Iran Election Guide

Donate to EAWV

Or, click to learn more


« China Economy Weekly: Foreign Reserves; Investment and Trade Surges; Co-operation with India and with General Motors | Main | Palestine-Israel Analysis: Ramallah's "One Month Trial" and Netanyahu's "Security Card" »

The Latest from Iran (23 August): Political Cease-fire?

1830 GMT: Shh, Don't Mention the Sanctions. In an interview with former President Abulhassan Banisadr, Deutsche Welle refers to two directives from Iran's Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. One banning newspapers from printing pictures and news of opposition figures has already been mentioned (see 0919 GMT).

The other is new to us: Iranian media have apparently been told to make no mention of the effects of sanctions.

NEW Iran Document: Interview with Detained Filmmaker Mohammad Nourizad
NEW Iran Special: Have Ahmadinejad and Ali Larijani Kissed and Made Up?
Iran: Today’s Shiny Object for Media? Why, It’s an Ambassador-of-Death Drone Bomber!
The Latest from Iran (22 August): Ahmadinejad Aide Mortazavi Suspended?

1800 GMT: The President's Men. Fars News is now carrying the story of the suspension of three officials over the Kahrizak Prison abuses, but does not name any of them, including Presidential aide Saeed Mortazavi.

1745 GMT: MediaWatch (cont.). Thomas Erdbrink, writing in The Washington Post, is the first "Western" reporter to name Presidential aide Saeed Mortazavi as one of the three officials suspended for alleged connections with post-election Kahrizak Prison abuses. Erdbrink quotes human rights lawyer Saleh Nikbakht, "Mortazavi is among them, and now that he no longer has judicial immunity, he could face trial."

And The Financial Times is clearly on a roll with its coverage of the in-fighting. Having noted the Supreme Leader's intervention on Wednesday (see 1735 GMT), the newspaper also features Najmeh Bozorgmehr's article "Shia Schism Deepens Ahmadi-Nejad's Woes": "The infighting between Iran’s fundamentalists has deepened the gulf between supporters and opponents of President Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad."

1735 GMT: MediaWatch on The President's Men. Credit to Reuters for picking up on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's appointment of his chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, as one of his four "special representatives" for foreign policy --- Rahim-Mashai's responsibility will be the Near East --- and for putting that in the context of political battles within the establishment.

Not so sure, however, that Reuters' snap conclusion is on the mark: "[This suggests] for now that for now [Ahmadinejad] may have the upper hand over the critics." (Someone might want to consult Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani.)

The Financial Times, belatedly but interestingly, notes the Supreme Leader's intervention last Wednesday and frames it as "Ayatollah Warns Bickering Politicians". The reporter, Monavar Khalaj, picks out this extract from Ayatollah Khamenei's statements, “I gave a serious warning to the officials not to make their differences public....Unity and solidarity among the country’s officials is a religious duty and the intentional rejection [of unity] is, especially in the upper echelon, against religious teachings.”

1720 GMT: Baby Basij. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, drawing from Aftab News, reports that female commander of the Basij militia, Zohreh Abbasi, has said that her unit has introduced a special program that allows baby girls to be registered as members of the force and receive training.

Abbasi said that, in the past six years, 23 baby girls had been trained as Basij members through "Koranic, cultural, educational, and military" classes.

"Basij mothers register their baby girls 40 days after they were born at the Hossein Haj Mousaee unit by presenting documents and IDs," Abbasi said. She declared that two babies have recently been born and  work is under way to prepare a dossiers for the new arrivals to enrol them in the special program.

1715 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Detainees at Rajai Shahr Prison written to Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, asking him to support human rights and labour activism.

1450 GMT: Energy Squeeze. Nabucco Gas Pipeline International GmbH, the company behind the amibitious Asia to Europe "gas bridge", will supply Europe through links to Turkey’s borders with Georgia and Iraq, rejecting a connection to the Turkish-Iranian border. Nabucco said the shareholders' decision was “due to the current political situation".

1335 GMT: MediaWatch (President's Man Edition). Almost 24 hours after the suspension of Ahmadinejad aide and former Tehran Prosecutor General Saeed Mortazavi from his post because of alleged links to the Kahrizak Prison abuses, non-Iranian media --- like their counterparts in Tehran --- are not providing a name. The BBC, following the lead of the Associated Press, say only that "Iran has suspended three judicial officers".

