1650 GMT: Bank Fraud Watch. The Central Bankhas restricted the activities of money-lending co-operatives to their specific area.
In the recent $2.6 billion bank fraud, Iranian institutions issued Letters of Credits to companies who operated across Iran and allegedly moved funds abroad.
1630 GMT: The Battle Within. President Ahmadinejad's Thursday speech, made to the Supporters of Islamic Revolution Dialogue, continues to escalate in possible significance.
Absar News has these choice extracts. The President offered this defence of his embattled aide Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, "If Rahim-Mashai had stolen 1 rial (about 1/100th of a cent), 'they' would have executed him."
Ahmadinejad then implied that responsibility for the $2.6 billion bank fraud engulfing Iranian politics lay with people connected to the Supreme Leader.
1610 GMT: In the Skies. Siavash Amir Mokri, the deputy head of the National Airports Company has said that Iran's airports have 140 billion Toman (about $110 million) in outstanding debts because of subsidy cuts.
1540 GMT: Who Speaks for Karroubi? According to unidentified sources quoted by Rah-e Sabz, Fatemeh Karroubi, the wife of detained figure leader Mehdi Karroubi, has pointedly said, “Since 22 October, Mehdi Karroubi has no spokesperson outside the country and his position on issues will be announced solely through members of his family.”
Mehdi and Fatemeh Karroubi, along with Mir Hossein Mousavi and his wife Zahra Rahnavard, have been held under strict house arrest since mid-February.
Mojtaba Vahedi, who is based in the US, has represented himself as Karroubi's spokesman. Fatemeh Karroubi's statement appears to be part of a dispute sparked by recent statements of US Secretary of State that the Green Movement had erred in not seeking US support, which would have been given if they had made the request.
Vahedi reacted, “If the U.S. government is looking for a way to help the Iranian people, it should find a way to do its duty vis-a-vis Iranians without interfering in Iran’s affairs or the [Green] Movement.”
According to Rah-e Sabz, “A while ago, in a telephone conversation, Fatemeh Karroubi reminded a number of Mehdi Karroubi’s supporters outside Iran that his ideas regarding the independence of the Green Movement and his refusal of any foreign support are completely clear, and those who do not agree with these unchanging principles are not allowed to present themselves as Karroubi’s spokesperson or aide.”
Another layer has been added by Saham News, the website of Mehdi Karroubi’s Etemade Melli Party, rejected the >em>Rah-e Sabz report, declaring that it is the only outlet for announcements and news about Mehdi Karroubi.
1510 GMT: Press Watch. A press jury has convicted Ali Akbar Javanfekr, a senior advisor to President Ahmadinejad and managing director of the pro-Ahmadinejad outlet IRNA, over the newspaper's "Khatoon Nameh" issue, which considers the topic of hejab, chador, and women's fashion.
Critics of the newspaper claimed that it pursued a "liberal" position by linking the all-body covering of chador to Qajar king Naser al-Din Shah, who brought it to Iran after a trip to France where he observed women wearing black clothes at lavish nighttime parties.
1310 GMT: The Battle Within. Iranian websites have published a fuller version of President Ahmadinejad's speech on Thursday attacking his rivals, and the remarks are striking to say the least:
● If someone stands in the positions wher I am, maybe he would say just 10% [of what he knows]. He would say around 25% in future, but more than 60% of his words cannot be said forever, because there are some higher policies and expediencies.
● If this State had half an hour's time to speak, the price [for my opponents] of the holes to hide in will be increased.
● Would those who accuse us of opposing Velayat-e Faqih [clerical supremacy], declare their bank accounts and their financial transactions?
● The people are dissatisfied with and suffered from the dirt of claimants who have been poor and have become millionaires.
● I said let me punish them in just a month with my own way. America and Europe cannot ruin this government, let alone these critics.
● I know the risks of provincial travel. Up to now tens of terrorist groups have tried to act against me but all of them have been arrested and their actions neutralized.
● The situation is not normal at all. We are getting near to the final clash. Of course such a clash is not necessarily a military one. It can be a political clash.
● On 2005, they said if you do not resign, we will make s situation in which you cannot live in the country.
● All the burden of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was carried by me. They did not use the experts of the Ministry.
Muhammad Sahimi offers translations, from the pro-Ahmadinejad Dolet-e Ma, of passages of the speech. We will dissect those further in a Monday analysis.
1300 GMT: Hype Watch. Reuters keeps trying to stoke tension by headlining, "IAEA report on Iran set to stoke Middle East tension", helpfully posting a Q&A feature ("IS IRAN DEVELOPING A NUCLEAR-CAPABLE MISSILE?").
Meanwhile, ministers in Israel, where reports of a Prime Minister seeking an attack on Iran broke out last weekend, are now trying to damp down war talk. Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan said, "I believe all this chatter gravely damaged the State of Israel," while Minister Michael Eitan admonished, "The law restricts public servants who are privy to information pertaining to state security [from speaking out] and this applies in this case too."
1235 GMT: The Battle Within. Ammariyon claims that President Ahmadinejad's team is seeking to weaken or "eliminate" Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards, and Hossein Ta'eb, the head of the Guards' Intelligence Bureau.
The website apologised to its readers for removing the news about Soleimani after it was admonished by a workgroup supervising the Internet.
1225 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Deutsche Welle reports that 36 detained activists and journalists have issued a statement, ahead of next March's Parliamentary elections and amidst the reformist debate over participation, that the Iranian system lacks "electoral legitimacy".
The activists note the "electoral coup" of the 2009 Presidential election, backed up by the "new institutions and military and security forces" of an authoritarian regime and as system with "detained activists and political activists" "security conditions", "banned political parties," "press censorship", and "the lack of freedom of expression, gatherings, and rallies".
And they link political issues with the economic tensions in Iran: "A government that does not ensure people's votes, will not ensure their property either."
The signatories include Bahman Ahmadi Amoui, Hassan Asadi Zeidabadi, Masoud Bastani, Mostafa Tajzadeh, Keyvan Samimi, Alireza Rajai, Abdullah Ramezanzadeh, Isa Saharkhiz, Ghasem Sholeh Saadi, Abdollah Momeni, Mohsen Mirdamadi, and Behzad Nabavi.
Farmanara's productions include Abbas Kiarostami's first feature, The Report (1977), and he directed Fragrance of Jasmine (2000), which won Best Film and Best Director at Iran's International Fajr Film Awards.
Farmanara may have been punished for a written satire on bank fraud, published in the reformist newspaper Shargh.
Parisa Babaei, a member of the Baha'i faith, has been arrested.
Beyond that diversion, we start by noting a political signal for "unity" by conservatives and principlists. Former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, speaking at a meeting of the "7+8" committee seeking a common front for next March's Parlaimentary elections, said --- despite recent speculation --- that the Supreme Leader had not called for a Parliamentary system to select a Prime Minister in place of the current election of a President. Velayati also added that the Islamic Constancy Front, the faction started this summer by Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi and other clerics and politicians, has not yet joined the unity movement.
The significance? Velayati is an advisor to the Supreme Leader, so it's safe to assume that his words are on behalf of Ayatollah Khamenei. And the former Foreign Minister made them while standing alongside former Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki --- dismissed from his post by the President last December --- and prominent MP Alireza Zakani. That's a pretty significant signal of the shifting alignments in Iranian politics.