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Entries in Los Angeles Times (5)


The Latest from Iran (24 December): Another Day, Another Demonstration

MOHARRAM32100 GMT: Culture and Politics. Days after Mir Hossein Mousavi was dismissed as head of Iran's Art Academy, the president of Iran’s Academy of Medical Sciences has been removed for criticising the imprisonment of political activists.

Iraj Fazel, a prominent surgeon and academic, wrote, “Why are our dear university students and girls and boys with pure thoughts and concerns being viciously attacked without reason and being thrown into dungeons? Why should a nation that is still showing signs of fatigue from a great revolution have so many political prisoners?”

2015 GMT: The Tehran Demonstrations Today. Persian2English has published a detailed account, translated from the version offered by Human Rights and Democracy Activists in Iran, of the protests in Toopkhaneh Square. An extract:
People started shouting: “Allah is great,” “Death to Dictator,” and “Release political prisoners.” The police started coming toward the people again and stopped them, forcing them to change their route.

Plainclothes forces moved around the people to identify youth who were shouting slogans against Khamenei. There was a 16 year old among the people who kept on saying: “Death to our leader, Khamenei; shall he perish” and people responded with a loud voice, “Amen.” One of the plainclothes forces approached him slowly, without other people noticing, and grabbed his hand as if he was going to arrest him, but a number of women started noticing, and saved him.

NEW Latest Iran Video: Tehran Protests (23-24 December)
NEW Iran: The Momentum of Protest (It’s No Longer Just….)
Iran Video & Transcript: Ahmadinejad Interview with Britain’s Channel 4 (23 December)
Latest Iran Video: Najafabad, Isfahan, and Mashhad Protests (23 December)
Iran: Is the US Government Now Going to Engage with the Opposition?
Iran Analysis: The Regime’s Cracks Widen, The Wave Resurges?
NEW Iran: Is Ayatollah Sane’i The Next Montazeri?

The Latest from Iran (23 December): This Time, No Pause?

The plainclothes man kept shouting and asked other plainclothes forces to go after the teen because he had slandered the Leader. Then a number of youth attacked one of the plainclothes forces. The plainclothes force picked up a bar and started beating the youth. Women stood up against him and did not let him continue beating the youth. Plainclothes forces had electrical batons hiding under their clothes.

Whenever they felt threatened, they brought it out and attacked the people. People were dispersed, but eventually united again. At 3:55 pm, the youth started gathering in Toop-Khane Square and shouted slogans like “Allah is Great,” “Today is a day of mourning, our green nation of Iran is mourning today.”
Drivers, even Vahed Bus Drivers and private cars supported people by honking their horns. Motor bike forces attacked people with batons and tear gas. Around 4:00pm, plainclothes forces, police, and even guard forces gathered around Toop-Khane Square and ordered shopkeepers to close down their shops.

1815 GMT: Video is now emerging of today's demonstrations in Zanjan.

1730 GMT: The Investigation of the Election. Groups supporting Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi have issued a 170-page report on the conduct of the Presidential election in June.

1715 GMT: The Battle over the Memorials. HomyLafayette offers some additional information on the contest between mourners/protesters and the regime over the memorials for Grand Ayatollah Montazeri. He notes, for example:
On Tuesday, Ayatollah Khorasani managed to organize a ceremony at Kashan's Shamkhi Mosque, but in order to overcome security measures, the hour and location were announced at the last moment. The next day, another larger event was organized at the city's Hossein Mosque, but this time the regime's forces were forewarned. Attendants who arrived at the mosque saw [a] banner hoisted over the entrance.

The banner reads, "According to an announcement of the Supreme National Security Council, any gathering for Mr. Montazeri is forbidden anywhere in the country except in Ghom and Najafabad."

1700 GMT: Back from a holiday break to post the video from today's demonstrations in Tehran.

1340 GMT: Season's Greetings, Iranian People (Here's a Bomb for You). Amidst the wealth of attention now being given by "Western" media to the protests in Iran, a horrific display of journalism in The New York Times today: the newspaper handed over a large space on its opinion page to Alan Kuperman, "Director of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Program" at the University of Texas. And how was that space used?
Negotiation to prevent nuclear proliferation is always preferable to military action. But in the face of failed diplomacy, eschewing force is tantamount to appeasement. We have reached the point where air strikes are the only plausible option with any prospect of preventing Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. Postponing military action merely provides Iran a window to expand, disperse and harden its nuclear facilities against attack. The sooner the United States takes action, the better.

I can't be bothered to run through the flaws, holes, and leaps of illogic in Kuperman's narrative on the nuclear issue --- Marc Lynch suitably summarises, "Truly awful: shoddy reasoning, thin evidence. B- undergraduate paper". Instead, let's just note Kuperman's blithe assertion: "As for the risk of military strikes undermining Iran’s opposition, history suggests that the effect would be temporary."

And let's put Kuperman aside and address the editors of The Times: next time you claim to have concern and respect for the views of the "Iranian people", remember that your concern and respect extended to letting an ill-informed "analyst" advocate US bombing in which those people (if they were
noticed at all) are expendable.

