Iran Election Guide

Donate to EAWV

Or, click to learn more


Entries in Morteza Nabavi (3)


The Latest from Iran (28 August): Music, Sanctions, and Science

2020 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch (Cosmetics Edition). Minister of Intelligence Heydar Moslehi, who has been putting himself on front pages all week with tales of danger and how Iran's services are triumphing, does it again today by accusing the Swedish cosmetics firm Oriflame of trying to harm Iran's security: "Oriflame intended to fight the (Iranian) system. There are no economic reasons behind the company. We realised through the evidence that the arrogants (Western powers) and intelligence agencies sought to create security problems for the country through this company."

Oriflamme's chief financial officer Gabriel Bennet responded, "We are a cosmetics company, we are selling direct. We are of course not involved in any political activities in the country (Iran). It is very very difficult to comment on [the accusations]."

On 22 August, Iranian authorities closed Oriflamme's Tehran office and arrested five employees, reportedly on charges that the company was running a pyramid scheme.

NEW Iran: Obama Rejects a Public “Red Line” on Nuclear Capability (Porter)
NEW Iran Music Special: The Kanye West No-War Rap
NEW Iran: Conservatives v. Ahmadinejad (Jedinia)
NEW Iran Special: The Supreme Leader and One Voice on Nuclear Talks with US?
The Latest from Iran (27 August): One Voice in Iran?

1625 GMT: The American Detainees (cont.). There is chatter, amidst the statement of Minister of Intelligence Heydar Moslehi that the case of Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal "is nearing its end", that the US hikers could be released before the end of Ramadan.

There have been a number of moments over the last 13 months when there were indications that freedom was imminent, and each time hopes have been dashed. So the attitude might be "believe it when we see it".

The lesson could be --- as with many other cases and seen this week in the campaigns for Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani (see 1415 GMT) and Shiva Nazar Ahari --- that pressure not be relaxed for justice and resolution of the situation.

1500 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Ten days after he was summoned back to prison, journalist/filmmaker Mohammad Nourizad has finally been allowed to see his family.

Reformist politician Mostafa Tajzadeh, who also returned to detention and shares a cell with Nourizad, has written an open letter to the Tehran Prosecutor General. In the message, he talks about seeing his wife after 11 days incommunicado.

1435 GMT: The American Detainees. Minister of Intelligence Heydar Moslehi has said the case of three detained American nationals --- Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal --- is near closure: "The investigations in the case of the three (Americans) is nearing its end and the verdict to be announced soon."

The trio were arrested in July 2009 when they allegedly crossed an unmarked border into Iran while hiking in Iraq's Kurdistan region.

1420 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. HRANA reports that the four-year prison sentence for human rights activist Mahboumeh Karami has been confirmed.

1415 GMT: Political Prisoner (Ashtiani) Watch. The Iranian judiciary has released a statement on the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, sentenced to death for adultery.

The judiciary, implicitly recognising the international presssure for clemency and/or freedom for Ashtiani, said that the rights of all citizens were defended; however, the charges of adultery and complicity in her husband's murder had been proven against the 43-year-old woman.

1120 GMT: Diplomatic Service. Iranian official Mohammad Reza Sheibani Rauf has defended the President's appointment of four special representatives, including Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, for areas of foreign policy. He claimed this was "not uncommon" and cited the example of the US.

Rauf also noted that the President's office had appointed a Special Representative on Caspian Affairs in the past.

1100 GMT: The Battle Within. Leading conservative Morteza Nabavi has criticised the President for his failure to attend meetings of the Expediency Council, saying this was a "legal claim" as well as a political issue.

Nabavi noted the possible conflict between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the head of the Expediency Council, Hashemi Rafsanjani, but said both should reject "inflexible positions" and show an example of "political maturity" in reaching resolutions.

0900 GMT: Uranium Watch. Peyke Iran, drawing from Asr-e Iran, claims that Moscow is unsure about Tehran's proposal for a joint consortium to produce fuel for the Bushehr nuclear plant.

0850 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Dr. Shiravi, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and former Dean of Shahid Chamran University in Dezfoul, has been arrested.

0615 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Muhammad Sahimi, writing in Tehran Bureau, has a lengthy profile of Shiva Nazar Ahari, the activist detained since July 2009 and facing death on the charge of "mohareb" (war against God).

0610 GMT: Economy Watch. Street Journalist, relaying an item we saw in Peyke Iran, quotes Ali Deghan Kia, a member of the Higher Islamic Council Association Board, who says there has been a 40% increase in unemployment in manufacturing and "more than 90 percent of productive units transferred to the private sector are at risk of bankruptcy”.

