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Entries in Mujahedin-e-Khalq (4)


The Latest from Iran (27 December): The Day of Ashura 

Mideast Iran2225 GMT: Karroubi Comments. Mehdi Karroubi has issued a statement offering condolences for today’s martyred protesters and condemning those carrying out oppression: “The sins that you have committed today cannot be forgiven by God. If you don’t have a belief in God, at least be a human.”

Karroubi offered a sharp comparison, asserting that even the Shah respected the day of Ashura and gave orders for people to be able to commemorate it as they wished..

2155 GMT: Closing and Wondering. As we get to the end of the day, a tentative assessment of the signficance, "A 5-Minute, 5-Point Reaction to The Events of Ashura". (For those who want to see what 24 hours can bring, see our analysis yesterday in Edward Yeranian's article for the Voice of America.)

2150 GMT: Rah-e-Sabz reports that the brother of Abdollah Nouri, Minister of Interior in the Rafsanjani and Khatami Governments, was severely beaten in Isfahan today.

NEW Iran: A 5-Minute, 5-Point Reaction to The Events of Ashura
NEW Latest Iran Video: The Ashura Protests (27 December — 3rd Set)
NEW Latest Iran Video: The Ashura Protests (27 December — 2nd Set)
NEW Latest Iran Video: The Ashura Protests (27 December)
NEW Iran: A Tehran Map for Today’s Events
NEW Iran Uncovered: The Top-Secret Obama-Ahmadinejad Relationship
NEW Iran: The False US Friends of the “Iranian People” (An Open Letter to Charles Krauthammer)
NEW Latest Iran Video: Attack on Jamaran Memorial/Khatami Speech (26 December)
Latest Iran Video: Eve of Ashura Protests (26 December — The Jamaran Videos)
Latest Iran Video: The Eve of Ashura Protests (26 December)
The Latest from Iran (26 December): The Eve of Ashura Demonstrations

2040 GMT: Desperation. Press TV, citing Fars, reports --- presumably with a straight face:

A source with the Iranian Intelligence Ministry has announced the arrest of a number of Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) terrorists in the anti-government protests that sparked in central Tehran.

At right, a stunning photograph to set beside the story: an anti-riot officer, wearing a green headband given to him by demonstrators, joins the "MKO terrorist" crowd.

2035 GMT: Martial Law?! Rah-e-Sabz is reporting that martial law was declared at 9 p.m. local time in Najafabad.

The website is also claiming "unprecedented police violence" outside the IRIB buildings.

2030 GMT: Ashura & Mousavi. A crowd have gathered outside Ebn-e-Sina Hospital to mourn and support the family of Mir Hossein Mousavi. Mousavi's nephew Seyed Ali died in the hospital today after being shot in demonstration in Enghelab Square.

2020 GMT: The US Comments. The White House has issued the following statement:
We strongly condemn the violent and unjust suppression of civilians in Iran seeking to exercise their universal rights. Hope and history are on the side of those who peacefully seek their universal rights, and so is the United States.

Governing through fear and violence is never just, and as President Obama said in Oslo -- it is telling when governments fear the aspirations of their own people more than the power of any other nation.

2005 GMT: AUT News reports on Internet chatter we've heard all evening: Mohammad Moin, the son of Mustafa Moin, former reformist Presidential candidate and Minister in the Rafsanjani and Khatami Governments, was arrested today.

2000 GMT: The Ashura "Martyrs" in Tehran. Rah-e-Sabz has named the five people killed in the capital today: Mehdi Farhadi Nia, Mohammad Ali Rasekhi, Amir Arshadi, Shahram Fraji, and Seyed Ali Mousavi.

1950 GMT: What We're Watching. Reports of clashes outside buildings of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting and in squares and avenues across Tehran: Mirdamad, Karegar, Enghelab, Azadi, Tajrish, and 7 Tir.

1835 GMT: And Tonight? From a distance, it feels like the final round of a heavyweight boxing match. The challenger --- having landed some mighty blows and even putting the champion (if you can call the regime "champion") on the ropes --- has punched himself/herself out.

So the protests tonight are smaller, with security forces preventing a mass gathering. For example, groups tried to congregate in Mohseni Square but were contained along Mirdemad Avenue.

Yes, it feels like the final round. Except that you and I know it is far from the final round, right?

1715 GMT: I'm Telling You, They Set the Koran on Fire! That's Fars News' latest attempt to tarnish the protests (which only hours supposedly had not occurred).

