2010 GMT: The Khamenei Road Trip. The Supreme Leader's office has now released photographs of Ayatollah Khamenei's meeting today with several clerics, including Grand Ayatollah Makarem-Shirazi (left in the photo below):
1735 GMT: The Supreme Leader and the Clerics (Round 2). A bit more of a substantial success for Ayatollah Khamenei this afternoon, at least according to Fars. He met more clerics, notably Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi. Other Ayatollahs who were present included Sobhani, Sadegh Larijani, Ahmad Khatami, Ebrahim Amini, and Ka'bi.
A bit of confusion, however, as Fars illustrates the encounter with a photograph from Tuesday's reception for the Supreme Leader. Neither IRNA nor Press TV carries a report on today's meeting. Nor, as far as I can tell, does Khamenei's official website.
1705 GMT: The Supreme Leader's Resurrection Miracle. While results so far for Ayatollah Khamenei in Qom have been disappointing, you have to see this as a big religious victory.
Among the clerics initially listed by Fars in attendance at the Supreme Leader's meeting on Tuesday was Ayatollah Ahmadi Faqih Yazdi.
Ayatollah Faqih Yazdi died on 29 August in an automobile accident.
1700 GMT: Political Prisoner to Clergy Watch. Mostafa Tajzadeh, leading reformist and former Deputy Minister of Interior, has passed a message from prison through his wife to Iran's clergy: they can regain their position among the people if they fight fraud and lies.
1655 GMT: Academic Corner. A top official of Islamic Azad University has announced that several secularist professors of the university have been identified and removed.
Karim Zare, the university's representative in Parliament, said, “We had received some reports about these faculty members and advised them against (this approach), but they did not change their behavior and removed them.”
For months there has been a battle between the Government and former President Hashemi Rafsanjani for control of Islamic Azad, Iran's largest university system.
1520 GMT: Un-Free Press. Iran has been ranked 175th out of 178 countries in the 2010 Press Freedom Index of Reporters Without Borders. The three countries rated lower are Turkmenistan, North Korea, and Eritrea.
1515 GMT: Labour Front. More than 50 workers of the West Azerbaijan Water Company have protested in front of the governor's office over nine months of unpaid wages.
1510 GMT: Subsidy Cut Delay? Hmm....
Iranian authorities have again postponed the lifting of subsidies on gasoline, maintaining a monthly quota of 60 litres (13 gallons) per motorist at subsidised prices of about 10 US cents per litre until November 21.
Mohammad Royanian, head of the Fuel and Transport Management Organisation, said the government will also continue to provide gasoline at a "semi-subsidised" price of 40 cents a litre to consumers exceeding their quotas.
The subsidies were initially scheduled to be lifted at the end of September.
1505 GMT: Brain-Drain Debate. Minister of Science and Higher Education Kamran Daneshjoo says the notion of a "brain drain" from Iran is a media sensation and not true. MP Nasiri Qeydari says Iran leads the world in brain drain and the numbers are rising.
1450 GMT: Economy Watch. Minister of Intelligence Heydar Moslehi has assured everybody that he has good plans to oppose economic "seditionists".
Fair enough, but does he have plans to deal with the Iranian economy? The Central Bank reports that, even before subsidy cuts begin, prices for oil, eggs, and chicken have risen in the last week. Aftab asks that the escalation has also begun in the Tehran Bazaar.
On another front, Mojtaba Bigdeli, the head of Iran's commission for technical and engineering services, says the price of building materials has risen by 40% because of the lack of government plans.
1440 GMT: And What's Up with Mahmoud? Meanwhile, President Ahmadinejad's own roadshow has run into difficulties. Khabar Online, linked to Ali Larijani, has declared that Ahmadinejad's visit this week to Ardebil in northwestern Iran was hindered when the Friday Prayer leader --- and Supreme Leader's representative --- accused the President of not fulfilling promises made during his last two visits.
Khabar adds that the critical speech was removed from all coverage by Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting.
Some Ahmadinejad supporters are holding the line. Morteza Tamaddon, the Governor of Tehran Province, has modestly asserted that the President's popularity has grown to more than 25 million, the number who allegedly voted for him in 2009, but "we do not want to flaunt ourselves".
1250 GMT: Protecting His Position. One of the interesting side stories of the Supreme Leader's trip to Qom, given the internal political battles, is the prominent place of Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani in the ceremonies. As we noted in our special analysis this morning, Larijani even got himself pride of place and photograph in Khamenei's meeting with clerics yesterday.
As Mahmoud Ahmadinejad remains in Tehran, Larijani has pressed ahead with a speech declaring that the "Supreme Leader's reception by people is a symbol for glorious unity". Larijani continued with the the theme of Iran's superiority through Islam, saying that enemies have promoted secularism and a religion without clergy, both of which are deviant.
1200 GMT: The Khamenei Road Trip. Just for the record, the Supreme Leader has spent today meeting the families of martyrs at the shrine for Hazrat Masoumeh, the sister of Imam Reza. His message is about the Iranian nation's identity with its belief in the greatness of martyrs and martyrdom.
There is no information in the IRNA report about Khamenei's talks with senior clerics.
1040 GMT: US Detainees. Lots of media flutter this morning that Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, two of the three American hikers arrested in July 2009 by Iranian forces, will appear in court on 6 November. The source of the story is an interview of Masoud Shafii, the pair's lawyer, by BBC Persian, buttressed by a Tuesday statement from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, "We regret that they and their families are being subjected to a criminal system that we do not think in any way reflects their actions."
