Iran Election Guide

Donate to EAWV

Or, click to learn more


Entries in Pedestrian (4)


The Latest from Iran (24 August): Keeping the News Alive

2030 GMT: Sanctions Watch. A high-level South Korean delegation is in Washington to discuss sanctions against Iran.

2025 GMT: Bad Dog. The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance has banned Iranian media from publishing any advertisements about pets or pet-related products. The order was issued after a fatwa from Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi.

NEW Iran: Is President’s Chief of Staff Rahim-Mashai Taking On Foreign Policy?
NEW Iran, Political Prisoners, & New Media: Discovering The Case of Zahra Bahrami
NEW Iran Feature: Why "Normal" is Not Bad (Pedestrian)
Iran Document: Interview with Detained Filmmaker Mohammad Nourizad
Iran Special: Have Ahmadinejad and Ali Larijani Kissed and Made Up?
The Latest from Iran (23 August): Political Cease-fire?

2015 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Reporter Ohne Grenzen has launched a German-language petition for the freeing of human rights activist and journalist Shiva Nazar Ahari, detained since July 2009 and facing a charge of "mohareb" (war against God).

2000 GMT: We've posted an evening feature, mulling over the possibility that the President's office, including controversial Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, is trying to take over Iran's foreign policy.

1630 GMT: Karroubi Watch. Kalemeh has picked up the Sunday statement of Mehdi Karroubi, made as he visited released detainee Mohammad Reza Jalaeipour (see 0715 GMT). Their take-away line is Karroubi's challenge to the regime to release political prisoners for Ramadan.

Saham News has also posted a Karroubi statement on women's rights.

1620 GMT: Truce Over (cont. --- see 0955 GMT)? So much for smooth sailing for the Government after last week's Supreme Leader intervention....

An impeachment bid has been lodged against Minister of Agriculture Sadegh Khalilian for excessive import of agricultural products, incompetence, and disregard for the insurance fund of agricultural crops. About 25 MPs have signed a letter to impeach Minister of Energy Majid Namjoo, on grounds of failure to implement plans and appointment of inexperienced personnel, and MP Mousa al-Reza Servati said some legislators are seeking to impeach Minister of Interior Mostafa Mohammad Najjar.

1420 GMT: Mousavi Watch. In his latest statement, made to children of veterans of the Iran-Iraq War, has declared that "the Green Movement has laid the foundation of achieving national reconciliation": “The continuation of the Green Human Chain that was formed [during the Presidential campaign] from Tajrish Square (in north of Tehran) to Rah-Ahan square (in south of Tehran) is being pursued on the national stage and all of us, despite our polarity of votes, different ideas, cultures and ethnicity, will gradually overcome our stammers and will be able to talk to each other more easily.” He added:
The political organizations that had been separated due to wring policies, are gradually coming closer together, talking to each other and sitting at one table. What that is their point of connection is the effort for achieving freedom, justice and understanding to guard people’s rights. The borders of “insiders” and “outsiders” are gradually fading and instead compromise and dialogue are becoming dominant. Today, more than ever, the blessings of the Green Movement of the people have laid the foundation of national reconciliation, friendship and unity among the various cultures, ethnicities, Shia and Sunni and all the layers [of the society].

Mousavi warned, however, "Some who see their interests in creating division and shattering people’s unity are continuing to spread hatred through fabricating false charges and other extensive measures in the name of fighting soft war'....They want to infect the cyber-space that emerged from the Green Movement with their viruses just as they turned the national media to a divisive and biased media with their meddling, so that our Muslim nation loses its trust in this beautiful window that has been opened."

1400 GMT: Reaching Out to the Opposition? Muhammad Sahimi at Tehran Bureau posts a lengthy article, "Hardliners Seek Peace with the Green Movement". I can't quite see how Sahimi's narrative supports that dramatic headline, but this extract is intriguing, especially in light of the Supreme Leader's effort last Wednesday to resolve in-fighting amongst conservatives and the Government:
249 Majles deputies -- almost all of the parliament aside from its Reformist wing -- issued a statement supporting him, and asking for vahdat-e ommat (union of the masses). The most important aspect of the statement was the recognition of the effect of the sanctions and the threat of war. For example, Mohammad Hossein Farhangi, a member of the Majles leadership, said, "Given that the enemies of the people and the nezaam [political system] will do their best to harm them, it is imperative that a united front becomes the top priority of the officials, and those who committed mistakes correct them and come back."

