Iran Election Guide

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The Latest from Iran (29 August): Catching Up

Maya Neyestani's old man shows Libya's former leader Muammar Qaddafi to a young boy, "Our zoo is soon complete"

See also Wikileaks & Iran Flashback: How A Kickboxing Champion Became "Israeli Spy" & Was Sentenced To Death

2035 GMT: Supreme Leader v. President (cont.). More on Ayatollah Khamenei's apparent chiding of the Government (see 1555 GMT) in a meeting with the President and Cabinet....

Ayatollah Khamenei, demanding amicable relations amongst Government bodies, called on the Ahmadinejad Administration to refrain from "conflict and retaliation" in the face of criticism".

The Supreme Leader also insisted on a focus on post-Islamic Iran rather than the pre-Islamic era of the country. The President's Chief of Staff, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, has been heavily criticised for suggesting that other countries can follow an "Iranian" rather than an "Islamic" model.

Khamenei said, "In the issue of culture including books, art, art organizations, we must relentlessly maintain the Revolutionary and Islamic direction."

2025 GMT: Protest Watch. Kalemeh reports that at least 16 Bazaaris were arrested this weekend for inciting and leading the protest at the Bazaar against the Government's value-added tax policy.

2010 GMT: The Battle Within. The strange tale of the Government official supposedly warned of an imminent "sedition" fomented by the Ahmadinejad camp continues.

The coordinator of the three branches of Government, Mohsen Fouladi, has rejected the report in Fars that he had announced a "big fitna (sedition) in mid September". The Government is reportedly filing a complaint against the newspaper.

1555 GMT: Supreme Leader v. President. Khabar Online, the website of Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, reports an apparent jab by Ayatollah Khamenei at President Ahmadinejad. The Supreme Leader said the Government had problems in its contact with elites. He added that Ahmadinejad's administration should discuss economic matters with experts and said that "defying criticism leads to nowhere".

1545 GMT: Reformist Watch. Ayatollah Mousavi Khoeiniha has asserted that no religion justifies the killing of people by a dictator. He said Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi must be freed from their strict house arrests.

1530 GMT: Father, Lock Up Your Daughters (Mobile Phones). Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi has declared that youth "should beware of Satanic seduction by mobile phones", because of the contact they bring with girls and women.

1140 GMT: Oil Watch. The Russian company Gazprom has been excluded from a joint oil project.

The National Iranian Oil Company said Gazprom was being removed from the project because of delays in fulfilling objections. The project reportedly involves $2 billion of oil.

On another front, a NIOC official said India had paid $4.2 billion of its oil debt to Tehran and the rest would be settled by Wednesday.

Indian payments have been suspended in January since its Central Bank withdrew support, amidst international sanctions, for settlement from the Asian basket of currencies.

1135 GMT: Foreign Affairs (Libyan Front). Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has told an Iranian newspaper that Tehran "discreetly" provided humanitarian aid to Libyan insurgents before the fall of the Qaddafi regime in Tripoli.

Salehi claimed, "We were in touch with many of the rebel groups in Libya before the fall of Qaddafi, and discreetly dispatched three or four food and medical consignments to Benghazi. The head of the National Transitional Council (NTC), Mustafa Abdel Jalil, sent a letter of thanks to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for having been on their side and helping."

1125 GMT: Environment Watch. Opposition advisor Ardeshir Amir Arjomand has declared that an Iranian regime facing a "legitimacy crisis" will transform the concern over the drying-up of Lake Orumiyeh into a "matter of national security".

1120 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Human Rights Activists News Agency reports that Azerbaijani political activist Abbas Lasani was arrested yesterday in a raid on his business.

Some of Lasani's guests, including journalist Rahim Gholami and Mohammad Badali, were assaulted and then arrested.

Lasani was detained in June 2007 for leading peaceful demonstrations in Ardebil. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison and 50 lashes.

The latest arrest comes after last week's demonstrations in Ardabil and Tabriz over the drying-up of Lake Orumiyeh. Dozens of protesters have been detained.

