Iran Election Guide

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The Latest from Iran (18 November): A Move on Syria

1840 GMT: Foreign Affairs Watch (Syria Front). Opening the meeting in Tehran for "national dialogue" between the Syrian regime and opposition, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has warned, "Some countries envisage arming the opposition with heavy and semi-heavy weaponry. In reality, they seek to legitimise publicly what they have been doing in secret."

On Monday, EU foreign ministers will discuss lifting a strict embargo on arms deliveries to Syria. France has publicly said it favours sending "defensive" weapons to the Syrian opposition.

Salehi said such arms deliveries would set a "dangerous precedent" and constitute "a clear interference in the affairs of an independent country": "It will spread insecurity, the risk of terrorism and organised violence in all of the region."

(Cross-posted from Syria and Beyond Live Coverage)

1820 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Prominent reformist Mostafa Tajzadeh has returned to prison after a five-day furlough.

Tajzadeh, a former Deputy Minister of Interior, was seized soon after the disputed 2009 Presidential election and is serving a six-year sentence. Despite the prison term, he has been vocal in his opposition to the regime.

1816 GMT: Economy Watch. The conservative website Tabnak, expressing concern over inflation, says that poorer people are excluding milk and other dairy products from their diets.

1807 GMT: Gaza Watch. Back from an extended break to find that 215 Iranian MPs have issued a statement declaring full support for Palestinian groups resisting the "Zionist regime":

The Gaza Mujahedins' crushing response and the barrage of missiles on targets deep into the occupied territories crossed out the wrong calculations of the Zionist regime and showed that the regime is truly a spider den, as it was called by [Hezbollah leader] Seyed Hassan Nasrallah during the 33-day war [between Israel and Lebanon in 2006]."

0921 GMT: Foreign Affairs (Qatar Front). Iranian media have launched an assault on Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, claiming he used last month's visit to the Gaza Strip to collect information on the location of senior Hamas members and gave this to Israel.

The story first appeared in Fars, which said the Emir's gifts watches and ballpoint pens to Hamas leaders were actually transmitters low-frequency signals to Israeli satellites.

The Emir's visit was the first by the leader of an Arab State to Gaza since Hamas took control of the area in 2007.

Qatar has also provoked the anger of Iran with his support, including military aid and hosting of a conference to launch the Syrian National Coalition, of the opposition to the Assad regime.

0655 GMT: In addition to its drumbeat of propaganda over the Gaza conflict, the regime is making a high-profile move on Syria this weekend.

Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has announced a meeting in Tehran today, involving almost 200 people, between the Syrian regime and opposition groups to focus on "national dialogue".

Salehi said Syrian Minister of National Reconciliation Ali Haidar will attend as the representative of President Assad. He added that foreign ambassadors representatives from Brazil and other states "seeking to help resolve the crisis in Syria" had  been invited.

State news agency IRNA props up the regime line this morning with headlines on "Israel Army Artillery Targeting Syria" and "America and the West are Silent Against Zionist Atrocities".

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