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The Latest from Iran (27 November): Tough-Talkin'

See also Iran Triangle: Regime Loves Occupy Wall Street...But Occupy Wall Street Supports Political Prisoners
Iran Feature: So How Big is the Bank Fraud?
The Latest from Iran (26 November): Embezzlement

2043 GMT: And For Tomorrow.... The Ahmadinejad Government faces another challenge on Monday in Parliament with the interrogation of Minister of Economy Shamseddin Hosseini. Amidst a turbulent economy and the $2.6 billion bank fraud, leading Government critic Ali Motahari is predicting the Minister's impeachment.

1953 GMT: (Dealing with) The Battle Within. The Arbitration Council appointed by the Supreme Leader to resolve disputes among the executive, judiciary, and legislative branches has published a report declaring an 11-point plan based on 21 meetings with heads of the three branches.

State news agency IRNA's summary is anodyne, noting consideratoin of the budget, Parliamentary legislation, vote of confidences in ministers, and powers involved in implementation of the Constitution.

Ayatollah Khamenei appointed the Council after President Ahmadinejad's 11-day "boycott" of his duties, sparked by his failed attempt to take control of the Ministry of Intelligence, and a running series of contests with Parliament over legislation and the budget.

1946 GMT: Economy Watch. Here's one way to deal with a rising unemployment rate: Iran is looking to send 100,000 job-seekers abroad to 18 countries until the end of the 5th Budget Plan in 2015.

1939 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. Former President Hashemi Rafsanjani has snapped, "If the Government has the ability, it should establish a new university --- no one has a share in the Free University."

Rafsanjani was prompted to speak by Minister of Higher Education and Science Kamran Daneshjoo, who announced a new director for the Islamic Azad University, Iran's largest system of private campuses, founded by Rafsanjani as President in the 1990s. In the last two years, President Ahmadinejad has challenged Rafsanjani's leadership of the system, trying to take control of the Board.

1930 GMT: Fraud Watch. Businessman Qasem Shamlan, who founded "Merchants and Ahmadinejad Supporters" before the 2009 Presidential election, has been indicted for financial fraud.

1920 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. University student Mohammad Rashid Hedayati has been arrested.

Two members of the Baha'i faith from Ghaemshahr have also been detained.

1747 GMT: Economy Watch. State broadcaster IRIB reports that Iranian authorities have halted fruit imports.

1745 GMT: Tough Talk Rebuked. Looks like someone is not going along with the regime strategy --- prominent academic Sadegh Zibakalam has criticised the wave of statements warning of war and asked, "Is enmity with the West a value?"

1515 GMT: Arresting All the President's Men. More on the prosecution of senior Ahmadinejad aide Ali Akbar Javanfekr (see 1235 GMT)....

The advisor complains that security forces, trying to detain him on Monday at his newspaper Iran, raided a cultural institution without a warrant and threatened to seize me with a Colt pistol, as well as wielding electric batons, pepper spray, tear gas, and clubs.

More than 190 staff of Iran have sent a letter of complaint to the head of judiciary, Sadegh Larijani.

Digarban have fun with the episode: "Javanfekr's Report on Government Brutality in Iran".

1505 GMT: Bank Fraud Watch. Hard on the heels of Saturday's EA analysis, "So How Big is the Bank Fraud?", Khorasan reports that another multi-million-dollar fraud has been uncovered in a government bank in central Iran.

1458 GMT: Tough Talk Alert. Minister of Defence Ahmad Vahidi has said that Iran will "teach the art of fighting to the US". He told 50,000 Fedayeen of the Islamic Revolution, "We have 150,000 missiles to target Israel."

1308 GMT: Khamenei Watch. At the climax of Basij Week, the Supreme Leader has said the militia is political but is not partial, radical or superstitious, as it aims at attaining a majority in Iran. Khamenei, assuring the audience that the Islamic revolution is visible in the whole world, said Iran's enemies should perish.

1305 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. HRANA reports that labour activist Afshin Osanloo has been transferred to hospital for surgery, allegedly after he was struck by a cable during torture by officers.