1010 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. The family of Arash Alaei, a leading physician in the treatment of HIV and AIDS, says he has been released from Evin Prison after more than three years in detention.

Alaei and his brother, Kamiar, also a specialist on HIV/AIDS, were arrested in 2008 and charged with "communication with an enemy government" and trying to overthrow the regime.

Kamiar Alaei was released in October 2010. Arash Alaei continued to serve a six-year sentence.

Arash Alaei appears to be one of almost 100 political prisoners given amnesty by the Supreme Leader this weekend. Kamiar Alaei thanked supporters on his Facebook page, "I am pleased to share our happiness that my brother got released today. I am very happy that other prisoners got released, too and now their parents, family members and friends got reunion after a while. What a lovely day!"

1000 GMT: Economy Watch. Aftab reports that almost half of Tehran's dairies --- 2180 of 4600 --- have shut down because of large imports of dry milk and frozen meat.

0945 GMT: Press Wars. The political tensions are leading to some nasty battles between different parts of Iran's media establishment. The pro-Ahmadinejad State news agency IRNA has blasted Fars for posting an interview in which the coordinator of the three branches of Government, Mohsen Fouladi, allegedly claimed a huge sedition --- courtesy of the President's inner circle --- will start in the media next month.

IRNA said Fars was "unprofessional" and "impious" in posting the remarks.

Fouladi, who also reportedly said the smiting of the President's right-hand man, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, merely awaited an order from the Supreme Leader, now appears to have retracted the statements.

Elsewhere, Ta'amol News alleges that 43 anti-Ahmadinejad journalists have been dismissed from the Iran daily newspaper by editor Ali Akbar Javanfekr, who is also an advisor to the President.

0925 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. So why did the Supreme Leader grant amnesty this weekend to almost 100 detained activists, including many imprisoned after the 2009 Presidential election?

Majid Mohammadi considers some assertions about the release of the "repentants" --- they have been humiliated in public, the regime is in confident mood, the Green Movement is dead --- and rejects all of them. Instead, Mohammadi links the development to the public support of some reformists for the Supreme Leader and to the regime's concern over uprisings in Libya and Syria.

Meanwhile, former Minister of Interior Abdolvahed Mousavi Lari --- identified by Mohammadi as one of the reformists supporting the Supreme Leader --- says that "we have no problem" supporting the demands of the detained Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, as those demands are based on the Constitution.

And MP Mohammad Reza Tabesh has welcomed the release of political prisoners as a step towards meeting one of the three demands by former President Mohammad Khatami for participation in March's Parliamentary elections. Tabesh said he hoped all post-election political detainees would soon be free.

0920 GMT: Reformist Watch. Ardeshir Amir Arjomand, the spokesman for Mir Hossein Mousavi, has issued a statement asking why there has been no uproar in Iran after the February house arrests of Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi.

An EA correspondent, however, is looking for more: "Arjomand restates old positions and answers no questions."

0900 GMT: Where's Mahmoud? Today President Ahmadinejad opened a reservoir dam in West Azerbaijan Province in northwest Iran. While he was there, he used a video link to open the second phase of a cement factory.

The projects are near Lake Orumiyeh, the cause of protests and clashes over the last week leading to the detention of dozens of activists. There is no report that the President visited the lake, which has reportedly by 60% in recent years, in part because of damming of rivers.

0855 GMT: Opposition Watch. Deutsche Welle features a debate amongst activists as to why the recent call of the Coordinating Council of Green Hope for no nightly chants of protest has failed. Supposed reasons include disunity over the Council's approach and intentions and hesitation of people to express public dissent.

0845 GMT: Culture Watch. For the first time since the 1960s, the regime has issued a permit to the private sector for a television channel. The breakthrough initiative is "Music Channel of Iranians".

Borna News offers the explanation that the authorities want to decrease the appeal of California-based Persian singers, seeing them as linked to Western efforts at "soft war" and regime change.


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