1315 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Persian2English reports that Amnesty International and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands have expressed concern over the possibility of a death sentence for Zahra Bahrami, an Iranian-Dutch citizen arrested in Iran after the Ashura protests of 27 December.

1245 GMT: Tough Talk Today. Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, the Revolutionary Guard's Navy Commander, says Iran's missile-launching vessels are the best in the world for speed and power. “American warships currently have a maximum speed of 31 knots while Iranian vessels can travel twice as fast on average,” Fadavi said at a ceremony to open production lines for domestically-built Zolfaghar and Seraj craft.

1100 GMT: The Nuclear Front. Yesterday we noted, from a paragraph in a New York Times article on the Bushehr nuclear plant, the significant announcement that "Russia would provide Iran with iodine and molybdenum, nuclear isotopes used in medicine" and asked, "Will Iran withdraw its demand that it be allowed to enrich uranium to 20%, at least while discussions proceed on a long-term deal over the nuclear programme? And is Washington up-to-speed and supportive of the Russian move?"

An EA source offers an answer, noting this statement from the head of Iran's nuclear enrichment programme, Ali Akbar Salehi:
We will go as far as our needs are met. So we have no intention to proceed forever for enriching [uranium] to 20%, although it is our right according to the NPT [Non-Proliferation Treaty] and the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] statute to enrich uranium to any percentage that is needed for peaceful uses in nuclear energy. But this does not mean that we shall do so. We only embarked on 20% because of the conditions that were imposed on us. I reiterate that we will go as far as our needs are met.

Our source comments, "Seems to me that Iran is gearing up to offer this as a bargaining chip."

0919 GMT: Blackout in the Newspapers. Daneshjoo News publishes a document which it claims is a Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance order barring the names and pictures of Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi, and Mohammad Khatami from newspapers.

0918 GMT: Silence in the Theatre. Voice of America offers an overview of new restrictions by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance on Iran's theatre.

0915 GMT: We have published a separate feature: journalist and filmmaker Mohammad Nourizad, just before returning to prison last week, posted his comments in an interview for his website.

0739 GMT: The Hunger Strike. Jila Bani Yaghoub, the wife of journalist Bahman Ahmadi Amoui, one of 17 detainees who recently went on hunger strike in Evin Prison, has offered an update on her blog.

Bani Yaghoub says the hunger strikers, who ended their fast last week, are "weakened" but in excellent spirits. She claims that, when they were finally returned to the general ward --- Amoui was one of the last three prisoners to be let out of solitary confinement --- they knew already about the international "echo" of their protest.

0735 GMT: Cleric Stands Tough. Following yet another attempt by a crowd to intimidate him by gathering outside the Shiraz mosque where he presides, Grand Ayatollah Dastgheib has warned "those who meet clandestinely to attack Qoba Mosque again". He said that he is interpreting the Qu'ran in mosque, and all that his followers want is justice and implementation the Constitution.

0725 GMT: The Supreme Leader and the Students. More on Ayatollah Khamenei's three-hour meeting with student represenatives on Sunday....

The Supreme Leader declared, "I am united with all those who follow principles, but others are outside" the Iranian system. He added, "We must not eliminate people with weak religious belief on pretext of purifying society."

Khamenei admitted --- interestingly, in light of yesterday's news about the suspension of three officials --- that procedure in the Kahrizak abuse case had been slow.

0650 GMT: An Ahmadinejad-Ali Larijani Deal? Really?

Already EA correspondents are moving beyond the public face of a reconciliation between the President and the Speaker of Parliament --- considered in our special analysis this morning --- and the notion of a resolution between the Majlis and the Government is far from clear-cut.

First, the Ahmadinejad meeting with Parliament that preceded the press conference with Larijani....

The President, attending with Minister of Agriculture Sadegh Khalilian (who is under some pressure from the Majlis) and Minister of Economy Shamsoddin Hosseini, welcomed the monthly discussions. Then the questions began on topics which have been long-standing and growing sources of dispute: privatisation, proper implementation of laws, cultural problems (hijab), and the possible impeachment of Khalilian.

That in itself was a bit of a climb-down for Ahmadinejad, who had balked at given an account of his meetings, but it cut off an initiative by some MPs for formal questioning of the President. This, as well as the Supreme Leader's intervention on Wednesday, lay behind the good-news statements that followed the meeting: Ali Larijani said the Majlis has made the first step for unity of powers, while Ahmadinejad declared, "If you make good laws, the Government will implement them."