On Saturday, August 21, Reza Akrami, a spokesman for the Society of Combatant Clerics (SCC) of Tehran, the leading right-wing clerical group, said that that the SCC wants mediation between the ruling establishment and the opposition. He said that he had made the same suggestion last year to Majles Speaker Ali Larijani, Mahdavi Kani, and former Majles Speaker Ali Akbar Nategh Nouri, a relatively moderate cleric [presumably during the time when there was talk of a "National Unity Plan" being circulated and even presented to the Supreme Leader], but that they had turned him down. Another leading member of the SCC, Majles deputy Gholamreza Mesbahi-Moghaddam, said that the mediation should not be done by the officials, but by those "whose words are influential". The opposition "must become convinced" that the reconciliation gesture is sincere, he said, "otherwise they will not return" to the ruling elite. Jafar Shajooni, a radical SCC member, attacked Akrami for speaking of mediation between the hardliners and the Green leaders. He declared that Akrami does not speak on behalf of the SCC and misunderstands what Khamenei has said.

1200 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch (Nokia Siemens Edition). The Guardian of London has now noted the lawsuit brought by detained journalist Isa Saharkhiz and his son Mehdi against Nokia Siemens Networks for selling and providing technology used for surveillance by Iranian authorities.

1115 GMT: Opposition Watch. In her latest statement, Zahra Rahnavard declares, "The people are the ones who have the hand of God behind them", in contrast to a "government that claims to be religious, suppresses millions of people on the streets, tortures and executes the children of the people, and, with a thoughtless bill called the Family Protection Act, launches the destruction of the families in this nation."

0955 GMT: Truce Over? So what is happening less than 48 hours after President Ahmadinejad and Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani supposedly reconciled with their joint press conference and declarations of co-operation?

Why, it looks like Alef, the publication close to Ahmad Tavakoli, high-profile conservative MP and cousin of Ali Larijani, claims that the President has a 10-point plan to curb the power of clerics through invocation of the "hidden" 12th Imam.

Power game back on?

0745 GMT: Academic Walkout. Shafaf claims that about 50 professors walked out on a speech by Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel, the former Speaker of Parliament, at Sharif University.

0735 GMT: Sanctions Watch. Borzou Daragahi and Ramin Mostaghim write for the Los Angeles Times:
Businesspeople, officials and analysts inside and outside the Islamic Republic describe the sanctions as taking a toll on the economy and ordinary citizens, increasing the cost of everything from the production of medicine to the manufacture of baguettes.

But they also say key businesses and government operations controlled by the Revolutionary Guard have found ways to skirt the sanctions, which ban trade with state-run firms connected to the nuclear program, by enlisting private-sector firms as fronts.

The reporters cite Kamran Vakil, an official at the private-sector Iranian Union of Mineral Products Manufacturers and Exporters, who says the 2,500-member Iran-China Chamber of Commerce and Industries has become more important than Iran's Central Bank. They describe, from "merchants", how the Revolutionary Guard circumvents sanctions, for example, selling old machinery and buying new equipment from Venezuela through Iranian companies.

Daragahi and Mostaghim also describe how some companies are charging others to move funds in and out of Iran.

With prices for both businesses and consumers rising sharply, an elevator manufacturer says, "To break the sanctions through middlemen costs so much. The private sector loses to the military and Revolutionary Guard-affiliated companies. Now the private sector must import items via governmental companies."

0725 GMT: Cartoon of the Day. Nikahang Kowsar portrays the disposal of Presidential aide and former Tehran Prosecutor General Saeed Mortazavi, suspended on Sunday with two judges for their alleged role in the post-election Kahrizak Prison abuses.

0715 GMT: A Sledgehammer for a Hazelnut. Mehdi Karroubi has said that he "never imagined" the political situation in which Iran finds itself.