1320 GMT: The Zanjan Memorial. It appears that the authorities have been successful in banning the memorial for Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, to be led by Ayatollah Bayat-Zanjani, in Zanjan. The chatter is that the memorial will now be at 8 p.m. local time (1630 GMT) in Bayat-Zanjani's home.

1300 GMT: Tehran Demonstration. Activists report about 2000 people have gathered at Toopkhaneh Square in Tehran, watched by anti-riot and plainclothes forces. The crowd is chanting, "Death to the Dictator", "Political prisoners must be freed", and "Death to Khamenei".

1230 GMT: The Isfahan Events. A video has been posted of the reflections of Ayatollah Jalaleddin Taheri, who was supposed to give the memorial service for Grand Ayatollah Montazeri in Isfahan yesterday, on the cancellation of the memorial and the subsequent clashes.

1210 GMT: The Arts Council Fallout. A second member of the board of the Iran Arts Academy, Mohammad Mehdi Heidarian, has resigned in protest over the dismissal of Mir Hossein Mousavi as President. Heidarian was Vice-Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance in the Khatami Government.

1010 GMT: Six Years for Ramezanzadeh. Fars News is now confirming reports from yesterday that Abdullah Ramezanzadeh, the former spokesman for President Mohammad Khatami, has been sentenced to six years in jail for acting against national security and propaganda against the Islamic system.

1000 GMT: Protest and Harassment in France. An EA reader sends us news of the alleged detention and harassment of four women from the Green movement by staff of the Iranian Embassy in Paris. The women were among demonstrators protesting outside an Embassy function.

0830 GMT: Great Minds Thinking Alike? Just discovered that Ramin Mostaghim and Borzou Daragahi in the Los Angeles Times are taking a line similar to our analysis today: "Large-scale protests spread in central Iranian cities Wednesday, offering the starkest evidence yet that the opposition movement that emerged from the disputed June presidential election has expanded beyond its base of mostly young, educated Tehran residents to at least some segments of the country's pious heartland."

0815 GMT: The Trouble in Apadana. An EA reader reminds us that conflict is no longer just a matter of big demonstrations. In the Tehran district of Apadana, there has been ongoing tension with security forces, with Peyke Iran elevating the situation to a "state of emergency". Apadana is the location of the home of Sohrab Arabi, who was killed in the 15 June demonstrations, and his death continues to serve as a catalyst for protest.

0800 GMT: High-Profie Denial. After we finished our morning analysis, it only took 15 minutes to find more evidence of our assessment that President Ahmadinejad is trying to fly high as a "world leader", blissfully floating above the reality of political events and demonstrations in Iran.

Press TV features the President's Wednesday night interview on Iranian television. After four days of demonstrations involving hundreds of thousands of his citizens, Ahmadinejad focused on his appearance at the climate change conference in Copenhagen: "The summit was a test for the world's dominating economic powers. It showed that they only think of themselves. They are not prepared to cut pollutants for the sake of human life."

This concern about the flooding and pollution caused by others in turn brought Ahmadinejad to his reassurance, apparently unaware of the slogans in Iranian streets this week: "At the moment, Iran has the upper hand in the Middle East. And, who ever has the upper hand in the Middle East, has the upper hand in world affairs."

0745 GMT: We begin the moment with a glance at the last few days for a special analysis, "The Momentum of Protest: It's No Longer 'Just'...", as in "It's no longer just Tehran" and "It's no longer just students" who are now pressing their claims and raising their voices against the regime.

Testimony to that assessment this morning: the official website of Ayatollah Bayat-Zanjani has published the invitation for all to participate in today's memorial service in Zanjan, led by Bayat-Zanjani, for Grand Ayatollah Montazeri. The ceremony is scheduled for 3 p.m. local time (1130 GMT).

Of course, the regime is not standing aside as the momentum of protest builds. Iran's police chief, Esmail Ahmadi-Moghaddam, warned that continued demonstrations would be "fiercely confronted". The Revolutionary Court is reported to have handed down prison sentences for up to 50 students and faculty from Shiraz University. Seyyed Hamed Kavoosi, arrested on 13 Aban (4 November), was sentenced to three years for "actions against national security" by participating in illegal gatherings and chanting slogans. Mohammad Taabeie Mohammadi was sentenced to four years while 45 others received short or suspended terms.

Latest Iran Video: Mehdi Karroubi Interview with BBC (17 December)

A rather strange "interview" of Mehdi Karroubi on BBC's flagship news programme Newsnight last evening. The correspondent, Jon Leyne, frittered away the first minutes talking about how "extraordinary" it was that Karroubi was able to speak to a Western media outlet, surfing on the cleric's own words about the Iranian regime's clamp-down on communications.

In fact, Karroubi has been interviewed by the Los Angeles Times and Le Monde in recent weeks, so the situation is more complicated than presented here. The regime will allow a window for Karroubi to speak to the "outside" world; it is his profile inside Iran that is of more concern to them. So Leyne's "headline" on the interview --- that this was just Ayatollah Khomeini speaking to the Western media on the eve of the 1979 Islamic Revolution --- seems to be hyperbolic.

The second half of the clip is better, with Karroubi's (too-brief, as edited by the BBC) reflections on the abuse of detainees, as well as his comments on President Ahmadinejad and the possible emergence of a "radical" Green Movement.


The Latest on Iran (16 December): What's Next?

