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Entries in Zahra Rahnavard (9)


The Latest from Iran (5 August): Challenges

1540 GMT: Culture Corner. Human rights activists Parvin Ardalan and Azin Izadifar are among the recipients of the 2010 Hellmann-Hammett Prize. The award, named after playwright Lillian Hellman and crime writer Dashiell Hammett and administered by Human Rights Watch, recognises literary excellence.

1535 GMT: Replacing the Clerics. The names of 12 new Friday Prayer leaders for 12 cities have been published. Each will serve for three years.

Recently 60 Friday Prayer leaders were "retired" by the regime.

NEW Iran-US Special: Obama Extends His Hand “Engagement, Not Conflict”
Iran Feature: Free Speech (and Some Laughs) in the Theatre (Tehran Bureau)
Iran Special: Grenade Attack on Ahmadinejad?
Iran Feature: The Activism of the Women’s Movement (Mouri)
The Latest from Iran (4 August): The President and The Plots

1530 GMT: Keyhan v. Ahmadinejad. More on the feud between the "hard-line" newspaper Keyhan and the President's office....

Keyhan had alleged that one of the those invited to this week's conference of the Iranian diaspora, Hooshang Amirahmadi of the American Iranian Council, was a "CIA associate". Ahmadinejad's chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashai, denied Amirahmadi had been approached.

So Keyhan has published the official invitation for Amirahmadi.

1450 GMT: The Torture Information. Khodnevis is claiming, from a source close to the Assembly of Experts, that the head of the Assembly, Hashemi Rafsanjani has sent the cases of 22 people who were allegedly tortured to the Supreme Leader. Acccording to the source, Rafsanjani personally delivered details of five cases, including that of editor and university offical Hamzeh Karami, to Ayatollah Khamenei.

(EA reported on the Karami case yesterday but we did not know of the four other claimed cases.)

According to this source, the 22 complaints included allegations against specific officials. One of these is Hossein Taeb, the former commander of the Basij militia and now head of the Intelligence Bureau of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps.

1330 GMT: The No-Longer-Missing Lawyer. Human rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei, who has fled arrest in Iran and is now in Turkey (see 0655 and 1205 GMT), has given an interview to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty on his recent experiences and his defense of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, sentenced to death for adultery.

1320 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Activist Ramin Poshtkoohi was arrested in Isfahan on Sunday.

1315 GMT: Twitter and Iran. Dave Siavashi has written a heart-felt, incisive analysis at Iran News Now, "Revisiting what the 'Twitter Revolution' really means".

1310 GMT: Mahmoud's Plans. President Ahmadinejad has declared that "opponents" (in the Green Movement? in Parliament?) are trying to sabotage the introduction of his subsidy reduction plan in October.

1207 GMT: International Front. The Supreme Leader's key advisor on foreign affairs, former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, is in Lebanon for talks with Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and Lebanese Foreign Minister Ali al-Shami.

1209 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Rah-e-Sabz claims intelligence agents have allegedly called mothers of Evin Prison hunger strikers, threatening them with arrest.

1205 GMT:  A Turkish Foreign Ministry official has told CNN that "extradition to Iran is out of question" for Iranian human rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei (see 0655 GMT).

1150 GMT: Forget the Grenade, We're Going Into Orbit. Iran's official outlet IRNA highlights a passage from President Ahmadinejad's speech on Thursday in Hamedan, in which he said Tehran would put a man into space by 2017: "The plan is in line with an Iran space agency program to produce and place in orbit a spacecraft at an altitude of more than 35,000 kilometers."

Ahmadinejad has made similar declarations over the last 12 months, including his proclamation of the launch of a rocket which had two turtles, a mouse, and some worms.

1145 GMT: Sanctions Watch. As Iran's Minister of Oil Massoud Mirkazemi visits Beijing, the Chinese Foreign Ministry maintained its careful balancing act on pressure against Tehran: "China's trade with Iran is a normal business exchange, which will not harm the interests of other countries and the international community. As a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, China has always observed the council's resolutions."

