January 2012: From left to right --- Iran's Supreme Leader, Syria's Assad, Yemen's Saleh, Libya's Qaddafi, Egypt's Mubarak, and Tunisia's Ben Ali
The European Union's Catherine Ashton, speaking to Saeed Jalili, "impressed the need for Iran now to address issues". The two, speaking for the first time since high-level talks in Moscow in mid-June, agreed to reflect and speak again at the end of month.
1655 GMT: All the President's Men. Tabnak --- linked to Mohsen Rezaei, the Secretary of the Expediency Council --- has criticised the refusal of Presidential aide Saeed Mortazavi to head a court order to resign as head of the Social Security Fund.
Earlier this week, the Administrative Court ruled Mortazavi should step down because of his alleged role as Tehran Prosecutor General in the abuses and killings at the Kahrizak detention centre in summer 2009. However, 1st Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi said the Ahmadinejad Government would not heed the order.
1609 GMT: Economy Watch. Voice of America Persian reports on a series of problems for the Islamic Republic with fears of up to 700,000 jobs lost in the automobile industry, $60 million in debts from Venezuela, and threatened investments in Syria.
Shipments from Iran have plunged by 1.2 million barrels a day, or 52%, since the sanctions banning the purchase, transport, financing and insuring of Iranian crude began July 1, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. On an annual basis, that would be about $48 billion in revenue, equivalent to 10% of Iran's economy.
1557 GMT: Economy Watch. Asadollah Asgaroladi, one of Iran's richest men, has explained that he has had no alternative to dealing with the "East" because of the "bad humour of the West". He also denied that there were Chinese workers in the Islamic Republic.
Asgaroladi's statement can be seen as criticism of the economic pressure of the US and its allies but an EA correspondent notes that it can also be seen as a defence amidst widespread criticism of Chinese imports into Iran.
1311 GMT: Chicken Watch. Ensan-e Kamel, a site supporting Presidential Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, has launched a spirited attack on Ayatollah Alamolhoda, the Mashhad Friday Prayer leader, over his recent remark that Iranians can deal with the problem of spiralling prices for chicken by eating eshkeneh (egg soup).The site said the remarks were humiliating and admonished Alamolhoda, "Don't talk about matters like the economy of which you are unaware....Think before you speak."
Under regulations announced last week, currency at the official exchange rate --- under which the Iranian Rial is almost 70% stronger than in the open market --- will only be available for pilgrims.
We have to see the news in the Iranian media.
Faraji, who worked in the 2009 Presidential campaign of Mehdi Karroubi, was arrested in December 2010.
The Rial, which has fallen 6% since last week, is now at 20160:1.
0715 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Journalist Ahmad Zeidabadi (right), on furlough from a six-year prison sentence, is reunited with activists, and former political prisoners:
0615 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Political prisoners have invited the heads of the countries of the Non-Aligned Movement, due in Tehran for a summit later this month, to visit prisons and to see the opposition figures --- 2009 Presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi and Mousavi's wife Zahra Rahnavard --- held under strict house arrest.
0605 GMT: Economy Watch. Alef, the publication of leading MP Ahmad Tavakoli, was recently blocked for its criticism of the Government, but days after the filter was lifted, it is back on the attack over the economy. The site asks how the Government can provide 17 trillion Toman (about $13.5 billion) to finance 900 new projects and warns that "big dangers are looming".
Firouzabadi's declaration includes standard defiance, "The West and its liberal democracy are ensnared in a vicious circle, and rash decisions taken by the Western countries provide a positive feedback; that is, every decision they make, worsens crises and any system with such a basic flaw is sure to fall."
More significant is this assertion, "The West and the United States are in cahoots with al-Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya and Syria, and US foreign policy is indeed supportive of this global terrorist organization."
While the US, Turkey, European, and Arab States are providing covert assistance to the Syrian insurgency, there is no evidence that Washington is "in cahoots" with its long-time foe in the War on Terror. Indeed, CIA operatives in Turkey have been vetting the supply of arms and finance to ensure that "extremists" are not among the recipients.
Firouzabadi's assertion is not a statement of fact; rather, it indicates that Tehran is watching the insurgency with increasing concern. The assurance that President Assad will remain in power with his "reforms" and "national dialogue" is disappearing.
Another sign comes from Sadollah Zaree, a columnist in the "hard-line" daily Kayhan, “The anti-Syrian measures are a high risk and can lead to world war.” He then told the Los Angeles Times, “If Turkey and Saudi Arabia wage a war against Syria, then we reserve the right to defend [it].”
And consider this week's words from General Masoud Jayazeri of the Revolutionary Guards: while there was no need yet “for Syria’s circle of friends to fully enter the arena", Jazayeri warned, "[We] will not allow the enemy to advance."comments in Iran’s Shargh reformist daily.