MOHARRAM31945 GMT: Khatami on Moharram. Illustrating the analysis in Mr Azadi's "Beginners Guide to Moharram", former President Mohammad Khatami put out a message linking the commemoration of the third Imam, Hussein, with today's challenge in Iran:
The Islamic society has one major goal and that is to reform the society contentiously; It could be either by reforming the government by establishing a suitable government or by reforming the way government rules and the methods it interacts with the society. Imam Hossein said that he did not fight to gain power but he did fight for reform in the Islamic society….Before the revolution the goal of the reform was to establish a new government but now that the Islamic Republic is established, reform must continue to strengthen it.

NEW Iran Document: The Rafsanjani Speech in Mashhad (6 December)
NEW Iran: Why the US Sanctions Game on Tehran is All Wrong
NEW Iran Picture of the Day: Mohammad Khatami’s Cellphone
Iran: A Beginner’s Guide to Moharram
Latest Iran Video: The University Protests (15 December)
Iran: US State Department Pushes for “Proper” Sanctions in 2010
UPDATED “Where is My Vote?” (Part 2): TIME Snubs Green Movement as “Person of the Year”
The Latest on Iran (16 December): What’s Next?

1900 GMT: So Is Raf Ready for the Fight? He's sure talking like it. Following his advice to Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, "Get Help" (1730 GMT), he's taken on other critics: "Some people make their reputation by slandering others and the appropriate response to such people is silence."

Rafsanjani advised regime officials to strengthen “society’s trust” in the system by executing the provisions of the constitution and respecting peoples' rights. No amount of Government restrictions could prevent the legitimate demands of the Iranian population: “With the dismantling of media monopolies, today’s generation are well-informed and they’ll only be more so in the future.”

1730 GMT: Karroubi and Rafsanjani Smack Down Yazdi, Part 2 (see 0740 GMT). Payvand has an English translation of Mehdi Karroubi's verbal demolition of Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, the Ahmadinejad ally who threatened him with punishment over claims of detainee abuse:

Regarding your remark and your concern about me being a "joke", I should remind you that those who are briefing you, are telling you jokes; that's why you have this illusion that the political turmoil and the critical situation of the society is like a joke!...I remind you that what I do and will do is based on my belief and duty in defending the rights of each and every citizen, and this for me is the main goal and responsibility.

If you use clear and free sources, you will see that wherever Mehdi Karroubi joined the people, they received him with kindness. Unlike some, his popularity did not diminish with time, but with the kindness of the people --- despite all the limitations and closing down my newspaper and offices --- I am blessed with their support every day.

If you don't agree with the views of someone, why don't you act according to the law? Why do you deal with it by hiring a number of thugs and causing trouble in the neighbourhood in the middle of the night? Is this what you are proudly talking about that if Karoubi did not have bodyguards what you could have done to him? Is this what you promised people at the beginning of the revolution? What has happened to your dignity as a member of the Guardian Council?!

Karroubi, after expressing concern's for Yazdi's "age and illness" ("I hope you get better soon"), "pointed out the financial interests that Ayatollah Yazdi and his son have in the country and the incidents that has shown his incompetence as a former head of the judiciary; he then asked him to resign from his public posts as a member of the Guardian Council and a member of the Assembly of Experts so that he won't make more mistakes either for his own gain or due to wrong information".

Meanwhile, Rafsanjani had a succinct suggestion for Yazdi, who argued that Rafsanjani's family members should be tried for activities surrounding the Presidential election, "Get Help":
For many years my response to Ayatollah Yazdi has been greetings and wishing him health. If some think that by intimidation and bullying they can solve the problems they are making a mistake and even if they can solve the problems temporarily but after a short while those problems will return in greater extent than before.

1628 GMT: Tearing Down Internet Walls. The US State Department has notified Congress that is waiving the threat of sanctions on US companies that provide anti-censorship software:
The Department of State is recommending that the Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issue a general license that would authorize downloads of free mass market software by companies such as Microsoft and Google to Iran necessary for the exchange of personal communications and/or sharing of information over the internet such as instant messaging, chat and email, and social networking. This software is necessary to foster and support the free flow of information to individual Iranian citizens and is therefore essential to the national interest of the United States.

1617 GMT: Lemming Mediawatch Alert. Forgive me for being cranky, but we've been immersed for a few hours in an intense period of political activity inside Iran --- an episode which could lead to a breaking-point conflict between the regime and figures like Hashemi Rafsanjani --- and the "Western" media are still fluttering about the Iranian missile test from this morning, which frankly doesn't mean that much. (Really.) So --- CNN, Los Angeles Times, Washington PostNew York Times --- you're on notice.

(Credit to Reuters, which has picked up on the threat of the head of Iran's judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, that there is "enough evidence" to try opposition leaders --- see 1125 GMT.)

1614 GMT: What's the Fuss About Rafsanjani About? Have a look --- we've posted a second English summary of his 6 December speech in Mashhad, together with background on his "unity" strategy and a link to the first summary of the speech.

1610 GMT: Peyke Iran have published an updated list of people detained in 16 Azar (7 December) protests.

1538 GMT: Accessing Mowjcamp. The Green Movement website, which was hacked earlier today (0725 GMT), can now be accessed via an alternative Internet address.