Earlier this week Robert Einhorn, the special adviser for nonproliferation and arms control at the U.S. State Department, declared that China should live up to the sanctions.

0900 GMT: The Campaign against Jannati. Looks like a development in our ongoing watch on the pressure against Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, the head of the Guardian Council, and thus indirectly on the Supreme Leader. From the Facebook page supporting Mir Hossein Mousavi:
Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, in reaction to the false accusations made by Ahmad Jannati [a reference to Jannati's speech last accusing opposition leaders of taking $1 billion, with a promise of another $50 billion, from the US and Saudi Arabia to overthrow the regime], have written a joint letter addressed to senior religious figures and Grand Ayatollahs. They have asked them to step in for the sake of “saving the integrity of Islam and religious figures’ statue” and to confront those who pose as clerics and who, obviously and shamelessly, are damaging the stature of Islam and religious figures.

In this joint letter Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi called on the Grand Ayatollahs to confront Ahmad Jannati and ask him to provide his so-called documents regarding the accusations he made that the Green leaders have received $1 billion from the United States Government via Saudi Arabia to overthrow the establishment....Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi stated that these false accusations made by chairman of the Guardian Council are “the most striking example of shameless...insults”.

0845 GMT: We've posted two features. Scott Lucas analyses an important signal from President Obama on Iran policy, "Engagement, Not Conflict". And a Tehran Bureau correspondent moves politics into another arena, "Free Speech (and Some Laughs) in the Theatre".

0720 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. An appellate court has upheld the five-year sentence of Mohammad Davari, editor of Mehdi Karroubi's Saham News.

0655 GMT: The No-Longer-Missing Lawyer. Saeed Kamali Dehghan, writing in The Guardian of London, updates on the case of human rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei, who fled Iran after authorities tried to detain him and arrested his wife and brother-in-law (his wife is still in prison).

Mostafaei is now in Turkey but there is some confusion over his status: Dehghan says the lawyer was arrested on immigration charges on Monday. According to The Guardian, Norwegian and US officials met Mostafaei in prison and offered him asylum, but he was forced by Turkish officials to claim asylum with the UN authorities in Turkey or face extradition.

0630 GMT: Academic Boycott. Minister of Health Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi has confirmed what EA already knew from experience: new restrictions will be applied on students seeking to study in Britain and the US, since they are hostile and have only "limited relations" with Tehran.

(One beneficiary of the policy is Ireland, an English-speaking country towards which students have been directed for some time.)

0550 GMT: We begin this morning with an analysis by Rasool Nafisi of the possible significance for Ayatollah Khamenei of a fatwa by Grand Ayatollah Sistani, the leading Shia cleric in Iraq, which says clerical authority must come from the affirmation of the people.

Meanwhile, as we look for the political fallout from yesterday's grenade/firecracker attack/non-attack on President Ahmadinejad's motorcade....

Political Prisoner Watch

Activists Zahra Rahnavard and Parvin Fahimi, the mother of the slain demonstrator Sohrab Arabi, have met with the families of the 17 political prisoners on hunger strike.

On Air Soon

Rasa TV, the product of Resaneh Sabze Iran, is now on-line and promising to be on-air in the near-future.

Today's Tough Talk

Brigadier General Mohammad-Hassan Baqeri, a deputy commander of Iran's army, lays it out "Any insane move will bring the US nothing but regret and they will get our final response in the scene of action."

The Latest from Iran (3 August): Explosive Words

2000 GMT: Defense Watch. The Ministers of Defense of Iran and Oman have agreed to "secure the Straits of Hormuz".

1950 GMT: Conspiracy Theory of the Day. Qassem Ravanbaksh, editor of Parto-ye Sokhan (linked to Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi), has declared that former President Mohammad Khatami visited Saudi Arabia before the June 2009 election to get money.

More tangibly, Khatami has been fined $300 over an unspecified speech because of a complaint by Ahmadinejad Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai.

1945 GMT: Basij Disruption. Basiji paramilitaries have disrupted a memorial service for former member of Parliament, Ismail Tatari, at a Kermanshah mosque because they thought Mehdi Karroubi might be present.

