Iran Election Guide

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The Latest from Iran (30 June): An Ahmadinejad Relative is Arrested

Mohsen Memari (see 0500 GMT)2100 GMT: Foreign Affairs (Syria Front). My colleague James Miller has been busy all day with what might turn to be extraordinary developments in Syria --- a military "lockdown" of parts of the northwest but a withdrawal from other towns and cities, including Hama; reported anti-regime protests tonight of up to 100,000 people; a US "roadmap" for reforms that would leave President Assad in place --- but Press TV has a much different perspective....

The Iranian state outlet pronounces, "Most of the refugees who had fled the Syrian town of Khirbat al-Jawz [in the northwest] to neighboring Turkey have returned to their homes. According to locals, the refugees, who were displaced by fierce clashes between Syrian security forces and armed men blamed for the recent unrest in the country, now say security has been restored in the region, a Press TV correspondent reported on Thursday."

1945 GMT: Press Watch. The ban on the journal Shahrvand Emrooz will be lifted next week after its editor was changed.

The journal is managed by the brother of Mohammand Atrianfar, who was one of the defendants in the mass Tehran trial of August 2009 and was sentenced to six years in prison.

1935 GMT: Cyber-Watch. Mojmal News, which was off-line throughout yesterday, is now back up.

Earlier this week, the website had alleged that President Ahmadinejad had suspended co-operation again with the Minister of Intelligence, Heydar Moslehi.

1925 GMT: Clerical Intervention. Ayatollah Mousavi Tabrizi has declared that Iran's judiciary has not complied with the demands of ppl: "After 3 decades we have no progress but went backwards."

Mousavi Tabrizi said the judiciary does not act "in compliance with the reputation of the Islamic Republic".

1915 GMT: Sanctions Watch. Complying with US sanctions, the world's largest container firm has suspended operations at several Iranian port, potentially disrupting food shipments.

Maersk Line, a unit of A.P. Moller-Maersk, manages several refrigerated ships and container vessels that transport food to the country, including wheat, rice and bananas from Asia.

Morten Engelstoft, the chief operating officer, said, "Maersk Line is committed to complying with all relevant foreign trade controls and sanctions programmes. In this connection, Maersk Line has decided to cease acceptance of, business to and from the Iranian ports of Bandar Abbas, Bandar Khomeini and Asaluyeh."

Engelstoft continued, "This does leave a challenge for foodstuffs when we can't transport to those ports. That challenge will need to be resolved."

Earlier this month, the US tightened sanctions on port facilities managed by Tidewater Middle East, which the US claims is run by the Revolutionary Guards.

1910 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Steffi Jones, the head of the German Olympic Organising Committee for football, has demanded the release of photojournalist Maryam Majd.

Majd was detained two weeks ago as she prepared to leave for Germany to cover the Women's World Cup in Germany.

1600 GMT: Campus Watch. A website battling educational discrimination claims that members of the Baha'i faith have been excluded from university entrance examinations.

1555 GMT: Parliament Watch. Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani has complained about the weakness of political parties in Iran, claiming that "government-made parties are unable to manage the country".

1545 GMT: Revolution Watch. Ali Akbar Nategh Nouri --- former Speaker of Parliament, former Presidential candidate, current advisor to the Supreme Leader --- has declared that whoever betrays the Revolution will be denounced --- "People expect that there are no abuses of office, lies, and nepotism."

1245 GMT: Rumour of Day. The reformist newspaper Ebtekar claims that the second phase of President Ahmadinejad's subsidy cuts will be postponed.

1150 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. Conservative activist Ali Shokouhi, writing on his blog, calls out the Supreme Leader over the pressure on President Ahmadinejad's allies: will Ayatollah Khamenei compensate for lost reputations?"

1140 GMT: Foreign Affairs (Syrian Front). Back from an academic break to learn from the Supreme Leader why Syria is different:

The nature of events in Syria are different [than in] other nations....To stimulate what happened in Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen, Americans wants to create problems in Syria, the frontline of resistance. In other countries, movements are anti-American and anti-Zionism.but in Syria,it is clear that American hands are in action."

0910 GMT: CyberWatch. The media are catching on to the "Internet in a suitcase" story, with the US Government and private allies proclaiming an initiative to get around Iranian barriers on information and communication.

The story actually broke more than two weeks ago (see separate feature), but it has been given a push by the Iranian Minister of Intelligence, who has declared that Tehran has already taken measures to defeat the approach.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is the latest outlet to feature the cyber-story, adding the twist that the weekly publication of the Revolutionary Guards Corps has suggested Iran should hire "revolutionary hackers" and create a cyber-base to counter the Americans.

0620 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. HRANA reports that journalist and activist Kamal Sharifi, detained in Minab Prison in southern Iran, has been transferred to the prison hospital after four weeks on hunger strike.

Sharifi, a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Kurdistan Free Reporters Union, has been held since 2008. He was sentenced in January 2009 to 30 years for "attempt to overthrow the government" and "acting against the national security".

0610 GMT: The Battle Within. Hafte Sobh, the website linked to Presidential Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashai, has said the "plan for gender differentiation of the universities" is the "stupidity of the totalitarians".

Quoting a "social expert", Hafte Sobh wrote "The totalitarian stupidity is converting to the executive policies of the country."

This week, Sharif University in Tehran announced that there would be total gender separation of new students when the next academic year starts in September.

Rahim-Mashai has been criticised by senior clergy and political opponents for "liberal" social policies on gender, including the integration of public spaces and the enforcement of the law for proper hijab.

The expert quoted by Hafte Sobh said, "Such plans [for gender separation] not only have no functionality, but also will defame the religion in the country and will defame Iran outside the country".

0500 GMT: On Wednesday President Ahmadinejad seized the headline with his very un-silent "silence" about recent arrests of his allies. He drew a "red line" at his Cabinet, warning that the "politically-motivated" detentions must not touch his ministers.

The President may want to start thinking about a red line for his family as well. Hours after his declaration, news emerged that Ahmadinejad's cousin Mohsen Memari had been arrested for financial fraud, following his resignation from the large securities firm Ghadir Investment Company. 

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