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The Latest from Iran (24 March): Putting Out the Propaganda

See also Iran Propaganda Special: US Officials Spin Away from War
Iran Snap Analysis: The Regime's False Proclamation of an American "Retreat"
Iran & Turkey Feature: Tehran v. Ankara in Battle for Hearts and Minds
The Latest from Iran (23 March): The Sanctions All-is-Well Edition

1900 GMT: We are taking a Saturday night break --- Live Coverage will be back at 0630 GMT.

1536 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. An open letter from 120 activists demands the release of photojournalist Tahmineh Monzavi.

Monzavi was seized at the start of March. Her work, including High Fashion in Tehran and Women in Grap Garden Alley, often deals with homeless women who are cast off from society.

1506 GMT: Economy Watch. Yahya Al-Ishagh, head of the Tehran Chamber of Commerce has declared "We are in an economic war." He said the Government's declared 8% growth rate had not been realised and authorities should support domestic production through use of oil income.

1505 GMT: Oil Watch. Prime Minister Najib Razak said Malaysia will halt imports of crude oil from Iran.

A report quoting sources from national oil company Petronas said it will stop shipments in April.

The south-east Asian country is estimated to import between 50,000 to 60,000 barrels per day of Iranian crude oil.

1455 GMT: Claim of the Day. Egypt's Al-Ahram asserts that Egyptian security forces foiled an attack on Israeli vessels in the Suez Canal, a plan which may have involved the Iranian regime.

The reports said two men told a third, who would receive 50 million Egyptian pounds (more than $8 million) for the attack, that he was being "paid by the Shiites".

1445 GMT: Back from maintenance and a weekend break to find former Minister of Culture Mohammad Hossein Saffar Harandi assuring, "The US knows that, if it attacks us, we will retaliate and its own damages would be much higher.

0705 GMT: We have just posted a snap analysis of one propaganda campaign, "The Regime's False Proclamation of an American 'Retreat'". Later today we will be posting a feature on another one --- the counter-spin by well-placed US officials to check any consideration of a military attack on Tehran.

And here are more episodes to consider about rhetoric and reality. The Tehran Times offers another extract from Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami's Tehran Friday Prayer:

“The U.S., the Zionist regime and the reactionary Arabs support blasts and killings of innocent people in Syria,” Khatami...told worshippers....

He went on to say that Syria has come under intensive pressure by the U.S. and certain Arab countries for its support for Hezbollah as the strongest resistance movement against Israel.
“Such moves are intended to weaken Hezbollah … which until today have been unsuccessful and will be unsuccessful” in the future, he asserted.

He also said that Iran is pushing for real reforms in Syria and considers the recent parliamentary election in the country as an effective step toward the fulfillment of the rights of the Syrian people.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran has been and will be a supporter of serious reforms in Syria,” he said.

On the other side of the world, Reuters gets Washington's version of Syria and Iran:

"Over the past year, Iran has provided security assistance to Damascus to help shore up Assad. Tehran during the last couple of months has been aiding the Syrian regime with lethal assistance - including rifles, ammunition, and other military equipment - to help it put down the opposition," a U.S. official said.

"Iran has provided Damascus (with) monitoring tools to help the regime suppress the opposition. It has also shared techniques on Internet surveillance and disruption," the official continued.

He added that Iran had also provided Assad's government with "unarmed drones that Damascus is using along with its own technology to monitor opposition forces."

Iranian security officials have also traveled to Damascus to advise Assad's entourage how to counter dissent, the official said. Some Iranian officials have stayed on in Syria to advise Assad's forces, he added.

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