Whether that reconcililation holds is another issue. In the meeting, Ahmadinejad faced challenges, such as Mohammad Ebrahim Nekounam insisting on the Government's "duty" to implement Majlis legislation and Gholam-Ali Hadad Adel insisting that the President's enforcement of the "hijab and chastity project" is absolutely necessary. (As always, make what you will of the fact that this description is appearing in Khabar Online, linked to Ali Larijani.)

And there are signals of persistence, if not defiance, from each side. The President has given his Chief of Staff --- Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai --- a prime target for the criticisms of conservative MPs --- yet another post, appointing him as special representative for the Near East. (There have also been appointments for Asia, the Caspian Sea area, and Afghanistan.)

From the Parliamentary side, Mohammad Karami-Rad said that a meeting with Minister of Agriculture Khalilian, postponed because of Wednesday's discussions with the Supreme Leader, will take place and the Majlis will proceed with moves for impeachment.

0640 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Persian2English publishes a letter from Sepideh Pooraghaiee, a friend and colleague of Shiva Nazar Ahari, about the deatined human rights activist and journalist:
Shiva Nazar Ahari has acted very distinguishably throughout the years. She never allowed intimidations and threats to turn into an impenetrable dam against her sacred efforts. Along with her bravery and clarity, she also was calm, patient and hopeful. She never expected to be praised. She never compromised with the resolution of a problem, however small, for a human being.

Nazar Ahari has been imprisoned since July 2009 and reportedly faces a charge of "mohareb" (war against God), which carried the death penalty.

0630 GMT: A Kurdish Political Perspective. Rooz Online carries an interview with the head of the Komeleh Party, Abdollah Mohtadi. The opening exchange:
Rooz: The Komeleh Party and the Green Movement! Is this not strange?

Abdollah Mohtadi: No, I do not believe it to be strange. I view the green movement to be a rightful and democratic movement, and we support any such movement. Even though this movement has not cut its nuptial cord from people who I think are official reformers and is still connected to them, I do not view the green movement to be the simple extension and continuation of what has been known as the reformist path in Iran. On the contrary, I believe that impasse of that model of reforms and ineffectiveness of its methods in its confrontation of dictatorship and the inability of reforms to create change at the top, has caused the green movement to take shape from the bottom through the public to attain its demands.

0615 GMT: We begin today with a special analysis: has the Supreme Leader mediated a political compromise between President Ahmadinejad and Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani? And is the Ahmadinejad-Larijani profession of co-operation more than a temporary, public measure?


Political Prisoner Watch

This week we have been noting the case of Abed Tavancheh, the student activist sentenced to one year in prison. To put further pressure on him, Iranian authorities have threatened to seize his family's home.

Now, according to Tavancheh's Facebook page --- as relayed to EA by a reader --- a deal has been proposed. The activist has been told that he should be at home on Wednesday, so agents accompanied by the relative who posted the house as bail can raid it and detain him. This way the relative has made a sign of co-operation and the house will not be confiscated.

Academic Corner

Students at Zanjan University staged a sit-in protest on Sunday to protest the firing of Professor Yousef Sobouti.

Reader Comments (33)

[...] The Latest from Iran (23 August): Political Cease-fire? | Enduring … [...]

[...] The Latest from Iran (23 August): Political Cease-fire? | Enduring … [...]

Oriflame workers detained in Iran as operations shut" rel="nofollow">

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnge-Paris

Kuwait is closely monitoring "sleeping terror cells" that would resort to violence if Iran came under a military strike, a newspaper quoted a security source as saying on Sunday." rel="nofollow">

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnge-Paris
August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnge-Paris

Iran's leader achnowledges delays in probe into dorm attacks
Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader told a group of students while investigations into the attack on the university dorms last year has been slow, he is certain that they will be pursued." rel="nofollow">

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

Visiting privileges returned to Iranain political prisoners
Human rights websites report that families of political prisoners in the notorious section 350 of Evin Prison were finally allowed to visit their loved ones who had spent over three weeks on a hunger strike and four weeks in solitary confinement for protesting against mistreatment by prison authorities." rel="nofollow">

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

Crime (Sex) and Punishment (Stoning)
It may be the oldest form of execution in the world, and it is certainly among the most barbaric. ... Yet two recent real world cases have struck a nerve: a young couple were stoned to death last week in northern Afghanistan for trying to elope, in a grim sign of the Taliban’s resurgence. And last month, an international campaign rose up in defense of an Iranian woman, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who had been sentenced to death by stoning on adultery charges.
More:" rel="nofollow">