In a visit to Mohammad Reza Jalaeipour, the student activist recently freed from prison, Karroubi discussed how Iranian authorities had used a sledgehammer to crack a hazelnut, spreading fear among the people.

0655 GMT: We open today with two features. Pedestrian reflects on the tensions between hopes for political change and hopes for a "normal" life for Iranians, while --- with a huge debt of gratitude to EA readers --- we write how new media helped "discover" the case of Iranian-Dutch national Zahra Bahrami, detained since December.


Iran MediaWatch

In the continuing tale of how Iranian authorities are trying to shut down news, The Guardian of London follows up yesterday's revelations that the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance has issued an order to newspapers to avoid all mention and images of Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi, and Mohammad Khatami:
Keeping the society and the public opinion calm is the main responsibility of the media. Security officials have considerations about publishing news, photos and speeches of Mr Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi and Mohammad Khatami. Therefore, according to Clause 2 of Article 5 of the Press Code, publishing news, photos and reports about the these people are prohibited.

As EA noted, the Ministry has also declared that media should avoid any mention of the effects of sanctions on the Iranian economy.

Academic Protest

We opened Monday by noting that students at Zanjan University had protested the dismissal of Professor Yousef Sobouti. An Iranian blog follows up with news and pictures of the "farewell" to the academic, including claims that the students were beaten by security forces.


Iran Feature: Why "Normal" Is Not Bad (Pedestrian)

Pedestrian writes:

These days, when I talk to my friends in Iran, hardly anyone, even the most politically active, talks about politics anymore.

I’m certainly not claiming that my friends are a representative of the entire Iranian population – they certainly are not. But it was at first somehow disappointing to hear them disregard the latest political news the way when, just months ago, they were the ones filling me in on things I might have missed. Now, even when I bring up things like “Did you read Mousavi’s latest letter?” or “Did you hear about so-and-so’s outrageous prison sentence?”, they are quick to change the subject.

When I ask them about their schools, they tell me that most students are back to trying to catch up on their school work, admissions, master’s entrance exam, etc., etc. There is very little talk of politics.

And yet you hear daily of new arrests, new prison sentences, new letters from prison. Many of those on hunger strike are students. These direct threats and hurdles are also a daily reality for a part of Iranian society that has continued the fight. As Mohammad Nourizad said in his interview: “These are realities we are living amidst.”

It is not that my friends are indifferent towards these realities. But it was somehow disappointing for me that they do not pursue them with the same vigor they did just a few months ago. My own unease about this made me uneasy, so I had to ponder it a little more.

These feelings are exasperated when I meet seemingly reasonable Iranians who insist that life shouldn’t go back to normal in Tehran, that things are still in a state of chaos and people are organizing against the establishment 24/7 ”until the regime is toppled”, “Khamenei stands trial”, and “Freedom is achieved”. “We can’t take anymore of this,” they insist, “The youth of Iran will get us freedom soon.”

Maybe they mean well, but as someone who was one of those “youth” not long ago, I feel these words are said self-servingly. I am more certain of this when I tell them about my observation --- that most of my friends have indeed gone back to their usual lives --- and it angers them.

I realize that following the news on Iran for many on the outside, is a break from a life of daily calm, and a step into chaos. For my friends, this chaos is everyday reality. The latest policy change, change of university chancellor, ban, sanction, etc., etc. is what they live with. For many outside Iran, finding out about these things, no matter how painful or difficult, has little connection to the physical, tangible reality of their everyday lives (although it has extreme repercussions for our mental, spiritual and psychological lives, but that’s another story). I want to be up-to-date with news in Iran, but my immediate life – work, school, bills, etc – would be no different whether I did or didn’t.

My friends don’t have that luxury.

In essence, maybe things have gone back to the way they always were: our people don’t forget. But rather, they’ve become experts at carrying on this heavy baggage while simultaneously getting on with their lives. It is a painful art form that maybe only an Iranian would truly understand.

And maybe as someone on the outside, a part of me wants to see them still leave their lives on the back burner, as they did last June, and only show concern for certain political aspirations? In a very selfish way, am I trying to feel better thinking that this would guarantee a “quicker” result? As if my friends are trained soldiers who should be fighting on my behalf, and if ever they stop fighting, or at least not enough, it ticks me off?

