My reading of what happened with President Kennedy is that it's exactly what he did. It was high-stakes diplomacy. It was pushing hard to get the world community to understand, going to the UN, making a presentation, getting international opinion against the placement of Russian weapons in Cuba, making a deal eventually with the Russians that led to the removal of the weapons.
That is the kind of high-stakes diplomacy that I'm engaged in, that other members of this administration are, because we take very seriously the potential threat from Iran.
2100 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. After all the political positions (take your pick) he adopted at the Assembly of Experts, Hashemi Rafsanjani used a ceremony at the tomb of the late Ayatollah Khomeini to issue a warning about "uninformed individuals" (who are they?): "These individuals shirk from their responsibilities and make irrelevant declarations, thus causing the leadership to bear the responsibility of all the actions that the people reject."
1935 GMT: Diplomatic Poses (cont.). Well, I guess Washington had to strike its own posture given the statements of President Ahmadinejad and his Syrian counterpart Bashir al-Assad in Damascus today (1335 GMT). Here's State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley:
As the secretary [Hillary Clinton] reiterated yesterday, we have expressed our concern directly to President (Bashar) Assad about Syria's relationship with Iran. This is ultimately a decision that Syria has to make, but as President Assad assesses Syria's long-term interests, he need only look around the region and recognize that Syria is increasingly an outlier.
We want to see Syria play a more constructive role in the region. One step would be to make clear what Iran's need to do differently and unfortunately there was no evidence of that today.
The key here is that it is a spokesman making the statement, not the President, not the Secretary of State. Yes, of course, the US would prefer that Damascus put Iran into isolation. But they know that, given the regional dynamics, Syria will not publicly cut off Tehran. So the real diplomacy will take place away from these statements.
1925 GMT: Back from a lengthy academic break --- the US Ambassador to Britain was in Birmingham today --- to catch up on the full force of Iranian propaganda. Here is the "confession" of Jundullah leader Abdolmalek Rigi, tailor-made to put the US as the main sponsor of his terrorism:
After Obama was elected, the Americans contacted us and they met me in Pakistan.They met us after clashes with my group around March 17 in (the southeastern city of) Zahedan, and he (the US operative) said that Americans had requested a meeting.
I said we didn't have any time for a meeting and if we do help them they should promise to give us aid. They said they would cooperate with us and will give me military equipment, arms and machine guns. They also promised to give us a base along the border with Afghanistan next to Iran.
They asked to meet me and we said where should we meet you and he said in Dubai. We sent someone to Dubai and we told a person to ask a place for myself in Afghanistan from the area near the operations and they complied that they would sort out the problem for us and they will find Mr. Rigi a base and guarantee his own security in Afghanistan or in any of the countries adjacent to Iran so that he can carry on his operations.
They told me that in Kyrgyzstan they have a base called Manas near Bishkek, and that a high-ranking person was coming to meet me and that if such high-ranking people come to the United Arab Emirates, they may be observed by intelligence people but in a place like Bishkek this high-ranking American person could come and we could reach an agreement on making personal contacts. But after the last major operation we took part in, they said that they wanted to meet with us.
The Americans said Iran was going its own way and they said our problem at the present is Iran…not al-Qaeda and not the Taliban, but the main problem is Iran. We don't have a military plan against Iran. Attacking Iran is very difficult for us (the US). The CIA is very particular about you and is prepared to do anything for you because our government has reached the conclusion that there was nothing Americans could do about Iran and only I could take care of the operations for them.
One of the CIA officers said that it was too difficult for us to attack Iran militarily, but we plan to give aid and support to all anti-Iran groups that have the capability to wage war and create difficulty for the Iranian (Islamic) system. They reached the conclusion that your organization has the power to create difficulties for the Islamic Republic and they are prepared to give you training and/or any assistance that you would require, in terms of telecommunications security and procedures as well as other support, the Americans said they would be willing to provide it at an extensive level.
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1350 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Journalist Hengameh Shahidi has been arrested again.
Ebrahim Yazdi, former Foreign Minister and head of the Freedom of Movement Iran, underwent open heart surgery soon after his 10-day release yesterday. His family said that the surgery was a success.
1340 GMT: Trying to Shut the Door. The Supreme Leader has returned to his rhetoric of last June. In a statement reported by Iranian state media, he said those not accepting the results of the Presidential election "would be disqualified from participating in the Islamic system, and they have already lost their credibility". Certain individuals caused the post-election turmoil because they wanted to "deny the vote of the people."
1335 GMT: Damascus Poses. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have made their declarations during the Iranian President's visit.
Assad gave a lecture to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over her comments that the US is "troubled" by Syrian ties with Tehran, "We hope that others don't give us lessons about our region and our history. We are the ones who decide how matters will go and we know our interests. We thank them for their advice."
Ahmadinejad was even bolder, "(The Americans) want to dominate the region but they feel Iran and Syria are preventing that. We tell them that instead of interfering in the region's affairs, to pack their things and leave."
No real surprises in either man's pose. What is more important is whether there is any substantial support from Damascus for Iran, and more specifically Ahmadinejad, beyond the rhetoric of increased cooperation and cancelling of visa restrictions.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Syrian counterpart, Bashar Assad, vowed increased cooperation during a meeting in Damascus and canceled visa restrictions between the countries.