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

Amnesty International and Dutch Authorities Concerned Over Possible Death Sentence for Ashura Detainee Zahra Bahrami" rel="nofollow">

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

Keith Thomson shows exactly how Iran's "Ambassador of Death" drone compares to others and his conclusion is: "The Ambassador of Death, however, has the scariest name". :-)" rel="nofollow">

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

Ambassador of death is only the scariest in name but technologically, it's not as advanced as pretended by iranian government ! this is a link from Peykeiran, in persian but it's said that it's easily detectable and could be brought down ." rel="nofollow">

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnge-Paris

Some time ago I read that the father of the Iranian Drone program was blown up: "Reza Baruni, the father of Iran's military UAV program, died in a mighty explosion that destroyed his closely secured villa, debkafile's military and intelligence sources reveal. He lived in the high-scale neighborhood secluded for high Iranian officials in the southern town of Ahwaz in oil-rich Khuzestan.
Very few people in the country outside the top leaders and air force knew about his job and so his death was not generally appreciated as fatally stalling Iran's military drone program for many years."
Am not too sure about the source though: they say they're independent journalists and publish in English and Hebrew." rel="nofollow"> (web site is not very stable... article was written on August 1st as an exclusive).

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWitteKr

More on the Oriflame case (and potential problem between Sweden and Iran)" rel="nofollow">
"A spokeswoman for the Swedish foreign ministry meanwhile confirmed that one of the people detained held dual Swedish-Iranian nationality, something that could limit Swedish authorities' ability to help him, since Tehran does not recognise dual nationalities."
(This problem probably also occurred with the Dutch trying to get to dual-passport holder Ashura Detainee Zahra Bahrami. Entry 02:59 PM by Catherine)

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWitteKr

Thanks for the tip, Catherine. I tipped it on... and this is the result (after phone calls with Dutch Foreign Office and Amnesty):" rel="nofollow">
(English translation will probably follow soon).

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWitteKr

[...] The Latest from Iran (23 August): Political Cease-fire? | Enduring … [...]

[...] The Latest from Iran (23 August): Political Cease-fire? | Enduring … [...]

[...] The Latest from Iran (23 August): Political Cease-fire? | Enduring … [...]

Rooz – online talked with the leader of the Kurdish party Komeleh. This party was engaged for years in an armed struggle against the Iranian government. Now Komeleh is going to develop a new image. The secretary General, Mohtadi, who is the one who is responsible ( among others) for these new developments, describes his interesting viewpoints.

Against the reformists and pro “green movement” like this:

“I view the green movement to be a rightful and democratic movement, and we support any such movement”.

About the last failed elections he said:

“What was the issue in the last election? Was it not that the regime was basically not willing to recognize the vote of the people, it engaged in massive fraud and in general was not and is not to accept the people’s right to self determination? We knew from the beginning that the regime does not recognize this right, and so it was natural that Komeleh would defend the demand for this democratic right of the people”" rel="nofollow">

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGunniy

In daily Sazegara, he said today as well that Mr Baruni died in suspicious cicumstances !

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnge-Paris

@ 0725 GMT: The Supreme Leader and the Students

“We must not eliminate people with weak religious belief on pretext of purifying society.”

Yesterday's SL statement follows a a series of comparable statements made during the past days, signalizing the regime's readiness for a kind of "acceptance" of the Green Movement and their leaders. Iranian experts as Mehrdad Mashayekhi and Ali Afshari have attributed this sudden change of mind to AN's fear of expected protests on Qods Day, but also to rising international pressure by sanctions. However they remain skeptical on a possible reconciliation with the opposition, interpreting these moves as declarations of intent unless not followed by effective actions.
These actions could include the release of journalists, reformists, and other political prisoners, lifting the ban on oppositional media and suspending other restrictions.
In reality the opposite has happened: by banning the last two reformist parties (Participation Front and Islamic Mujahedin) and the 'House of Parties', AN just continues the strategy of monopolising his political power.
He and the SL are only continuing to play games on the people, while pressing economic and political problems remain unsolved.

August 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterArshama

Possible Death Sentence for Ashura Detainee Zahra Bahrami was on Dutch national TV news, with Erdbrink explaining on the phone from Iran. Nice to see how one link on EA can lead to one article on a national website, to some 60 follow-ups in different papers and coverage on the most watched Dutch news. Let's hope it'll add to some pressure.
Aren't 'media' wonderful (sometimes?) :-)

August 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWitteKr

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>