This is a question I have always come back to when following the student movement, both as an insider, and as someone watching from the outside.

On one level, their activism seems necessary for the greater democratic movement in Iran. On another, I think it is in the best interests of the students themselves to focus on their school work, and not have to pay such a hefty price. Having worked closely with the Muslim Students Association at my school, I know that the students themselves and their families faced this dilemma every single day even when the environment was less lethal: do we become more politically active and risk everything? Or mind our own business and just get on with our lives? Do we organize Mohsen Kadivar’s visit to our school (as we did) or is it too much of a risk? Do we design a poster for Ghods Day or no?

I think that’s a nuance that’s often missing in analysis that comes from the outside, however, as we just like the students to be active, to applaud them for pushing both the democratic aspirations of the country and their own generation. From afar, they are more like a band of warriors than real kids with fears and aspirations whose dreams are often jeopardized or shattered by political activity, and who may be better off personally had they not been active politically. These contradictions and complexities are so real when you deal with them on a day-to-day basis.

It seems to me that for now, life has gone back to “normal” --- the painful chaotic normal we are used to --- in Tehran. And that is a good thing. People need to live their lives; they need to take trips and go to work and eat at jolly family dinners. For those who know Iran, they know that the events of last June did not come out of thin air. They were a continuum of what had come before. And this story is anything but finished. It is simply somewhere else – somewhere other than it was a year ago.

Life goes on in Tehran…but it seems to me that some ill-wishers would rather that it never could.

The Latest from Iran (7 August): The President's Man in Trouble?

2005 GMT: The Battle Within (Diaspora Edition). William Yong and Robert Worth, writing in The New York Times, have a colourful account of last week's ill-fated conference in Tehran of Iranians from overseas.

The piece is entertaining --- check out the passage on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech with the phrase, "That breast has gone away with the bogeyman" --- but it misses part of the political significance. Yong and Worth see the problems with the conference as "an ambivalence that had been part of Iranian political culture ever since the Islamic Revolution in 1979: an evangelizing impulse coupled with a deep distrust of those who ventured outside the fold".

Perhaps, but the immediate significance of the event is as a stick being used both by "hardliners" (Keyhan) and "conservatives" (members of Parliament) to whack the President and --- back to the theme for today --- his chief aide, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai.

1955 GMT: The Hunger Strike. One of the 17 political prisoners on hunger strike, photojournalist Babak Bordbar, has been released.

1945 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Sources have told Radio Farda that labour activist Mansur Osanloo, detained since June 2007, has been given an additional prison sentence.

Osanloo was tried last week in Revolutionary Court in Karaj without the presence of his lawyers.

NEW Iran: A Protest in Washington (Shahryar)
UPDATED Iran-US Special: The 4-Step Collapse of Obama’s “Engagement” Into Confusion
The Latest from Iran (6 August): The Campaign Against Ahmadinejad’s Aide

1745 GMT: The Human Rights Lawyer. The wife of Mohammad Mostafaei (see video at 1430 GMT), detained on 23 July when Iranian forces tried to arrest her husband, has been released from prison.

1730 GMT: Tough Talk Today. I have to say: Iranian state media is digging pretty deep to pull out military figures to chest-thump against the US.

Today it's the "commander of the anti-aircraft post of the Khatamolanbia Headquarters", Brigadier General Ahmad Miqani: "If Americans attempt to launch an attack against the sacred establishment of the Islamic Republic, they will encounter our firm and decisive defense and we will not let them off....Over the past decade the US has militarily attacked Iraq and Afghanistan and killed hundreds of thousands of people but in the end it suffered defeat."

Press TV frames this as, "If Attacked, Iran Will Annihilate US".

1725 GMT: Wacky Mahmoud. Yes, I've seen the Reuters summary of the President's speech for National Press Day, "Iran's Ahmadinejad doubts Sept 11 attack toll" and yes, I've seen the additional claim, "Ahmadinejad also repeated his denial of the Holocaust".

(Press TV headlines, "Ahmadinejad: 9/11 Scenario Dubious", but does not mention any reference to the Holocaust.)

But, no, I haven't featured it because I'm not sure what political relevance it has.

