2030 GMT: Ali Kalai of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters has been re-arrested, and journalist Ehsan Mohrabi is reported to have been detained tonight.
1950 GMT: Criticising Khomeini. That's right --- days before the celebration of the anniversary of the 1979 Revolution, 180 members of Parliament have signed a statement denouncing the Imam's grandson, Seyed Hassan Khomeini. The dispute arose when Khomeini wrote the head of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, Ezzatollah Zarghamai, complaining about "censorship" of his grandfather's speeches.
1930 GMT: Conservative Mischief. Ayande News stirs the pot with a story claiming that Ahmadinejad Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai went to Switzerland recently, not only to promote a "uranium swap" on Iran's Kish Island but also to pursue secret meetings on other issues, presumably with US officials. The paper, quoting French and Swiss newspapers, ponders what covert messages Rahim-Mashai brought.
No prizes here to guess the propaganda: the "conservative opposition" wants to stick Ahmadinejad, through his right-hand man, with the label of appeaser of Washington.
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1925 GMT: After all our frustration with the media coverage of the Ahmadinejad nuclear moves this week, full marks to Borzou Daragahi and Julian Barnes of the Los Angeles Times for nailing the story: "In a possible move to deflect attention from Iran's political woes, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday ordered the nation's atomic energy agency to begin enriching uranium from 3.5% to 20% purity to serve as fuel for a Tehran medical reactor."
1900 GMT: Oh Dear G** (cont.). We've posted the video of Sarah Palin's political advice to Barack Obama: "Bomb Iran".
1715 GMT: Oh Dear G**. Sometimes objectivity has to give way before the train-wreck of politics and media coverage. This morning's charade plays out, as the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akhbar Salehi, dutifully responding to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's call, says, "As Iranian president [Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] announced, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran will start enriching uranium to a level of 20 percent if talks on fuel swap fail to achieve an outcome."
Instead of calling out the pretence in the Ahmadinejad game --- if Iran can enrich uranium to 20 per cent and thus does not need a deal with the West, why haven't they been doing so for many months? --- the Western media chase this without question. Indeed, CNN elevates this to a crisis moment --- "a fresh challenge to Western powers bidding to rein in Tehran's galloping nuclear drive" --- never noticing the internal situation behind the President's move.
About the only political/media stunt more distressing/humourous than this is a woman named Sarah Palin, who today advises President Obama to ensure his re-election by bombing Iran.
1555 GMT: Revolving Door. While the regime is sweeping up activists and journalists, there have been releases as well. Ali Gholi Tabar and Morteza Saremi, members of the reformist Mojahedin of Islamic Revolution have been released on bail.
1415 GMT: More Detained Journalists (see 1205 GMT). Mahsa Jazini of Iran newspaper has been detained.
1400 GMT: The Other Side of the Mottaki Visit. While the international media was dwelling on the nuclear issue during Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki's jaunt to the Munich Security Conference, others were highlighting the internal situation in no uncertain terms.
A United for Iran activist explains the issues in an interview with Germany's Welt TV.
1300 GMT: Here We Go. The Islamic Republic News Agency is featuring a statement from the Ministry of Intelligence, putting out the grand narrative --- four days before the demonstrations of 22 Bahman --- of protesters supported by the US and Israel:
Seven people organisationally linked to the counter-revolutionaries, the Zionist media and elements of the sedition have been arrested....A number of them were officially hired by the U.S. intelligence agency, the CIA.
The detainees, who were not named, were allegedly involved with the US Government-backed Farsi-language station Radio Farda and received training in Istanbul and Dubai in disrupting public order, spreading rumors and conducting sabotage. The seven supposedly played a significant role in "post-election riots", especially on Ashura (27 December).
1205 GMT: Latest arrests include journalists Zeinab Kazemkhah, Samiyeh Momeni, Ahmad Jalali-Farihani of Mehr, and Akbar Montajab of Etemade-Melli.
