Iran Election Guide

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The Latest from Iran (4 November): Ahmadinejad Punches Back

Iranians demonstrate on the 32nd anniversary of the takeover of the US Embassy

See also Iran-Israel War Talk: "Do We Always Have to Be Taken In By This Transparent Ploy?"
Iran-Israel Opinion: Why Jerusalem Is Making War Noises
The Latest from Iran (3 November): Threats, Threats, More Threats

2120 GMT: Tehran Friday Prayer Update. Another angle on Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami's address to the faithful (see 1515 GMT), as Fars picks up the warning to the Bahraini and Saudi regimes: "With these crimes, you will have the fate of Qaddafi and the treacherous Saddam."

But, in the end, today's message came back to America: "The US administration has never seen such days of humiliation."

2050 GMT: Economy Watch. Gholam-Reza Mesbahi-Moghaddam, a leading MP on economic affairs, has warned that people will spend part of their support payments for subsidy cuts to buy foreign currencies, which are rising in value against the Iranian currency.

An EA correspondent analyses, "There is much chatter about people buying dollars because of fear of more sanctions and a worsening economy."

1605 GMT: Speech of the Day. Mohammad Reza Naqdi, the head of the Basij militia, is in fiery form....

Naqdi called former President Mohammad Khatami a "fool", saying he bowed to billionaire George Soros to get into power and "will end up on history's trash pile". He then explained that the Occupy Wall Street movement and the Arab Spring are a result of the bloodshed of the martyrs of Iran's Islamic Revolution.

1555 GMT: The Battle Within. Deputy Speaker of Parliament Mohammad Reza Bahonar, striking back at critics (see 0625 GMT), has declared that the "deviant current" is behind the $2.6 billion bank fraud, "You can do a lot with money: designate a President, send MPs to the Majlis...."

1515 GMT: The US Front. More performances on the anniversary of the 1979 takeover of the US Embassy....

Leading Tehran Friday Prayers, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami has proclaimed that "US lies" about Tehran's alleged plan to kill the Saudi Ambassador to Washington would "make a dead young woman laugh", adding that all coup attempts from 1953 to the 2009 Presidential election have failed.

Khatami then celebrated a doomed US, explaining that 99% of Americans are against the government and liberal democracy is tumbling.

The Foreign Ministry summoned the Swiss Ambassador, who represents American interests, to complain about the recent hearings in the US Congress on the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards and The Plot.

One of a set of photographs from the State news agency IRNA of the protest outside the old US Embassy:

And in Mashhad:

1400 GMT: Hype Watch. Reuters reports with concern that pro-regime Iranian students put on a display today to mark the anniversary of the 1979 seizure of the US Embassy, chanting "Death to America" and burning flags, an effigy of Uncle Sam, and pictures of President Obama.

Even though this is an annual ritual, Reuters is keen to put a special nuclear spin on the event: "Tension between Iran and the West, [which] is particularly high ahead of the publication next week of a report by the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, expected to suggest Iran is seeking nuclear weapons".

Saeed Jalili, the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, offers another peg for international media, with the declaration, "America has carried out terrorist acts against Iran and other countries....We will support those who are against America's policies outside and inside America."

Jalili's rhetoric, following the declaration on Wednesday by the Supreme Leader that he has 100 "undeniable documents" proving the U.S. has been behind "terrorist acts" in Iran, is enough to seize the attention of the Global Post: "The supposed evidence is so explosive that it will bring down the US government, according to Iranian lawmaker Hossein Ebrahimi, Deputy Chairman of the Majlis Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy."

1035 GMT: The US Front. Amidst the heated chatter about Israel, Iran, and war in the last few days, Kaveh Afrasiabi offers a useful reminder of Washington and Tehran maintaining contacts, even at a diplomatic distance:

[A] one-day Istanbul conference, titled "Security and Cooperation in the Heart of Asia", was attended by ministers from among others Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, China, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, India, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.

Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi decided at the last minute to participate, despite his stated reservation of a few days earlier, calling into question any meeting with US officials due to the "absence of honesty".

Although no direct communication transpired at the meeting between Salehi and the US delegation, led by Deputy Secretary of State William J Burns, the latter nonetheless praised Salehi's presence as "evidence of a good step forward".

The meeting's final declaration, calling for, among other things, a preferential trade agreement within the region to promote the Afghan economy, enhanced efforts against terrorism, and various confidence-building measure, was signed by representatives from 29 countries and international organizations, including the US and Iran, thus serving as a document of common concern between the two countries.

In turn, this sets the stage for a strong Iranian presence at the upcoming international conference on Afghanistan in Bonn, Germany, in December....

0825 GMT: Bank Fraud Watch. After the $2.6 billion bank fraud, Government banks have been prohibited from issuing Letters of Credit, which were at the center of the embezzlement.