1905 GMT: Taking On the President. Leading MP Darius Ghanbari has joined the criticism of President Ahmadinejad, from across the political spectrum (see 1700), for the conference of the Iranian diaspora. Ghanbari also charged the Government with the wrong strategy as it "chased" elite Iranian and foreign investors.

1900 GMT: Meeting Mousavi. A group of Iranian journalists have posted a report on Rah-e-Sabz of a discussion with Mir Hossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard.

NEW Iran Analysis: Saharkhiz & Abtahi Dent the Government’s “Fear Factor” (Shahryar)
NEW Iran Feature: Did Ahmadinejad Chief of Staff Reveal the Bomb?
NEW MENA House: “Iranian” Rockets Used in Attacks on Israel and Jordan
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 (2 August): The Campaign Against Jannati

1853 GMT: No Debate. In the least surprising news of the day, the Obama Administration has rejected President Ahmadinejad's call for a public discussion with Barack Obama at the UN General Assembly in September. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said, "We have always said that we'd be willing to sit down and discuss Iran's illicit nuclear program, if Iran is serious about doing that. To date, that seriousness has not been there."

1845 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. The trial of film director Jafar Panahi, arrested in March for criticism of the regime, has been postponed to late September because the judge and prosecutor did not appear in court yesterday.

1840 GMT: Sanctions Watch. As EA readers have already noted, the US has formally imposed sanctions on 21 firms it claims are front companies for the Iranian Government.

The claimed fronts included two Belarus-based banks, two Germany-based investment firms, and mining and engineering companies in Japan, Germany, Luxembourg, Italy, and Iran.

The news has been noticed inside Iran, with Press TV headlining the development.

1700 GMT: The Battle Within. Alef has asked the President to "please observe national dignity", criticising Ahmadinejad's "strange" challenge to Barack Obama to a debate in the US.

1539 GMT: Viewing Iran. Our colleague Lara Setrakian of ABC News has launched a new site, The MidEast Memo. Included in its opening entries are a look at the case of the three Americans still detained a year after hiking into Iranian territory and a review of sanctions and Iran's attempts to get around them.

1535 GMT: Economy Watch. Fereydoun Khavand, an economist at the University of Paris, claims in an interview that Iran's unemployment rate is at its highest point in six years.

1530 GMT: So You Want a Debate, Mahmoud? An interesting twist in the story of President Ahmadinejad's call on President Obama to hold a public discussion with him in the US....

Five imprisoned journalists, including Isa Saharkhiz, Masoud Bastani, and Mahdi Mahmoudian, have challenged Ahmadinejad to debate them publicly about his Government's performance.

1315 GMT: Ahmadinejad Today. Another speech by the President, this one to Iran's conference on international media: no apparent talk of Zionist assassination plots but lots of condemnation of the United Nations' "anti-Iran" position. Ahmadinejad referring back to the 1980s, said that "certain people who forced Imam Khomeini to 'drink poison'" and accept the UN resolution ending Iran-Iraq war are still active.

The President also gave his audience an intense rhetorical assault upon the Western media.

1255 GMT: Political Prisioner Watch. The death sentence of Mohammad Ali Haj Aghaei, arrested in post-election protests, has been upheld. According to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, the appellate court did not hold a hearing and confirmed the sentence verbatim.

0950 GMT: International Front. Looks like Iran is to going to skip diplomacy --- a move to talks on uranium enrichment with Washington, as well as other countries --- for grandstanding. The Foreign Ministry has followed President Ahmadinejad's call-out of his American colleague for a public discussion: "If US President Barack Obama expresses his readiness, the UN General Assembly [meeting in September] would be a good opportunity for face-to-face transparent talks.”

0920 GMT: We have posted an analysis by Josh Shahryar, "Saharkhiz & Abtahi Dent the Government’s 'Fear Factor'."

0825 GMT: The Supreme Leader's Next Fatwa. His "I am the Rule of the Prophet" declaration may still be disputed, but Ayatollah Khamenei has reportedly moved to his next topic: the danger of music.

On the same day that Iran's legendary singer Mohammad Nouri was buried, Khamenei supposedly replied to a follower: "Although music is halal, promoting and teaching it is not compatible with the highest values of the sacred regime of the Islamic Republic."

