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Iran Live Coverage: 34th Anniversary of Islamic Revolution --- But How Many Are Celebrating?

One of a set of photos of today's rally in Tehran for the 34th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution

1725 GMT: The Ahmadinejad. Distracted by the nuclear issue, Western media continue to miss the primary significance of the President's speech and the escalating political conflict in Iran.

Even the Christian Science Monitor, whose Scott Peterson is one of the best correspondents on Iran, is far from the mark: its summary of the "soaring, defiant rhetoric" makes no reference to Ahmadinejad's attacks on his rivals, including his allegation that they will rig the June Presidential election.

Interestingly, there has been no reaction so far from the camp of the Supreme Leader, who used a Thursday speech to tell Ahmadinejad and the Larijani brothers --- head of judiciary Sadegh and Speaker of Parliament Ali --- to cease political fire.

1445 GMT: The Anniversary of the Revolution. State outlet Press TV puts out the regime summary of today's rally:

The Iranian nation once again asserts the importance of obeying the guidelines of Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei for continuing to tread the path of the Islamic Revolution and countering plots by enemies, particularly the US.

At the end of the mass rallies across the country on Sunday marking the 34th anniversary of the victory of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iranians issued a statement and also reaffirmed their allegiance to the ideals of the late founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and Ayatollah Khamenei.

1245 GMT: The US-Iran Front. In his speech for the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, Ali Saeedi, the Supreme Leader representative to the Revolutionary Guards, declared, “The resistance of the Iranian people undermines the White House."

Saeedi, warning that any Iranian “retreat” would affect the Islamic world, accused Washington of pressuring Iran to capitulate and give up its goals of advancement.

The cleric, whose statement was posted in the Guards' Sepah News, repeated the regime line --- prominent since the Supreme Leader's stand on Thursday against direct talks with the US --- that the US was only proposing negotiations because it had suffered setbacks in the Middle East: “Today, America, with all the might and financial support of Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, and the support of Turkey, have failed to defeat Syria."

1150 GMT: The Ahmadinejad Speech. An extract from Al Jazeera English's coverage of today's rally --- unlike other outlets, it picks up on the domestic aspects of the President's speech, seeing it as another round in the "political in-fighting":

1120 GMT: The Battle Within. As President Ahmadinejad was delivering his speech, his political rival, Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, was unable to complete his in a mosque in Qom --- hundreds of pro-Ahmadinejad protesters reportedly shouted at him and attacked him w prayer stones and shoes.

1115 GMT: The Ahmadinejad Speech. The Associated Press is ignoring the domestic significance of the President's challenge to his rivals in his speech today.

Instead, it is occupied with what they see as an Ahmadinejad offer to enter direct talks with the US, in contrast to the Supreme Leader's rejection of those discussions on Thursday. The report picks out the line, “You pull away the gun from the face of the Iranian nation, I myself will enter the talks with you."

Reuters also features the statement, albeit with a far different headline, "Iran Rejects Western Pressure on Revolution Anniversary".

1050 GMT: The Ahmadinejad Speech. Unsurprisingly, State and semi-official media are ignoring the most interesting parts of the President's speech for the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution --- his explicit warning that his political rivals will rig June's Presidential election and his implied accusation that some of them, notably the Larijani family, are trying to take over the system:

Fars, linked to the Revolutionary Guards, prefers, "Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reminded the enemies of Iran's glory and rich history, and said the great Iranian nation will never be disappointed by the problems."

Fars' English-language site relegates the speech to third place on its homepage, leading with a declaration from Minister of Defense Ahmad Vahidi, "Iran Building 20 Types of Drones".

State outlet Press TV features the Ahmadinejad line, "This nation will not retreat one iota from its basic rights" before the enemy.

On the pro-Ahmadinejad State agency, all four of the top stories are devoted to the President's speech. Interestingly, one of the articles makes an allusion to the domestic political battle, headlining Ahmadinejad's declaration that all officials should "serve the nation": "God forbid that some special power,with wealth and access to decision-making centres, impose their will."

0840 GMT: Ahmadinejad Speaks. The President meanders to a close, declaring that Iran will triumph over its enemies.

0832 GMT: Ahmadinejad Declares Electoral War. Wow, the President just concluded the most important passage of his speech. It is no less than a call to battle in June's Presidential election, with the warning that his rivals --- including some close to the Supreme Leader --- will try to rig the vote:

People have the right to pick the rulers. No one should that people's vote is only a paper. We need this collective opinion.

No one should think they can decide rather than the people. Some people have said they can engineer the election.