1705 GMT: A 3rd set of videos from today is now posted.

1635 GMT: Rouydad is now reporting on the Arak protest and clashes, and we have video from there and Najafabad.

1550 GMT: Beyond Tehran. Josh Shahryar is summarising:
Protests in Mashhad can be confirmed now. Protesters gathered outside Grand Ayatollah Sane’i’s house and at Imam Reza’s Shrine. At least 17 people were arrested – most of them students. Many people were injured in clashes as well.

Protests in Babol can be confirmed too now. Many protesters – including a young girl – were beaten badly by security forces here.

The number of people arrested in Tehran has reached at least 10. The number is probably going to rise. At least 4 people were also killed here.

So far, the protests could be confirmed in Tehran, Shiraz, Isfahan, Tabriz, Mashhad, Babol, Ardabil, Qom and Najafabad.

In addition, an Iranian source is reporting protests and clashes in Arak.

1510 GMT: Mousavi's Nephew Dead. A "close aide" to Mir Hossein Mousavi has confirmed the killing of Mousavi's nephew Seyed Ali by security forces this afternoon.

1500 GMT: Understatement of the Day. Press TV takes the gold medal: "The Iranian capital on Sunday witnessed sporadic anti-government protests on the anniversary of the Shia Muslim Ashura religious event."


1420 GMT: Parleman News is reporting that Seyed Ali Mousavi, Mir Hossein Mousavi's nephew, was shot and killed in today's demonstrations. Mousavi was reportedly slain in Enghelab Square around noon local time (0830 GMT).

1350 GMT: Rouydad News is reporting clashes in Tabriz, with "probably at least four" killed.

1330 GMT: The Official Interpretation. Islamic Republic News Agency writes that a "cult of Mousavi" has caused chaos in Tehran, damaging public property and inconveniencing citizens.

IRNA also tries the story of a group of students out to cause trouble, with foreign media on hand to report "uproar and chaos".

Fars News reports on same lines,

1245 GMT: Taking the Streets? We have been busy looking at and uploading footage, starting a second set of vide0s, of the demonstrations. The images indicate that, at least for periods today, protesters have beaten back security forces --- despite the first deaths in months --- and taken control of sections of Tehran.

Rah-e-Sabz, still under cyber-attack, has reported, "Police forces are refusing their commanders' orders to shoot at demonstrators in central Tehran....Some of them try to shoot into the air when pressured by their commanders."

1135 GMT: Reports now of protests in Babol.

1130 GMT: Still a fluid situation with reports of gatherings and clashes throughout Tehran and in other cities. We have posted the first set of videos from today, including dramatic footage of protesters fighting back against security forces, especially at College Bridge (Pole Kalej). One report claims the forces relinquished Val-e Asr Square to demonstrators.

1025 GMT: Reformist websites are now confirming the 4th death. Reliable sources says a 5th person has been killed outside Amir Kabir University.

0955 GMT:  4th Death? Sources are reporting that a person has been killed in demonstrations at Vali-e Asr.

0950 GMT: Rah-e-Sabz confirms that its site is under attack.

0940 GMT: Mardomak confirms no live footage from Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, unlike past years, of Imam Hossein Square in Tehran.

Meanwhile, Ironic Journalism Award of Day goes to Press TV. After showing ceremonies in Zanjan (but not Tehran), the channel reported very seriously that Moharram marches have been banned in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

0930 GMT: We've posted the first claimed video of today's protests and also the link to a useful map of Tehran.

0925 GMT: Beyond Tehran. Reports now coming in of protests in Isfahan, Shiraz, and Najafabad.

0915 GMT: Deaths of Protesters? Rah-e-Sabz (which is up but is difficult to access because of overload) is reporting three people killed and two injured in the area near Kalej Bridge (Pole Kalej).

0830 GMT: We are watching carefully the torrent of claims of clashes across the capital, including claims that security forces have backed away at certain points in the face of determined protesters. BBC has now posted, "Tehran police 'fire tear gas at opposition protesters'."

0815 GMT: Mardomak reports tear gas fired in Enghelab Square and clashes in Imam Hossein Square. After clashes at Amir Kabir University, the crowd has been dispersed.

0810 GMT: Rah-e-Sabz, before it went down, also reported tear gas at Vali-e Asr.

0805 GMT: Fancy a Lighter Moment? It promises to be an intense day, so if you need a break, have a look at our special world exclusive, based on minutes of investigative journalism, "The Top-Secret Obama-Ahmadinejad Relationship".

0755 GMT: Watching reports of clashes at Imam Hossein, Vali-e Asr, and Enghelab Squares.

0745 GMT: The reformist site Rah-e-Sabz, a key source in recent days for "Western" media, has just gone down. The site had just reported tear gas used in Enghelab Square and the closing off of Vali-e Asr crossing.

