1358 GMT: Dissent Watch. Former Foreign Minister and political prisoner Ebrahim Yazdi has posted another book on the Internet, as a protest against the Ministry of Culture’s failure to provide valid reasons for not approving its publication.
The Student Movement in the 1940s and 1950s was published 10 days after Yazdi uploaded his book about Mehdi Bazargan, the head of Iran’s interim state after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
In a letter to the Minister of Culture and Guidance, Yazdi wrote, “The president has said in his interviews that Iran is the freest country in the world, so it is not clear why a book about the late Mr. Bazargan cannot get a publication licence.”
Yazdi, arrested twice during the post-election protests of 2009, was the oldest political prisoner before the octogenarian was finally released last March.
1353 GMT: Fraud Watch. On the second day of the "Fatemi Street" insurance fraud trial, one of the 85 defendants has claimed that 800 million Toman (about $650,000 at official rates) was given to 1st Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi.
1345 GMT: A Revolutionary Guards Admission (Blacked Out). On Sunday, we reported the statement of Ismail Ghaani, the Deputy Commander of the Quds Forces of the Revolutionary Guards, "Thanks to Iran's presence in Syria -- physically and nonphysically --- big massacres were prevented."
It looks like that was too big an admission for Tehran's officials --- the Iranian Students News Agency has removed the interview, although the statement is still available on other Iranian websites such as Baztab.
1340 GMT: Forgiveness Watch. Mohammad Hassan Rahimian, the Supreme Leader's representative in the Martyrs' Foundation, has said that Ayatollah Khamenei has ordered the release of those who "insulted" him in the 2009 "sedition".
Larijani was backed by 173 of 275 MPs who cast ballots, with Haddad Adel getting 100 votes.
Immediately after the Parliamentary elections, many observers expected Haddad Adel, a relative of the Supreme Leader by marriage, to become Speaker, but in recent days Larijani appeared to gather support against the challenge.
Mohammad-Reza Bahonar and Mohammad Hassan Aboutorabi-Fard also kept their positions as the first and second Deputy Speakers.
0630 GMT: Audio of the Day. The website Melimazhabi posts what it asserts is a leaked audio from speeches on 3 May by a Revolutionary Guards commander and the Supreme Leader's representative to Khatam al-Anbia, the Guards' engineering section.
In the claimed audio, Commander Seraj and Hojetoleslam Hojjati-Nia assert that former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, President Ahmadinejad, and an unnamed senior politician --- thought to be Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani --- are urging the Supreme Leader "to drink hemlock" and make concessions in the nuclear talks. Seraj says the President flooded the Bazaar with cheap money ahead of the Baghdad discussions, to sway opinion.
Seraj, the political officer of the Guards, continues with allegations that countries such as Pakistan as well as a domestic "deviant current" and reformists of trying to "topple" the Parliamentary elections, although they failed because of the "brave turnout" of the Iranian people.
The commander adds that Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Israel had planned bomb attacks in Tehran, Mashhad, Zahedan, and Khuzestan during the first round of the elections but were unsuccessful.-
0620 GMT: Cartoon of the Day. In his address to the new Parliament yesterday President Ahmadinejad defiantly told MPs to respect his authority and stand with him against the "evils" which "put the Iranian nation under pressure". Nikahang Kowsar, however, sees Ahmadinejad as the one under pressure from the legislaors:
0600 GMT: Scare Story of the Day. Joby Warrick of The Washington Post, primed by unnamed American and "Western" sources, declares, "U.S. Officials Among the Targets of Iran-linked Assassination Plots" in Azerbaijan:
In November, the tide of daily cable traffic to the U.S. Embassy in Azerbaijan brought a chilling message for Ambassador Matthew Bryza, then the top U.S. diplomat to the small Central Asian country. A plot to kill Americans had been uncovered, the message read, and embassy officials were on the target list.
The details, scant at first, became clearer as intelligence agencies from both countries stepped up their probe. The plot had two strands, U.S. officials learned, one involving snipers with silencer-equipped rifles and the other a car bomb, apparently intended to kill embassy employees or members of their families.
Both strands could be traced back to the same place, the officials were told: Azerbaijan’s southern neighbor, Iran.
The threat, many details of which were never made public, appeared to recede after Azerbaijani authorities rounded up nearly two dozen people in waves of arrests early this year. Precisely who ordered the hits, and why, was never conclusively determined. But U.S. and Middle Eastern officials now see the attempts as part of a broader campaign by Iran-linked operatives to kill foreign diplomats in at least seven countries over a span of 13 months. The targets have included two Saudi officials, a half-dozen Israelis and --- in the Azerbaijan case --- several Americans, the officials say.
In recent weeks, investigators working in four countries have amassed new evidence tying the disparate assassination attempts to one another and linking all of them to either Iran-backed Hezbollah militants or operatives based inside Iran, according to U.S. and Middle Eastern security officials. An official report last month summarizing the evidence cited phone records, forensic tests, coordinated travel arrangements and even cellphone SIM cards purchased in Iran and used by several of the would-be assailants, said two officials who have seen the six-page document.
Strikingly, the officials noted, the attempts halted abruptly in early spring, at a time when Iran began to shift its tone after weeks of bellicose anti-Western rhetoric and threats to shut down vital shipping lanes. In March, Iranian officials formally accepted a proposal to resume negotiations with six world powers on proposals to curb its nuclear program.
“There appears to have been a deliberate attempt to calm things down ahead of the talks,” said a Western diplomat briefed on the assassination plots, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the intelligence. “What happens if the talks fail — that’s anyone’s guess.”
In the lengthy article, Warrick never offers any context such as the escalation of tensions between Azerbaijan and Iran in recent weeks with competing allegations of espionage and propaganda or March's investigation by Mark Perry that pointed to Azerbaijan as a base for Israel covert operations.
And far more interesting than the story, with its general "evidence" --- and recycling of poorly-supported claims such as an Iranian plan to kill the Saudi Ambassador to the US --- is this question:
Who fed Warrick the story and why now?
0520 GMT: It was notable that, in the immediate aftermath of last week's talks in Baghdad on Iran's nuclear programme, the Islamic Republic's outlets were talking up "positive" discussions. Even though all indications were that the meeting had been marked by discord, with only frantic, late-in-the-day negotiations producing agreement to meet in mid-June in Moscow, State media were highlighting statements which praised the talks.
No longer. There are still traces of the line, such as the declaration by prominent MP Alaeddin Boroujerdi that "talks have been positive". However, over the weekend, IRNA and Press TV put out a series of statements criticising the "West" for the failure to advance and setting out tough insistence on Iran's right to enrich uranium, even up to 20%.
The campaign was led by the head of the atomic energy organisation, Fereydoun Abbasi. In an interview on State TV, he said Tehran would not give up the 20% enrichment, effectively undid the progress in talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency on inspection of Iranian facilities, and blustered that Iran was building two more plants for nuclear energy --- even though the first one at Bushehr is far short of operating capacity, 20 months after it was formally launched.
This morning the media are featuring statements from the Foreign Ministry and from foreign politicians, such as Iraq's Ammar al-Hakim, calling for "recognition of Iran's nuclear rights" --- shorthand for the 20% enrichment --- while condemning the US for "policies under an Israeli spell".