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Entries in Nazila Fathi (2)


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 (12 April): Signals from Mousavi & Rafsanjani?

2120 GMT: Dramatic Gesture of the Day. It looks like it was not enough for the Iranian President to call foreign leaders "retarded" over the nuclear issue. The Islamic Republic News Agency is reporting that Ahmadinejad has claimed the high ground on "terrorism".

Writing United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urged the UN to condemn the support of foreign forces in Afghanistan for the Jundullah insurgency's activities in Iran.

"We expect your condemn NATO's support for terrorism in the (Middle East) region and those who have supported this criminal [Jundullah leader Abdolmalek Rigi, captured by Iranian authorities]."

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The Latest from Iran (11 April): Checking In

As for alleged terrorism upon other countries, Ahmadinejad called for an investigation into the 11 September 2001 attacks on the United States which he said were "used as a pretext for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq".

2115 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Human rights activists reports that 17 detainees in Orumiyeh prison are on hunger strike.

1420 GMT: Ahmadinejad "Nuclear Weapons & Retarded People" Shocker. In what of course is not at all a diversionary statement (see 0950 GMT), the Iranian President used a domestic tourism industry event to pronounce on the Obama-led nuclear summit thousands of miles away:
World summits being organized these days are intended to humiliate human beings...These foolish people who are in charge are like stupid, retarded people who brandish their swords whenever they face shortcomings, without realizing that the time for this type of thing is over.

1240 GMT: The Clerical Challenge. An interesting interview in Tehran Bureau with Professor Said Arjomand on relations between the state and senior clergy: "Let me answer your question as to whether this challenge to the legitimacy of velāyat-e faqih and its official interpretation is new and serious."

1205 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Concerns are growing over the physical condition of journalist Mehdi Mahmoudian, who helped exposed the Kahrizak Prison abuses. Mahmoudian suffers from lung diseases and prison officials have allegedly not treated him.

Mohsen Safaei Farahani, a senior member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, has been sentenced to five years in prison following appeal.

Safaei Farahani, a former head of the Iranian Football Federation, was arrested on 20 June and charged with “acting against national security”, carrying out propaganda against the system, insulting state officials, and creating public anxiety. He was temporarily released earlier this year on a bail of more than $700,000.

The six-year sentence of Ali Tajernia, another IIPF member, has been reduced to a year in prison following appeal. He was convicted of assembly and collusion to endanger public security and of propaganda against the Islamic Republic.

Student activist Mahdiyeh Golrou has been sentenced to 28 months in prison.

1145 GMT: Economy Watch. Peyke Iran claims that
Zagros Terminal workers and bus drivers in Ahwaz have not been paid for several months.

1140 GMT: The Corruption Case. Looks like Iran's head of judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, is walking a political tightrope. He has insisted that the judiciary "has no fear" in pursuing big cases, i.e., the Fatemi Avenue insurance fraud and alleged involvement of First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi, but he has also insisted that those who make public claims for political reasons will be prosecuted.

1130 GMT: Did We Mention Signals? The Green Movement is picking up not only on Rafsanjani's meeting with leading reformist Behzad Nabavi (see 0950 GMT) but also on a Sunday statement in which the former President that it would be best if people again had confidence in the elections.

Rafsanjani again was careful to emphasise his "excellent understanding with the Supreme Leader" --- the battle is with the Ahmadinjead Government --- and said he would again lead Tehran's Friday Prayers when he felt the need for it. Rafsanjani has not made a Friday prayer address since 17 July.

Meanwhile, signals from another political quarter: we have a summary of Mir Hossein Mousavi's meeting with student activists: "Spring is Unstoppable".

1025 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Tahereh Saeedi, the wife of detained film director Jafar Panahi, has told Rooz Online that she has met with Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi but received no answers about Panahi's condition. (See separate entry for Saeedi's recent letter expressing her concern about the harsh treatment of Panahi and the effect on his health.)

Saeedi added that "making a film without a permit and wearing a green scarf at the Montreal World Film Festival" are among the charges against her husband.

1015 GMT: Economy Watch. And this little item might also deserve a think, in light of the connections between economic approach and power in the regime:
Iran has transferred shares in six petrochemical plants and power stations to a social welfare investment organisation of the Islamic Republic's armed forces, state-owned Press TV said on its website.

"The transfer was reported to have been in lieu of the government debt to the Armed Forces Pension Fund," Press TV, an English-language satellite station, said on Friday evening.

The stakes, transferred following a cabinet decision, ranged from 23 percent to 100 percent, it said. The companies included Bushehr Petrochemical Company, Marun Petrochemicals and Pars Petrochemicals.

"In return, SATA (Armed Forces Social Welfare Investment Organization) is obliged to complete and commission the Bushehr petrochemical project within four years," Press TV said.

0950 GMT: A later start today because of the time difference while I'm in the US. Many thanks to EA readers for getting the day out to a start with their discussion on yesterday's LiveBlog.

Another case today, on the 10-month anniversary of the June election, of keeping eyes open for developments inside Iran. Most of the non-Iranian press are now comprehensively distracted by the nuclear issue. Even Nazila Fathi, one of the best reporters for a US paper on Iranian topics, is swept up by the postures of Washington and Tehran on the nuclear issue. Following the Sunday statements of the Supreme Leader and Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, she leads with the Foreign Ministry's spin:
A large majority of Iranian lawmakers, angered over the Obama administration’s new nuclear weapons policy that conspicuously makes Iran and North Korea possible targets, urged their government on Sunday to formally complain to the United Nations in a petition that called the United States a warmonger and threat to world peace.

Unsurprisingly, the nuclear fuss is playing into the hands of those who would prefer attention anywhere except the internal situation in Iran: Race for Iran, the website supporting the legitimacy of the Ahmadinejad Government, is already proclaiming, "Iran Reacts to Becoming a US Nuclear Target".

So where else might one look for news? Well, of course, there's the far-from-minor skirmish over corruption, with First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi the target of charges by key MPs. There's the ongoing battle over the subsidy and spending plans. There is the matter of hundreds of political prisoners. And there is this:
Mohammad Hashemi [the brother of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani] confirmed reports about a meeting between senior reformist Behzad Nabavi and Hashemi Rafsanjani in the holiday resort of Kish Island.

No further information on the discussion, as many were distracted by Hashemi's denial that Rafsanjani had met the head of Iran's judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, to discuss whether Rafsanjani's son, Mehdi Hashemi, must return from London, possibily to face charges.

Consider, however, that Rafsanjani's discussion with Nabavi, who is still out on bail after the imposition of a long prison sentence, follows the former President's meeting last week with leading reformist MPs. And spare a moment, from all the nuclear chaff, to consider, "What is the signal?"