0740 GMT: Mardomak is reporting clashes at Ferdowsi Square and heavy traffic around Pol-e Choubi.

0715 GMT: First unconfirmed reports of clashes in Tehran, mainly at Imam Hossein Square and 17 Shahrivar Street.

0711 GMT: Nothing to See Here, Go Away. Press TV still repeating the history and religious background of Ashura over and over, against live shots from Taft. Just keep talking --- even though nothing new is being said --- and maybe no one will notice the current political context and events.

0700 GMT: Press TV are carrying live shots of the Ashura ceremony in Mashhad and Taft. No word of Tehran, however.

0655 GMT: The reformist website Rah-e-Sabz reports an "extensive security presence" in Tehran, noting in particular forces around Imam Hossein and 7 Tir Squares.

0640 GMT: Drama and Polemic. We've posted stunning footage of yesterday's attack on the Jamaran memorial.

And we've finally caught our breath to highlight our analysis of the embrace of the "Iranian people" by American "false friends", trying to use the movement to extend US power in the name of the "new birth of freedom".

0625 GMT: A hat-tip and a heads-up for coverage of events. While we were down because of host problems yesterday, we noticed the good work being done by the LiveBlogs of The Daily Nite Owl (EA correspondent Josh Shahryar) and of IranNewsNow. Both are already in action this morning.

0605 GMT: AUT News reports that, in addition to the disruption of the Jamaran memorial and the speech of former President Mohammad Khatami by plainsclothes "thugs" (see yesterday's updates), 2000 Basiji surrounded the mourning ceremonies at Dar al-Zahra last night.

Ferehsteh Ghazi has a detailed report, in Persian, of the events and violence at Jamaran. Robert Mackey's blog for The New York Times draws from several sources for a summary.

0600 GMT (0930 Iran time): The holy day of Ashura, marking the death of the third Imam, Hossein, at the hands of Yazid's forces at the battle of Karbala, has begun. Government forces reported "in large numbers at all intersections from Enghelab to Azadi Squares" in Tehran.


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.

The Latest from Iran (14 December): Taking Stock

IRAN GREEN1745 GMT: Swinging Wildly. A couple of punches from regime supporters this afternoon. The Supreme Leader's representative to the Revolutionary Guard, told Presidential staff that the Khomeini Archive, run by the late Imam's family, is "a base for monafeghin (hypocrites)". The term "monafeghin" is commonly used to refer to the Mujahedin-e-Khalq, the group which has tried to overthrow the Islamic Republic since 1979, often through violence.

And Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi took aim at Hashemi Rafsanjani. Yazdi claimed that, when he was head of Iran's judiciary, Rafsanjani asked him to cover up a criminal case against the former President's daughter, Faezeh Hashemi. Yazdi also questioned the intellectual credentials of Mir Hossein Mousavi.

1604 GMT: Confirming the Sentence. We had learned days ago that economist and journalist Saeed Laylaz had been sentenced to nine years in prison. The break-down of the sentence has been released: five years for acts against national security by holding meetings with foreign embassy officials, one year for participating in the protest march of 15 June; two years (and 74 lashes) for insulting officials, one year for propagandizing against the Establishment in his economic analyses over the last eight years.

1558 GMT: Pushing the Issue. For the first time in months, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi have requested a permit for a march from the Ministry of Interior.

NEW Latest Iran Video: And Your University Protests Today…. (14 December)
NEW Latest Iran Video: Challenging the Regime’s Forces on 16 Azar (7 December)
NEW Iran: Scott Lucas in La Stampa on “Khamenei’s Final Warning”

NEW Iran: “Arrests” and the Regime’s Sword of Damocles
Iran Analysis: Sifting the Propaganda – Government About to Arrest Opposition Leaders?
Latest Videos from Iran’s Universities (13 December)

The Latest from Iran (13 December): Bubbling Over?

1555 GMT: Sanctions? Oops! "A senior official says that a meeting by five world powers on Iran's nuclear program has been canceled due to China's opposition.

The U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany had planned to meet Friday. The official from one of the five world powers demanded anonymity Monday because his information was confidential.

The meeting was to be in Brussels or on the sidelines of the Copenhagen summit." (hat-tip to EA reader)

1510 GMT: Josh Shahryar's latest Green Brief, covering Sunday's events, is now out, covering protests at up to nine Iranian universities, the threat of arrests, and the Supreme Leader's speech, amongst other events.