Deghan Kia blamed "uncontrollable importation and smuggling of Chinese goods [as] the number one cause for unemployment....Every billion dollars of smuggled good entering the country is responsible for unemployment of 25,000 workers in Iran.”

0600 GMT: Academic Corner. Science follows up on the firing of Professor Yousef Sobouti, the astrophysicist and founder-director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Basic Sciences who was Chancellor of Zanjan University. It claims that Sobouti's replacement, Rasoul Khodabakhsh, is a "nuclear scientist known to have links with the pro-government Basij militia".

Science that the Government has also replaced the leaders of at least 17 other academic and scientific institutions over the past month, including the chancellors of Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, the University of Golestan in north Iran, and Arak University.

0545 GMT: We open Saturday with a music special, as Kanye West and Jay-Z put out a rap against war with Iran.

Meanwhile, the Swiss energy group EGL spins another message, saying that 18 billion Euro ($23 billion) gas contract with the National Iranian Gas Export Company is not affected by American sanctions: “We are not violating any regulations, and follow rules; we feel we are not really deserving to come on the sanctions list.”

“Using of the revenues by Iran from the EGL deal to finance terrorism and its allies Hamas and Hizbullah. That is speculation. We do not pay money for supporting terrorism. I cannot really comment on such a speculation,” spokeswoman Lilly Frei said.

Last week EGL put out a somewhat different rationale: “As we noted in the past when this deal was first announced, oil and gas deals with Iran send the wrong message when Iran continues to defy UN Security Council resolutions. We have raised our concerns with the Swiss government about this arrangement on multiple occasions."

However, Frei is now saying, “We have a contract with the company, not with Ahmadinejad." Asked about other connections, Frei said EGL did “not know if the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is affiliated with National Iranian Gas Export Company".

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.

The Latest from Iran (2 August): The Campaign Against Jannati

2100 GMT: Confirming the Show Trial. It's one sentence on a Facebook page, but it says volumes.

Mohammad Ali Abtahi, cleric and former Vice President, detained soon after the June election and put on trial with more than 100 others in televised hearings last summer, wrote: "A year ago on such a day we had a trial, we had practiced the day before. What a day it was...."

The sentence has not escaped notice: there are more than 200 comments on Abtahi's page.

NEW Iran: Secularists, Reformists, and “Green Movement or Green Revolution?” (Mohammadi)
Iran Analysis: Hyping the War Chatter — US Military Chief Mike Mullen Speaks
The Latest from Iran (1 August): Pressure on Ahmadinejad & Khamenei

2055 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. The Committee of Human Rights Reporters claims that Javad Laari, detained last autumn on charges of acting against national security, has been sentenced to death.

2045 GMT: Clerical Criticism. Ayatollah Dastgheib, a leading critic of the Government, has declared that none of the post-election arrests of political prisoners conforms with Sharia law.

2035 GMT: Jannati Watch. After much discussion, we think it's time to give Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, the head of the Guardian Council, his own "Watch".

Why? Because the growing campaign against Jannati by opposition figures is --- given Jannati's long service on the Guardian Council and his "hard-line" defence of velayat-e-faqih (clerical supremacy) --- an indirect challenge to the Supreme Leader. Take down Jannati and Ayatollah Khamenei's authority has been knocked down a couple of pegs.

So Agence France Presse posts a valuable overview of the latest jabs at Jannati: Mir Hossein Mousavi regrets his "lying, especially when one is tasked with fostering people's votes and the constitution" and Mohammad Khatami says, "We are witnessing that they resort to lying, insults and defamation to justify oppression and bad policies."

This comes on top of Mehdi Karroubi's opening salvo last week accusing Jannati of complicity in vote-stealing and Zahra Rahnavard's observation that Jannati's comments would make "a cooked chicken laugh".

2025 GMT: The Battle Within --- Ahmadinejad Sues One of the Planners? OK, having watched this story all day, let's run with it.

Tabnak reports that President Ahmadinejad has filed a lawsuit against member of Parliament Ali Motahari. The charges are unspecified --- Motahari declined to comment, coyly saying, "Making this case public would only Ahmadinejad."

Let's take a look. Motahari is no ordinary MP. The son of Ayatollah Morteza Motahhari, one of the key figures in the Islamic Republic until his assassination soon after the Islamic Revolution, the conservative is allied with Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani. Indeed, he is so allied that he may have be involved in ongoing talks with Larijani, MP Ahmad Tavakoli, and Secretary of the Expediency Council Mohsen Rezaei on moves to curb the President's authority or even remove him from office.

And Tabnak, which brought out the story? It's linked with...Mohsen Rezaei.