1300 GMT: Stopping the Music. Singer Farman Fathalian, who mixes pop w Sufi music, has been banned from recording and performing.

1255 GMT: Remembering the Dead. For the second year in a row, the memorial service in Qom for Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, once the heir-apparent to Ayatollah Khomeini, has been cancelled because of lack of security.

1245 GMT: Foreign Affairs (British Front). We now have an answer to our question (see 0845 GMT), after Parliament's vote to "downgrade" relations with Britain, of whether Tehran will expel the British Ambassador --- the Majlis has given an ultimatum for the diplomat to leave the country within two weeks.

Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani added the flourish, "Britain should know this is only the beginning," while Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the head of Parliament's National Security Committee, said that the measure "a slap in the face by the Iranian people".

1235 GMT: Arresting the President's Men. The "battle within" surges today as Tehran Public Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi has indicted President Ahmadinejad's media advisor Ali Akbar Javanfekr for disseminating lies, spreading rumours, and inciting public opinion against judicial and political officials.

Doulatabadi said he had filed 15 complaints against Javanfekr, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of State news agency IRNA and the editor of Iran newspaper, in the last six months.

Javanfekr has already been sentenced to a year in prison for a controversial issue of Iran on hijab, and last Monday, security forces tried to seize him in a raid on the newspaper''s offices.

The Ahmadinejad advisor is not going down without a fight, however. Just released from hospital after an attack of angina, he has used a front-page story to slam the Tehran judiciary and security forces for "arbitrary arrest". And he invoked the President's support, saying Ahmadinejad had prevented his detention during the raid that arrested almost 40 people.

There are some interesting ripples in the press coverage in Iran. The conservative Jahan News criticises Javanfekr, with his public complaints about the raid for supporting the recent United Nations report condemning Iran's human rights violations.

1225 GMT: Ahmadinejad's Nuclear Move? We have argued for many months that President Ahmadinejad is the "moderate" within the regime on the issue of nuclear discussions with the US. In September, he made a big public play for those talks, offering to give up Iran's enrichment programme if the US supplied uranium, but Washington did not respond, at least in public.

Now the President has repeated in a televised interview, "" target="_blank">We will negotiate with the US, if the talks are based on fairness and respect."

1220 GMT: The Imam is Looking for a Few Good Men. Hard-line cleric and politician Morteza Agha Tehrani has said, "We must defend velayat-e faqih (clerical supremacy) with a sword," as any other system is "Satanic".

Agha Tehrani added that the Hidden Imam would appear if there were "four honest people" in the Islamic Republic. He said, "If we had unity, all Muslim countries would accept Ayatollah Khamenei as leader and crush Israel."

0850 GMT: France 24, summarising the move by Iranian authorities to segregate men and women in universities, notes this claimed video from 16 November --- students at Azad University of Dolatabad in Isfahan demand a return of co-education:

0845 GMT: Foreign Affairs (Diplomatic Front) Iran's Parliament has formally approved a resolution to downgrade relations with Britain, reducing them to the level of Chargé d'Affaires both in Tehran and London. The measure passed 171-3, with 7 abstentions.

Now the real questions: will the regime withdraw Iran's Ambassador from Britain? And will it demand that the British Ambassador leave Iran?

0645 GMT: After noting what might be the real story in Iran this weekend --- the apparent plummet of the Iranian currency, with a tumble of more than 3% in only a few days --- let's get straight to the tough talk....

Yadollah Javani, the outgoing head of the Revolutionary Guards' Political Bureau, pronounces, "In case of attack, we will target Israel's nuclear facilities with our rockets."

Javani's declaration follows a flurry of declarations from military commanders and political leaders this week of Iran's ability to smite its enemies, with Air Force Commander Amirali Hajizadeh explaining, "In case of war, the NATO defense shield in Turkey will be the first target."

Nikahang Kowsar brings that statement to life: his commander's "In case of threat we hit NATO defense shield!" gets a bit of advice from his paper-hatted journalist, "Be careful not to get crushed yourself!"

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