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Sunday
Nov252012

The Latest from Iran (25 November): Larijani's Diplomatic Push on Gaza and Syria

Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday

See also The Latest from Iran (24 November): Political Prisoners "Enjoy All Rights"


1635 GMT: A Death in Detention. Three Iranian labour organisations have issued a joint statement urging the regime to pursue the case of blogger Sattar Beheshti, killed during interrogation in prison earlier this month, so the perpetrators of his death can be brought to justice.

The Vahed Transit Drivers Union, the Labour Union Project, and the Defenders of Labour Rights Centre said, "[Beheshti] had committed no crime other than to speak out against the injustice and poverty dominating the lives of workers.”

Behesthi was seized at his home on 30 October by cyber-police and died within the next week. The Tehran Prosecutor General's latest statement is that he died of "shock", but the blogger's family said he was in good health before the arrest.

1515 GMT: It's War! Story of the Day. The Sunday Telegraph of London posts a story empty of information but full of testosterone from "Nick Meo, on the USS John C Stennis near the Strait of Hormuz":

>

The flagship $4.5 billion carrier, a 100,000 ton floating city with a crew of 5,000, was despatched four months earlier than planned to bolster the United States Navy's already formidable force in the region, the Fifth Fleet.

Its mission is to keep some of the world's busiest shipping lanes open in its most combustible region; at any moment America's standoff with Iran could escalate into a crisis.

"Could there be a threat?" asked Rear Admiral Mike Shoemaker, the man who would command any mission to force open the sea lanes. "Yes is the answer. Is it manageable? Also yes."

1058 GMT: Energy Watch. Minister of Oil Rustam Qassemi has declared that South Pars and other shared gas fields will generate an annual income of $400 billion after completion.

Qassemi said 770 million cubic meters of gas can be extracted from South Pars: “With this amount of gas extraction from the world’s biggest shared gas field, Iran’s gas production will equal that of Qatar’s." He said that there were 27 discovered shared fields, 24 of which are either active or are being developed.

Development of South Pars has been plagued for years by delays over lack of suitable equipment and technology, exacerbated by the withdrawal of European, Chinese, and Russian firms who had signed contracts with Tehran.

0738 GMT: Gaza Watch. Only four days after the ceasefire, London's Sunday Times --- a long-time outlet for Israeli propaganda --- fills the role again with the claim that Israel's spy satellites have spotted an Iranian ship being loaded with missiles which "analysts" say may be headed for Gaza.

The cargo "may include Fajr-5 rockets" and "Shahab-3 ballistic missiles, which could be stationed in Sudan to pose a direct threat to Israel". An "Israeli source" says, “With a lot of effort, Iran has skillfully built a strategic arm pointing at Israel from the south."

(Cross-posted from Syria and Beyond Live Coverage)

0700 GMT: News inside Iran is dominated by the observance of the religious holiday of Ashura, with thousands gathering to remember the killing of Imam Hussein and ceremonies including the Supreme Leader.

Outside Iran, the headline is of Tehran's continued attempt to turn the Gaza War to its advantage. Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani has led the effort with his tour of Syria, Lebanon, and Turkey. On Saturday, he met Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

There are no visible outcomes from the missions yet, despite Larijani's claim "that Tehran, Damascus, Beirut and Ankara came closer to a common stance on leading regional issues". Instead, on his return to Tehran, Larijani appeared to pick a fight with Ankara by challenging its request for the placement of NATO Patriot anti-missile systems on the Syria border: "In meetings with Turkey’s top officials, we warned that the deployment of such systems will have adverse consequences and will exacerbate problems in the region."

President Ahmadinejad also tried to get into the diplomatic act from Tehran. Pro-Ahmadinejad State news agency IRNA highlights the President's phone calls with Gazan Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and with the Director-General of Islamic Jihad, Ramadan Shallah.

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