The Quds Day rally in Isfahan
See also Iran Feature: An Introduction to the Currency Problems br>
Iran Snap Analysis: The Real Danger of "Ahmadinejad and Israel" br>
Iran Snapshot: 3 "Iranian Citizens" Arrested for Bombing in Afghanistan That Killed 36 br>
The Latest from Iran (17 August): Ahmadinejad Introduces Tehran Friday Prayer
1920 GMT: Religion Watch. International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran reports that Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, accused of apostasy because of his conversion to Christianity, will face a new trial on 27 August on charges of “banditry and extortion".
An Iranian court has condemned Nadarkhani to death for apostasy but has offered to commute the sentence if he repents. So far he has refused to do so.
1745 GMT: Currency Watch. With the Iranian Rial losing almost half its value since last autumn, The New York Times reports on Iranians crossing the border to get better rates or to trade before the currency slides farther:
Afghan traders have proved more than willing to trade dollars for rials, usable as a currency in many parts of western Afghanistan, at advantageous exchange rates.
Hajji Najeeb Ullah Akhtary, the president of Afghanistan’s Money Exchange Union, an association of traditional money transfer and exchange businesses that are known as hawalas, said he and his members had seen a steady increase in Iranians bringing cash into Afghanistan over the past year. That comes on top of routine transfers made by Afghans living and working in Iran, including more than one million impoverished refugees, and the regular supply of rials that circulates in Afghanistan.
The cash “comes across in trucks,” he said, with transfers arranged by Afghan middlemen who take a 5 to 7 percent commission.
1600 GMT: Foreign Affairs Watch (Egyptian Front). State news agency MENA reports that President Mohamed Morsi will attend the Non-Aligned Movement's summit in Tehran later this month, the first visit by an Egyptian head of state since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
1422 GMT: Tough Talk of the Day. Revolutionary Guards commander Amir-Ali Hajizadeh has kept up the Israel-bashing today, warning that any attack on Iran would lead to Israel's annihilation:
If the loud cries of the leaders of the Zionist regime are materialised, it would be the best opportunity for obliterating this fake regime from the face of the earth and dump it into the dustbin of history.
Iran's response to any practical threat to or aggression against the Islamic Republic will be very fast, categorical, destructive, and overarching.
Hajizadeh, the head of the Guards' Aerospace Division, continued, “It will be a great honor for combatants and defense forces of the Islamic Iran to realize the ideal of the annihilation of the Zionist regime and shape the new Middle East on the basis of the will of regional Muslim states.”
1327 GMT: The Earthquakes. HRANA claims Turkish professor Yousef Bidardel has been arrested in Urmia because he was organising aid in the aftermath of last weekend's earthquakes that killed more than 300 people and left tens of thousands homeless.
1321 GMT: The Non-Aligned Summit. Iranian official Mohammad Reza Forghani has said that 35 of 100 countries attending the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran at the end of the month will be sending Heads of State. He was unsure if these would include Russia's Vladimir Putin, Syria's Bashar al-Assad, or Egypt's Mohamed Morsi, as well as United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.
1300 GMT: The Battle Within. Back from a Saturday break to find a further development in the apparent move to curb President Ahmadinejad's power....
Mohsen Rezaei, the Secretary of the Expediency Council, has confirmed that former Ministers have sent a letter to the Supreme Leader, proposing a council drawn from the Executive, legislature, and judiciary to run the Government. In a concession to the President, Rezaei suggested that Ahmadinejad could head the new council.
It may be of relevance that Rezaei ran for President in 2009 and is standing again in 2013. Moreover, his media outlet Tabnak has been notably critical of the Government on political and economic issues.
Earlier this week, it emerged that a number of ex-Ministers had approached Ayatollah Khamenei. They reportedly include Manouchehr Mottaki, the former Foreign Minister; Mostafa Pourmohammadi, former Minister of Interior; and Davoud Danesh Jafari, former Minister of Finance.
Meanwhile, Rezaei put out rhetoric on the international front, "Today, we are in the final [struggle] with the United States in Syria." He continued:
If Syria falls into the hands of the Americans, the Islamic Awakening movement will become American. But if Syria maintains its policies, the Islamic Awakening will take root in Islam.
Rezaei then linked his domestic and foreign policy statements, saying the proposed council is a strategy to bolster the "golden belt" of Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan against US attempts at dominance.
0910 GMT: Trade Watch. Turkey's purchases of Iranian oil may have fallen by 60% since early 2012, but there is some good for Tehran --- traders say Ankara is selling more steel to the Islamic Republic, after a drop earlier this year amid the financial difficulties of US-led sanctions.Turkey's exports of steel for construction to Iran rose to 15,500 tonnes in May, worth roughly $10 million, compare to 4300 tonnes in March.
0600 GMT: We begin this morning with the surface story of Friday's ceremonies and marches for Quds (Palestine) Day --- the denunciation of the Zionist --- through an analysis, "The Real Danger of 'Ahmadinejad and Israel'".
The lasting story beyond the story, however, is of the regime and individuals within trying to bolster legitimacy through the rallying of the Iranian population. And this morning, there is no clear conclusion to that tale.
Iranian outlets headlined, even before the festivities began, "Millions of Iranians March in Solidarity with Palestinians", but there is a curiosity in the record of the events once they place. While there are vivid photographic specials, the shots are almost exclusively close-ups of groups within the marches --- the one exception that we have seen is an overhead shot of the gathering in Isfahan. State news agency IRNA has a short clip from one march in Tehran, picking out prominent figures such as Secretary of the Expediency Council Mohsen Rezaei, but it is not possible to guage if this is testimony to "millions" on the streets.