Iran Election Guide

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The Latest from Iran (30 July): Watching Out for Enemies

1700 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch (cont.). And for the most distinctive source of criticism today, consider the head of Iran's armed forces, General Hassan Firouzabadi, who has told Fars, "Subsidy refunds and justice shares should not be abused for campaigning."

That is a pointed jab at President Ahmadinejad, accused of using "justice shares" --- dividends from state holdings handed out to the public --- to influence votes in the 2009 Presidential election, and his allies, accused of wanting to do the same in the 2012 and 2013 Parliamentary and Presidential ballots.

1600 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. Even amidst the frequent criticism of the President these days, this blast from Ahmad Salek of the Society of Militant Clergies is rather special:

Hopefully the djinns around Ahmadinejad aren't British, Israeli, and Russian....Obama & Netanyahu supported him because Ahmadinejad shares the same beliefs....Ahmadinejad sat at home with 25 million votes [in the disputed 2009 election], but people didn't support him because the Islamic Republic has its own management."

1550 GMT: Reformist Watch. Mohammad Reza Khatami, the brother of former President Mohammad Khatami, continues to take a firm line warning that reformists may not participate in March's Parliamentary elections. He has said that "rulers need free elections more than anyone else" and that "reformists can never be eliminated".

1345 GMT: Tehran v. Government. The deputy mayor of Tehran has said that, even after five months, the Ahmadinejad Government has not paid "one rial" in transport subsidy to the Tehran Metro.

Tehran officials and Parliamentary critics have accused the Government of blocking $2 billion allocated to expand the Metro, a leading project of the Tehran Mayor and potential Ahmadinejad rival, Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf.

1340 GMT: Justice Watch. MP Mousa Ghorbani has told Fars that Parliament is considering a measure which would create the criminal offence of "imposing insecurity" through the media.

1335 GMT: Corruption Watch. Eighteen major debtors of Iranian banks have been accused of owing millions of dollars.

Aftab publishes the details of frauds affecting five leading Iranian banks.

1315 GMT: Journalist Watch. Imprisoned reporter Bahman Ahmadi Amoui has been awarded a 2011 Hellman/Hammett Grant.

The grants, administered by Human Rights Watch, are "for writers all around the world who have been victims of political persecution and are in financial need". They are funded by the estate of the playwright Lillian Hellman, the long-time companion of novelist Dashiell Hammett. Both of them were interrogated in the 1950s by US Congressional committees about their political beliefs.

Ahmadi Amoui was arrested eight days after the June 2009 Presidential election and eventually sentenced to five years in prison.

1310 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. Reformist MP Dariush Ghanbari has said that the campaign to question Ahmadinejad in Parliament is not over: "Those who oppose it are acting against the Constitution."

1300 GMT: Oil and Politics. Back from a break to find that the US Government is in talks with India over the payment of billions of dollars for oil imported from Iran.

Amidst US-led sanctions, the Indian Central Bank suspended payments from an Asian currency basket last December. Iranian officials say Indian companies now owe $5 billion.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporter, "There are, we believe, options available that will help them do that that would not trigger sanctions. But beyond that, I can't really comment."

0900 GMT: Economy/Environment Watch. A provincial official says that more than 300,000 agricultural workers have lost their jobs because of the drying-up of the lake below the Zayandeh Roud Dam, with tourism falling 30% to 50% in the area.

0600 GMT: A Friday of relatively little news was punctuated by the declaration of "enemies", as Tehran Friday Prayer leader Kazem Siddiqi claimed they "intend to create insecurity in the country and prevent the Islamic Republics' development". 

Hojetoleslam Siddiqi pointed to last weekend's murder of postgraduate student Dariush Rezaeinejad, with possible connections to Iran's nuclear programme, and the ongoing clashes on the Iraq border with the insurgent group PJAK. 

But now you can add "exploding gas pipelines" to the list. Supply was cut from Iran to Turkey yesterday when a pipeline was hit by an explosion, the second such incident in a month. The explosion occurred near the Bazargan border crossing, close to the city of Maku in West Azarbaijan.

Maku Governor Hamid Ahmadian knew exactly what had occurred: "The bombing which left no casualties...occurred at the hands of Zionist and American mercenaries."

Pipelines were damaged twice in the summer 2010 by blasts blamed on Kurdish separatists.

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