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The Latest from Iran (24 September): Back to Life, Back to Reality

1315 GMT: A Rafsanjani Move on Political Prisoners? Rooz Online offers an English translation of its article on former President Hashemi Rafsanjani's 3 1/2-hour meeting this week with families of political prisoners. It provides this intriguing quote from Rafsanjani, taken from his website, on the dynamics of a visit to the Supreme Leader:

If I communicate your requests to government authorities, I am not sure I will get a positive response and in fact this may produce the opposite response....The esteemed leader had issued suitable instructions regarding the speedy examination of the prisoners’ cases and also on respecting their legal rights, which could solve many of the current problems....

I hope that this will not be a futile effort.

What makes this intriguing --- and Rooz notes this --- is that it is a follow-up to Rafsanjani's meeting last month with Ayatollah Khamenei, in which he directly handed the Supreme Leader files of political prisoners, insisting to Khamenei's office that he had to give them to the Supreme Leader personally.

As we later reported from reliable sources in Iran, Khamenei refused to look at the files in front of Rafsanjani. The frustrated former President later told members of his Kargozaran Party, "I won't bear this situation."

So is this a renewed attempt by Rafsanjani to "push" the Supreme Leader?

1310 GMT: Strange Bedfellows or a Match Made in Heaven?

That's the question an EA reader asks as she notes both the Ahmadinejad speech and this story in Foreign Policy about support in the US Congress for "regime change" led by the People's Mojahedin of Iran/Mujahedin-e-Khalq. This comes only hours after James Miller live-blogged for EA on PMOI/MEK rallies in New York near the United Nations:

Members of Congress led by Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA) have introduced a resolution calling on the Secretary of State and the President to throw the support of the United States behind an exiled Iranian terrorist group seeking to overthrow the Iranian regime and install themselves in power. Calling the exiled organization "Iran's main opposition," Filner is urging the State Department to end the blacklisting of the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) -- a group listed by the State Department as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). The resolution currently has 83 cosponsors and is gaining significant ground.

1300 GMT: The UN Show. For those who want to double-check the Iranian President's remarks or just re-live the moment, there is not only the EA LiveBlog --- The New York Times posts the prepared script of Ahmadinejad's remarks.

1250 GMT: Beyond the Podium. A signal from Tehran in an article by Kaveh Afrasiabi, a US-based academic who is generally sympathetic to the Iranian Government:

According to an Iranian diplomat who spoke to the author on the condition of anonymity, prevailing sentiment in the Iranian government is that if the Obama administration commits itself to meaningful dialogue, "then it can expect to find a reliable partner in Iran".

1025 GMT: An Analyst Has the Prerogative to Change His Mind. Why did Juan Cole suddenly switch from Ahmadinejad the Powerful to Ahmadinejad the Embattled?

He posts the answer from the US Government Source Center --- which is actually an echo of material EA posted at the start of the week. The translation is of comments by key MP Ali Motahari, in response to President Ahmadinejad's "I Rule" statement:

The Parliament is at the helm of all affairs now as well, and has power because the authority to dismiss the president is with the Parliament. It can dismiss the president from power by questioning him, through impeachment, or by making a decision on his political non-qualification. Therefore, the Parliament is more powerful and is at the helm of all affairs.

0755 GMT: After the Spectacle. A few follow-ups to Thursday's show at the United Nations....

The White House feeds ABC News correspondent Jake Tapper a ritual denunciation of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech and its call for an UN enquiry into who caused 9-11. The Obama official says the remarks were "deeply offensive and inappropriate, and especially inappropriate to have been made so close" to the site of the 2001 attack.

More striking is the change in view of prominent US analyst Juan Cole. At the start of the week, he declared that Ahmadinejad was coming to New York in a far stronger position than last year, soon after the disputed 2009 election. This morning Cole writes, "He has good reason to want to take the focus off himself. He is involved in a conflict with the Parliament  over who has more power, and some in parliament are firing back."

0655 GMT: We're catching our breath today after the hectic events of Thursday in New York and the equally important events in Iran. Friday promises to be much slower, and we will be away for much of the day at an academic conference and on the road to southwest Britain.

However, we have specials for you: Pedestrian, who was in the audience for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech at the UN General Assembly, captures the "society of the spectacle".

And Iranian journalist Masih Alinjead gives us an essential article, as she writes Christiane Amanpour of ABC News --- who just interviewed Ahmadinejad --- about Responsibility, the Media, and "Freedom".

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