Iran Election Guide

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The Latest from Iran (8 July): Manoeuvring for the Elections

2015 GMT: The Battle Within. MP Hamid Rasaei, an ally of President Ahmadinejad, has said that Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani should resign as head of the principlist faction in the Majlis. Rasaei specifically claimed that Larijani was supporting the reformists.

2000 GMT: Your Extra Friday Prayer Update. Did I mention that Ayatollah Jannati (see 1230 GMT) called on Muslims to liberate Bahrain from its monarchy?

1645 GMT: Sanctions Watch. The US Government has announced that the US and Britain have imposed visa restrictions on more than Iranian officials and on others "who have participated in the commission of human rights abuses related to political repression". Canada has also announced support for tougher measures.

The State Department already has been denying and revoking visas of Iranians involved in weapons proliferation and "terrorism".

The names of those subject to the restrictions remain confidential.

1255 GMT: Oil and Politics. The head of Parliament's Energy Committee, Hamidreza Katouzian, has accused the Government of using ministry funds for support payments to cover subsidy cuts rather than investing in the oil sector.

1250 GMT: Chastity Watch. Two images from today's demonstration, organised by Iranian authorities, for chastity and the veil:

1230 GMT: Your Tehran Friday Prayer Update. Ayatollah Jannati, the head of the Guardian Council, offered a bit of advice on the international front, "Americans know that Hezbollah [in Lebanon] is invincible", and said the post-Friday Prayer march for chastity and hijab was very good indeed.

Far more interesting was Jannati's intervention in this week's tension between President Ahmadinejad and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. While noting that the IRGC protects the values of the Islamic Republic, he reinforced the Supreme Leader's message from Monday that all sides should back away from disputes.

1105 GMT: The House Arrests. Following an interview in which the mother of Zahra Rahnavard talked about the worrying physical condition of Rahnavard and her husband Mir Hossein Mousavi --- held under strict house arrest for almost five months --- Mousavi advisor Ardeshir Amir Arjomand has asserted:

It goes without saying that the judicial authorities in Iran and all those involved in his illegal act bear a heavy and serious responsibility in this matter. We must warn everyone regarding the condition of Dr. Rahnavard and Mr. Mousavi, for it is of great concern to the people of Iran and all activists within the Green movement and will undoubtedly lead to a reaction within the international community at large.

The Iranian authorities must realize that they cannot behave as they please. We demand that Mr. Mousavi and Dr. Rahnavard receive medical care under the supervision of a physician of their choice.

0915 GMT: CyberWatch (Battle Within Edition). A reader helpfully points out to us that Hafte Sobh, the website linked to the Ahmadinejad camp that was knocked off-line yesterday (0800 GMT), has an alternative site where readers can register for PDF copies of the newspaper.

The site for Web-based news is still out of service.

0815 GMT: Chastity Watch. Iran's Public Relations Organization has called for rallies today, after Friday Prayers, in support of chastity and the hijab to "safeguard the innocent" against "carnal passion" and enemies.

0810 GMT: Revolutionary Guards Do Politics. Another prominent voice in support of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards after its commander, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, intervened in politics this week to challenge both reformists and the "deviant current" around President Ahmadinejad....

Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, once seen as Ahmadinejad's spiritual mentor, has declared that the Guards are the only body which guards all organisations in Iran.

0800 GMT: CyberWatch (Battle Within Edition). Hafte Sobh, the website linked to the President's right-hand man Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, was briefly up this morning after it was knocked off-line in a "bye bye" attack on Thursday; however, it is once again out of service.

0715 GMT: Countering the MEK. Muhammad Sahimi profiles the lobbying efforts of the insurgent Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) to be removed from the US Government's list of terrorist groups.

The MEK have pursued the armed overthrow of the Iranian regime for more than three decades.

0700 GMT: Clerical Intervention. Ayatollah Dastgheib, a persistent critic of the Government, has widened his comments to condemn the position of senior clerics and the Guardian Council on political prisoners: "Many Abbasid Caliphs (of the 8th-16th centuries) prayed and were even Friday Prayer leaders but committed crimes."

Dastgheib again criticised the silence of clerics on the house arrests of opposition figures Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi.

0500 GMT: The Parliamentary elections may be nine months away, but already they are filling Iran's political space. Dozens of officials, including nine Revolutionary Guards officers, have resigned to run for a seat in the Majlis. Conservative politicians, media, and even the military are defining which reformists are "acceptable" for the campaign. The reformists themselves are split over whether to participate.

On Thursday, Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi again raised the spectre of manipulation of the vote, declaring, "Buying votes is illegal." Three sites close to President Ahmadinejad and his right-hand man, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, were knocked off-line. (Rahim-Mashai's Hafte Sobh has been restored, but Tamasha News and 1Shanbeh are still down.) The President and legislators prepared to fight over the issue of gender separation in universities.

And on the reformist side, ripples are still being felt over a notable attack by Rasoul Montajebnia, former MP and Vice President of Mehdi Karroubi's Etemade Melli Party, on Karroubi. Montajabania called Karroubi, who has been under strict house arrest for almost five months, an "extremist" who had led refomists astray, and he said Karroubi's Saham News --- which published the interview --- was now a site for "seduction".

Montajebnia's assertions established the division amongst the reformists over the elections. He and Mostafa Kavakebian have now confirmed their intentions to lead "moderate reformists" within the next Parliament, while others have said there will be no participation in the vote while political prisoners, including Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi, are still held, rights are denied, and the electoral process is suspect.

Caught in the middle --- or placing himself there --- is former President Mohammad Khatami, who has set conditions for joining the elections but has also called for "reconciliation". This week, it has been notable that conservatives and "hard-liners" --- from the head of the Revolutionary Guards, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, to Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami --- have been aiming their fire at Khatami, trying to press him into silence, if not acceptance of the process, and damning him if he does not comply.

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