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The Latest from Iran (5 March): The Conflict Just Got Bigger

1320 GMT: The Next March? The Los Angeles Times summarises the call by the opposition for demonstrations on Tuesday in support of International Women's Day.

Mardomak writes about statements endorsing the demonstrations, including one by Nobel Prize winner Shirin Ebadi: "On this day, shoulder to shoulder with our brothers, we will come to the streets to support the popular and broad democratic demands, because achieving ‘equal rights’ is possible only if voiced in a democratic system. But, we must not allow anyone to disregard our demands under the auspices of preventing crisis or avoiding divisiveness."

1310 GMT: The Arrests. We have been reporting, based on the translation of a letter from Mehdi Karroubi's son Mohammad Taghi, that the detention of Mehdi and Fatemeh Karroubi occurred on 17 February. A source informs us that the actual date should be 21 February --- we have corrected entries appropriately.

1045 GMT: Political Prisoner. The reformist Islamic Iran Participation Front has condemned the arrest during Tuesday's protests of activist Fakhrosaadat Mohtashamipour, the wife of former Minister of Interior Mostafa Tajzadeh.

The IIPF claimed:

The strange and unwise actions of the coup leaders, more than being the indication of a popular, strong government, resemble that of one on the verge of bankruptcy. Not only can they not run the country, but they are also unable to understand the demands of the nation. The arrest of hundreds of the most honorable people on the streets and the house arrest and imprisonment of the Green Movement's leaders and their wives have not only not discouraged the people, they have caused larger segments of the society to join the movement who, up until now, had avoided doing so for whatever reason. The arrest of the courageous, honorable, and Green lady of Iran, Fakhr ol-Sadat Mohtashamipour, is another indicator of the inability of the coup leaders.

Former president Mohammad Khatami met with Fatemeh Tajzadeh, the youngest child of Tajzadeh and Mohtashamipour. He expressed his deep regrets over the arrest of Mohtashamipour and said, "I believe that such tactics have no effect other than hurting the Islamic Republic. We expected that on the eve of the new Iranian year [which begins 21 March] all the political prisoners would be released, including the dear Tajzadeh, but instead, they have arrested his wife as well." He called Mohtashamipour a "lioness" who has always helped the families of political prisoners.

1025 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Rah-e-Sabz reports that photojournalist Sam Mahmoudi has been arrested.

0732 GMT: Rafsanjani/Opposition Watch. This is a rumour --- and it is only a rumour for us at this point. However, it points to the intersection and tensions between the latest moves of the opposition and the conflict, including Monday-Tuesday's vote at the Assembly of Experts, surrounding former President Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Khodnevis claims that Rafsanjani's Mehdi Hashemi, who is in self-imposed exile in London amidst threats of prosecution by Iranian authorities, has met opposition advisor Ardeshir Amir Arjomand in Paris. However, the website also says that Hashemi will be meeting in London with Dr Hooshang Amir Ahmadi, the US-based academic who is still courted by the regime as a supporter.

So what's the political game here? Answers on a postcard.

0715 GMT: There was not much on Friday to take us beyond our initial look at the significance of the regime's detention of Mir Hossein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi and Fatemeh Karroubi. 

There were signs, however, that this situation might produce a significant political shift. Mehdi Karroubi's family and supporters stepped up their campaign against Iran's leadership, not only the Government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad but also the Supreme Leader. 

After Thursday's letter from the Karroubis' son Mohammad Taghi outlining how the regime seized his parents --- he claims the detention occurred on 21 February --- he wrote another letter on Friday specifically denouncing the denials of the Foreign Minister, Ali Akbar Salehi.

But it was the Karroubi outlet Saham News that made the biggest move: the site posted a report claiming that one of Ayatollah Khamenei's senior advisors, Vahid Haghanian ("Commander Vahid"), had led the operation to move Mehdi and Fatemeh Karroubi from their house to an unknown house of detention or prison.

With these claims being made, can Mehdi Karroubi return --- if he does return --- to the political scene with his previous line of working within the system of the Islamic Republic? At the very least, it is hard to see Karroubi --- who in the past has given hints of a step beyond with references to "Mr Khamenei" --- can accept the notion of velayat-e faqih, at least in the unquestioned supremacy of the Ayatollah.

Later this morning, Josh Shahryar will offer an analysis.

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