2015 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Ali Malihi, an officer of the alumni organisation Advar-e Tahkim Vahdat, has been sentenced to four years in prison. An appellate court has confirmed the four-year sentence of activist Amir Khosro Dalirsani.

2010 GMT: Majid Tavakoli's New Message. Daneshjoo News carries what it claims is a letter from detained student activist Majid Tavakoli: "Dictators Only Fear the Brave Who Resist".

1800 GMT: Khatami Targets the Economy. Speaking to students, former President Mohammad Khatami has taken aim at the Government's economic record, noting the lack of growth and asking, "Where has $400 billion in oil revenues over the last five years gone?"

1650 GMT: Fatwa Watch. Amidst all the rumblings over the Supreme Leader's "I am the Rule of the Prophet" declaration, Ayatollah Khamenei has received public support from one prominent figure: Tehran Mayor Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf.

1640 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. The detainees on hunger strike in Evin Prison --- HRANA says there are 17 --- have issued five conditions for ending their protest.

155 GMT: Mourning. Footage has been posted of the funeral of prominent Iranian singer Mohammad Nouri, with crowd singing one of Nouri's song. A video of a 2007 performance has also been put up.

1545 GMT: Protests. Rah-e-Sabz reports, from human rights activists, that there were demonstrations in Tabriz in Iranian Azerbaijan on Sunday with demands for linguistic and cultural rights. Twelve people have been arrested.

1440 GMT: A Question to the Minister. Minister of Industries and Mines Ali Akbar Mehrabian has said Iran will stop imports from countries which have imposed sanctions on Tehran: "The Islamic Republic's market will be closed to the consuming goods …of countries which prevent the entry of technology, machineries and equipment to Iran."

So, Minister Mehrabian, you'll be saying "No thanks" to gasoline from Russia and China?

1355 GMT: Ahmadinejad "Zionist Assassins are After Me". This just gets better or better (or, worse and worse, depending on perspective)....

So the President spoke this morning to the conference of Iranians from abroad (which, remember, "hardline" Keyhan has already claimed included a "CIA associate" invited by the Iranian Government). Ahmadinejad's significant statement --- that "we want a higher-level dialogue" with the US --- has already been left behind by his grandstanding follow-up that he wants to speak publicly with President Obama "one on one" in the US this September.

But then Ahmadinejad takes the speech in another direction, pretty much ensuring that any importance is lost outside Iran: "Stupid Zionists" are trying to hire assassins to take him out.

1350 GMT: The Missing Lawyer. Persian2English posts the English translation of the letter from human rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei, still in hiding after last week's attempt to arrest him (see separate analysis), to Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi calling for the release of his wife and brother-in-law from prison.

1315 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Student activist Yashar Darolshafaei has been sentenced to seven years in prison.

1215 GMT: Mousavi Watch. Mir Hossein Mousavi has made a speech denouncing "religious dictatorship" as the worst form of dictatorship.

1205 GMT: "Ahmadinejad Invites CIA Associate to Iran". How intense is the evolving dispute between some "hardliners" and the President's inner circle? Follow carefully....

The Government is hosting a conference today and tomorrow of 1200 Iranians who live abroad, hoping to bolster its image in the continuing political crisis. An opportunity for regime unity, right?


Keyhan newspaper and its editor, Hossein Shariatmadari --- now entrenched in hostility towards the President and advisors like chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai --- have denounced the cost of the gathering. It goes further to claim that one participant, Hooshang Amirahmadi of the American Iranian Council, is a "CIA associate".

1200 GMT: The Divided Hardliners. Parleman News posts a long analysis asserting that Iran's hardliners are now split into three groups: 1) those happy about the elimination of reformists and Tehran Mayor Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf; 2) those who are irresponsible and happy about the division; 3) those like Morteza Nabavi who fear they will be eliminated like the reformists.

1005 GMT: You Can Trust Us. Amidst criticism of the Guardian Council (see 0630 GMT), its spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei has said the Council will not eliminate reformists without proof.

Kadkhodaei said that an election law was necessary to clarify the Council's role and regretted that the Parliament and Government had been unwilling to compromise on a measure.

1000 GMT: Mahmoud's Proposal. More of President Ahmadinejad's response to his internal problems....

"Towards the end of summer we will hopefully be [in New York] for the [United Nations] General Assembly and I will be ready for one-on-one talks with Mr Obama, in front of the media of course. We will offer our solutions for world issues to see whose solutions are better."

Ahmadinejad suggested a debate last September but got no response.

0930 GMT: International Front. Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has said Iran is getting "positive" feedback from other countries, led by the US, over proposals on uranium enrichment: "We can say this process is a positive signal reflecting the political determination of the Vienna group."