1530 GMT: Mortazavi's Back. Amidst the rhetorical drama of today, an announcment which is relatively low-profile. It is confirmed that former Tehran Prosecutor General Saeed Mortazavi, who has led the legal crackdown on post-election protests but had been rumoured to have fallen out of favour in Tehran, is now back in the Presidential fold. He has been appointed as Ahmadinejad's special representative to combat smuggling of goods and currency.

1525 GMT: And Now from the Reformist Side. The regime makes its threat, and reformist MPs hit back. Darius Ghanbari has warned that pro-Government "extremists" want to put millions in Iran's jails.

1510 GMT: More on Regime v. Rafsanjani. Yep, as we noted below (1440 GMT), it is Rafsanjani's Mashaad speech that has lit the fire under the Government. The Governor of Tehran Province, Morteza Tamedon, admitted as much with his own challenge to the former President: the recent remarks had put the "wood" on the "fire" of the post-election conflict.

1455 GMT: The Green Counter-Attack. Alireza Beheshti, the chief advisor to Mir Hossein Mousavi, has said in an interview that it is curious how the Iranian regime leaves no time and space to "replace their lies about imperialism". In a direct rebuke to the Supreme Leader's representative to the Revolutionary Guard, Mojtaba Zolnour, who called yesterday for the arrests of opposition figures, Beheshti said that the lies were being spread to destroy the leaders of the Green Wave.

Beheshti's statement is also an implicit attack on the Supreme Leader's continuing focus on the evils of the US and Israel, including their attempts to use the opposition for regime change in Iran.

Zahra Rahnavard, Mousavi's wife, has also intervened against the regime's criticisms on the "burning of Khomeini" incident, arguing that the Green Movement is a result of the ideals and approach of the Imam.

1440 GMT: Urgent --- The Attack on Rafsanjani. This can now be classified as an all-out assault, short of arrest, on former President Hashemi Rafsanjani to shut him up and block any manoeuvres against the Government.

We have more details of Minister of Intelligence Heydar Moslehi's attack (see 1125 GMT), made in a meeting with the leaders of Tehran's mosques, military representatives, and officials. Moslehi, in a conference about the post-election crisis, emphasised that meetings had been held in Britain before the 12 June Presidential vote to stir up trouble against the Ahmadinejad Government and the Islamic Republic.

Moslehi claimed that Rafsanjani and an unnamed leader of the Green movement had sent emissaries to these meetings. He also noted that Rafsanjani's son Mehdi Hashemi is now in Britain, where he has spent most of his time since June amidst allegations that he has been involved in illegal activity surrounding the election.

The specific naming of Rafsanjani, rather than a figure such as Mir Hossein Mousavi, indicates that the Government has specifically targeted him as a threat who must now be removed amidst the continuing protests and calls for "unity" to remedy post-election problems and injustices. The move is probably linked to Rafsanjani's recent speech in Mashhad, which we covered extensively on Enduring America two weeks ago.

1235 GMT: Defending Opposition Leaders. With the regime stepping up its verbal attacks on the opposition, two reformist members of Parliament, Mohamad Tabesh (the nephew of Mohammad Khatami) and Nasrullah Torabi, have defended the movement's top political figures. Torabi said that, if the regime tried Mousavi-Karroubi-Khatami on charges, they "should try the history of the Islamic Revolution", given the important role that the three men had played in that revolution since 1979.

1230 GMT: March Manoeuvres. With Mir Hossein Mousavi's petition, submitted with Mehdi Karroubi, for a march protesting the attacks on Imam Khomeini, likely to be rejected, his supporters have  a new approach this morning: a letter calling on the Green movement to join the already-authorised marches after Friday Prayers.

1125 GMT: A Renewed Threat of Arrests? EA correspondent Mr Azadi brings us a rush of stories and invites us to connect the dots:

1. Minister of Intelligence Heydar Moslehi has launched a new attack on the family of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani. In a speech on the "intrigues" of those who wanted to undermine the Islamic Republic, Moslehi specifically mentioned the "children of Rafsanjani". The assault is now the lead story on the Islamic Republic News Agency website.

2. The previous IRNA lead story: Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, head of the Guardian Council, has called the opposition "un-Islamic" and opposed to Iran's Revolution and the ideals of Imam Khomeini.

3. Perhaps most ominously, the head of Iran's judiciary, Sadegh Larijani --- only days after meeting with President Ahmadinejad -- has said that his offices have "enough evidence" to bring opposition leaders to trial. He specifically indicated that Mehdi Karroubi may be prosecuted over false allegations of the rapes of post-election detainees, and he added that Mir Hossein Mousavi's statements of the last month are similar to those of the "terrorist" Mujahedin-e-Khalq in the early years of the Islamic Revolution.

0955 GMT: Sanctions Folly, Khatami Fun. We've got two new entries: a story from Gary Sick about a US simulation pointing out the weaknesses in American strategy on Iran and a Picture of the Day of Mohammad Khatami's cellphone.

We also have an update on the Time "Person of the Year" story.

0905 GMT: Lemming News. The BBC has joined the Iran missile story, although it at least puts in a caveat before getting panicky: "Correspondents say it is not the first time this missile has been tested, but it is likely to provoke condemnation from the West as a provocative act." (Al Jazeera English has the story, but without the tagline promoting how the "West" will respond.)