[Editor's Note: Last month Ali Saeedi, the Supreme Leader's representative to the Revolutionary Guards, said that it was the "duty" of the Guards to "engineer" the election.]

I would say the great nation of the people of Iran know which path to take, and institutions and law must be abided by. Destroying others' reputation to prove yourself is not the right thing to do.

No one can impose his opinions of the people. I am confident the people will make this choice. Everyone needs to respect the vote of the people.

Some individuals should not act or speak in a way that plays into the treacherous hands of the enemies of the Iranian nation.

0825 GMT: Ahmadinejad Speaks. A curious passage in the speech --- Ahmadinejad finally acknowledges economic "pressures and problems", as he says that a "large number of people are suffering, but the Government is doing best. Everyone needs to help by furthering unity."

Here's the curious part: "God willing, we will discuss the actions of enemy and elaborate on the services of Government, but I will leave this to another time."

0821 GMT: Ahmadinejad Speaks. The President finally makes a veiled reference to his current political battle with rivals, notably Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, head of judiciary Sadegh Larijani, and their family.

Invoking "freedom" --- even "free elections" --- and "solidarity and unity", he says there is "no monopoly on Revolution by a few....It belongs to people not to any tribe or party."

Ahmadinejad asserts, "Everyone needs to be careful."

0815 GMT: Ahmadinejad Speaks. The President moves to the nuclear issue, saying that Iran is always ready to enter into negotiations but this must not be as "a lever to impose one's opinions", with "a gun pointed at its head".

Ahmadinejad declares, "They stopped Iran going nuclear but they failed."

The President offers no specific reference to the current debate over discussions with the 5+1 Powers and direct talks with the US.

0808 GMT: Ahmadinejad Speaks. The President spends almost 10 minutes in a check-list of Iran's success in soaring production, exports, and agricultural output.

Ahmadinejad makes no reference to any economic problems.

Instead, he moves to a declaration of achievement with the launch into space of the "Living Thing" --- for some reason, he never says "Monkey" --- and the unveiling of a new fighter jet.

He then returns to his check-list of economic advance, defying the sanctions of the enemy. There is one brief note of significance, with Ahmadinejad again declaring that Iran must move away from dependence on oil revenues.

0758 GMT: Ahmadinejad Speaks. The President tells a big lie amid his claims of Iranian progress, declaring 2.5 million barrels per day of oil is exported.

In December, Iran's exports were 1.4 million bpd, down from 2.2 million bpd in 2011. Tehran's sales fell as low as 860,000 bpd last summer.

0754 GMT: Ahmadinejad Speaks. President Ahmadinejad is addressing the crowd in Azadi Square in Tehran, declaring that the Islamic Revolution has brough the "awakening of human nature", which is "shining more brightly" because of Iran's achievements.

Ahmadinejad declares that the Islamic Republic is accomplishing this despite the "utmost efforts of Iran's enemies" to "deny [the Republic's] basic rights".

0734 GMT: An Advance Declaration of Victory. Fars' English-language service is already proclaiming, "Millions of Iranians in Tehran and other cities poured to the streets on Sunday to show their unconditional support for the Islamic Republic."

Press TV's correspondent in Azadi Square in Tehran, the site of the main rally, is enthusiastic but --- probably unwittingly --- does not fulfil the script: he says there are "tens of thousands" there.

0724 GMT: US-Iran Relations. The contemporary theme for today's celebrations is the Supreme Leader's declaration on theme that Tehran cannot negotiate directly with the US, for example, over Iran's nuclear programme.

Press TV is currently bringing the point home with an interview with Tehran University academic Seyed Mohammad Marandi, who outlines a history of US mis-deeds, the "betrayal" of the Obama Administration since 2009, and the wrongs of sanctions: "What matters is what the US does, not what the US says".

0714 GMT: The Anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. State outlet Press TV puts out the standard announcement:

Iranians stage mass rallies across the country to mark the 34th anniversary of the victory of the 1979 Islamic Revolution that put an end to the monarchy of the US-backed Pahlavi regime in the country.

People in the capital Tehran and many other cities and towns started to take to streets on Sunday morning to renew their allegiance to the ideals of the late founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
President Ahmadinejad is expected to address the crowd in Tehran's Azadi Square this morning. Meanwhile, State media are trumpeting Iran's scientific and technological progress, such as its launch of a monkey into space earlier this month.
The military has also promised announcements of breakthroughs in weaponry, including the Islamic Republic's first unmanned "stealth drone". This morning, Deputy Defense Minister Mehdi Farahi declared that Iran's latest indigenous air-to-air missile, Fakour, has been successfully tested, with other air-launched cruise missiles to be launched in "coming days". 

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