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Entries in Mohammad Kamrani (1)


The Latest from Iran (25 August): Unity? 

2000 GMT: Today's All-is-Well Update. Minister of Oil Massoud Mirkazemi reassures everyone that sanctions are irrelevant, "We do not have any problem in securing the country's gasoline and we have not been facing any fuel deficiency. Domestic gasoline production will be increased by 20 million liters (a day) soon and, because of this, we announce that we won't need to import gasoline."

1950 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. The reformist Islamic Iran Participation Front has issued a statement condemning the treatment of its senior member Mostafa Tajzadeh, who was summoned back to prison 10 days ago, and journalist/filmmaker Mohammad Nourizad, who returned to jail last week.

NEW Iran Propaganda Special: US Soldiers, Bitter Chocolate, & the Prophet Muhammad
Iran: Is President’s Chief of Staff Rahim-Mashai Taking On Foreign Policy?
Iran, Political Prisoners, & New Media: Discovering The Case of Zahra Bahrami
Iran Feature: Why “Normal” is Not Bad (Pedestrian)
The Latest from Iran (24 August): Keeping the News Alive

1815 GMT: Nuke Talks, No Nuke Talks? A relative lull in Iranian comment on discussions with the US is broken by comments by MP Parviz Sarvari in Fars News: “The US has been the greatest guardian of Israel's interests, but on the other hand, Iran opposes the Zionists and supports the Palestinian interests. And because of this opposition, negotiations with the US is of no avail.”

Still no clue from the Iranian media of how absolute rejection of talks squares with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's acceptance of talks, without preconditions, in an interview last Thursday with a Japanese newspaper.

1755 GMT: Fox News Could Learn from This. The Revolutionary Guard daily paper Sobhe Sadegh has "proof" that opposition figures received $1 billion for regime change: a photograph of Mohammad Khatami and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

Just for the record, here is a photograph of another Iranian politician with the Saudi king:

1750 GMT: Labour Watch. Peyke Iran reports that telecommunications workers have staged a protest in Shiraz, complaining that some have received no wages for 16 months.

1745 GMT: Unity Watch. Arash Motamed in Rooz Online is not very hopeful about Sunday's show of co-operation between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ali Larijani: "Some experts dismiss yesterday’s joint meeting as a sham display of unity. They regard internal disagreements in the right-wing camp to run too deep to be resolved by a meeting."

1740 GMT: The President's Men. Camelia Entekhabi-Fard, writing in The Huffington Post, takes a look at the power plays around the President's office, "What Is It About Rahim Mashaie?". Her take-away paragraph:
Iran's political reality is starting to come out from under its curtain, and we should soon expect a new kind of relationship to develop between Ahmadinejad and the orthodox clergy within the Iranian system. We will soon probably see deep, open clashes between the Iranian president and clerics that will culminate into an ugly battle in the run up to the next presidential election.

1540 GMT: Sanctions Watch. LyondellBasell Industries NV, one of the world's biggest plastic and chemical producers, is ending its operations in Iran to shield itself against possible American penalties for violation of trade sanctions.

The Dutch-based company's board approved the decision early this month. LyondellBasell will stop all licensing of its proprietary technology and services to Iranian petrochemical companies, which depend heavily on technology from European concerns to produce plastics and other high-value products derived from natural gas.

1415 GMT: The Kahrizak Suspensions. An EA correspondent checks in: one of the three officials suspended because of alleged connections with the post-election abuses in Kahrizak Prison --- alongside Presidential aide Saeed Mortazavi --- is Hassan Haddad, also known as Dehnavi Zare, a prominent foe of journalists and civil society activists.

1359 GMT: Attacking the Clerics. Kalemeh reports that masked men on motorbikes have vandalised the house, daubing the entrance with paint at 2:30 a.m., of Grand Ayatollah Dastgheib in city of Shiraz.

After a highly-publicised Ramadan speech by Dastgheib, a crowd gathered outside Qoba Mosque on Friday to denounce him. On Monday, a rally in front of the Governor’s office culminated with a pro-government speech by the Governor.

1355 GMT: Clash. Five Kurdish insurgents and two Revolutionary Guard troops have been killed in battles on Tuesday.

1350 GMT: The President Speaks. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has given a 25-minute interview (translated in Arabic) to Al Jazeera.

1330 GMT: Unity MediaWatch. The Financial Times of London now has the bit between its teeth on the theme of division within the Iranian establishment.

Having published two reports on Monday, "Ayatollah Warns Bickering Politicians" and "Shia Schism Deepens Ahmadi-Nejad's Woes", the newspaper argues in an editorial, "Cracks Widen in Theocratic Facade":
The regime is beginning to look brittle, belying its triumph over reformism – and Mr Ahmadi-Nejad is starting to look expendable....