CNN is promising on Twitter, "More on", but the folks on their website don't seem to have gotten the message yet.

0755 GMT: The "We're Tough-You're Scary-Stop the Presses" Roadshow. And here's one that may keep the media diverted from other issues today. The Iranian military is declaring that it "has successfully tested an optimized version of the solid-fuel Sejjil-2 deterrent missile as part of its long-term plans to defend the country's borders". Look for "Western" media to seize on this as more evidence of Iran's offensive intentions, linking it to the nuclear issue.

(Well done, Sky News, for making my prediction come true within two minutes of posting: "The move is likely to increase tensions with the West over Tehran's nuclear ambitions." Two minutes, it's MSNBC from the US with "an announcement likely to add to tension with the West".)

0753 GMT: The Sanctions Cycle. Well, here's a surprise on all fronts: US House of Representatives, the lower house of Congress, passes bill for sanctions on foreign companies supplying gas and petroleum to Iran; Iranian official declares, "They cannot succeed...."

The question beyond the posturing is whether the Congress rams through the measures despite opposition from the US State Department, which fears that the bill in current form could alienate American allies.

0750 GMT: Mahmoud Gives Danish TV a Slap. Hundreds of miles away from the main action, President Ahmadinejad can strike a tough pose. In an interview with Danish television, Ahmadinejad, was asked, "Would you like a nuclear bomb?" He offered the response that nuclear bombs were a bad thing which brought the journalist's follow-up, "So you can say to me, the whole world and all viewers in Denmark and Europe that you will never have a nuclear bomb?"

Oops, that crossed a line. The President replied, "I gave a clear answer to your question. I would like you to be aware of who you are talking to."

0740 GMT: Karroubi Gives Yazdi a Slap. An interview I wish was available in English: Mehdi Karroubi spoke on Tuesday about Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, the Ahmadinejad ally and former head of judiciary who has been issuing threats of prosecution against opposition leaders and Hashemi Rafsanjani's family. Karroubi's message to Yazdi? Step down from your positions, do a bit of learning, and just get back to me.

0725 GMT: One success for the regime this morning: the key reformist website Mowjcamp has been hacked by the Iranian Cyber Army.

0715 GMT: The feeling yesterday was of chesspieces being moved once again. Mir Hossein Mousavi put out a statement of encouragement to the students while he and Mehdi Karroubi waited for an answer on their petition for a march to promote the defacing of the image of Imam Khomeini. Their supporters also highlighted the latest declaration of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri supporting protest and denouncing the oppression of the regime.

On the Government side, officials such as the Governor of Tehran made noises about security being out in force to prevent the opposition spoiling the month of Moharram and the days of Tasua and Ashura (26-27 December). The Supreme Leader devoted himself, in a meeting with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, to the "Israel is very, very bad" theme. Notably, however, President Ahmadinejad is again removed from the scene, attending the climate change summit at Copenhagen.

News of university protests was concentrated on two campuses, Tehran Azad (where state media was also playing up a pro-Government rally, for which we have still seen no visual evidence) and the science and technology institution Elm-o-Sanat, with reports and footage of a rally at Razi University in Kermanshah. But here was the new twist: students were demonstrating at Qom University. That's Qom, as in the heart of the Tehran clerical system and establishment.

Iran: A Renewed Washington Love Affair With The Green Movement?

US FLAGIRAN 3 NOV DEMOS 3It is striking that, after six weeks in the high-profile US media of scepticism and even hostility towards the Iranian opposition, there appears to be another honeymoon of American sentiment for the Green Wave(s). While the protests of 13 Aban (4 November) were largely put aside by the US press, the smaller demonstrations of 16 Azar have been embraced as the valiant defiance of Government oppression.

The Christian Science Monitor saw the resurrection of "the country's Green Movement , [which] has found new ways of organizing and keeping its message alive", and Los Angeles Times published a lengthy editorial, "Help Iran's Student Protestors":
The students, for their part, seem to be girding for a long fight, and the West should follow their lead. Western governments should offer the reform movement moral support, as President Obama did in his Nobel Peace Prize speech, promising to be a voice for the aspirations of reformers such as the "hundreds of thousands who have marched silently through the streets of Iran." But the West also must be careful not to undermine the reformists with too close an embrace. This is a national movement, and the Iranians who are questioning the legitimacy of their own government are diligent students of their revolutionary forefathers.

The Latest from Iran (11 December): Ripples and then Ruptures?

Meanwhile, CNN has converted a general statement from Assistant Secretary of State John Limbert, ""We believe as we have always believed that the Iranian people deserve decent treatment from their government," into a portrayal of Washington's renewed backing of the opposition with the headline, "Official: U.S. Will Not Ignore Iran Protests".

President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech offered a high-profile stage for a display of Washington's sentiments. Masoud at The Newest Deal came away with hope:
One of the two times Obama explicitly singled out Iran was on the nuclear issue, if only to stress the importance of countries to not only follow international law – in this instance, the Non-Proliferation Treaty – but to also ensure that such international agreements are followed and respected by all nations. Obama continued:

"The same principle applies to those who violate international laws by brutalizing their own people. When there is genocide in Darfur, systematic rape in Congo, repression in Burma -- there must be consequences. Yes, there will be engagement; yes, there will be diplomacy -- but there must be consequences when those things fail. And the closer we stand together, the less likely we will be faced with the choice between armed intervention and complicity in oppression."