Far more significant for me is Agence France Presse picking up the story of the internal conflict over Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai: "Ahmadinejad aide 'in new row with Iran conservatives'".

1440 GMT: The Hunger Strike. Students at Tehran's Amir Kabir University have started a hunger strike in sympathy with the 17 detainees fasting in Evin Prison.

In a letter to the head of Iran's judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, doctors have warned about the condition of the 17 political prisoners.

1435 GMT: Film Corner. Accordion, directed by Jafar Panahi, will open the Venice Film Festival this year.

Panahi was detained for almost three months this spring by the Iranian authorities.

1430 GMT: The Human Rights Lawyer. Mohammad Mostafaei, now free from immigration detention in Turkey, has given an interview explaining why he had to leave Iran after the arrest of his wife and brother-in-law. In careful English, he gives the defence of his position, "I am crazy about human rights."


1425 GMT: The Rahim-Mashai Controversy. President Ahmadinejad has publicly defended his Chief of Staff, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, against heated criticism of Rahim-Mashai's remarks on Iran and Islam (see 0615 and 0855 GMT).

1420 GMT: More on Green Media. RASA, one of two opposition television channels soon to start broadcasting (see 0640 GMT), has posted its mission statement in Rah-e-Sabz.

1415 GMT: The Supreme Leader's Brother Intervenes. Hadi Khamenei has declared that his fellow reformists must use social media to increase awareness.

1410 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. Former President Hashemi Rafsanjani is travelling to Mashaad tomorrow to speak with clerics.

1210 GMT: The Cyber-Campaign. In a profile in Newsweek, Austin Heap --- the creator of Haystack to help Iranians get around restrictions and surveillance on the Internet --- explains how he became involved:
The 25-year-old computer programmer was home in his San Francisco apartment, spending his evening the same way he spent much of his free time: playing videogames. “I was sitting at my computer, as I usually do, playing Warcraft,” recalls Heap. “My boyfriend asked if I was following what was going on in Iran, and I said no. I was busy killing dragons.”

Later that night, Heap logged on to his Twitter account. He read about the growing number of Iranians claiming that their votes had been stolen in the presidential election, and he saw people complaining that the government was censoring their cries of fraud and election rigging. For Heap—who says, “I am for human rights, the Internet, and I check out from there”—something clicked. At that moment, he decided to become involved in a battle more than 7,000 miles away in a country he admits he knew next to nothing about. “I remember literally saying, ‘OK, game on.’?”

1205 GMT: Execution Watch. Our German Bureau reports that the Zonta Club of businesswomen has issued a declaration calling for a halt to the execution of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, sentenced to death by stoning for adultery.

1150 GMT: Reformist Watch. Najafgholi Habibi has explained the silence of the reformists: "When no one listens, it is better to be quiet." Habibi said he would not comment on the rift amongst hardliners, as this could be misinterpreted as enmity.

0955 GMT: Economy Watch. Member of Parliament Majid Nasirpour has asserted that the Ministry of Trade did not pay farmers for their harvest, and this could cause unrest in western Azerbaijan. He added that there is no cement for construction, as it has been exported.

0940 GMT: Parliament v. President. Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani has published a law on water wells operating without official permits, after President Ahmadinjead refused to implement it.

0855 GMT: Rahim-Mashai Review. Back to our lead story today (see 0615 GMT)....

Parleman News rounds up the criticism of the President's Chief of Staff, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, begins with Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami's Friday Prayer. Perhaps more significant are quotes from two of those planning to curb Ahmadinejad. Ahmad Tavakoli says Rahim-Mashai's comments are the delusions of an insane man and "a treason to Iran", leading to national division, and he has warned the Parliament will react. Ali Motahari says the Chief of Staff's remarks are a serious deviation from the Revolution.

0715 GMT: Ahmadinejad's Letter to America. An EA source confirms from a "reliable" source that President Ahmadinejad has sent another letter to President Obama. We are seeking further information.

0655 GMT: We've posted a feature by Josh Shahryar on Thursday's protest in Washington DC.

0645 GMT: Talking Tough Today. Pro-Ahmadinejad member of Parliament Mehdi Kuchakzadeh has declared that house arrest of "uproar" leaders is the best way to stop social tensions.