Fars said the fatwa was given to a 21-year-old follower who was thinking of starting music lessons. Khamenei answered, "It's better that our dear youth spend their valuable time in learning science and essential and useful skills and fill their time with sport and healthy recreations instead of music."

We are checking if the fatwa is on Khamenei's official website.

0815 GMT: Do You See a Theme Here? Four of Press TV's last eight stories: "Iran trivializes US war threat"; "Iran rejects reports of US war threat"; (my favourite) "Iran prepares 'enemy-crushing' plans"; "Iran warns Israel against new ME war".

0805 GMT: The Mousavi-Karroubi Statement (A Reaction). Despite the rather limited nature of the Mousavi-Karroubi declaration on the way forward, EA's Ms Zahra is hopeful: "I have the impression that Moussavi is slowly passing over his red lines, his latest statement reads rather democratic, although recurring to religious expressions like a 'Pharaonic' regime."

Ms Zahra also notes former President Mohammad Khatami's most recent speech with its emphasis on the experience of Iran's Constitutional Revolution as a "democratic revolution".

0800 GMT: The Mousavi-Karroubi Statement. Radio Zamaneh summarises yesterday's meeting between Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, headlining criticism of both the Iranian Government and the international pressure on Tehran.

Indeed, Mousavi and Karroubi linked the two, stating, "Uncalculated remarks and decisions of the government have humiliated Iran and led to multilateral sanctions and threats”. They added that the Government was lying about the economic situation, as the sanctions “burden workers, farmers and the impoverished strata of the society, and they could lead to inflation, economic decline and rise in unemployment.”

Mousavi also urged the judiciary to deal with "disturbing news" on political prisoners, and both men said government plans to establish 7000 Basij paramilitary bases across Iran show how the Basij hasbeen transformed into “a military-political party to oppress people, students, dervishes and their civic demands and also to engineer the elections".

Mousavi and Karroubi urged Iranians to “establish social networks to produce truthful content and statistics regarding the situation of the country.”

0740 GMT: Propaganda and "Sedition". Gozaar has a lengthy analysis, with background from the 1990s, of the campaign of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting against Iranian intellectuals and activists through the series Fitna.

0725 GMT: We open this morning with a separate feature on the reported statement of the President's Chief of Staff, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad indicated last year that Iran is approaching capability for a nuclear weapon.

That is not the only explosive --- sorry for the pun --- declaration coming out of Iran, however. There was a flurry of non-military activity on Monday pointing to further conflict, from the opposition's challenge to the head of the Guardian Council, Ayatollah Jannati, to the revelation of former Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi of last summer's Tehran "show trial" to criticism of the President from his "conservative" adversaries in Parliament. There was a legal twist, with Ahmadinejad apparently filing a lawsuit against one of his Parliamentary nemeses, Ali Motahari.

Even the attempted deflections from these conflicts merely added a layer of political humour. The Government's attempt to showcase its support from Iranians abroad, through a gathering of 1300 of them in Tehran, was hindered by "hard-line" criticism that the exercise was a waste of money and even included a "CIA associate".

And Ahmadinejad's speech to the conference moved from the significant --- an indication that Iran was ready for direct talks with Washington --- to the diversionary, with his declaration of readiness to speak publicly ("debate") with President Obama in the US in September and his claim that Zionists were trying to assassinate him.

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?"

The Latest from Iran (1 August): Pressure on Ahmadinejad & Khamenei

1930 GMT: New rhetorical developments in the "War with Iran" corner --- we've got a separate analysis of today's appearance by US military chief Mike Mullen on a Sunday talk show.

1850 GMT: Women, Off Your Bikes. The Friday Prayers leader of Mashaad has reminded women that it is forbidden for them to cycle.

1845 GMT: Terrorist Alert. Fars News reports that a "terrorist" group, made up of Baha'i followers, has been rounded up in Tehran.

1700 GMT: Water Squeeze, Electricity Squeeze Oil Squeeze. Rah-e-Sabz surveys the crisis in supply of clean water, electricity, and gas, noting the restriction in operations of many plants.