What is interesting to note is that while Obama did not mention Iran in his litany of countries that “brutalize their own people,” he used the word "engagement" in his very next sentence. The term “engagement,” of course, has been used almost exclusively vis-à-vis Iranian diplomacy during the first eleven months of the Obama administration. It appears that this was subtle (if not coy) way of putting the Iranian regime on notice.

On closer examination, however, it appears that the Obama Administration is still driven by a nuclear-first attitude on Iran. The substantial statements on Thursday and today have all been about sanctions on Tehran: US, British, and French ambassadors at the United Nations warned of Iran's violations of arms embargoes. The French ambassador asserted:
If Iran continues to do everything it can to violate five Security Council resolutions, if it continues to refuse the slightest confidence measures, to refuse dialogue, transparency after the major revelations that have just been made, we must draw all of the necessary conclusions and that means we must move on to a new resolution involving sanctions.

US Ambassador Susan Rice echoed, "Should Iran continue to fail to meet its obligations, the international community will have to consider further actions," and this morning Secretary of Defense Robert Gates piled on the rhetorical pressure, "I think you're going to see some significant additional sanctions imposed by the international community, assuming that the Iranians don't change course and agree to do the things they signed up to do at the beginning of October."

So, however warm the renewed affection for the Iranian opposition, it stills appears that "plucky student protestors" translates into no more than pawns in the Obama Administration's nuclear chess match with Tehran.

The Latest from Iran (7 December): The Marches of 16 Azar

16 AZAR POSTER52150 GMT: To end the day, we've posted a review by Josh Shahryar of the day's events.

2100 GMT: The Assault on Zahra Rahnavard. More on the alleged attack on Mir Hossein Mousavi's wife this afternoon at Tehran University: Persian2English has an English summary.

NEW Iran’s 16 Azar: A Review of the Day’s Events Throughout the Country
NEW Latest Iran Video: The Marches of 16 Azar – 2nd Set (7 December)
NEW Iran’s 16 Azar Protests: An Interim Analysis & Questions for the Green Movement
NEW Latest Iran Video: The Marches of 16 Azar (7 December)
NEW 16 Azar Opinion: “Iran’s Voice Will Be Heard”
NEW 16 Azar Special: A Letter from Inside Iran
Latest Iran Videos: The Eve of 16 Azar “Allahu Akhbar” and “Death to Dictator” Chants (6 December)
Iran Opinion: “Why The Green Movement Will Prevail”
Latest Iran Videos: The Eve of 16 Azar “Allahu Akhbar” Chants (6 December)
Iran Document: Mousavi Statement on 16 Azar and the Student Movement (6 December)
Iran Document: The Rafsanjani Speech to Students (6 December)
Iran: Routes and Information for 16 Azar (7 December)
Iran’s Critical Moment: 24 Hours to Go

2055 GMT: Britain Leads, Will US Follow? British Foreign Minister David Miliband has taken notice of today's events in a statement:

I share the concern of many people about the use of force to stifle demonstrations on Students' Day. This follows the large scale abuses of human rights that have taken place since the presidential elections on 12 June.

Freedom of speech and freedom of political expression are fundamental values which all governments should respect. We look to the Iranian authorities to up-hold the freedoms of their own citizens, not stifle them.

Will Britain's allies in Washington also issue a declaration of concern over "human rights"?

1935 GMT: Mediawatch. Hat-tip to The New York Times, with reporters Nazila Fathi (from Toronto) and Robert Worth (from Beirut) providing a good overview of the events today.

And a thumbs-down to The Daily Telegraph for unnecessarily provocative "news". Even if the claim that police fired "warning shots" is true, the headline, "Iranian police shoot at unarmed protesters during Tehran demonstrations", is a distortion beyond accuracy and common sense.

1925 GMT: Kalemeh, the website associated with Mir Hossein Mousavi, is reporting that Mousavi's wife Zahra Rahnavard, a faculty member at Tehran University, was physically attacked by a group of unknown women on the campus.

1910 GMT: Press TV Politics. Looks like those at the state outlet who are not so anti-opposition have tinkered with the coverage of today's events. The opening paragraph of the story that we reported earlier (1730 GMT) emphasized that the National Student Day had been "hijacked" by "anti-government demonstrations...foiled thanks to the presence of anti-riot forces".

This is the less provocative update: "Authorities on Monday arrested a number of people who damaged public property as opposition protesters and students staged rallies on Student Day in Iran, reports say."

1900 GMT: Back from an academic break. Thanks to TN McLaughlin for keeping an eye on developments. Just catching up with latest news.

1730 GMT: We've just posted the latest videos from Tabriz and and Najaf Abad universities at our latest video page.

1700 GMT: Scott Lucas "has left the building" for a couple of hours and the site is being watched over by EA's new team member, TN McLaughlin.