1500 GMT: There's Mahmoud! The President has met our concerns about his absence (0905 and 0725 GMT) from the domestic crisis with this comment, "The enemies of the Iranian nation are now frustrated and want to take revenge through insulting the country's sanctities....The enemies should fear the typhoon of the Iranian people's anger." Ahmadinejad accused the opposition of being "against the nation" and "agents of foreigners".

1215 GMT: Your New Top Story (if You're Not in Iran). Looks like the "Western" media will surge this morning with a single sentence from Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki at a news conference, passed on by the Associated Press via The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times: the three US hikers detained this summer in Iran had "suspicious aims" and will go on trial. CBS News is now headlining, and CNN now "confirms" (cracking journalism since the press conference was hours ago).

1050 GMT: The Regime's Scramble. A reader reminds us that the Peyke Iran "exclusive" (0915 GMT), on the Armed Forces self-confessed failing to contain the opposition, is from a memorandum from September after the Qods Days protests. The question that prompts is whether, again in light of our analysis this morning, the Armed Forces would revise that assessment three months later.

1040 GMT: The Regime Persists. I guess the Government can't just step away from its "burning Khomeini" game, despite all the complications it has caused. Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi has claimed that several people have been arrested over the incident.

1030 GMT: Don't Give Them an Excuse. Mir Hossein Mousavi has moved to pre-empt any regime pretext for a crackdown, such as the alleging burning of Khomeini's image, as well as to contain any notion of a "radical" opposition: "From now on all protests and demands should be pursued peacefully and lawfully. Nobody among us should make a pretext for those who are against people."

Mousavi then renewed the "peaceful" challenge:

People have a right to question, they should not be confronted violently....If people's questions were answered and they were not confronted violently we would not see some controversial moves today. People want an end of the security-obsessed atmosphere as in such an atmosphere radicalism grows.

0915 GMT: Analysis Confirmed, Regime Scrambling To Contain Opposition? An EA reader, commenting on our morning analysis about the weekend's threat of arrests, points out a Peyke Iran story: the article claims to have an admission from Iran's Armed Forces that it has failed to contain the Green Movement.

The report from the General Staff allegedly evaluates that the Green Movement has not been fostered by foreign intervention and that it is not following a specific political agenda but is a social and cultural movement. The officers say that, despite isolating the movement's leaders (Mousavi, Karroubi, and Khatami), the opposition has persisted. Efforts to out-number and overwhelm the demonstrators through counter-protests of Government workers have been hindered by the apathy of the workers or, in some cases, their refusal to heed the call.

An interesting note: the General Staff evaluates that women have been the chief instigators of the protests.

0905 GMT: The Regime Keeps On Spinning. Press TV puts out a boiler-plate story under a dramatic headline, "Figures slam sacrilege of Imam Khomeini portrait". We reported almost all of the comments in yesterday's updates but there is one interesting addition today, in light of our question (0725 GMT), "Where's Mahmoud?".  "Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on Tuesday described the incident as an 'objectionable' move 'that he wished he had never witnessed'."

Hmm, that's six days ago, which is about six years on the calendar of Iranian political developments --- what's Mahmoud been doing since then?

0725 GMT: After a weekend of tension which did not culminate in 1) high-profile arrests or 2) a resolution of the mysterious letter/audio purportedly from Iranian army units ready to "stand with the people" if violence continues but did point to the persistence of protest on university campuses, it is a morning to pause and assess. We have a special analysis on the meaning of the regime's threat, capped by the Supreme Leader's speech yesterday, to vanquish the opposition once and for all.

There's also an important related issue for us to consider before an analysis tomorrow: Where's Mahmoud? It's notable that, in all the public manoeuvres of the last few days, President Ahmadinejad has been off to the side, meeting foreign delegations and waving his fist on the nuclear issue but saying little about the internal situation. Is he being politically sensible in standing back from the front line or has he been put to the side by others, i.e., the Supreme Leader, returning to the shadows that he occupied in the early weeks of this crisis?

Much of this is beyond the "Western" media. The New York Times, for example, has a good article by Michael Slackman this morning on the "burning" of the image of Imam Khomenei. Unfortunately, it's a piece already overtaken by events --- Slackman never notes the threat of arrests of opposition leaders and thus the wider significance of Ayatollah Khamenei's Sunday address.

CNN is just catching up with the "We Are All Majids/All in Hejab" protest over the detention of Majid Tavakoli.  The Times of London, meanwhile, is going off on one of its regular sensational strolls in the nuclear woods, claiming from mysterious (and unnamed) sources and buttressing the claim with Israeli comment, "Secret document exposes Iran’s nuclear trigger".

