On the right in Persian, “From Iran to Syria, the People’s Right: Peace, Freedom"; on the left in Arabic, “From Syria to Iran, the People’s Right: Peace, Freedom" (poster by Iranian activist Kamyar Behrang)
2000 GMT: Energy Watch. Confirmation of another foreign company's withdrawal from development of Iran's oil and gas resources, as Deputy Oil Minister Alireza Zeighami said the contract with the Malaysian SKS Company for the implementation of the Shiraz Pars Refinery project has been revoked.
Zeighami gave the formulaic statement that the annulment was due to the firm’s repeated delays and failure to start the construction and financing of the project, adding that Iranian contractors will now take over the construction of the refinery.
In the last years, Italian, French, Dutch, Russian, and Chinese companies have all withdrawn from oil and gas projects amid sanctions and other economic constraints, with Iran formally declaring that the firms had failed to fulfil obligations.
Indian imports have been affected for months by currency issues and then by the European Union ban, from 1 July, on insurance cover for tankers shipping Iranian oil. India had offered a limited cover of about $100 million for Iranian imports, which local shippers have rejected as inadequate --- the cover is a fraction of the $1 billion which is standard for a supertanker carrying around 2 million barrels of crude.
HPCL, which imported only one Suezmax cargo in July of the two that were planned, has won permission from the Ministry of Shipping to import oil using Iranian insurance in August.
1640 GMT: Claim of Day. General Hassan Firouzabadi, the head of Iran's armed forces, has said "explosive vests made by the Western countries and Israeli Zionists are more dangerous than weapons of mass destruction":
The British officer who was arrested carrying 50 explosive vests in Kabul must be tried by British courts as war criminal; and if the British government overlooks this criminal act [which sought to] … sow discord among Muslims, [the officer] should be prosecuted by international tribunals.
Muslims and the whole world must know that explosive vests require complex technology and are exclusively produced by the Zionists (Israelis) and the Britons....The British and Zionists must be [held] accountable for the assassinations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran."
1227 GMT: All-Is-Well Alert. Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian assures, "In case of foreign military attack on Syria, the Syrian army can defend the country because Syria is in the front line of resistance against foreign aggressors."
1202 GMT: Olympics Watch. A crowd watches televised images of Mohammad Bagheri Motamed, a silver medallist in Taekwondo in the 2012 Olympics:
1145 GMT: Your Tehran Friday Prayer Update. Hojatoleslam Kazem Seddiqi takes the podium today to offer this reassurance about Iran's economic problems: "All the world is currently plagued by inflation and unemployment. We will endure these pressures."
The cleric said of sanctions, "Today, we are engaged in an economic war. This is the enemies’ last resort and the country’s authorities should manage it."
Seddiqi also spoke about Syria, declaring that the regime had "started to reform and have people vote for themselves", while denouncing those "cooperating with Israel's rulers".
1135 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. President Ahmadinejad used Thursday's conference on Syria to deliver a set-piece speech denouncing intervention by "colonial powers": “I do not know of any power among the major Western powers that has intervened in a country for the sake of humanity; whatever they do is for self interest.”
Ahmadinejad cited Afghanistan and Iraq as recent examples of Western perfidy, describing the US as a “bankrupt government that survives on other people’s money": “US rulers have managed to stay at pinnacles of power through deception, just like an athlete that rises to victory through doping."
The President claimed the American people have no say in their nation’s affairs, asserting that all their exchanges, communications, and social associations are monitored and tapped.
In a meeting with staff of private newspapers, Rafsanjani said, “The media community is currently facing numerous hardships ranging from lack of finances and facilities to legal and various other pressures.”
Rafsanjani, who heads the Expediency Council, claimed that those who follow the views of the Supreme Leader “should welcome expert criticism from the media....Even a limited amount of concerned criticism expressed in order to guarantee the health of the Revolutionary path is not deemed acceptable by extremist forums.”
Rafsanjani's official website has been among those filtered amid the regime's crackdown on opposition following the 2009 Presidential election, as more than 100 journalists and bloggers have been imprisoned and more than 200 have been forced to leave Iran.
0725 GMT: We begin this morning with an analysis of the aftermath of yesterday's showpiece meeting in Tehran on Syria, with 28 countries agreeing to play a part: "On the overseas front, Iran is unlikely to get more than 15 minutes of attention with the initiative, but at home, the leadership can project that is doing something to claim high political and moral ground, even as it grows more concerned about the fate of President Assad."
Meanwhile, another regime effort deserves attention. Ahram Online notes the visit of Iranian Vice President Hamid Baghaei to Cairo. Baghaei's immediate purpose was to invite Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to Tehran for the Non-Aligned Movement summit at the end of August, but that is only the beginning of a bigger challenge for the regime --- since he took office in June, Morsi has rebuffed Iranian efforts to portray an alliance with Cairo to reshape the Middle East.
Ahram Online points to Egypt's cautious response and the limited outcome of the Baghaei mission:
The visit of Morsi, Egypt's first Islamist president to the Islamic Republic of Iran, is expected to be short a day most probably.
According to the tentative schedule of the visit, Morsi would head the Egyptian delegation to the NAM summit. He would turn over the presidency of the summit from Egypt to Iran. He would then hold talks with his Iranian counterpart and senior Iranian officials and intellectuals on the side of the summit.
The talks of Morsi in Tehran as those of Bakaei in cairo this week would focus on expanding the avenues of cooperation between he two countries, both at the bilateral and multilateral fronts.