1633 GMT: Urgent --- Tavakoli Detention. An EA contact confirms the arrest today of Majid Tavakoli, a leader of the Amir Kabir University student movement. Tavakoli was also arrested and injured in detention in 2007.

1623 GMT: More from an EA source inside Iran:
I'm gonna check the streets, Haft-e Tir, and Ferdowsi before going home!

Right now I am getting this news from the students at the University of Tehran. People are pouring into the streets gradually as they are leaving their work, and more protesters are going to Enghelab Sq. Students leaving the university and ordinary people ARE joining them!

1615 GMT: Must-See Story of Day. It comes from none other than Iranian state media Press TV, who have summarised the significance of 16 Azar:
Students in Iran gathered to commemorate the national Student Day as reports suggest a number of anti-government protesters have attempted to hijack the occasion....

The occasion...provided opposition protesters with an opportunity to stage anti-government demonstrations. However, their efforts were foiled thanks to the presence of anti-riot forces in several parts of the capital....

The Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported that police arrested a number of the rioters who set on fire trash bins. The news agency added that a group of rioters wearing green clothes destroyed the Amir Kabir University's entrance gate on Vali Asr street and attacked the students inside the campus. The rioters, IRNA said, also tore down the security station inside the university. They also threw rocks at a bank on campus. The report added that students in return chanted slogans, calling the rioters "traitors."

We have written Press TV to confirm who and where were the students who protested for the Government today, rather than "hijacking" the occasion. So far, no reply.

1555 GMT: Was Rafsanjani's Daughter at Rally Today? Chatter has persisted throughout the day that Faezeh Hashemi, daughter of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani and a prominent activist, was at a university rally in Tehran. We've posted video which claims to be of Hashemi today.

1545 GMT: Curious. One of the most active sites in the post-election discussion, Revolutionary Road, has disappeared.

1510 GMT: Leaders Who Have Spoken (Kind Of): The one prominent Green Movement figure who is in the media today is Mehdi Karroubi, but it is in an interview with the French newspaper Le Monde, carried out before 16 Azar. The soundbites, as put out by Agence France Presse, are pretty bland and point towards the theme of "unity":
The solution to arrive at reconciliation is tolerance and acceptance of criticism. We need to work to restore the trust between the authorities and the people. Repression is not at all the solution, neither today nor tomorrow.

Mir Hossein Mousavi's intervention is with an Iranian website, his own Kalemeh, condemning the authorities:
You fight people on the streets, but you are constantly losing your dignity in people’s minds. Even if you silence all the universities, what are you going to do with the society?

1500 GMT: Observations That Make You Go Hmmm.... "No major reformist leader was present during the protests."

1410 GMT: Add Khaje Nasir and possibly Hamedan Universities to the list of locations of protests. Hamedan has been largely free of protests up to now.

One interesting notes: demonstrators in clips in our videos have been waving Iranian flags stripped of the Islamic "coat of arms" in the centre.

1330 GMT: We've just posted a second set of videos of demonstrations from across Iran. Meanwhile, there is confirmation of protests at Azad University in Tehran and Azad University in Arak City.

1250 GMT: Protests in Isfahan confirmed.

1245 GMT: First pictures of large gatherings outside the Universities:




1220 GMT: Protest at Kermanshah University is now confirmed. Heavy clashes near Tehran University, with reports of beatings.

1210 GMT: We've posted an interim analysis from our Mr Smith, asking a couple of important questions about today's protests.

1205 GMT: More from our inside source in Tehran (see 1145 GMT):
All Radios are blocked, and there is no internet connection around University of Tehran.

At the beginning of the Taleghani St. there were - and still are - at least 10 totally BLACK buses and vans, and some vehicles that carried the guard-rails in order to block the streets, but the Buses are not EMPTY! They are full of riot forces! And there is a special van right in front of the eastern gate of the uni full of women commandos to catch the women [protesters.

1200 GMT: A picture has been posted of the demonstration at the Iran University of Science and Technology.

1145 GMT: This in from a source inside Iran:
I've been at University of Tehran since 8:00 this morning and so far there were
only a handful of clashes between the students and security forces.

University of Tehran, UNDER HEAVY CONTROL: The plain cloths forces are in the university and are controlling all gates of the University. The Uni of THR is surrounded by the security forces. They are at all the streets close to the Uni of THR, Enghelab Sq., Qods St., Vesal and Taleghani St.

There are a bunch of at least 50 security forces at every corner of all junctions close to Uni. The Valiasr-Taleghani, Vesal-Taleghani, Enghelab Valiasr Junctions. The Traffic Police doesn’t allow any car to stop even for a second in Valiasr and Taleghani St.

Student of the Uni of THR gathered in front of the Western Gate of the Uni and were chanting "Death to Khameneie and Death to Dictator", where security police attacked them and spread them soon. Uni of THR is under HEAVY control and the Plain Cloths forces with their radios are controlling every gate of the Uni.

1120 GMT: First picture of protest at Elm-o-Sanat University.

1105 GMT: Take That! Al Jazeera English, which has been struggling to report from Iran, just led with video of the Tehran University demonstration and the voiceover, "The Pictures the Government Didn't Want You to See".

1100 GMT: Confirmed. Tear gas used in at least two locations in Tehran.

And pictures are up indicating the size of the gathering at Sharif University.