A west worried about Iran’s nuclear ambitions would be well advised to tread with care. Any attempt to determine the outcome of this faction fight – not to mention any assault on Iran – would stampede everyone back into the tattered tent of the theocrats.

1210 GMT: Matters of Intelligence. Minister of Intelligence Heydar Moslehi gave reporters a grand tour of "security" topics today. He proclaimed the success of Iranian authorities in dealing with threats such as the Baluch insurgent group Jundullah, with the execution of its leader Abdolmalek Rigi. He declared the legitimacy of the espionage case against Hossein Mousavian, the former Deputy Secretary of the National Security Council. And he supported Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati's recent claim that the US and other foreign countries had given $1 billion to opposition leaders for "regime change".

Moslehi even reviewed the curious case of Oriflame, the Swedish cosmetics company, which was shut down in Iran with the arrest of five of its employees on Monday. Moslehi said that Oriflame, which reportedly had been accused of pyramid trading, had received "external support".

1040 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. HRANA writes that Jahangir Mahmoudi has been arrested after an attempt to represent political prisoners in legal cases.

1025 GMT: Economy Watch. The governor of Iran's central bank, Mahmoud Bahmani, quoted in Iran, has said the nation should limit imports to "necessary goods" to help lift domestic production and reduce the amount of hard currency exiting the country.

1010 GMT: Another Kharizak Concession? Keyhan reports that three post-election protesters --- Mohammad Kamrani, Amir Javadifar and Mohsen Ruholamini --- who died in Kahrizak Prison have been named as "martyrs" by Iran's Foundation of Martyrs and Veteran Affairs. The designation offers benefits and "various facilities in the cultural, social, economic, and welfare fields" to the families of the three men.

The move follows this week's suspension of three officials --- reportedly including Presidential aide Saeed Mortazavi --- for involvement in the Kahrizak abuses.

0827 GMT: How Strong is the Movement? In Gozaar, Roozbeh Mirebrahimi writes of "The Weakness of the Islamic Republic":
The Green Movement a year after the electoral coup d’état created a movement as widespread as the 1979. From the most religious layers of the society to the most secular ones consider themselves part of the movement despite their different perspectives. In other words, it is the Green Movement that has defined itself so widely. But it does have a significant difference with the 1979 revolution. While in the 1979 revolution to be anti-monarchy was the point of agreement of many different and even opposing groups, in the Green Movement to be against the Islamic Republic is not the point of convergence for all active forces. Thought there are groups and individuals among the Green Movement who are against the Islamic Republic but this antagonism is part of the movement and not its entirety or its base. The most important factor in brining different members of the movement together is being “against the status quo”.

0825 GMT: Economy Watch. About 100 workers at the Hormozgan Steel Complex in southern Iran staged a protest on Monday, complaining that they have not been paid for three months.

0820 GMT: Cleric Banned. Rah-e-Sabz reports that Gholam-Hossein Gheysari, who presided at the Najafabad mosque, has been banned from the city. Residents have reportedly protested the ban in front of the Governor's office.

0803 GMT: Today's Shiny Media Moment. Iranian Minister of Defense Ahmad Vahidi proclaims that Iran has successfully test-fired a new version of the medium-range ballistic missile Fateh, which has a range of 193 kilometres (120 miles).

State TV broadcast footage of the missile being fired and then hitting a target on the ground.

0800 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Rah-e-Sabz reports that Dr. Amir Hossein Shirvan, the former Chancellor of Jondi-Shapour University in Dezful and campaigner for Mir Hossein Mousavi, has been arrested.

Hamzeh Karami, whose case has become prominent in opposition claims of torture and forced confession, has written an open letter to Iran Prosecutor General Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei.

Karami, the managing director of the reformist Jomhouriat and a senior official at the Islamic Azad University, has retracted his televised confession during last summer's mass Tehran trial. He claims that, during 138 days of "torture" and interrogation, he lost consciousness 15 times. He was threatened with rape and execution, as well as the arrest of his wife, his daughter, and his son-in-law. On one occasion, Karami claims, he was told that the screams of a woman down the hall were those of his daughter.

Karami indicates that the push for his "confession" was in part to tarnish former President Hashemi Rafsanjani. He was accused of an affair with Rafsanjani's daughter, Faezeh Hashemi.

0750 GMT: Parliament v. Government. However, it seems some legislators have still not gotten the "unity" message. Elyas Naderan, who was not at Sunday's sit-down with the President, continues his criticism of 1st Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi. Naderan says Rahimi's claimed academic credentials are a problem, but his "financial case" --- Naderan has repeatedly accused the Vice President of connection to a major insurance fraud --- is far more serious.