1330 GMT: Political Prisoner Update. An activist updates that Mousavi campaign aide Asghar Khandan has been sentenced to 2 years and 74 lashes. Another aide Jahanbakh Khanjani, a former senior official in the Ministry of Interior, has been released on bail after eight months in detention.
1038 GMT: Claim of Day. According to Kalemeh, Iran's Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Mohammad Hosseini, has said that "there is no censorship" of the press.
1035 GMT: Where's Mahmoud? President Ahmadinejad is in Damascus for talks with Syrian President Bashir al-Assad. Let's see if he can trump Ali Larijani's political manoeuvre.
1000 GMT: Larijani's Nuclear Move. This looks like it may be big news. Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, after talks with Japanese officials, has said Japan's offer to enrich Iran's uranium "has the substance to be worth discussing. We want to deepen the discussion on it."
That would be a major shift from Iran's line since November that uranium had to be enriched or swapped inside the country, and it is a dramatic change in Larijani's previous hostility to third-party enrichment. A likely assumption is that the Speaker is representing the views of the Supreme Leader.
So now the key political question: is Larijani also speaking for the President or is he making a move to claim personal credit, surpassing and pushing aside Ahmadinejad?
0950 GMT: The Rigi Mystery. It may be that Iranian state media, when it finally settled on the story that the leader of Jundullah, Abdolmalek Rigi, was detained on a flight from Dubai to Kyrgyzstan, had it right (and that our reports of Rigi's detention last week were inaccurate). The deputy chief of Kyrgyzstan's national airline has confirmed that a plane was forced to land in Bandar Abbas in southern Iran on Tuesday (in fact, other information indicates that the interception occurred Monday night) and two passengers were taken away by Iranian authorities.
0905 GMT: The Wrong Lawyers. An unexpected but still stunning story from Rooz Online about the screening of "unsuitable" human rights lawyers:
Last week the administrative committee of Iran’s bar association has disqualified nearly half of the candidates seeking to serve on Iran’s bar association.
The official website of the Iranian Bar Association reported yesterday that 36 candidates running for management positions at the Association’s headquarters were disqualified. The Association’s President, Seyed Mohammad Jondoghi-Kermanipour...said, “Today we received a letter from the administrative judicial tribunal, which stated that, pursuant to their previous letter, only 43 candidates were qualified, the remaining candidates having been disqualified for failing to meet the specified criteria.”
[As well as] Jondoghi-Kermanipour, other prominent attorneys such as Abdolfatah Soltani, Naser Zarafshan, Abdolsamad Khorramshahi, Mohammad-Ali Dadkhah, Nemat Ahmadi, Farideh Gheirat, Goudarz Eftekhar-Jahromi (former head of the Association), Ali Najafi-Tavana, Reza Nourbaha, Mohammad-Hossein Aghasi, Jahangir Mostofi, Akbar Sardarizadeh, Ramezan Haji-Mashadi have been disqualified.
0855 GMT: Satire of Day. Ebrahim Nabavi sets a Philosophy Quiz for readers. A sample question:
[Government spokesman] Gholam-Hossein Elham said, "Cutting off AN's government is the insurgents' next project." What is the logical mistake in this sentence?
1 - There exists no government to be cut off.
2 - The government will be cut off by itself. There is no need for the insurgents to do anything.
3 - Even if the insurgents killed themselves, they could not stop the downfall of the government.
4 - The Agha [Supreme Leader] himself has started this project a long time ago.
0840 GMT: The Forgetful Assembly. Amidst the confusion over the statement/non-statement from the two-day meeting of the Assembly of Experts (see separate analysis), the Green website Rah-e-Sabz offers an overview of the divisions within the body since the election and declares that it is suffering from "Continuous Alzheimer's".
0825 GMT: Comparing the Numbers. Iran News Now, using video and photographs, compares the non-crowd at the President's speech in Birjand, Khorasan, yesterday with the masses who turned out for a Mir Hossein Mousavi campaign rally and concludes:
Let’s look at the crowd gathered in Birjand for Ahmadinejad...and let’s be realistic. This thing is FAR from over. The aspirations of the Iranian people will not go unheeded.
EA's Mr Verde adds, "The interesting fact about the turnout (if one can claim it is interesting at all) is that even in a place close to Ayatollah Khamenei’s hometown of Mashhad, people don’t really care about Ahmadinejad."
0820 GMT: Economy Watch. Mohammad Reza Khabbaz, a member of Parliament's Economy Committee, has denounced President Ahmadinejad's proposed budget as "unrealistic".
0815 GMT: This is a Secure Regime? Revolutionary Guard commander Hossein Hamedani, in his statement yesterday, announced that the number of Basiji bases in Tehran would be increased from 6 to 22.
0800 GMT: Wednesday was marked by loud proclamations from the Government. There were the attempts to limit the damage of the video of June's attack on Tehran University dormitories, the aggressive promotion of the "terrorist" threat from Jundullah to Kurdish groups to the Green Movement, and the President's sparsely-attended speech in eastern Iran (see inset.
However, the most intriguing statement by far was the supposed proclamation of the Assembly of Experts supporting the Supreme Leader and warning against the "sedition" of opposition leaders. This morning, however, it looks this was a non-statement, an attempt by pro-Ahmadinejad members of the Assembly and media to create the image of a regime ready to crush Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi, and Mohammad Khatami (and, probably, to back Hashemi Rafsanjani into a corner). We have a special analysis.