....

A company spokesman has said that Malaysia's Petronas is halting oil shipments to Iran. Petronas, one of the largest suppliers to Tehran, has not made any deliveries since mid-March.

0910 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Meanwhile, back to immediate everyday concerns....

Kalemeh claims that the renewed detention of Abdollah Momeni, the leading student activist, was caused by his refusal to cooperate with security and intelligence agents while on temporary release. Other activist and Momeni’s wife, assert that Momeni was pressed to denounce Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi, and his organisation, Advar-e Takhim Vadat. Momeni was also asked to participate in a series of staged student gatherings.

Momeni's return to prison followed a meeting last week of Mousavi and Advar-e Takhim Vahdat.

0900 GMT: We return from an extended break to find the headline-grabbing story, as framed in The New York Times, "Iran’s Parliament Limits Its Power as a Watchdog".

Nazila Fathi's story, drawn from state media but with no details, claims, "Parliament’s lawmakers’ ability to review regulations adopted by the Guardian Council, the Assembly of Experts, the Supreme National Security Council and the Expediency Council." Fathi evaluates, "The decision seemed to be an acknowledgment of the reality that the elected Parliament was often blocked from fulfilling its role as a watchdog over the institutions of state."

It is, to the say the least, a most curious report. Parliament has been embroiled in a heated dispute with President Ahmadinejad over his economic proposals, and the corruption allegations against First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi offer a possible showdown.

We'll look for developments, but for now, is this a Parliamentary retreat or a bit of mischief by some state media "reporters"?

The Latest from Iran (13 April): Getting Beyond the Sideshow

1830 GMT: Economy Watch. It is reported that, in the "slow death" of domestic production because of Chinese-made goods, more than 75% of Iran's imports are now consumer items.

1815 GMT: Rubbing It In. The President's "establishment" opposition are crowing over his supposed retreat over the subsidy cut and spending proposals: they claim that Ahmadinejad has begged the Parliament to let him have a free hand in implementing the plan.

Iran: Mousavi to Students “Spring is Unstoppable”
The Latest from Iran (12 April): Signals from Mousavi & Rafsanjani?

1800 GMT: The 15 June Dispute. Some Government officials have been saying, rather curiously, that the mass marches of 15 June, three days after the election, had been granted a permit by the authorities.

Morteza Tamaddon, the Governor of Tehran Province, has issued a denial, carried in Khabar Online: there was no permit for the "fitna" (sedition) rally.

1150 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Journalist Emad Bahavar has told his wife that he is still being kept in solitary confinement.

1140 GMT: Labour Watch. More than 50 workers of the Abadan municipality have gone on strike to protest over more than three months of unpaid wages.

1130 GMT: The Latest on Scholarship. Rah-e-Sabz reports that a Government-sponsored conference on "Nuclear Iran" at Elm-o-Sanat University was boycotted. Two university has also expelled two more professors.

1110 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. An Iranian activist is reporting that Abdollah Momeni, a leading member of the student organisation Advar-e Takhim Vahdat, has been summoned to court and rearrested.

Momeni has been out on $800,000 bail. Last week he was a prominent participant in a meeting with Mir Hossein Mousavi.

1040 GMT: Militarising the Judiciary? Rah-e-Sabz is pondering the significance of a General Muhammad Bagher-Zolghadr being nominated as the new cultural, social, and anti-crime deputy of Iran's judiciary.

Last September, Zolghadr outlined the notion of “soft war” in a speech: “In a hard war, the line between you and the enemy is clear, but in a soft war there is nothing so solid. The enemy is everywhere.”

1030 GMT: Handing Out Justice. The head of Iran's judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, has assured a Parliamentary commission that, "if culpable, even my relatives would be persecuted".

I don't think this means that Ali Larijani should watch his back. Instead, Sadegh Larijani is trying to fend off growing pressure for the prosecution of First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi over corruption allegations.

1025 GMT: The Battle Within. While we wait for confirmation of the reports, in Press TV (see 1010 GMT) and Khabar Online, that the President has backed down in the fight over the subsidy plan, more signs that all is not well within the dominant "principlist" faction:
As the members of the Principalist fraction of Iranian Parliament Majlis have expressed different views on the actions taken by the faction’s presidium, Majlis speaker Ali Larijani is to settle their dispute.

....Mohammad Ali Bozorgvari a member of the Principalist fraction of the Parliament delivered a speech last week blasting the members of fraction's presidium and Larijani in particular. He asked them to give clear answers to those criticisms.

Significantly, the report is in the pro-Larijani Khabar Online.

1015 GMT: When Sideshows Get Silly. Here is one reason why we were somewhat dismissive of press coverage of the first day of the Obama nuclear summit (see 0850 GMT), which converged on the line that China was ready to back a US-led sanctions resolution in the UN. For months, Beijing has played the cautious game of appeasing American sentiments by saying, Yes, We'll Talk, while in complementary statements saying, No, We Don't Do Anything Drastic.