Mohammad Karami-Rad says that, although two MPs withdrew their signatures on the petition for impeachment of Minister of Agriculture Sadegh Khalilian, five more have added their names. He claimed that "discussion" with Khalilian would take place this week and next Monday.

And Ahmad Tavakoli, one of the leaders of the challenge to the Government, will not give up. He said that the Majlis should not retreat in front of "illegal" actions, such as the reduction of work hours for Government employees from 44 to 39 hours per week during Ramadan.

0740 GMT: Unity Watch. Khabar Online also follows up Sunday's trumpeted reconciliation between the President and the Majlis by surveying MPs about Ahmadinejad's meeting with legislators.

The general response is that the gathering was mainly ceremonial, as it had no agenda and only addressed minor problems. (Reformist Mohammad Reza Khabbaz: "We sat down, talked, and went away.") However, the word "unity" is used often with references to a softening of tone and cessation of public attacks. Still, legislators say it is too early to declare what will happen.

In another article, Mohsen Rezaei --- former Presidential candidate, Secretary of Expediency Council --- walks in step with the Supreme Leader, talking about his letter to Ayatollah Khamenei. Rezaei said the message for the elite was to adopt unity with a change in tone and substance in media.

Rezaei added, "Now that division has ended... we should start to invest in the economy."

0730 GMT: Challenging the President's Foreign-Policy Move. OK, here comes the reaction we were waiting for....

Khabar Online, linked to Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, features comments by Mohammad Sadr, the former Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Nations. Sadr criticises Ahmadinejad for preempting the Foreign Ministry by appointing his four special representatives, devoid of any foreign policy experience. He adds that the decisions were made without the expertise of the Foreign Ministry and are mainly for show. On the specific question of the appointment of Chief of Staff Esfandair Rahim-Mashai, Sadr declares that choosing an "amateur" for the critical Middle East region can have no positive outcome.

Sadr's wider critique is that the President's foreign policy FP decisions are made hastily, without asking experts.

0615 GMT: Sanctions Watch. Press TV indirectly challenges stories of the economic effect of sanctions with a claim from the Ministry of Energy of more than $1 billion in foreign funds: “Germany has invested $445 million in construction of the Pareh-Sar combined cycle power plant in northern Iran, while the UAE has invested $720 million in construction of a gas power plant as well as a combined cycle power plant in Isfahan and Shiraz."

In the last 48 hours, Press TV has also put out the good news that Iran's foreign exchange reserves have doubled, that crude oil production is beginning from a Persian Gulf field, and that Iran is adding 14 airplanes to its commerical fleet.

0550 GMT: The President Speaks. Islamic Republic News Agency headlines a speech by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday to "friendly" students, with his general call for their "boldness and courage", praise for Iran's economy and culture, and declaration that opposition had been quelled.

Nothing very significant at first glance, although there may be some reaction to Ahmadinejad's declaration that fundamentalism does not reside in Iran's political parties. This spring, the President provoked some criticism and concern from conservatives with a remark that Iranians needs only one political faction, the Velayat Party.

Fars News, meanwhile, headlines an interview with Morteza Nabavi, member of the Expediency Council and managing director of Resalat, which pushes the Supreme Leader's line that there must be unity among the authorities.

0535 GMT: A slow start to Wednesday, as we look for reactions to the latest manoeuvres inside the Government. The tensions between the Presidency, the Parliament, and clerics have even overtaken the nuclear issue in some "Western" newspapers, such as the Financial Times and The Guardian of London, and there are signs that the Supreme Leader's effort to calm everyone down and have them shake hands has not worked.

The twist yesterday was the news that the lightning rod for criticism, Presidential Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, has not only been appointed one of four special representatives for foreign policy by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad --- a sign of the President's ascendancy over internal challenges, according to Reuters --- but seems to be taking the role seriously, given his appointment of a Director-General for International Affairs in the President's office. We've asked around, but there is still no reaction from Iranian offices who formally have the foreign-policy role, such as the National Security Council and the Foreign Ministry. Nor have we seen any reaction from Parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission.


Political Prisoner Watch (Bahrami Special)

Our story yesterday on Iranian-Dutch national Zahra Bahrami, detained since December in Iran and facing unknown charges --- one claim from Tehran, now that the case has come out, is that she was arrested for carrying cocaine --- has been getting a lot of attention. The Netherlands Foreign Ministry has finally clarified that, although the Bahrami case was publicised by activists this spring, it did not get confirmation of her dual nationality until 23 July.