Iran Election Guide

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The Latest from Iran (14 November): Playing the Foreign Card

See also Iran Propaganda 101: Nanodiamonds, Nukes, "Western Officials", and The Washington Post
Iran Feature: Did Someone Murder the Son of 2009 Presidential Candidate Rezaei?
The Latest from Iran (13 November): An Explosion at a Military Base

1645 GMT: The Bahrain Plot. Tehran has denied any link to an alleged plot to stage attacks in Bahrain, as a lawyer for two of the five suspects said reports of their confessions were not true.

Bahraini authorities said this weekend that Qatar had handed over four men who planning to attack the Interior Ministry, the Saudi Embassy, and a causeway linking Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. A fifth man was arrested in Bahrain.

On Sunday, the public prosecution's spokesman said the plot was coordinated with the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij militia as well as two Bahraini opposition figures in London (see Bahrain, Syria, and Beyond LiveBlog).

1630 GMT: The Explosion. The reaction of Israeli Minister of Defense Ehud Barak to the news of Saturday's blast at a Revolutionary Guards base, reportedly killing 17 people?

"May there be more like it."

1230 GMT: The Explosion. A photograph of the funeral, attended by the Supreme Leader, of Revolutionary Guards personnel killed in Saturday's blast at a base west of Tehran:

1140 GMT: Reformist Watch. Interesting to see Fars feature the statement of former President Mohammad Khatami....

The answer for the attention is not Khatami's reiteration of political and legal conditions of "freedom" for participation in March's Parliamentary elections. (see 0859 GMT). Instead, Fars highlights Khatami's rejection, amidst recent talk of an attack by Israel and discussion of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's statements, of "foreign intervention".

1120 GMT: Nuke Watch. Fars declares, amidst recent discussion of Iran's nuclear activities, "Thousands of Iranian people, including a large number of university students, intend to form a human chain around one of the country's major nuclear facilities to voice support for Tehran's peaceful nuclear program."

The demonstrators, denouncing last week's IAEA report on Iran's programme, will form the chain around the Uranium Conversion Facility near Isfahan. They will intend to hold a symbolic trial of those allegedly behind the assassination of Iran's nuclear scientists.

0902 GMT: Tough Talk of the Day. The Revolutionary Guards commander in the Semnan District in northern Iran has said the Guards will build "resistance bases" of Basij militia besides mosques.

0859 GMT: Reformist Watch. Former President Mohammad Khatami has repeated his three conditions --- freeing of political prisoners, a free electoral process with political parties able to freely campaign, and adherence to the Constitution --- for participation in March's Parliamentary elections. He claimed that Iranians will not take part, "even if asked by senior figures and influential people".

0855 GMT: Censorship of the Day. The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance has replaced the forbidden word "sweat" with "drink", as in the "drink of shame appeared on the front of his shirt".

0745 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. Another sign of defiance from the President, as he praised his controversial right-hand man Esfandiar Rahim Mashai and Vice President Hamid Baghaei in a ceremony at Iran's national museum.

Ahmadinejad spoke about Iran's 5,000-year history, seen by some as a challenge to the "Islamic-first" emphasis of clerics, and thanked the Organization for Cultural Heritage, led by Rahim-Mashai and Baghaei since 2005, for its work.

0740 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Singer/songwriter Arya Aramnejad has contacted his family after five days in solitary confinement.

Aramnejad was seized by security forces last week. He told his wife that he is under interrogation on charges related to the songs he has written. He said he is physically well and is well-treated, although he has not been allowed to receive any books or clothes.

0620 GMT: A Clarification. We reported on Sunday that Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani had indicated to the Majlis that, despite the the recent IAEA report on Iran's nuclear programme, co-operation should continue with the Agency. The State radio broadcast of his speech was then, according to one item, cut off.

Radio Zamaneh gives a different presentation from other Iranian media. Larijani had said, “Parliament deems it necessary to reconsider its terms of cooperation with the agency. The agency’s new methods reveal that cooperation and the refusal to cooperate make no difference to their unprofessional decisions.”

0615 GMT: Budget Watch. Minister of Transport Ali Nikzad has admitted that the Government owes 2000 to 3000 billion Toman ($1.5 billion to $2.25 billion) to contractors.

No matter: Nikzad said the Government will still build one million new homes next year.

0605 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. MP Bahman Akhavan has thrown a punch at the President in an open letter: "You threaten to publish secret documents [against your critics]. If you were not an official, you couldn't even enter the intelligence service."

Akhavan, who said he will not run in March for re-election, criticised Ahmadinejad for vast corruption. He said the claimed crowds for the President on his provincial tours were made up of public sector workers and students brought in by buses.

0555 GMT: Playing the Foreign Card. Hossein Sobhaninia, a member of Parliament's National Security Commission, has spoken to Iran media of efforts to reclaim part of the land of the British Embassy in Tehran: "Commander Mohamad Bagherzadeh, the head of the Foundation for the Protection and Publication of the Holy Defence Values, has described to MPs the series of activities undertaken in order to take back Gholhak Orchard."

The Gholhak Orchard is 20 hectares of land under British possession for more than a century. Sobhaninia said the British have no legal document to prove ownership, and whatever they do have is "forged".

The current episode has been stoked by regime claims that the Embassy burned 310 trees on the property.

0545 GMT: Another arrest this weekend by the regime to link their presentation of "propaganda" and the foreign threat, heightened by their sensitivity over the explosion at the Revolutionary Guards base west of Tehran --- journalist Hasan Fathi was detained after he spoke to BBC Persian about the blast, which killed at least 17 people, including a Guards commander.

The BBC said that neither Fathi, nor and indeed anyone, is employed inside the country at the moment: "The service spoke to Mr. Hasan Fathi as an independent commentator, as it does to other independent journalists, academics and other public figures from Iran." 

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