And Nasrullah Torabi, the prominent reformist member of Parliament, has reassured that 22 Bahman is a national holiday and people do not fear the warnings of hardliners.
2140 GMT: Rafsanjani's Children and the Regime. Rah-e-Sabz has an article considering the political and psychological battle around the threat of criminal charges against the children of Hashemi Rafsanjani.
2130 GMT: The Relay of Opposition. Radio Zamaneh has added details of Mehdi Karroubi's denunciation of the Government and call to march on 22 Bahman (see 1100 GMT). Karroubi has called on fellow clerics to “come to the aid of the people...reach[ing out to the people before all these atrocities [of the Government] are attributed to Islam, Shiites and the clergy" and declared that Iranians on 11 February will try to “stop their promising achievements and goals from falling into oblivion, and demand them with fortitude and an aversion of physical and verbal violence”.
Karroubi asserted, "From one side petty flatterers and from another side worthless extremists have closed the arena onto our scholars, thinkers and learned.” In contrast, the common ground for groups in the Green Movement is their demand for “open elections, freedom of the press, unconditional release of all political prisoners, reform of governance and the judiciary as well as respecting citizens’ rights.”
Significantly, given that the "Western" media was distracted earlier today by the Iran rocket launch (see 1325 GMT), CNN's website is now featuring the Karroubi statement.
2125 GMT: Blowing Smoke or Playing for Time? Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi has said that death sentences for nine political prisoners have not been "finalised". Doulatabadi's statement adds to the confusion surrounding conflicting statements between the head of Iran's judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, who said he would not be pushed into speeding up executions, and his deputy, Ebrahim Raeesi, who gave assurances that the nine would be killed.
2035 GMT: And Another "Monarchist" Death Sentence. Mehdi Eslamian has been condemned to execution on charges of involvement in a bombing in Shiraz and ties to a monarchist group.
NEW Iran Special: Full Text of Mousavi Answers for 22 Bahman (2 February)
NEW Iran Snap Analysis: “Game-Changers” from Mousavi and Ahmadinejad
Iran Document: The Rallying Call of Mousavi’s 14 Points (2 February)
Iran Letter: Journalist Emadeddin Baghi in Prison
Iran Document: Khatami Statement on Rights and Protests (1 February)
The Latest from Iran (2 February): A Quiet Start to An Unquiet Day
2025 GMT: Another Arrest. Kaveh Ghasemi Kermanshahi, a leading human rights activist, member of the Central Council of the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan, and journalist, has been detained.
2015 GMT: Let Me Tell You About Human Rights. Back from a break to find that the head of Iran's judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, is setting the world straight about violations of human rights (when they do it, it's a transgression against humanity; when we do it, it's the rule of law):
Larijani on Wednesday criticized advocates of human rights for mixing up the boundaries of law and order with human rights....
Prisons such as Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib along with invasion of Gaza are good examples of human rights violations, he said adding that all should do their best to reveal the anti-human rights nature of such brutal measures.
“We should spare no effort to present theoretical concepts of the Islamic human rights consistent with religious teachings,” he said.
1735 GMT: Well, That's a Relief. General David Petraeus, the head of US Central Command, has apparently declared that the US will not support a military operation against Iran with this "You Think?" assessment:
It's possible (a military strike) could be used to play to nationalist tendencies. There is certainly a history, in other countries, of fairly autocratic regimes almost creating incidents that inflame nationalist sentiment. So that could be among the many different, second, third, or even fourth order effects (of a strike).
1715 GMT: Teaser of the Day. So Ayande News, the website close to Hashemi Rafsanjani --- the same Rafsanjani whose family has been threatened with trials and jail sentences by Government officials --- runs a story based on a source who says that some want to blame the Revolutionary Guard for arrests. However, the source continues, the Guard aren't behind arrests, "certain Government officials" are.
So at whom is Ayande pointing? President Ahmadinejad? Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi? Mojtaba Khamenei, the son of the Supreme Leader?
1700 GMT: Law and Order Moment of the Day. Peyke Iran reports that amongst the charges against the two women in court today is this threat to national security: wearing "I am Neda" wristbands.
1415 GMT: The Ashura Trial. The Human Rights Activists News Agency has published an account in Persian of today's hearing of 16 defendants.