NEW Iran Analysis: Hyping the War Chatter — US Military Chief Mike Mullen Speaks
Iran Analysis: More War, No Facts, Blah Blah (Chapter 23)
Iran Analysis: Looking Back on the 1980s (Verde)
Iran Music Video Special: The Award-Winning “Ayatollah, Leave Those Kids Alone”
Iran’s Persecution of Rights: The Pursuit of Lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei (Shahryar)
The Latest from Iran (31 July): Past and Present

1655 GMT: Academic Corner. Advar-e Tahkim Vahdat, the student alumni organisation, has warned of widespread purges of professors with the destruction of social sciences and condemned the prison sentences of Bahareh Hedayat, Ali Malihi, and Milad Asadi.

1650 GMT: More Pressure on the Supreme Leader. Ayatollah Mohsen Kadivar, who recently made a prominent call for the removal of Ayatollah Khamenei, has declared that the "greatest coup d'état" in Iran has been "made by the first person of the country".

1635 GMT: Khomeini Intervention. Seyed Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of Ayatollah Khomeini, has appealed for "an end to hate and rancour as means to solve problems".

Khomeini was meeting members of Islamic associations in Golestan Province.

1620 GMT: Today's All-is-Well Alert. The managing director of the National Iranian Oil Distribution Company (NIODC), Farid Ameri, has said that despite the imposition of new UN sanctions, Iran's gasoline reserves have increased by 15%. Ameri insisted that Iran is capable of supplying its gasoline needs.

1610 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Student activist Hosein Sarshoumi has been arrested in Isfahan.

1530 GMT: Counter-Sanctions. The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance has issued a directive, "Registration of orders for printing goods, tools and machines from Britain is not allowed."

1520 GMT: Economy Watch. Reports claims that German experts hired for a metro project in Isfahan have left because of unpaid wages.

1515 GMT: Tough Talk of the Day. Yadollah Javani, the political director of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps: if attacked, Iran will take the war beyond its geographical borders.

1450 GMT: Economy Watch. Parleman News reports that unemployment has risen in 21 of Iran's 30 provinces.

The official unemployment rate is now above 10% in 22 provinces.

Mehr News reports that Iran's non-oil trade imbalance has increased, with imports now at a 2:1 ratio to exports.

1430 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Kalemeh says that four hunger strikers (we had reported on one, Payman Akbari-Azad, at 1405 GMT) have been moved to a clinic at Evin Prison.

1415 GMT: Western Reporters, Stay Away. Deputy Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Mohammad-Ali Ramin, in addition to slamming Iran's "irresponsible press" (see 1400 GMT), has proclaimed, "The Western media will be excluded from this year's [national] press exhibition. We will not allow the presence of those Western media which are vain, dishonest and beguiling and consider themselves as the ultimate media sultans of the world."

Ramin said exceptions would be made for Western media "which are fitting and independent" to attend the 25 October exhibition.

Earlier this year, some Western journalists used purported coverage of a Tehran conference on uranium enrichment to publish other first-hand stories of Iranian life and politics after the 2009 election.

1410 GMT: Put-Down of the Day. Activist Zahra Rahnavard on Ayatollah Jannati, head of the Guardian Council, after his speech this week defending the Supreme Leader and claiming a US-Saudi $50 billion plot for regime change: "Even a cooked chicken laughs at his words."

1405 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. RAHANA reports that Payman Akbari-Azad, in the 7th day of his hunger strike, has been taken to a hospital outside Evin Prison.

1400 GMT: Complaint of the Week. Mohammad Ali Ramin, the Deputy Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, commented on Wednesday in a speech at Imam Khomeini International University blasted the "undesirable situation of the press": "The government is criticized and even disparaged on a daily and weekly basis by at least 500 to 600 publications in the country in the strongest, sometimes insulting, terms."

Ramin also said there are too many publications in Iran:
In the period before me, the supervisory committee would issue 60 licenses during a one-hour meeting. We are now facing problems and some people have licenses over which there is no supervision....Some of these publications which have obtained licenses are in the hands of individuals with no money and they become dependent on investors. The government must help them become absorbed into parties and organizations.

