See also Iran 1st-Hand: Sanctions Are Hurting The Iranians Who Welcomed Me...And That's Good br>
Remember Iran: An EA Special --- Three Years Ago Today, A Silent March br>
Remember Iran Flashback: 17 June 2009 Live Coverage --- Political Prisoners, A "Blinded" Media, and A Rally in 7 Tir Square br>
The Latest from Iran (16 June): Preparing for the Nuclear Talks
The Free Iranian Workers Syndicate organised the petition, which cites the lack of job security, lay-offs and factory closures and demands "an increase in the minimum wage commensurate with the rate of inflation, the implementation of insurance legislation for construction workers, the elimination of contracting companies in exchange for a system that gives workers direct and permanent contracts, and the creation of mechanisms to assure the timely payment of wages".
1403 GMT: Clerical Intervention. Ayatollah Dastgheib has asserted, "Our people are politically and religiously disenfranchised." He criticised authorities for presenting this flawed system as one leading the world.
1342 GMT: Plot Watch. Minister of Intelligence Heydar Moslehi has said about 20 suspects have been arrested for their links to assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists.
Moslehi claimed the suspects moved between Iran and Israel through an unnamed neighbouring country.
Last week Iran announced it had made arrests in the cases of the January 2012 assassination of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan and the November 2010 killing of Majid Shariari. Last month Majid Jamali Fashi, a former kickboxer, was executed for his alleged role as an Israeli spy in the January 2010 assassination of scientist Masoud Alimohammadi.
1327 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. Despite the Saturday furour --- Ahmadinejad to Quit Politics Shocker! (see 0605 GMT), there is little beyond rhetoric in the President's interview with the German newspaper Frankfurter Allegemeine Zeitung. This passage, however, is notable for Ahmadinejad's audacity in evaded a pointed question:
Q. What role does Iran itself? The deputy commander of the Qods Brigade, General Ismail Ghani has spoken of the "physical and military presence" of the Revolutionary Guards in Syria. Does that mean that Iran is giving military support to the Assad regime?
AHMADINEJAD: I've heard nothing from these statements.
Q. They were distributed by the Iranian news agency ISNA.
We are present all over the world. Our presence is cultural, humanitarian and political in the service of peace and understanding. Militarily, we are not present anywhere.
When the United States and its negotiating partners offered last month to sell spare aircraft parts to Iran in return for nuclear concessions, they were dangling a carrot almost as old as much of Iran’s civilian airline fleet.
Spare parts have been a perennial US offer to induce Iran to change its ways — or to reward it for positive steps — and were almost provided 20 years ago near the end of the George H.W. Bush administration....
According to Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser to the first President Bush, the administration’s various departments recommended in late 1992 to allow such sales for Iran’s vintage Boeings but left the final decision to the incoming Bill Clinton administration.
“There was an interagency proposal at the end of the Bush 41 administration to lift sanctions on selling Iran spare parts for its Boeing civilian airliners, crop-duster planes and certain kinds of trucks,” Scowcroft told Al-Monitor. “But in the last days of the Bush 41 administration, I concluded it would be more appropriate to leave the decision to the incoming Clinton administration.”
The Clinton administration took no action initially and instead imposed a policy of “dual containment” of both Iraq and Iran that included an embargo on nearly all trade with and investment in Iran. The policy was eased slightly in 1999 and 2000, and the administration gave permission to a Lufthansa subsidiary to provide spare parts, repairs and maintenance to Iranian civilian airliners in Germany, according to Thomas Pickering, who served as undersecretary of state from 1997 to 2000.
In an email, Pickering, who went on to be vice president of Boeing for international affairs from 2002-2006, said Clinton eased the sanctions after a number of Iranian aircraft accidents. The policy “apparently lasted into Bush 2 [the administration of George W. Bush] when it was rescinded,” Pickering wrote.
Iran has suffered a series of horrific crashes of old planes in recent years. The latest occurred on January 9, 2011, when a 37-year-old Boeing 727 disintegrated while trying to make an emergency landing in bad weather near the city of Orumiyeh in northwestern Iran. Seventy-seven of the 105 people aboard were killed.
1042 GMT: Assurance of the Day. Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami has told an audience in Jiroft, "No once can deny the influence of sanctions on inflation"; however, "that is the price for fighting imperialism and infidels."
Meanwhile, the Central Bank has reported some food prices in Tehran have tripled since last year, with an average of 50% increase for items except for eggs.
1035 GMT: Cartoon of the Day. Nikahang Kowsar offers a sharp comment on Iran, Three Years Later. In the first panel, opposition figure Mir Hossein Mousavi --- under strict house arrest since February 2011 --- tells his colleague Ardeshir Amir Arjomand, "Don't let the Green Movement fall asleep after our arrests."
The second panel? "Snore".
Last month Motahari claimed that the Guards had intervened in the Parliamentary elections to ensure victory for their preferred candidates.
Aftab notes that last year Ahmadinejad spoke of 1000 square metres of free land.
1020 GMT: Politics Watch. Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani plays a careful political game today. While heeding the Supreme Leader's call for "unity" and cautioning that "insults create destruction", he added that this does not mean problems should be forgotten.
0635 GMT: Corruption Watch. A judge has announced six new defendants, bringing the total to 39, in the $2.6 billion bank fraud. All are connected with the Aria Group, the consortium allegedly at the centre of the embezzlement.
Meanwhile, Grand Ayatollah Safi Golpayegani has his own announcement: all officials accused of corruption should retire.
And the newspaper Bamdad Khabar fires a political shot, accusing the Larijani brothers --- Speaker of Parliament Ali, head of judiciary Sadegh, and high-ranking judiciary official Mohammad Javad -- of being involved in a "land grab" around Tehran.
0625 GMT: Three Years Ago. Writing for Rooz Online, Bahram Rafiei offers a look at the 2009 Presidential election, "Two Acts of A Coup", highlighting the ongoing role of the Revolutionary Guards in the political manipulation.
0605 GMT: We reported yesterday on an extract from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's interview from a German newspaper setting out the Iranian line --- an optimistic line, in the circumstances --- on tomorrow's nuclear talks with the 5+1 Powers.
We note today another installment in a curious initiative by Ahmadinejad to promote an Iran-Egypt partnership to lead the Middle East and beyond: “If Iran and Egypt stand together, there is no need for war to root out the domination of the enemies and Zionists, and the news of unity between Iran and Egypt will by itself force the cowardly Zionists to run from the region." Is this a personal flourish by the President or a volley in a regime campaign, despite the uncertainty in Cairo, to declare that it is has a new alliance to set against the "West"?
I did not note this because the President is already finished as a leading force in the Islamic Republic's affairs. His economic programme has been chopped and changed by Parliament and savaged by the worsening situation, with the second phase of his flagship subsidy cuts programme now in repeated delay. His political attempt to extend the power of the Presidency, taking control of key Ministries, has been buried. Despite flourishes such as those in yesterday's rhetoric, he is little more than a spokesman in foreign affairs.
Perhaps Ahmadinejad, whose demise I wrongly predicted three years ago, has another resurrection. Perhaps he will find a set of allies within the establishment to counter the ascendancy of the Supreme Leader's office and the sniping of his critics. Perhaps the list in his pocket, which he has claimed again and again will expose the mis-deeds of his opponents, will appear as more than a threat.
But I will risk those "perhaps". When it comes to significance, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad --- and those like his right-hand man, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, are already out of politics.