Authorities had already banned private institutions from issuing the letters.

0815 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. More manoeuvring around the possible interrogation of the President by Parliament....

The reformist faction has gone public through Mostafa Kavakebian, who declared that Parliament's refusal to accept the resignation of Ali Motahari, a leader of the drive against Ahmadinejad, proved MPs are convinced of the need to question the President.

And Asadollah Badamchian, a senior member of the conservative Motalefeh Party, has suggested a compromise: Ahmadinejad could be interrogated in a closed session.

0755 GMT: Human Rights Watch. Iran's Foreign Ministry has lashed out at Ahmad Shaheed, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, claiming he used the testimonials of dissidents and "criminals" for his report, thus acting against international rules.

Iranian authorities have refused entry to Shaheed. His report (text in separate entry) was based on interviews with Iranians who have left the country and other documents. Other Iranians, including the families of those slain in the post-election conflict, have sent audio messages to him (see separate feature).

Meanwhile, members of the UN Human Rights Committee have said that Iranian officials avoided the most difficult issues in their long-awaited appearance.

"For some questions they were embarrassed and they didn't answer, especially when I raised the question of the death penalty, they didn't answer," committee member Christine Chanet, a French judge and rights expert, said. "When I asked about stoning there was no answer at all about this question."


The 18-member Committee voiced concern at "continuing reports of harassment or intimidation, prohibition and forceful breaking up of demonstrations, and arrests and arbitrary detentions of human rights defenders".

Chanet said it was unclear if the Iranian delegation was representing the regime: "They [were] watching each other. I don't know how...the composition of the delegation was reflecting the situation of political power in Iran."

0655 GMT: Bank Fraud Watch. Amidst Ahmadinejad's threatened release of documents, high-ranking MP Alaeedin Boroujerdi has a problem --- Nasim Online claims Parliament's National Security Commission, headed by Boroujerdi, wrote 26 letters of recommendation and 10 letters requesting banking facilities for part of the Amir Mansour Aria Group, the company at the heart of the $2.6 billion bank fraud.

Last week Boroujerdi denied that he had been detained for 24 hours in connection with the embezzlement.

0625 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. The President may be striking a fighting pose, but another sign of trouble for him....

MP Rouhollah Hosseinian, formerly a backer of the President, has said that the Islamic Constancy Front has broken contact with Ahmadinejad after "doubts" that he is following the line of velayat-e-faqih (clerical supremacy).

The Constancy Front has been widely portrayed as a group of Ahmadinejad supporters since its formation this spring, but it shifted position this week, moving towards the "7+8" committee seeking unity amongst conservative/principlist faction.

Hosseinian, however, offered an indication that the coalition might be not a settled one: saying, "there is a line of blood between us", with the "deviant current" and sedition, he warned that the Constancy Front opposed the involvement of Deputy Speaker of Parliament Mohammad Reza Bahonar in the 7+8 committee.

0620 GMT: Sanctions Watch. "Diplomats and American officials" have put out the message that the Obama Administration will not tighten sanctions through measures against Iran's Central Bank.

The reason is straightforward (and had been predicted by shrewd observers, even as Washington was making noise about the possible measure): they "could disrupt international oil markets and further damage the reeling American and world economies".

The alternative, although the Los Angeles Times presents it as new, is a continuation of the existing strategy of bilateral talks: "Rather than pursue sanctions against Iran's central bank, U.S. officials now say they will seek to persuade some of Tehran's key trading partners --- including the Persian Gulf states, South Korea and Japan --- to join the U.S. in enforcing existing sanctions. The U.S. will also add a few more narrowly focused sanctions, they said."

0600 GMT: Thursday was livened by the emergence, on a pro-Ahmadinejad website, of the President, two days after his Minister of Economy avoided impeachment --- more through the intervention of Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani than through Ahmadinejad's speech to legislators --- taking swings at his political challengers. He specifically criticised the judiciary for making accusations against members of his Cabinet and implicitly went after Larijani for victory congratulations to his opponent, Mir Hossein Mousavi, on Election Day in 2009.

Then there was the repetition of Ahmadinejad's threat that he would bring out documents on anyone who was menacing him. He said that he was releasing 10% of the material, that 25% more could be made public, but that 65% had to be withheld because they would be so damaging to the Iranian system.

At first, I did not understand this sentence: "If the Government had the opportunity to talk for 30 minutes, the price of a mousehole increases."

An EA correspondent helped me out, and thus brought out the full impact of Ahmadinejad's move: "He is referring to Qaddafi's ditch or Saddam's hole."

Pretty strong stuff. And the correspondent then made the essential link: "Ahmadinejad is attacking because his interrogation by Parliament is imminent."

Looks like we could see more punching in days to come.

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