1400 GMT: Ahmadinejad Takes the Lead? A positive reaction from Iranian state media --- Press TV --- to the President's initiative in reviving "third-party enrichment" outside the country for Iran's uranium:
Russia and Britain said Wednesday that they would welcome Iran's readiness to accept a proposal aimed at ending the standoff over its nuclear program as a "positive sign."
"If Iran is ready to come back to the original agreement we can only welcome it," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters at a Wednesday news conference.
The UK's Foreign Office said in a statement that "if Iran is willing to take up the IAEA's proposed offer, it would be a positive sign of their willingness to engage with the international community on nuclear issues."
1325 GMT: Mediawatch --- Rockets and Trials. As expected, the "Western" media has rushed after the Iranian "rocket launch", dropping entirely the Mousavi story and so far not even noticing the regime's PR effort with the Ashura trial.
There is one notable exception on the trial front: Reuters publishes information from the Fars News account. That leads to a bit of interesting interpretation ("Student Denies Charges", referring to one of the five accused as "enemy of God"/"mohareb") and information (one defendant is from Manchester in the UK and has British nationality).
1300 GMT: Ahmadinejad's Nuke Move. A short but important update from Associated Press:
Iran's foreign minister says Tehran's plan to send its uranium abroad for further enrichment as requested by the U.N. is aimed at building confidence in the country's nuclear program.
Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki says swapping low-enriched uranium with uranium enriched by 20 percent is "a formula which could build confidence." He spoke Wednesday in Ankara.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu says there is room for a diplomatic solution over neighboring Iran's nuclear program.
Mottaki says, "Any threat to the security of Iran amounts to a threat to the security of Turkey."
1. This is the "external" complement to the "internal" (though unacknowledged) reasons for President Ahmadinejad's declaration last night.
2. To follow the nuclear story, keep an eye on Turkey. Ankara is pursuing its regional "strategy in depth", as put forward as Davutoglu, and the moves with Tehran bring not only bilateral advantages but also an enhanced presence in the Middle East and, as a bonus, brownie points with Washington.
3. Now, watch for the reaction within Iran's regime. Will the conservative critics accept the Turkey-Iran manoeuvre or will it be condemned as a giveaway to "the West"?
1210 GMT: Headline of Day. The Independent of London summarises the media's current focus on Tehran: "Iran Fires Mouse,Turtle and Worms into Space".
1110 GMT: On the Economic Front. The Institute for War and Peace Reporting has posted a useful overview by "Mitra Farnik" (the pseudonym of an Iranian writer) of President Ahmadinejad's economic difficulties.
1100 GMT: The Next Leg of the Race. This is almost becoming an opposition relay: Mehdi Karroubi last week, Mohammad Khatami on Monday, Mir Hossein Mousavi yesterday, and now Mehdi Karroubi today. The Facebook page supporting Mousavi has the full text and summarises:
Mehdi Karroubi,...issuing a statement for the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, invited everyone to participate in the Feb 11th (22 Bahman) rallies peacefully and strongly and emphasised, "The constitution is an order that people give to the rulers, and if a ruler does not obey that, then he/she is oppressor and should be removed from power."
1050 GMT: Swallowing Nuclear Poison? An interesting analysis by Jahanshah Javid in Iranian.com of the motives and likely political repercussions of the Ahmadinejad statement on Iran's nuclear negotiations:
Now the Islamic Republic has again swallowed poison (a reference to the famous 1988 quote of Ayatollah Khomeini when he accepted a cease-fire in the Iran-Iraq War) in the face of enormous international pressure and domestic upheaval. Suddenly it is bowing to the U.N. after years of insisting that it would never ever ever compromise over its enrichment program.
1040 GMT: On the Economic Front. The head of Bank Melli, Mahmoud Reza Khavari, declares that it is not bankrupt.
1030 GMT: Ahmadinejad, His Allies, and Government Money. Radio Farda reports that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's draft budget increases funds for insitutes close to the President by 143 percent.
One beneficiary is the Ayandeh Rooshan Organization, led by Ahmadinejad's brother-in-law, chief of staff, and close ally Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai. It will receive about $120 million if the budget is passed.
Increased funding will also go to the Imam Khomeini think tank, run by Ahmadinejad's "spiritual advisor" Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi.
1020 GMT: The Fight Within the Establishment. While the Mousavi statement holds the political spotlight, the "conservative" challenge to President Ahmadinejad continues.