0640 GMT: Green Media. Pedestrian takes a look at two forthcoming channels for the Green Movement: RASA, which he sees as "more religiously oriented and closer to the reformist political parties in Iran", and Iran Neda, with "a more artistic/academic and secular orientation".

0635 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Mehdi Karroubi has joined other opposition figures in asking 17 political prisoners to end their hunger strike.

Speaking with the families of imprisoned journalists, Karroubi criticised the authorities' treatment of detainees and expressed concern over the regime's attitude towards the media and reporters.

0615 GMT: A curious Friday, as attention shifted to the President's Chief of Staff, brother-in-law, and good friend Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai. He was criticised not only by opposition figures but by key conservatives in Parliament and, most prominently, by the Friday Prayer leader of Tehran, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami.

This is not the first time that Rahim-Mashai, who has stirred up discord with his comment that Iran and not Islam is the source of emulation for others, has been at the centre of controversy. Last August, in a temporary victory over Ahmadinejad, Rahim-Mashai was forced out as 1st Vice President, only to re-enter the President's office as Chief of Staff.

Still, the timing of this current campaign against Ahmadinejad's right-hand man is notable. It comes after months of growing discontent amongst conservatives with the President, and it complements the rising tide against Ayatollah Jannati, the head of the Guardian Council. Will either of these buttresses of the regime be washed away, exposing even more important figures?

The Latest from Iran (4 August): The President and The Plots

1830 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Farah Vazham, a female protestor detained during the Ashura demonstrations in December, has been sentenced to 15 years on charges of affiliation to the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MKO).

1755 GMT: Deportation Update. Mission Free Iran reports that the threat to deport Iranian activist Jamal Saberi from Japan has been lifted.

NEW Iran Breaking: Grenade Attack on Ahmadinejad?
NEW Iran Feature: The Activism of the Women’s Movement (Mouri)
Iran Analysis: Saharkhiz & Abtahi Dent the Government’s “Fear Factor” (Shahryar)
Iran Feature: Did Ahmadinejad Chief of Staff Reveal the Bomb?
The Latest from Iran (3 August): Explosive Words

1705 GMT: Economy Watch. Iran's inflation rate dropped to 9.1% in the month to 22 July, the Governor of the Central Bank of Iran, Mahmoud Bahmani, has said. The previous month's official rate was 9.4%.

1700 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Esmail Sahabeh, a member of the reformist, Islamic Participation Front, has been sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison.

Judge Salavati, in charge of the case, was absent during the hearing and handed down the ruling without hearing Sahabeh’s defence.

Sahabeh was arrested during a religious ceremony held in support of political prisoners in October 2009. He was released on bail after two months in prison.

1500 GMT: The Pressure on the Supreme Leader. Geneive Abdo and Arash Aramesh write in The New York Times of "The Widening Rift Among Iran's Clerics". Their provocative conclusion:
Khamenei’s success is the result of his ability to forge alliances with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, some clerics, and traditional conservatives. Although his ties to hard-liners and the Revolutionary Guards may seem stronger today, he still needs the support of the clerical establishment.

Khamenei’s idea of the Islamic Republic is certainly less republican and not necessarily more Islamic. With republican institutions in Tehran weakened and his religious authority challenged in Qum, the future of the Islamic Republic and the fate of velayat-e-faqih remain uncertain.

1450 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. The office of the Islamic Women's Sports Federation, headed by Hashemi Rafsanjani's daughter Faezeh Hashemi, has been closed, purportedly because of lack of payments from Iran's Olympics Committee.

1410 GMT: An explosion at a petrochemical plant has killed five people at Asalouyeh in southern Iran. The new phase of the plant, which was the largest producer of ammonia in the region, was opened only a week ago in a ceremony with President Ahmadinejad.

1355 GMT: Crime and Punishment. The former head of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, Mohammad Jafar Behdad, has been sentenced to 7 months for slandering the Larijani brothers and Hashemi Rafsanjani.