In fact, there is nothing new here. Iranian authorities said weeks ago, during the manoeuvres over the release of the third hiker, Sarah Shourd, that a trial would begin in early November. Shafii's statement is merely a reiteration of that line --- there is no further indication from Tehran of whether they are seriously going to pursue trial, conviction, and sentencing.
0955 GMT: Political Prisoner/Politics Watch. Families of detainees who met Hashemi Rafsanjani last month to discuss regime action on the cases of their relatives have followed up with a letter to the former President.
The families, addressing Rafsanjani as the head of the Expediency Council and the Assembly of Experts, expressed their gratitude for his efforts but complained that they had seen no response from the Government.
Rafsanjani went all the way to the Supreme Leader with an appeal for action but appears to have been rebuffed.
0940 GMT: The State of the Reformists. Ali Mohammad Hazeri of the Central Council of the Islamic Association of University Teachers, has said that reformers are not silent; however, there is no longer a media in Iran which refrains from censoring them.
0935 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. RAHANA reports that Haj Abdulrahim, the nephew and son-in -law of Maulana Abdulhamid, the Sunni Imam of Zahedan, was arrested last Thursday.
0930 GMT: The Gasoline Backlash. This summer and autumn, officials have declared Iran can be self-sufficient in gasoline production, in part because of the conversion of six petrochemical plants.
Well, the side effects may be emerging. It is reported that the Yazd Tire Company has stopped production because of a lack of synthetic rubber, which had been produced by the petrochemical factories.
0910 GMT: Khamenei's Road Show --- Coverage in the "West". Associated Press gets the story on the surface: "Iran’s supreme leader quickly set the tone Tuesday for his long visit among some of the country’s most influential clerics, demanding loyalty to the Islamic state and an end to defiance that had blurred once-clear lines of power since last year’s disputed elections." However, even though it notes, "Many senior clerics in Qum do not side with Mr. Ahmadinejad and have increasingly criticized the government", it misses the deeper and more significant narrative of those clerics staying away from the Supreme Leader's meeting on Tuesday.
The AP story is carried in The New York Times. The Washington Post has a report from its correspondent in Tehran, Thomas Erdbrink; however, this is limited to a summary of Khamenei's speech and leads with the Supreme Leader's denunciation of Western sanctions.
0830 GMT: Khamenei's Road Show --- An Update. So, alongside our morning analysis, what clues can we gather about the Supreme Leader's success/failure in Qom from this morning's media coverage in Iran?
Press TV does not even bother to post an update --- indeed, it continues to ignore Khamenei's key meeting with clerics. Fars, which has tried to lead the cheerleading for the Supreme Leader, cannot find any new information and shifts its Qom story to Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, who declares that "the people welcomed the unique Supreme Leader" and disrupted the calculations of Iran's international adversaries.
The Islamic Republic News Agency began the morning by noticing the gathering but it could only re-cycle the less-than-impressive set of names --- led by Ayatollahs Nouri Hamedani and Javadi Amoli --- put out yesterday by Khamenei's office.
Indeed, there is a pointed twist: the story of Khamenei and the clerics has dropped the front page of IRNA's website. However, there is a pointed (if possibly inadvertent) twist: on that same front page, IRNA notes a meeting led by Grand Ayatollah Safi Golpayegani who declared, "Everyone should take steps to promote Islam." This would be the same Safi Golpayegani who did not show up at the Supreme Leader's keynote discussion.
0710 GMT: Nuke Talks. After this weekend's hopeful messages, including a declaration from Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, from Tehran about a resumption of discussions on uranium enrichment, caution on Tuesday.
The secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Saeed Jalili, said no date for talks had been set, despite publication of a possible arrangement in Vienna for mid-November.
The deputy head of the Council, Abolfazl Zohrevand, said that Catherine Ashton, the European Union's representative for foreign policy, had sent a note on the resumption of the talks “but the letter only addresses issues such as where, when and how long the talks should be and does not deal with more important issues such as the framework, aim and direction of the talks".
0655 GMT: Labour Front. Rah-e-Sabz claims that security forces have banned the Iranian Labor News Agency from reporting worker's strikes.
0650 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Doctors of Sina Hospital in Tehran have held a protest against the arrest of leading reformist Ali Shakouri-Rad.
Shakouri, a member of the central council of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, was detained soon after he spoke to media about the alleged banning of the party.
0640 GMT: Subsidies Watch. More manoeuvring on Tuesday before the imminent introduction of subsidy cuts, even as the first support payments were being distributed in three provinces....
A Government spokesman assured Fars that there would be little increase in the price of bread after the plan started. He added that the support payments would help those on lower incomes and there was no reason to fear shortages.
Nerves are still jangling, however. Consider the need for Iran's head of police, Esmail Ahmadi-Moghaddam, to deny that he wrote President Ahmadinejad, warning about the repercussions of the cuts: “Police will back the administration during the (process of) implementing the subsidy reform plan. Last week we had a meeting with the president about the subsidy reform plan and were briefed about our duties."
But Ahmadi-Moghaddam's could not maintain the confident pose. Later in the interview, he admitted, “Police are worried that following the implementation of the plan, the incidents which occurred after the gasoline rationing could happen (again).”
And Morteza Tamaddon, the Governor of Tehran Province, was not exactly calming when he said that people should "firmly fasten their seat belts": "[The cuts will be] bitter for some individuals and we should prepare ourselves to face these enemies."