Iran Election Guide

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The Latest from Iran (11 February): Watching the Revolution's Anniversary

See also Iran Breaking: Tehran Worried US May Be Building 8500th Nuclear Weapon
The Latest from Iran (10 February): A Radio Debate Brings Back the 2009 Election

1838 GMT: Protest Watch. Peyke Iran, using photographs from Mehr, has a must-see comparison of the pro-regime crowd today and the demonstration after the disputed Presidential election. Two of the images --- the first from 11 February 2011; the second from 15 June 2009:

1830 GMT: Anniversary Watch. Is someone protesting too much? Fars complains that the Associated Press staged a "news boycott" on today's celebrations and that other outlets said only "tens of thousands" turned out.

1500 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. EA's Ali Yenidunya notes important points from President Ahmadinejad's speech at Azadi Square today.

The President, again taking the lead on the nuclear issue, welcomed talks "in the framework of justice and mutual respect", while saying there would be "no compromise": "The Iranian nation will not withdraw even one iota from its path."

On the domestic front, Ahmadinejad insisted that the economy was flourishing despite sanctions: "We have saved over $30 billion for rainy days. Iran's non-oil exports will reach over $43 billion by March....Iran's imports in the past 10 months dropped 5%."

Thirdly, on its nuclear programme, he said: "In the coming days the world will witness Iran's announcement of its very important and very major nuclear achievements."

Meanwhile, on the Israel rhetorical battlefield, Revolutionary Guards commander Mohammad Shirdel said: "If attacked by the Zionist regime (Israel), we will turn it to dust. Thousands of our missiles will target Israel and the 40 bases of America in the region."

Anniversary Watch. State news agency IRNA, a pro-Ahmadinejad outlet, is featuring the President in its headline story for the celebrations of the Islamic Revolutionary's anniversary. It highlights Ahmadinejad joining the march and his subsequent statement to reporters that "the Iranian nation will change the world":

In contrast, Fars, linked to the Revolutionary Guards, proclaims "the huge flood of people Azadi Square" and their belief in leadership to reach their goals, but makes no reference to Ahmadinejad in either text or image.

Protest Watch. A poster for 25 Bahman (14 February), the anniversary of last year's public demonstrations challenging the regime --- the opposition is hoping for some sign of protest on Tuesday:

Questioning the Supreme Leader. Has Hojatoleslam Taghavi, the head of the Council of Friday Prayers Leaders, supported the cause --- controversially raised on State TV by former MP Emad Afrough last month --- that the Supreme Leader can be questioned by the public?

Taghavi said on Friday, "We have to avoid flattering. One of the dangers of a political system is having a limitless power; therefore both criticism and supervision and control by the people should exist in the society."

Taghavi concluded that, if the Supreme Leader is not just, then he will be dismissed from his position.

Sanctions Watch. On the international front, amidst the growing squeeze on the Iranian economy --- including food supplies --- from US-led sanctions, China has said that Assistant Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu will visit Iran for talks on Sunday.

"We have consistently advocated dialogue as the only proper channel for resolving the Iran nuclear issue," ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said.

Elections Watch. The Islamic Constancy Front, the conservative/principlist faction which refused to join the Unity Front in a common approach to the Parliamentary elections, has published a list of 28 candidates.

In a sign of accommodation, six names are also on the Unity Front's list, including Morteza Agha Tehrani, the head of the Unity Front's slate, and Gholam Hossein Haddad Adel, the former Speaker of Parliament who is in the Supreme Leader's camp.

Prominent MP Gholam Reza Mesbahi Moghaddam has lashed out at the President's supporters, saying that he believes in a "deviant current" which aspires to win 180 seats, almost two-thirds of the Majlis. He also warned Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, "I hope the President attend the interrogation session in parliament if not serious actions will be taken."

Hojatoleslam Sayyed Hamid Rohani, went farther, accusing those around the President of pursuing an "Anjoman Hujjatieh” ideology to increase corruption, accelerating the return of Shi'a's 12th Imam, equated in their eyes to Ahmadinejad: "They want to make a kingdom for themselves and negotiate with enemies behind the scene. They claim they are standing for justice but in reality they have gathered around themselves the thieves of nation money. They are trying to negotiate and a start relationship with the Great Satan through promotion of American Islam in the name of Iranian Islam or Iranian school."

Today may be the 33rd anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, but --- at least up to now --- the news lies elsewhere.

Political developments are dominated by the manoeuvres for the Parliamentary elections on 2 March, and it looks like former President Hashemi Rafsanjani is worrying some people. Mohammad Hossein Saffar Harandi --- former Minister of Culture and the current cultural advisor of the Revolutionary Guards --- criticised Rafsanjani for his behaviour during and after the Presidential election of 2009.

Referring to Rafsanjani's son Mehdi, accused of financial irregularities in an attempt to manipulate that vote, and Rafsanjani's daughter Faezeh, sentenced to six months in prison for "anti-regime propaganda" , Saffar Harandi said, "Hashemi’s relatives have started a war against the Supreme Leader, and not only has he done nothing to stop this, but in a way he has supported them."

Saffar Harandi added, "During the 2009 election, Faezeh Hashemi stated that we don’t recognise any one as the Supreme Leader, and Mahdi Hashemi said that if my father becomes the president once more, he will limit the Supreme Leaders power."

That last sentence appears to be a reference to a proposal, supported by Rafsanjani in the past, for a group of clerics --- on a limited, rather than a permanent, term --- to replace a single Supreme Leader at the head of the Islamic Republic.

Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani was also concerned with Rafsanjani yesterday, saying that even though the former President has done a lot for the Islamic Revolution, "I don’t like some of his attitudes."

Larijani also criticised government’s economic policies, while defending his politics, "I was one of those who condemned the 'sedition current'. But my political literature does not contain phrases such death to this and that."

This week pro-Ahmadinejad MP Hamid Rasaei implicitly accused Larijani of waving a "Green cloth" and chanting in support of the Green Movement on Election Day in 2009. 

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