In another section of the speech, Ramin supported the Supreme Leader's "I am the Rule of the Prophet" fatwa and went even further: "The [Leader] has the position of surrogate of the Imam Zaman [the 12th "hidden" Imam] and on his behalf must manage the world, in other words the imposition of God's proof upon humanity during the time of absence [of Imam Zaman]."

Ramin concluded, "We must find a way for the velayat-e-faqih system to manage the world."

0720 GMT: Trouble for the Fatwa? With clerical reaction in Iran awaited to the Supreme Leader's declaration of authority (see 0645 GMT), Grand Ayatollah Sistani, the leading Shia cleric in Iraq (and a native of Iran), has given a less than warm reception.

Sistani said that, to rule the country, velayat-e-faqih and the Supreme Leader's authority must be approved by the majority of loyal followers. He added that if the rule of a marja (senior cleric) differs from that of the Supreme Leader, it is still valid if it is based on welfare for all, unless it contradicts the Qukran and tradition. (

Meanwhile, Hojatoleslam Hossein Ebrahimi of the Assocation of Combatant Clergy has warned that all three branches of Government are in the hands of hardliners. He added, however, that those hardliners are menaced by internal conflicts and said reformists have not been eliminated. (

0710 GMT: The Battle Within. The dispute between Parliament and President is now affecting war veterans, according to Rah-e-Sabz. The site claims that the law to support victims of chemical warfare in the Iran-Iraq War has not been implemented by the Government.

MP Musalreza Servati has warned that if the Government does not approve the funds for the Tehran metro system, the relevant ministers will be impeached. (

On a different front, MP Esmail Kousari has challenged the Government's "soft" stance on hijab: any current which wants to supersede hardliners is not hardline at all. (

Alireza Marandi has asked, "How can a government that does not implement Majlis legislation... pretend to be able to run the country?" (

However, the most serious challenge may have come from Mohammad Nabi Habibi, the leader of the conservative Motalefeh party. Amidst growing confrontation with the President's inner circle, Habibi has struck back at Ahmadinejad's recent declaration that only one party, the Velayat Party, is necessary.

Habibi claimed that the lack of parties menaces Iran and said the "propaganda system" of a party that presents its aims as those of the people is wrong.

Then he warned, "In many cases government have been toppled because of this." (

0700 GMT: Watching the Clerics. An EA correspondent tells us of a development with the Supreme Leader's "I am the Rule of the Prophet" fatwa.

Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi, who was approached by Ayatollah Khamenei's staff before the fatwa was issued, has published answers to questions about velayat-e-faqih (clerical supremacy) on his website. (

Makarem Shirazi's responses could be a big clue as to whether the Supreme Leader's assertion of authority will be accepted by senior clerics. Curiously, only some of the answers have been published by Fars News. (

0645 GMT: Slapdown to Obama. Iran has responded to President Obama's call on Friday for the release of three Americans, detained for allegedly walking across the Iran border last year, by insisting that the trio will be tried.

0630 GMT: Oil Salvation from Beijing? Deputy Minister of Oil Hossein Nokreqhbar Shirazi claimed Saturday that Chinese investment in Iran's energy sector has risen to $40 billion.

There was a downside, however. Shirazi admitted that Iran's oil exports to China have fallen 30% this year.

0600 GMT: Catching up with the news while on the road....

Political Prisoner Watch

Brazil has offered asylum to Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the woman sentenced to death --- initially by stoning before this was recently revoked --- for adultery.

Peyke Iran publishes pictures of detainees' families who protested in front of the Tehran Prosecutor General's office on Saturday.

Inside Evin Prison, telephone contact has been re-established with political prisoners in Ward 350, where detainees protested last week over ill treatment of them and their families by prison guards. There is still no word, however, of several prisoners who are reportedly in solitary confinement and on hunger strike.

RAHANA posts a report on Majid Dorri, one of the hunger strikers.

Economy Watch

Green Voice of Freedom writes about the metal industry of Kerman, "destroyed" by Chinese & Pakistani imports.
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