Iran Election Guide

Donate to EAWV

Or, click to learn more



The Latest from Iran (12 April): Questions Without Answers

1930 GMT: Curbing Parliament. A 23-member commission in the Parliament is effectively recommending restrictions on their colleagues through a new bill establishing five punishable offences: three cover "activities against national security, and other clandestine [activities committed by MPs] from the law enforcement perspective".

The new bill also provides a "legal" process for the judiciary to arrest Majlis deputies. This would override article 86 of the Constitution, which gives immunity to the deputies from prosecution.

The interesting question is whether the measures are aimed solely at reformists or whether priciplist critics of the Government --- including Ali Motahari, Elyas Naderan, and Ahmad Tavakoli, a relative of Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani --- come be caught up by the "punishable offences".

1900 GMT: As we post in a separate feature about concern over rising energy prices, Kalemeh reports that living costs for workers' families have increased by 33%.

1630 GMT: Foreign Affairs. The headline on a claimed analysis in Press TV pretty much says it all, at least about the Iranian regime's position, "US Neocons Seek Syria 'Regime Change'".

1620 GMT: The President's Right-Hand Man. The debate continues over Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's confidante and aide Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai (see 0510 GMT), after his official departure as supervisor of the President's office. This time it is in Deutsche Welle....

Alireza Namvar Haghighi says Ahmadinejad had to retreat for tactical reasons in the face of sustained criticism of his advisor, but Rahim-Mashai remains in a powerful position with his many other posts.

At the same time, Namvar Haghighi says the dispute over the "Iran School", which many associate with Rahim-Mashai as a challeng to an "Islam-first" approach, is serious. He frames the "Iran School" as one in which the Government is linked to the Mahdi, the "Hidden Imam", and is not accountable for its actions to anyone, including the Parliament and clergy. The mitigating factor in the conflict is that hardliners fear an excessive attack on Ahmadinejad and Rahim-Mashai in the midst of post-election protests, a shaky outlook over subsidy cuts, and Arab uprisings.

A second analyst, Ali Afshari, agrees that Rahim-Mashai's retreat is superficial, but he goes further by saying the alleged controversy over the "Iran School" is also staged. Afshari claims that the "Iran School" promotes the Iranian version of Islam and pleases the Supreme Leader as it proclaims that he is a global leader of Muslims.

1610 GMT: Economy Watch. Mixed news for Iran in a report from the International Monetary Fund on the Middle East and North Africa....

The IMF praises the Ahmadinejad subsidy cuts as “a much needed reform that will yield benefits in the medium term". However, they foresee zero growth this year as the economy stalls, and they project that Iran's inflation rate will jump to 22.5% in 2011 from the official level of 12.5% in 2010.

1310 GMT: Foreign Affairs. Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast has explained that anti-regime demonstrations in Syria are part of a plot by the West.

1230 GMT: Sanctions Watch. British Foreign Secretary William Hague says the European Union, meeting in Luxembourg today, will agree visa bans and asset freezes on 32 Iranian officials over human rights abuses.

Hague declared, "We have agreed sanctions, restrictive measures, on Iran because of the appalling human rights record of Iran." He cited cited "the imprisonment of opposition leaders, the detention of more journalists than any other country in the world, [and] the excessive use of the death penalty, often on vague charges".

1225 GMT: Camp Ashraf Update. The Iraqi Government has said it will close Camp Ashraf, home to members of the Iranian exile group People's Mujahedin of Iran, by the end of the year.

Baghdad said the camp residents will be moved to a third country and will not have to return to Iran.

Last week, Iraqi security forces stormed the camp, killing at least 10 people, according to medical sources.

1220 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Kalemeh reports that detained student activist Bahareh Hedayat and journalist Mahdieh Golroo have been transferred again to solitary confinement.

1205 GMT: Book Corner. Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Seyed Mohammad Hosseini has assured that his staff are closely watching publishers to ensure they meet required standards, maintaining a "negative score" on those who do not.

In recent months, a number of high-profile Iranian publishers have been put out of business the Ministry's refusal to grant licences and other restrictions.

1200 GMT: The President's New Helper. Voice of America profiles, with a transcript and video, Hamid Baghaei, the head of Iran's Cultural Heritage Organization who has just been named supervisor of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's office.

1155 GMT: Labour Front. Workers from the Karoon, Shooshtar, and Haf-Tapeh agro-industries gathered in a protest in front of the Parliament building.

0840 GMT: Media Watch. Last night the BBC broadcast a 30-minute special on the regime's post-election repression, "Living with the Ayatollah". We have posted in a separate entry.

0810 GMT: Human Rights Watch. Word comes to us of the initiative, "One Million Voices for Iran", which is pursuing a petition "calling on world governments to target individual officials of the regime by banning their travel to and freezing all assets held in their respective countries and demanding the release of all prisoners of conscience, and fair treatment of all political prisoners, who have been arbitrarily detained by the Iranian Regime in breach of their basic rights".

The campaign also is "calling on official legislative bodies to immediately begin proceedings to charge the Iranian Regime with their documented human rights violations in an international court".

0510 GMT: We begin today with three issues that have occupied us in recent days.

First, Rah-e-Sabz echoes our curiosity over the significance of the weekend statement that Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's right-hand man, is stepping down as supervisor of the President's office: is this an advance, as Rahim-Mashai plans for a 2013 Presidential campaign, or a tactical retreat? (We think the former.)

Second, Hamidreza Katouzian, the head of Parliament's Energy Commission, issues a pointed statement of concern to the Government over the steep rise --- he estimates up to 500% --- in energy prices with the withdrawal of subsidies.

And third, Dalga Khatinoglu of the Azerbaijani website Trend takes apart Ahmadinejad's promises to create between 1.6 million and 2.5 million jobs in Iran over the next year. With an official unemployment rate at 14.5% and an unofficial rate between 25 and 30%, Tehran needs 8% economic growth to create even 1 million opportunities, let alone the numbers that the President has put out.

Khatinoglu's suggestion? The Government is going to put up the facade of rising employment by showing people working from home: the journalist notes that the Ministry of Labor has allocated about $100 million to create conditions for Iranians to do some (undefined) work from their living rooms, rather than going to the office. 

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

« Iran Snapshot: Growing Anger over Rising Energy Prices (Erdbrink/Serjoie) | Main | Libya (and Beyond) LiveBlog: Defiances »

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>