1350 GMT: Economy Watch. Aftab News claims that, over the past five years, prices have risen 220%.

1200 GMT: Parliament v. Government. A buffet of challenges from the Majlis....

Hojatoleslam Ali Asghari, the Parliamentary liaison with Strategic Studies Center, criticises "economic stalemate" with "political unrest and radicalism" leading to sanctions and a weakening Majlis leading to "dictatorship".

MP Ali Akbar Oulia declares that the Majlis will not allow the Government to continue its refusal to implement laws, as the delay is harmful to the Iranian people and continues the "chaos" in the country.

Reformist MP Nasrullah Torabi chides the "low language" of Government officials for giving the impression that all Iranian representatives are also "low".

Reformist MP Mohammad Reza Khabbaz claims that some Iranians are now spending three-quarters of their income for rent.

"Hardline" MP Ezzatollah Youssefian Mola says Iran's central bank, Bank Markazi, cannot be trusted as it does not present real data on cases of financial corruption.

1145 GMT: Someone's Looking for Trouble. Ahmadinejad chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, according to Aftab News, has pronounced, "From now on we present the world the way and principles (maktab) of Iran, not of Islam."

So who is making mischief here: Rahim-Mashai or Aftab?

1130 GMT: Today's All-is-Well Alert: Member of Parliament Abdollah Kaabi has insisted that sanctions will lead to Iran's self-sufficiency in producing energy.

1125 GMT: The Campaign of the Politician Prisoners (Rafsanjani Annex). A twist in the story of the letter to the Supreme Leader from Hamzeh Karami, a former political prisoner alleging abuse (see 0635 GMT)....

Rah-e-Sabz claims former President Hashemi Rafsanjani took the letter to Ayatollah Khamenei, insisting on delivering it directly to the Supreme Leader.

1122 GMT: OK, I Was Wrong. Just to admit the error in my assertion (0825 GMT) that the "Iran Has 4 S-300 Missiles" would be the big story in the non-Iranian media today.

1109 GMT: The Campaign Against Jannati. More from Mr Verde on the growing movement against the head of the Guardian Council, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, fed by his claims that opposition leaders were paid $1 billion for causing trouble last year and offered a further $50 billion by the US and Saudi Arabia to overthrow the regime.... are not just causing problems for him, but are embroiling the Supreme Leader too.

Kalemeh reports that Rasool Montajebnia, a cleric who was close to Ayatollah Khomeini and a founding member of Mehdi Karroubi’s Etemade Melli party, has written that the Supreme Leader should now step in and address Jannati's accusation with “precision, transparency and decisiveness” so that “everyone could know if these allegations are true or lies”.

Mr Verde notes:
The timing of Jannati's claims, so soon after his reappointment to the Guardian Council, is allowing the reformists to push for the Supreme Leader's intervention. If Jannati is misinformed to such an extent, is lying, or is incapable of thinking straight, then Ayatollah Khamenei has made an enormous mistake by reappointing him to the Council. This wouldmean that Khamenei’s judgment cannot be trusted, which in turn could become a reason for him being unfit to hold the position of Supreme Leader.

And another “minor” point: if Jannati’s recent claims about the payments are false, then how can one accept that the Guardian Council  was correct in “verifying” Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election last year?

Making these claims, Jannati was probably providing excuses for the actions of the regime over the past year. Instead he seems to have provided a good opportunity for attacks on Khamenei. This is another example of remarks or events spiralling out of control.

1105 GMT: Mousavi Watch. On the eve of Journalists Day, Mir Hossein Mousavi has met with editors, reporters, and families of imprisoned journalists. Mousavi said:
Our voice should reach our imprisoned friends who are on hunger strike to gain their very basic rights;,so that they know that the Green Movement, freedom-seekers, and all layers of the nation are supporting them to achieve their rightful demands....

The great number of imprisoned journalists proves the legitimacy of the path that the Green Movement has chosen, because the knowledgeable, wise, and justice-seeking members of the society are in prison due to their protest against the re-eruption of tyranny.

1040 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Peyke Iran claims Iranian security forces have attacked families of political prisoners who are on hunger strike. The families were demonstrating in front of the office of Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi (see 0800 GMT).

1035 GMT: The Missing Lawyer. The United Nations' refugee agency has confirmed human rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei is in Turkey.