Iran, the Greens, and the ex-Bushman: With Washington Friends Like These, Who Needs....?

GERSONStaff and readers of EA have had a full and frank discussion in recent weeks on the Green Movement and how it is viewed by the US. It's helpful to get a timely reminder today that, while that discussion might have been heated at points, at least it has been amongst people who have had a long-standing interest in reform in Iran, rather than a Johnny-come-lately, ill-informed claim of friendship for the movement.

Step up, Mr Michael Gerson, former speechwriter for George W Bush, current colunnist for The Washington Post. On the surface, one might think that Gerson's claim, "President Obama has seemed to view Iran's ongoing democratic uprising as a pesky obstacle to engagement", might be a genuine expression of concern that the US Government is not doing enough to back calls for rights, justice, and political fairness.

Iran: How Washington Views the Green Opposition — The Next Chapter
The Latest from Iran (3 December): Normal Service?

Keep reading --- and do so with a bit of historical memory.

For Mr Gerson's simple view is that Iran has been on a one-way path for 30 years: "We are seeing the consolidation of a military dictatorship. Since the Iranian revolution of 1979, the nation's clerical leaders have had a military arm -- the Revolutionary Guard Corps -- that has acted as their ideological enforcers."

One might forgive Mr Gerson for his contemporary summary, gleaned from a quick reading of the headlines, "In reaction to mass protests after the fraudulent presidential election in June, the Guard's control has expanded comprehensively," since there is a more than a grain of truth that the IRGC has expanded its political and economic interests. But to portray this as a steady, downhill process linked to the "mullahs" (you know, the "mullahs" like Montazeri, Dastgheib, Karroubi, Sane'i, Bayat Zanjani who have criticised the regime of violence) seems a bit sweeping. And it kind of obliterates not only leaders like Hashemi Rafsanjani but also Mohammad Khatami.

You know, the Mohammad Khatami who sought a thaw in relations with the United States and who was rewarded by the Bush Administration --- the Bush Administration that Gerson served --- with a cut-off of talks, threatening rhetoric, and even consideration of regime change. The Mohammad Khatami who was left to dangle in Iranian domestic politics when his assurances that an engagement with the West would be productive turned into political dust.

OK, maybe we can let Gerson off the hook for his historical amnesia given that he just scribbled speeches, rather than framed policy. But, in the present day, there is this: "The administration has reduced funding for human rights programs in Iran and looked the other way as exiled opponents of the Iranian regime have been attacked within Iraq."

Ahh, so support of the Green movement means support for the "exiled opponents" who happen to be the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MKO), the movement carrying out acts of violence since Gerson's 1979 starting point to topple the Iranian Government. The Mujahedin-e-Khalq who are still listed as a "terrorist" organisation by the State Department. In that context, Gerson's next sentence takes astounding to a new level: "In addition to serious economic and military pressure, Obama could try the strategy the Iranian regime most fears: supporting, overtly and covertly, the democratic resistance against military rule."

So the best way to confront an Iranian Government that tries to prop up its shaky position by screaming "velvet revolution" is to support a "velvet revolution" including an organisation whose acitivities put it, even for many Iranians who are opposed to the current Government, beyond the acceptable? Even the dimmest student in my second-year course on The CIA and US Foreign Policy wouldn't put forth this plan.

I'm not sure whether Mr Gerson is being cynical in his reduction of history and his advocacy of regime change or if he is just ignorant about Iran. I do know, however, that he is deceptive if he claims to be a friend of the Green Movement.

For if the nuclear issue didn't exist, Gerson wouldn't give a rat's-ass about the Iranian opposition. The dreaded prospect of Iran With Bombs is the subject of the first eight paragraphs of a ten-paragraph article. The "democratic uprising" only makes an entrance when Gerson decides that other possibilities for a nuclear victory --- sanctions "would require a number of unreliable nations to sacrifice large economic interests"; "direct military options are uncertain" --- won't work.

Even the headline writer for Gerson's piece doesn't fall for the author's false love of Iranian democracy and reform, putting on the title, "Green Leverage over Iran". Leverage? If I weren't such a Southern gentleman, I'd tell Mr Gerson where he could stick his leverage.

But I return to the start of this piece: thank you, sir, for a timely reminder. A reminder not only that, for all my concerns about the Obama Administration, its predecessor offered no hope and only the prospect of more damage. And a reminder that the Green Movement, for all the tensions over its plans and objectives, is far more than the pawn put forward by false friends.