A latest attack comes from Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mohammad Reza Bahonar, in the pro-Larijani Khabar Online. While firmly defending the Supreme Leader, calling on opposition leaders to be accountable, and blaming the US for stirring unrest, Bahonar criticised the Government's response to protests:
Some forces fulfilled their responsibility on time, but some took hasty measures and others delayed. The sedition imposed heavy expenses on us which will be simply realized in future.
Many officials have neglected daily responsibilities and are engaged in a game designed by the enemy. If we are to put out the fire of sedition in the country, we should not add fuel to it.
Bahonar also attacked on the economic front, "We in the Parliament are still discussing the issue of budget bill. Perhaps the plans for the next year are not that much significant but outside the country the analyses are made that due to the chaos within the country, the government is so troubled that it cannot even complete a bill."
(It should also noted that Khabar Online has just featured a Monday speech by Davoud Ahmadinejad, brother of the President, attacking Presidential Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai.)
0915 GMT: And For Our Next Showpiece. Today's latest hearing in the trial of 16 Ashura detainees is also being pushed by Iranian state media. The Islamic Republic News Agency is declaring the repentance of one of the defendants, who was misled by Hashemi Rafsanjani's Friday Prayer address in July (Regime to Hashemi: Take note and stay in your box) and by those seeking trouble on Ashura (27 December).
0850 GMT: Quick, Look Over There!
Can you pronounce "diversion"? This morning Iranian state media have been splashing rivers of ink over the launch of a satellite-boosting rocket, the Kavoshgar-3, and President Ahmadinejad is now speaking about it on national television.
No difficulty reading this move: this is the bid for legitimacy at home, trying to draw attention away from conflict and protest just over a week before 22 Bahman. Any power-posturing in the ongoing manoeuvres with the "West" over the nuclear programme and regional influence is secondary to this.
0845 GMT: We have just posted the English translation of Mir Hossein Mousavi's declaration, in an interview with Kalemeh, yesterday.
Forgive me for dropping journalistic objectivity. Wow. "Game-changer" indeed.
Any media outlet that gets diverted today, by Iran's posturing with the launch of a satellite-boosting rocket or even by President Ahmadinejad's statement on a nuclear deal, and misses the significance of Mousavi's statement needs to get its credentials checked.
0735 GMT: The Call to March. More than 80 Iranian civil rights activists have issued a statement denouncing the "naked violence" of the regime and calling for mass demonstrations on 22 Bahman:
We, the signatories to this statement, invite the wise and courageous people of Iran to demonstrate to the world their demands for justice and liberty with their peaceful and calm presence on the anniversary of the 1979 revolution, once again showing to the dictators that the right-seeking movement of enlightened Iranians will never be decapitated with the blade of violence and terror, and the execution of innocent Iranian youth and the injustice and violence of the coup agents will not leave the slightest impact on the national determination of Iranians to realize the dreams of democracy, human rights, and respect for the human dignity of all Iranian citizens, regardless of their gender, ideology and ethnicity.
0730 GMT: So much for a quiet day yesterday. Mir Hossein Mousavi's statement on Kalemeh emerged as a big boost for the opposition just over a week before 22 Bahman and the marches on the anniversary of the 1979 Revolution, and President Ahmadinejad had his own surprise last night with an apparent shift in Iran's position on its nuclear programme. We've got a special snap analysis.
Those important events, however, should not overshadow the steady patter of news as the regime sends out conflicting signals over its tough stance on protest. On the one hand, detainees are now being released each night to the crowd waiting and demonstrating in front of Evin Prison. On the other, there have been more arrests of activists, journalists, and key advisors. Norooz reported last night that Mohammad Davari, the editor-in-chief of Mehdi Karroubi's website Saham News, is still jailed after five months, ostensibly because he cannot post bail.
This morning, another act unfolds as the trial of 16 Ashura detainees, five of whom are charged with mohareb (war against God), resumes.
Best read? The Government is now caught up in some confusion over its approach to detentions, trials, and even executions --- witness the contradictory statements within 48 hours of Saeed Larijani, the head of Iran's judiciary, and his deputy, Ebrahim Raeesi --- which means that the harsh fist of We Will Arrest, We May Kill You is matched by the open hand of Maybe We Will Let You Have Bail. Overall, if there is a strategy before 22 Bahman, it appears to be letting "smaller fish" go while ensuring that those whom the regime sees as key organisers/mobilisers in the opposition are kept well out of sight.