<0840 GMT: Parliament v. President. Front-line conservative MP and Ahmadinejad critic Ahmad Tavakoli has said the President's $1000 reward for babies must be stopped as it has to be approved by the Majlis.

0835 GMT: Jabbing at Khamenei and the President. Ayatollah Fazel Lankarani, in a meeting with the reformist Imam Khomeini Line in Golestan Province, has said that one should follow the late Ayatollah Khomeini, as he never wanted to take over power and eliminate others (take that, current Supreme Leader). He said that an Islamic Republic without clergy is impossible and noted that corruption has been successfully fought in Golestan (take that, Ahmadinejad).

0825 GMT: Corruption Watch. According to Rah-e-Sabz, President Ahmadinejad has said that his First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi "has not committed a single mistake", as five officials in Gilan Province were arrested on charges of embezzlement. The news site claims that Rahimi's fraud, in connection with an insurance scandal and other manoeuvres, allegedly amounts to $700 million.

0800 GMT: Today's All-is-Well Alert. It's come early and it's come from the President, speaking to senior managers in the oil sector, "We believe that all parts related to Iran's oil industry can be produced inside the country. We hope to promise that all needs of the oil industry will be met inside Iran within the next few years."

0755 GMT: Bring Us Your Money. Parliament has instructed the Government to implement the law easing regulations for foreign banks to set up branches in Iran.

0735 GMT: We have posted an analysis by Majid Mohammadi considering "Secularists, Reformists, and 'Green Movement or Green Revolution?'"

0730 GMT: Suspending Transport. Yesterday we noted the news that German engineers working on the construction of a metro system in Isfahan were quitting, supposedly over unpaid wages.

The outcome?

0725 GMT: Media Shutdown. Iran's Journalists Association has issued a statement recalling the passing of a year since its members were "blacked out" by the regime.

0640 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Rah-e-Sabz reports that leading Mousavi advisor Alireza Beheshti Shirazi will appear in court today.

0630 GMT: Rahnavard Criticises Head of Guardians. Yesterday we updated with the one-liner from activist Zahra Rahnavard's denunciation of the head of the Guardian Council, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, and his recent statements: "Even a cooked chicken would laugh at his comments."

Alongside the humour is Rahnavard's political challenge that Jannati represents people who have “lost every bit of credibility....The statements of the head of the Guardian Council are cause for consternation for every wise and patriotic individual in the country.”

Appearing alongside her husband, Mir Hossein Mousavi, in a meeting with veterans of the Iran-Iraq War, Rahnavard restated political demands: "holding free elections without the preapproval [of the Guardian Council], eliminating the preapproval process completely from the nation's political scope, freedom of press, and unconditional release of the political prisoners". She also emphasised, "The Green Movement is a pluralist movement and belongs to all those who seek freedom and all the Iranian nation."

0525 GMT: We open this morning with news, carried on Saham News, that Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi have met. The two men criticised the Government's performance and also denounced outside threats against the country, emphasising the need for independence and national security.

As for opposition tactics, the conversation appears to have been on general notions of forging "social networks".

The Pressure on Ahmadinejad

Michael Theodoulou and Maryam Sinaiee, writing in The National, offers a valuable overview of the growing conflict within the Iranian establishment, with particular focus on "hardliner" concerns: "Iran’s populist and polarising president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is being accused of monopolising power, riding roughshod over parliament, mismanaging the economy and being too aggressive on foreign policy."

(My one minor question for the authors is whether, while bringing out this conflict, they understate the tensions with their sentence, "On social and cultural issues, there is little dispute among principlists." That, I think, misses how even social issues have been used to challenge Ahmadinejad, for example, criticism of his "soft" stance on enforcement of hijab.)

The President's public response to the pressure? On Sunday, he reportedly told his Cabinet, "“The nature of sanctions on Iran is a political game....The enemies are plotting to portray Iran as a weak country” through what he called theatrics, aimed at “convincing the nation to back down....It is a false belief that Tehran can ease pressures by retreating....The nation must take advantage of such threats and propaganda and turn them into opportunities.”

Political Prisoner Watch

The Committee of Human Rights Reporters writes about the alleged torture of Ahmad Baab, a Kurdish activist arrested last September.

HRANA claims the father of Kurdish journalist Shooresh Golkar has been summoned by Iranian authorities and given 20 days to turn in his son.

Economy Watch

Iran Labor Report summarises the latest rise in unemployment and problems for production because of blackouts of electricity.

Cartoon of the Day

Nikahang Kowsar: "Will Mousavi Surpass Khomeini?"