We must support the government of Syria, which is at the frontline of the struggle against Israel....But we should support it as long as the government of Syria does not treat the people of Syria badly and the rights of the people are not violated.
2009 GMT: The Battle Within. Looks like Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani's declaration that "quarrels had been ended" was short-lived. After calling for an Economic Staff but insisted on the creation of an Economic Staff among the Executive, legislative, and judicial branches, Larijani has said "some officials still do not know how to create a healthy economy".
2004 GMT: Currency Watch. Is Iran on the verge of another currency crisis?
This week's "adjustment" of exchange rates to deal with import problems --- the Government put out $30 billion to support "basic imports" at the official rate of 12260 Iranian Rials to the US dollar, while the Central Bank introduced a rate of 15000:1 for "capital and intermediate imports" --- has not settled the open-market rate. To the contrary, the Rial has lost almost 3% and now stands at 19530:1.
1530 GMT: Foreign Affairs Watch (Syrian Front). After calling for a "realistic" approach to the Syrian crisis, as neither side was winning, and free elections to resolve the situation (see 0545 GMT), Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani returned to established rhetoric today.
After a meeting a Syrian delegation led by Deputy Vice President Omar Ghalawanji, Larijani said support of President Assad and the Syrian people was a "human duty".
1520 GMT: The Battle Within. Iran-based commentator Abbas Salimi-Namin has declared that Iran's "situation has become unbearable", with many conservative supporters of President Ahmadinejad turning into critics.
Salimi-Namin called on the Government to listen to critics, "otherwise the situation will worsen", but he asserted that the Ahmadinejad team wants to stay in power after the end of Presidency, even though it will fail.
The official said negotiations are underway between partners Shipping Corp of India and IRISL on how to split the fleet and assets of Irano Hind Shipping and over whether the nearly 40-year-old joint venture will be shut down.
"Under the sanctions, we were finding it more and more difficult to employ these ships. So the decision was to split the assets," SCI's Chairman S. Hajara told Reuters. "Nothing has been settled yet on what will happen to the company. We are still working on it."
Hejara said the assets of the venture, which includes four crude oil tankers and four dry bulk carriers, would be split according to the shares held by the parent companies. India's largest shipping firm, SCI, owns a 49% stake in the venture, while IRISL holds the remaining 51%.
The MP and his outlet await a "final sentence" after his commentary on Government mismanagement of the economy --- and the need for Parliament to exercise supervision --- brought the ban on Alef.
Despite the temporary move, the pressure on Tavakoli is not easing --- Iran News Network has accused the MP of an "economic putsch against the government" for proposing the launch of an Economy Staff across the Executive, legislative, and judicial branches, a move also promoted by Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani (see 0645 GMT).
Malihi, also a journalist, was sentenced in June 2010 to four years in prison, while Zeidabadi is serving five years.
1243 GMT: Foreign Affairs Watch (Syrian Front). Associated Press is featuring the remark, via the State news agency IRNA, of Vice President Ali Saeedlou --- in a meeting with a visiting delegation from Damascus --- that "Tehran is ready to give its experience and capabilities to its friend and brother nation of Syria".
AP then appears to go far beyond the rhetoric to claim, "The comments appear to...counter speculation that Iran's leadership was facing internal battles over whether to continue their backing for the embattled Assad."
1237 GMT: Economy Watch. Back from an extended break for academic work and Syria Live Coverage to find confirmation, after the meetings in Parliament on Wednesday, that the Central Bank has approved elimination of the "official" exchange rate for currency for travellers, except for those on pilgrimage.
Travellers will not have to pay almost 60% more in Iranian Rials for foreign currency at the "open-market" rate (19300:1 vs. the US dollar) compared to the official rate (12260:1).
0828 GMT: Clerical Intervention. Ayatollah Dastgheib, a frequent critic of the Government and the crackdown after the disputed 2009 Presidential election, has invited Basij militia, Revolutionary Guards, and other security forces to "observe the Constitution and Qur'an".
0825 GMT: Economy Watch. Despite state media's claims of agreement between Parliament and Ministers after five hours of Wednesday meetings, with budget cuts to deal with inflation and sanctions, at least one MP is not satisfied --- Iraj Nadimi has said he and other legislators want to meet President Ahmadinejad on Sunday, given "repetitive Government remarks" yesterday.
0705 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Children's rights activist and blogger Mohamad Hassan Yousef Pourseifi has been sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison for charges including assembly and collusion to commit crimes against national security; membership in Human Rights Activists in Iran; assistance to political prisoners and facilitating their “illegal” exit from Iran; and raising “illegitimate” funds for the families of jailed dissidents.
0645 GMT: Economy Watch. Both an assurance and a demand from Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani after five hours of meetings among the Executive, legislative, and judicial branches on Wednesday --- he said quarrels had been ended but insisted on the creation of an Economic Staff among the three powers.
0615 GMT: Nuclear Watch. There are also varying signals over Wednesday's declaration by deputy nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri --- following discussions in Turkey with Helga Schmid, his counterpart for the 5+1 Powers (US, UK, France, Germany, China, and Russia) --- that the next high-level talks will be in Istanbul.
Press TV exalts the news, "Tehran Says Deputy-level Negotiations with P5+1 Positive", but IRNA ignores it, preferring the assertion, "Iran, Russia, and Syria Will Solve Problems Through National Talks".
Fars also skips Bagheri's announcement for an obsolete article, "P5+1 Talks Continue with Iran in Istanbul".
0545 GMT: We open today on the Syrian front, where senior Iranian officials have given different and possibly conflicting signals.
State news agency IRNA headlines the visit of 1st Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi to Damascus and his declaration, "Syria will stand firm against the conspiracies of the enemies of our nations." Rahimi lauded Syria's leadership of the resistance to Israel and hailed the "reforms" of the Assad regime, expressing home for "positive" and "constructive" developments.
Rahimi continued, "Under the circumstances that all big powers have been united to inflict damage on the Syrian nation, the Iranian people have an unchangeable stance on Syrians and will always stand by them."
Rahimi's trip was part of a swap of delegations, according to Fars, with 15 Syrian officials in Tehran for three days of meetings.
Mohammad-Reza Raouf Sheibani, the Iranian Ambassador to Syria, reinforced the message in a meeting with United Nations official Herve Ladsous:
Any military measure against Syria is [like] playing with fire.
The military trend will further complicate and prolong the crisis in Syria and will bear negative and grave consequences for the region, in particular, for the instigators of the crisis.
However, Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani was setting out another line. Far from the one-note call for defiance, Larijani said "realism" was necessary to solve the problem, as "neither side is winning", and asserted that free elections should be held as the "best way to avoid a drawn-out war".
All of which leads to the question: what exactly was being discussed on Wednesday in Damascus and Tehran?