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The Latest from Iran (27 July): "No Serious Plans to Combat the Sanctions"

See also The Latest from Iran (26 July): Mixed Signals on Syria

1703 GMT: Loyalty Watch. The Supreme Leader's representative Ali Saeedi said before the Tehran Friday Prayer, "Ayatollah Khamenei paves the way for [the return of the] Hidden Imam, and Sepah [Revolutionary Guards] will be his tool."

Meanwhile, Digarban rounds up Friday Prayers across the country with an analysis paralleling ours (see 1606 GMT): "Khamenei supporters ask people to endure sanctions, resist, and obey the Supreme Leader".

1700 GMT: CyberWatch. Reporters Without Borders has expressed concern over the detention of pro-Ahmadinejad bloggers, imprisoned for their criticism of the Iranian system.

Reza Moini, the head of RWB's Iran desk, made the comments in an interview with Radio Farda.

1606 GMT: Resistance Economy Watch. Ayatollah Alamolhoda, the Friday Prayer leader of Mashhad, told his audience today, "We are in a war situation, provide yourself with food. Life will not go on like before."

1512 GMT: Resistance Economy Watch. Fars has set out the five principles of the "resistance economy": 1) stop corruption and profit-making, 2) popularise the concept; 3) cut dependence on oil income; 4) give priority to Iran's trade partners, 5) prefer domestic production to imports.

1443 GMT: Chicken Watch. According to Entekhab, the Deputy Governor of Ardebil Province in northwestern Iran has banned the export of chicken to other Iranian provinces.

1440 GMT: Production Watch. Deputy Minister of Oil Mohammad Reza Moghaddam has said the new plan to deal with sanctions is a drive for self-sufficiency with a halt to imports of 19 petrochemical goods and domestic production of 52 catalysts.

1210 GMT: Your Tehran Friday Prayers Update. Ayatollah Mohammad Emami Kashani has got the pulpit today and he is running with a theme in recent regime statements, condemning violence against Muslims in Myanmar, “In the face of [the Islamic] Awakening, they kill oppressed Muslims; in fact, the enemy is doing this to counter Islam, Islamic Awakening and the Islamic Republic of Iran."

Attention to the situation, the cleric said, would follow the Supreme Leader's guidelines for action to achieve a just system and realize true ideals of humanity.

Only a cynical person would say that Iran's recent emphasis on Myanmar is to offer an alternative to news from Syria --- Press TV reports:

The Iranian cleric also made a reference to the ongoing unrest in Syria and stated that enemies have surrounded the Syrian people. He expressed hope the Syrian nation would thwart enemies’ plots through their firm resolve.

0930 GMT: Economy Watch. Hassan Radmard, the Deputy Ministry of Industry, has said President Ahmadinejad has ordered a three-month strategic supplies of essential goods.

The stockpile includes wheat, rice, cooking fat, and sugar.

0927 GMT: Nuclear Watch. Ali Akbar Velayati, the Supreme Leader's advisor on foreign policy, has said Iran's nuclear talks with the 5+1 Powers (US, UK, France, Germany, China, and Russia) will continue until there is a "positive and productive result".

0924 GMT: Electricity Watch. Deputy Minister of Energy Mohammad Behzad has confirmed there will be increased prices for electricity in the second phase of subsidy cuts, although there will be no rises before the end of the summer.

0833 GMT: Chicken Watch. The BBC has noticed the issue of the rising price of chicken:

"If the police come round to your house don't worry," says the latest wry joke doing the rounds in Tehran.

"It's not your satellite dish they're after. They just want to know if you have any chicken in your fridge."...

Chicken is one of the staples of Iranian cooking, and the main ingredient in one of the country's most popular dishes - zereshk polo ba morgh - chicken with rice and barberries.

It is also much cheaper than lamb or beef, making it a big favourite in a country where the economy is under pressure and ordinary shoppers are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet.

But in the past few months chicken prices have almost doubled to the equivalent of almost $5 (£3) per kilo at the official exchange rate, and many shops have been running short of supplies.

0823 GMT: Foreign Affairs Watch (Syrian Front). In Tehran, a Syrian delegation and Iranian officials have signed two memoranda of understanding for the expansion of bilateral cooperation over electricity and water.

Iranian Minister of Energy Majid Namjoo said, "The Islamic Republic of Iran will not leave Syria alone in such a difficult situation."

(Cross-posted from Syria Live Coverage)

0800 GMT: Reformist Watch. A statement from detained senior reformist Mostafa Tajzadeh, "There is no sign of change in Ayatollah Khamenei's ruinous policies sacrificing people's freedom for rights on nuclear energy."

0650 GMT: Headline of Day. Press TV announces, "Syria Defeats NATO’s Swarming Terrorists".

0630 GMT: Economy Watch. The latest sign of trouble? ISNA, via Peyke Iran, reports that the price of ice cream has tripled.

0555 GMT: Journalist Ehsan Mehrabi, based outside Iran after a lengthy stay in prison, posts a report on the economic situation, based on interviews with Iranians inside the country. He portrays the effect of sanctions on the lives of the people and 

[Economic journalist Razieh Sadeghi] believes that the officials do not have any plans for eliminating the effect of sanctions. She adds, “It became apparent this week that they do not have any serious plans to combat the sanctions. The prices are out of the government’s control and it appears that besides promises given behind microphones, they do not have any practical plan.”

[An] anonymous Iranian economist adds, “It is not possible to find the root causes of the current situation. One of the reasons is that myself and many other colleagues of mine believe that the [Ahmadinejad] government during its last years in power has virtually abandoned the country’s economic situation.”

He adds, “Clashes between the government and other institutions, coupled with disputes over the nuclear program, have caused the government not to take any serious attempts to eliminate the effects of sanctions.”

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