So, hours after reporters fed by US officials were declaring Washiington-Beijing unity on the sanctions path, this from the Chinese Foreign Ministry: "We believe that the Security Council's relevant actions should be conducive to easing the situation and conducive to promoting a fitting solution to the Iranian nuclear issue through dialogue and negotiations."

Bless 'em, Reuters are still trying to wedge that tactically convoluted statement into their Monday story-line that All is Going Well: "[The] comments appeared to leave scant doubt that Beijing accepts that fresh Security Council action over Iran is coming, even if China wants room to negotiate over the sanctions proposed by Western powers."

1010 GMT: A Presidential Subsidy Climbdown? Rooz Online offers a lengthy analysis, "Continuation of Conflict Dangerous", but Press TV may have put up the signal that the battle is ending with a Parliamentary victory.

The website reports that, at the start of the Majlis session today, Deputy Speaker Mohammad Hossein Abu Torabi announced, "In a meeting with a group of Iranian MPs, the President has agreed to facilitate the implementation of the subsidy bill without introducing a complementary bill."

That would seem to indicate that Ahmadinejad has given up his attempt to get $40 billion in extra spending from subsidy cuts, rather than the $20 billion authorised by Parliament.

1000 GMT: Now to Important Matters --- Karroubi. The latest statement of Mehdi Karroubi has slipped under the radar, with his meeting last Thursday with the reformist Mojahedin of Islamic Revolution party only emerging on his website yesterday.

Karroubi criticised the recent speech of Ahmadinejad in Azerbaijan: “The language used is by no means appropriate for a president....[It is] an insult to thousands of years of Iranian civilisation.” He dismissed the President's attempt to focus attention on the US v. Iran. American threats against the country “were not something new” and, in the event of any attack, “we will all defend the country”:
Creating enemies is not a big deal. A big deal would be to respond to threats with reason and logic so that the public opinion of nations and [the opinion] of governments are drawn towards the truth such that threats are eliminated and turned into opportunities.

Bringing attention back to the domestic front, Karroubi warned of the consequences if Ahmadinejad continued putting down the Parliament and its importance: “If he degrades the Majlis today, tomorrow, the Parliament will lose all respect,” Denouncing the treatment of political prisoners and arguing for the respect of women's rights, he asserted, “We demand the implementation of the Constitution and stand even more firm than ever before.”

0900 GMT: Economy Watch. On another public-relations, Press TV tries to whip up some hope over Iran's international economic position:
Brazil has opened its doors to Iranian businessmen and welcomes any project, which will help the economy and encourage trade between the two countries.

"Iran is a big country in the region and enjoys considerable capacity to develop cooperation with Brazil," Brazilian Development, Industry and Foreign Trade Minister Miguel Jorge said Monday in Tehran after visiting his Iranian counterpart Ali Akbar Mehrabian.

0850 GMT: OK, let's deal with the sideshow now so we can concentrate on other matters later in the day.

The "nuclear summit" in Washington, at least for the mainstream press, turned into an All About Iran festival. Laura Rozen, one of the best journalists for inside information in the US capital, turned herself into a spokesperson for that line: "On summit sidelines, many conversations about Iran". That's courtesy of a "Washington Gulf expert" --- “With the Chinese, Russians and Turks, folks that need to come along on the sanctions track", the show is all about a forthcoming UN resolution --- and National Security Council staffer Jeff Bader: "The President in the meeting made clear the sense of urgency, and the Chinese made clear that they are prepared to work with us." (Bader is also probably the unnamed "US official" in other reports optimistically pointing to China's support.)

Of course Mahmoud Ahmadinejad didn't take this lying down, not with the opportunity to substitute US v. Iran for any internal matters. From his measured description of foreign leaders as "retarded people" to his call on the UN to investigate how the US Government used the 11 September attacks to set up wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, it was a red-letter day for finger-pointing by the Iranian President.

Ahmadinejad's declarations are propped up by Iranian state media by other signs that the sanctions hammer won't fall on Tehran: there is a speech outside the summit from Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that there is "no evidence indicating that Iran's nuclear activities include efforts to acquire a nuclear weapon".

Iran: Mousavi to Students "Spring is Unstoppable"

“Spring is unstoppable, the arrival of spring is inevitable.”

That was the far-from-subtle message offered by Mir  Hossein Mousavi in a meeting with members of the student organisation Advar-e Takhim Vahdat, including recently-released activist Abdollah Momeni, in Isfahan.

Mousavi, joined by his wife Zahra Rahnavard, said that the people’s movement was not like a “painting” whose characteristics are known beforehand: “Despite its imaginable plot and overall design, it should be said that the pieces and details are formed gradually and in line with time and location.”

While reports of the meeting are sketchy on any detailed political discussion, Mousavi's general call was a bold challenge, in light of the regime's crackdown on dissent: “Our moral responsibility should be to realistically call black what is black, and to call white, what is white.”

Mousavi, as he has increasingly done since last autumn, focused on the inclusiveness of the opposition movement, gathering people with different views and systems of thought inside and outside Iran, and emphasised the creation of social networks and media.

Mousavi declared that the people’s post-election protests were already a significant victory: even the memory of massive demonstrations will be a constant affirmation that  the Iranian nation is awake and alive.