1055 GMT: Catching Up with Protests. After posting a series of videos, here is our view: Protests in Tehran at Tehran Uni, Amir Kabir University, Sharif University, with clashes at Vali-e Asr. Protests outside Tehran at Mashhad University and Shiraz University, although the latter appears to be relatively small (100s rather than 1000s) at this point.

1015 GMT: This in from an EA correspondent with excellent links inside Iran:

"The number of students is increasing by the minute. There are a great number of plainclothes officers present at this rally. Through raising their hands and giving the victory sign, and by presenting the symbols of the green movement, the students are circulating in and around the university.

The chants are 'Down with the Demagogues', 'Mahmoud the traitor, You have destroyed us and the soil of this country, You have killed the country's youth, God is Great, God is Great…'

There are clashes between students and guards standing outside of the university at Vali-Asr. Some photographers and cameraman are taking pictures and filming in order to identify the students. According to the news, there are buses parked at the Somaie Park Street to transfer the arrested students.

There is an organized group of Basijis moving towards the Vali-asr gate. This group includes plain-clothes officers and a small number of university Basij and has clashed with green students."

1005 GMT: Claimed picture of gathering at Amir Kabir University


0949 GMT: First article from a major US newspaper (as opposed to wire service report) --- Borzou Daragahi in the Los Angeles Times, "Students, security forces face off in Tehran".

0945 GMT: We are treating this report, from Josh Shahryar, as confirmed. Two women have been arrested near Tehran University, while 30 buses have brought security forces to the area.

0940 GMT: Unconfirmed but Important? We are being flooded with reports, from good sources, which we are trying to verify. Here goes:

Students gathering in large numbers at Amir Kabir University in Tehran, possibly clashing with security forces, and at Tehran University. 1000 students at Shiraz University.

Clashes at Enghelab Square near Tehran University. Chants of "Mousavi is an excuse, the entire regime is the target".

0935 GMT: We've posted the first videos of the day, the gathering of students at Sharif University in Tehran.

0855 GMT: The First Reliable Snapshot? Rah-e-Sabz, the reformist website, reports that all quiet so far in Tehran with no violence. Cellphones have been cut off.

0845 GMT: Reza Sayah of CNN, from a source: "Pockets of crowds chanting 'God is Great' along Revolution [Enghelab] Ave near Tehran University".

0825 GMT: Reports are coming in of clashes and "beatings" by security forces, both via Twitter and ePersian Radio.

In other post-June marches, there has been a pattern where these reports emerge early in the day. On occasions, they have proven to be true; on others (such as the gathering in front of the Iranian Parliament in June), they have been exaggerated.

So, for now, we are treating all of these as unconfirmed and will not post until we have reliable source for confirmation.

0815 GMT: Report - "School of Veterinary Studies on Gharib Street, Tehran also surrounded and occupied by police"

0755 GMT: Report - sounds of protest being heard from inside Sharif University in Tehran.

0735 GMT: Report that Tabriz University surrounded by security.

0730 GMT: More photos appear to verify the security presence around Tehran University.

0725 GMT: Going to Be a Long Day. With the security clampdown around Tehran University, protest routes have been revised. The first "official" marches will begin about 3 p.m. local time (1130 GMT).

0715 GMT: First photo from today in Tehran, if authentic, verifies the security presence around Tehran University (see 0600 GMT). There are forces on motorcyles and a white screen to prevent people from outside seeing into the University.


0700 GMT: "Modarres Highway and the Abbas Abad and North Mofatteh intersections have been quiet. Motorcyclists and plain-clothes officers can be seen in the surrounding streets."

0635 GMT: Reuters is the first "Western" media outlet to pick up on today's events: "Iranian police surround university to prevent protest".

Reports that G-mail, Ultrasurf, and Freegate are NOT working inside Iran.

0630 GMT: "The situation around Karim Khan Bridge is normal, and no one has so far witnessed the security forces and the anti-riot police in large numbers. However, the presence of plain-clothes officers has been quite noticeable."

0615 GMT: Mediawatch. CNN International TV has run a 60-second overview "Dissent in Iran", with the country "bracing for more student protests" and a Government crack-down. Don't expect much soon from the station, however, as it is struggling for information and sources; its Twitter feed declares, "Monitoring all information from Iran today on possble protests but being very careful as there"s confusion about."

The BBC has issued an open call for information from anyone inside Iran.

Andrew Sullivan, who provided excellent live-blog coverage early in the crisis, has promised to return today, but as he is writing from the US, his "Daily Dish" will swing into action around 1200 GMT.

0600 GMT: We're preparing for the day. A full English translation of Mir Hossein Mousavi's statement on 16 Azar and the student movement will soon be posted, there is video of last night's rooftop "Allahu Akhbar" protests, and we have published a letter from an Iranian who recently returned to the country. We also have an analysis of the significance of today's event and an opinion from Iran News Now, "Why the Green Movement Will Prevail".

First reports indicate "all sidewalks around Tehran University occupied by security forces and main gates covered by scaffold"; Sharif University also said to be surrounded by security. There is a report of "Basij militia and plain-clothes officers concentrated around the following streets: Fatemi, Karagar, and Enghelab". Internet traiffic is very slow"