Following the disruption of the President's speech last weekend on the anniversary of Ayatollah Khomeini's death, Tehran Friday Prayers leader Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, the temporary , has criticised Ahmadinejad for strengthening the sense of Iranian nationalism, rather than an Islam-first approach: "He either does not read the Qur'an or does not understand the Shahnameh [the "Book of Kings" by the poet Ferdowsi].”
Khatami added, “For 33 years, religion has run this country. Those who are in power today should be careful about what they say. Strengthening the sense of nationalism is one of [President] Obama’s priorities."
On another front, Mustafa Pourmohammadi, Iran's Inspector General, has again accused Ahmadinejad of preventing investigations into the $2.6 billion bank fraud: "The Government tried so hard to prevent the outbreak of the fraud news in the first place and then the follow-up investigations with the excuse that this case will harm the economic system.”
2004 GMT: Fraud Watch. Back from an extended academic break to find a provocative accusation in the trial over the "Fatemi Street" insurance fraud --- one of the defendants has claimed that he paid a 200 million Toman ($165,000 at official rate) bribe to Farhad Daneshjoo -- former Governor of Tehran Province, current head of Islamic Azad University, and brother of the Minister of Higher Education and Science. The defendant, "Y.D.", continued, "I received this money from the head of the technical office to pay to Daneshjoo, but unfortunately, I didn’t get a receipt for it."
1339 GMT: Nuclear Watch. Are we about to see a "blame game" within the regime to explain the collapse of nuclear talks with the 5+1 Powers? Hossein Sheikh ol-Eslam, an advisor to Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, has claimed that negotiator Saeed Jalili warned at the Baghdad talks, "I can explode a bomb right here!"
Vahedi portrays growing solidarity with political prisoners while ruling factions are beset by increased infighting. He said there were problems for reformists in explaining support for the regime.
Seyed Hassan Khomeini spoke during Sunday's ceremony for the anniversary of the death of his grandfather, Ayatollah Khomeini. The address was punctuated by chants from the crowd proclaiming loyalty to the Supreme Leader.
Rafsanjani's remarks parallel a series of articles in Baztab, believed to be linked to conservative politician Mohsen Rezaei, putting the heckling of Khomeini in the context of disruptions of speeches by the Islamic Republic's leaders in the past.
Shirollah Dargahi, was taken to an unknown location for “questioning" on Wednesday night.
In early May, opposition media published a letter written by Dargahi to his grandson’s interrogators in which he accused them of lacking any conscience.
Arash Sadeghi, a member of Mir Hossein Mousavi's Presidential campaign team and a graduate student of philosophy at Allameh Tabatabei University, was barred from education in 2009. After the disputed election, he was arrested on several occasions and was finally sentenced by the Revolutionary Courts to a one-year prison sentence and 74 lashes.
Ahmad Reza Yousefi, a journalist for Iranian Students News Agency, has been released after serving his two-year sentence. Yousefi was reportedly imprisoned for communicating with foreigners at an airport.
0810 GMT: Bypassing the Authorities Watch. A snapshot from photojournalist Adam Ellick of The New York Times, who is travelling in Iran:
0610 GMT: Blame-the-West Watch. Yesterday we posted the snap analysis, given the possible breakdown of the nuclear talks, that the regime would pursue a strategy to ensure the Supreme Leader was not blamed for Iran's economic difficulties, likely to be accentuated by further outside pressure as well as internal tensions.
More evidence for that assessment --- Ali Saeedi, the Supreme Leader's representative to the Revolutionary Guards, has asked Iranians to fully obey Ayatollah Khamenei because "enemies aim at [destroying] unity between the nezam [system] and the people".
0520 GMT: At one point yesterday, Reuters was preaching optimism over the nuclear discussions between Iran and the "West". The news agency was playing up a statement from Ali Asghar Soltanieh, the Islamic Republic's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency that a deal on inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities was in sight.
"We will try to continue to work on the text of the structured approach. Hopefully we will be able to conclude it in a way that it will be...a good basis for our work in the future," Soltanieh reportedly said. "I'm always (an) optimist and I hope that the agency also takes into serious consideration our concerns."
Within hours, that statement had evaporated.
Reuters had not seen the text of Soltanieh's statement at the IAEA meeting, published in full by Iranian media. Far from holding out optimism, the envoy was pronouncing that the Agency had become a tool of the US and other powers, collecting and creating intelligence that could be used not only to damn Tehran but also --- although Soltanieh left this implied rather than saying it directly --- endangering Iranians such as the country's nuclear scientists.
The envoy concluded with a defiant line. Iran would not give way on its right to uranium enrichment in any circumstances.
And Soltanieh's statement was only part of a bigger offensive by the Islamic Republic. Its nuclear negotiators, Saeed Jalili and Ali Bagheri, said the European Union's negotiators had refused preparatory talks for the formal meeting in Moscow with the 5+1 Powers (US, UK, France, Russia, Germany, and China) on 18-19 June.
The message was all too clear. Whether from desperation that an agreement --- which could stave off further sanctions --- was receding, from preparation of blame for the breakdown, or from blunt pressure on the "West" to make some concession, Iranian officials were declaring that Moscow would be a show without significance.
Now President Ahmadinejad is part of the campaign. Speaking at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Beijing, he complained:
In several stages, [we have] pursued and requested the continuation of negotiations at the level of [EU foreign policy head Catherine] Ashton’s deputies and the Secretary of our country’s Supreme National Security Council Jalili], and no result has been yielded.
We believe that the West is after concocting excuses and wasting time.