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The Latest from Iran (18 July): Storm Clouds Gather Over The Economy

See also Iran Feature: Protests and Repression --- The Iranian Arabs in Khuzestan
Iran Analysis: Larijani and the Revolutionary Guards Warn the Government Over the Economy
The Latest from Iran (17 July): "We Will March Past Sanctions" (Or Maybe Not.)

Fars: An Iranian Faces the Economy1654 GMT: Foreign Affairs Watch (Yemeni Front). Yemeni officials have arrested members of a spy ring allegedly led by a former commander in Iran's Revolutionary Guard, State news agency SABA reported today.

SABA said the spy cell, made up of Yemenis, had operated in Yemen as well as in the Horn of Africa and that it had kept an operations centre in the Yemeni capital Sana'a.

President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi said, "We hope that our brothers in Iran won't interfere in Yemen's affairs and that they take into consideration the sensitive situation in Yemen. Leave Yemen alone, enough is enough."

1336 GMT: Reformist Watch. Former President Mohammad Khatami, meeting with the Islamic Association of Tehran University, has said he has seen signs of "changing political space" before next year's Presidential elections.

Khatami, who had called for conditions to be fulfilled for participation in this March's Parliamentary elections but then relented and cast his vote, said, "I have to reach consensus among reformers."

The former President added, "We are not subversives but we defend rights."

1321 GMT: Oil Watch. Geneva-based consultancy Petrologistics estimates that Iranian oil exports will average 1.084 million barrels per day in July, slightly down from 1.094 million bpd of exports in June.

Tehran's exports have halved from the 2011 level of 2.2 million bpd.

Only four countries --- China, India, Japan and Taiwan --- are expected to import Iranian oil in July, although it is possible a cargo could be diverted to Turkey.

The fall in exports could have been even worse, but China --- having slashed shipments sharply this winter and spring --- is increasing its purchases to 590,000 bpd in July, or 54% of Iran's total exports, from 430,000 bpd in June and 480,000 bpd on average on 2011.

1309 GMT: Economy Watch. Aftab comments on inflation, "Even the stones moan but the Majlis does nothing". The site claims prices have risen about 100% within a month in some areas.

1255 GMT: Nuclear Watch. Yadollah Javani, the head of the Intelligence Bureau of the Revolutionary Guards, has jabbed at those whom he claims want to give way to the "West" over the nuclear issue.

Speaking to Guards in Yazd, Javani reportedly identified President Ahmadinejad and former President Hashemi Rafsanjani as possible culprits. Apparently referring to economic pressure, he said, "The enemy will seize all our principles if we give in. We will be victorious if we resist."

Javani may want to have a word with Hassan Mamdouhi, member of the Qom Seminary, who has suggested that "hemlock saved the country" --- a reference to Ayatollah Khomeini's 1988 acceptance of terms to end the Iran-Iraq War.

1235 GMT: Foreign Affairs Watch (Syrian Front). Returning from our Syria Live Coverage --- notably this morning's bomb in Damascus that killed leading regime figures --- to find Press TV's headline, written before the developments, "Syrian Security Forces in Full Control of Damascus":

Syrian security forces are in full control of the capital, Damascus, following attempts by armed rebels to disrupt the security of the city, Press TV reports.

Syrian government officials said late Tuesday that the situation in Damascus was under total control, rejecting claims by some media outlets that armed terrorists had captured parts of the capital.

0758 GMT: Sanctions Watch. Ali Ashraf Nouri, the political deputy of the Revolutionary Guards, has said that US strategy against Iran is based on “outside pressure and inside collapse": “The only hope of the enemies from the crippling sanctions is to break people’s tolerance threshold and force them [to take to the streets] like during the 2009 sedition.”

0751 GMT: Foreign Affairs Watch (Syrian Front). The Supreme Leader's advisor Ali Akbar Velayati has reaffirmed support for the Assad regime, claiming, “It’s the policy of the US, Europe and the regional reactionary [states] now to topple the Syrian government in order to break the resistance front against Israel.”

Velayati asserted, “The Syrian government is legitimate. If opposition groups have something to say, they should enter peaceful talks with the Syrian government.”

On Sunday, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi had said on Sunday that the Islamic Republic was prepared to broker talks between the Syrian government and opposition with a meeting between the two sides in Tehran.

0634 GMT: Oil Watch. The Government has once again said it will cope with recent European Union sanctions, threatening to cripple oil exports, by insuring tankers.

European companies, which cover about 95% of the world's oil shipments, were barred from 1 July from insuring Iranian crude.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran will take all responsibility for insuring any foreign shipping line and any ship that enters Iranian waters," Seyyed Ataollah Sadr, the managing director of Iran's Ports and Maritime Organization, said. "The Islamic Republic of Iran has adopted measures with the cooperation of Iranian insurance companies."

Sadr did not give details of the scheme.

India and Japan have both adopted State-backed measures for some coverage of Iranian oil imports, but it is not yet clear how significant these will be.

Iran's oil exports are now 1.1 million barrels per day, half the level of 2011.

0631 GMT: Morality Watch. A note from the Monday press conference of Iran Prosecutor General Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei --- actors who do not fully comply with the dress code for women will be barred from leaving the country.

Ejei said some actors had already received travel bans. He explained that those who had attended awards ceremonies recently had fallen “prey” to individuals who sought to lure them into parties and to publish their pictures, "go[ing]e to places they shouldn’t have".

0625 GMT: We open with an analysis, based on Tuesday's developments, "Larijani and the Revolutionary Guards Warn the Government Over the Economy".

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