1155 GMT: Coming Out for 22 Bahman. Rah-e-Sabz has published a summary of calls from reformist and Green groups, including the Mohajedin of Islamic Revolution and Etemade Melli parties, for people to demonstrate this Thursday.
An English translation of the statement of the reformist Association of Combatant Clerics has now been posted.
1145 GMT: This Has Nothing to Do with 22 Bahman. Really. I can only report this "straight" and let everyone draw their own judgements. From Agence France Presse:
Iran said on Sunday its Internet connections will remain slow this week due to technical problems, ahead of anticipated protests by opposition supporters. Connections have been slow since last week and some email accounts have been unavailable for several hours each day.
"The cause of the reduced Internet speed in recent days is that part of the fibre-optic network is damaged," Communications Minister Reza Taghipour told Iran's state broadcaster. "The breakage will be repaired by next week and the Internet speed will be back to normal". ["Next week" begins 13 February.]
Taghipour said the undersea optic fibre across the Gulf between the Iranian port of Jask and Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates had been damaged due to shipping traffic and anchoring. He also acknowledged that text messaging in Iran had been disrupted, blaming it on "changing software."
0940 GMT: Nuclear Fiddling (cont.). So why did Ahmadinejad shift again this morning on Iran's enrichment of uranium (see 0835 GMT)? Consider the setting, the exhibition of Laser Science and Technology Achievements: you can't exactly prove you're setting the scientific/technological worlds on fire if you put forward dependency on the "West" for your advances.
And consider the immediate cause: Ahmadinejad's declaration of self-sufficiency, as framed by state media, was "to meet the demands of the country's cancer patients". In other words, Iran is on the verge of running out of 20-percent uranium for its medical research reactors. That is the same concern that took it to the International Atomic Energy Agency last June with the offer to negotiate. And that concern is still very much present.
0840 GMT: Economy in the Pocket of Government? The Iranian Labor News Agency, in the context of the Government's budget proposals, offers an interesting overview of the Iranian economy.
0835 GMT: Nuclear Fiddling While XXX Burns. Days after he tried the headline approach of a deal on uranium enrichment with the West, President Ahmadinejad doubles back this morning in a televised speech with the declaration that Iran can be self-sufficient:
We had told them (the West) to come and have a swap, although we could produce the 20 percent enriched fuel ourselves. We gave them two-to-three months' time for such a deal. They started a new game and now I (ask) Dr Salehi (the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization) to start work on the production of 20 percent fuel using centrifuges....The doors for interaction are still open.
I leave it for readers, in light of our analysis this morning, to fill in the XXXs with their interpretation. Meanwhile, the non-Iranian media --- apparently oblivious to the internal developments in Iran in the last 24 hours --- are following over themselves to feature Ahmadinejad's latest statement without considering why he made it.
0830 GMT: Journalist Jamileh Darolshafaie and her sister, music teacher Banafsheh Darolshafaie, have been arrested.
0815 GMT: We begin this Sunday morning, four days before 22 Bahman and the anniversary of the 1979 Revolution, trying to put together the dramatic and somewhat unexpected developments from the declarations of the opposition to the letter from a key MP to Mir Hossein Mousavi seeking the deal "Accept Khamenei, Reject Ahmadinejad". Our special analysis sets out why all of this is a sign of regime weakness.
A couple more supporting pieces of evidence this morning: Ayatollah Dastgheib, a persistent critic of the Government and indeed of the system, has declared, "One Person Cannot Rule 70 Million People". That's a pretty direct challenge to the Supreme Leader and velayat-e-faqih (clerical supremacy). Dastgheib, echoing the demands for freedoms made in last night's manifesto of Mehdi Karroubi's Etemade Party, declared:
It seems like today all the affairs of the country is in the hands of Revolutionary Guards and police and people have no say or will and this is the basis of the diversion from the principles of the revolution....
The armed forces, police, Revolutionary Guards and military should consider people’s benefit not their own benefit; they should guard people’s lives, belongings and dignity....The police should support the religious figures and scholars and not do something to isolate them, leaving no dignity for anyone except those who obey them.