Mostafaei, whose clients include Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, sentenced to death for adultery, has been in hiding after Iranian security forces tried to detain him. His wife and brother-in-law are in prison.

1030 GMT: We have been busy with a separate entry following this morning's story of a possible attack on President Ahmadinejad's motorcade in Hamedan in western Iran.

0845 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Detained teacher Rasoul Baddaghi has been sentenced to six years in prison.

0830 GMT: We have posted a feature, "The Activism of the Women's Movement".

0825 GMT: Today's Tough Talk. Expect this story to take over in non-Iranian press today....

Fars News is claiming that Iran has obtained four S-300 surface-to-air missiles despite Russia's refusal to deliver them to Tehran. The agency claims two came from Belarus and two from an unspecified source.

There has been no immediate official confirmation of the report.

Russia signed a contract in 2007 to sell S-300 missiles to Iran, but has delayed delivery amidst its manoeuvring between Tehran and Washington. The S-300 system can shoot down aircraft, cruise missiles, and ballistic missile warheads at a distance of more than 90 miles and altitudes of about 90,000 feet.

0815 GMT: Mousavi on Oppression in the Name of Islam. Green Voice of Freedom has a full summary of Mir Hossein Mousavi's speech, which we noted yesterday, to veterans of the Iran-Iraq War:
Tyranny and oppression are bad regardless of the circumstances and the time, regardless of whether it is during the Pahlavis [the dynasty of the Shahs] or the Islamic Republic. In fact, oppression under the Islamic Republic is worse because it is done in the name of Islam. Does Islam accept the violation of a human being or obtaining confessions from him by forcing his head down the toilet?

Mousavi's reference to forced confessions is drawn from the experience of Hamzeh Karami, who has written to the Supreme Leader about the abuse in prison (see 0635 GMT).

0800 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. According to IRNA, Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi met with 17 prisoners, some or all of whom are reportedly on hunger strike, and their families on Tuesday.

After hearing the concerns and demands, Doulatabadi reportedly ordered that families be allowed to meet with the detainees, denying that there had been any restrictions.

0645 GMT: Sanctions Watch. The Washington Post picks up on the US formal announcement of sanctions against 21 "front companies" for the Iranian Government, including firms in in Belarus, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Luxembourg.

An EA source points us to background on two of the sanctioned German companies: Breyeller Stahl Technology and IFIC Holding AG.

0635 GMT: The Campaign of the Political Prisoners. Yesterday, Josh Shahryar offered a sharp analysis of the impact of revelations by journalist Isa Saharkhiz, detained in Evin Prison, and former Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi, held for months after the election and forced to appear in a show trial.

There's a significant sequel. Hamzeh Karami, the manager of the reformist Jomhouriat website and a senior official at Islamic Azad University, has written to the Supreme Leader of his treatment in detention: "They put my head in a dirty toilet 20 times to make me give a false confession. When I screamed "Ya Allah". they said, "We are your God today and will do to you whatever we want."

In the "confession" that he gave at the Tehran mass trial last August, Karami implicated Mehdi Hashemi, the son of Hashemi Rafsanjani, claiming that Hashemi had been involved in fraud and manipulation of the Presidential election.

0615 GMT: We open today with some political theatre from President Ahmadinejad (Drama? Comedy? Farce? You decide.):

We had noted yesterday that the President had criticised current United Nations sanctions, connecting them to the "cup of poison" that Ayatollah Khomeini had to drink when accepting the 1988 UN resolution for a cease-fire in the Iran-Iraq War. He had denounced Western media such as the BBC and CNN. But there's more....

According to Raja News, a fervent backer of the Government, Ahmadinejad told his audience at a conference on international broadcasting that the recent "spy swap" between Russia and the US affects Tehran. In the deal between Washington and Moscow, the released Russian agents will pose as nuclear scientists and accuse Iran of plans for a military capability.

Iranian sources claim that official media were so embarrassed that, except for Raja, they censored this section of the speech.

Meanwhile, Pedestrian has posted a clip of Ahmadinejad's speech on Monday to a conference of the Iranian diaspora, offering this interpretation: "The Iranian political libido is going berserk."