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Iran Live Coverage: "Viva Spring" --- Ahmadinejad Launches An Election Campaign

See also Iran Special: Ahmadinejad Declares Political War --- "My Rivals Will Rig the Presidential Election"
Sunday's Iran Live Coverage: 34th Anniversary of Islamic Revolution --- But How Many Are Celebrating?

1525 GMT: Karroubi's Son Arrested. The website linked to detained opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi says his son Mohammad Hossein was arrested today by security forces.

The younger Karroubi was freed after nine hours of questioning.

Mehdi Karroubi, like fellow opposition figures Mir Hossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard, has been kept under strict house arrest for 23 months. Earlier today, Mousavi and Rahnavard's daughters were detained and interrogated for hours before being released.

1505 GMT: Mousavi's Daughters Released. Zahra and Narges Mousavi, daughters of the detained opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard, have been released after hours of interrogation in Evin Prison.

The Mousavi daughters were detained this morning in raids on their homes (see 0950 GMT). No reason has been given by authorities.

1435 GMT: Ahmadinejad v. Larijanis. Leading clerics have denounced Sunday's attack by President Ahmadinejad's supporters on Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, as he was giving a speech in a Qom mosque.

Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi called for an investigation of who was behind the assault.

Grand Ayatollahs NouriHamadani and Jafar Sobhani, condemned the incident in telephone conversations with Larijani.

1410 GMT: The US Front. More regime proclamations, launched by the Supreme Leader last Thursday, that there can be no direct talks with the US on the nuclear issue because of sanctions --- head of armed forces General Hassan Firouzabadi: “The Americans have an arrogant culture and seek to maintain in the world their hegemonic and superpower gesture whose pillars have already collapsed."

MP Ismail Kowsari:

From the point of view of the revolutionary nation, the Americans’ offer is by no means acceptable. American politicians intend to continue their crimes and the reason that they raise the issue of negotiations is to make up for the defeats they have suffered in the region, particularly in Syria."

1400 GMT: Supreme Leader Watch. Ayatollah Khamenei puts out a day-after-the-anniversary statement:

[Iran's enemies] see, understand and analyze the realities on the ground and come to the conclusion that they cannot confront this nation....Just when the enemies of the independence and dignity of the Iranian nation expected the people not to respond to the call of the revolution and the Islamic Republic, the people disappointed the enemy with their participation.

1000 GMT: Ahmadinejad v. the Larijanis. Fazel Larijani, the brother of Speaker of Parliament Ali and head of judiciary Ali, has sent a message to the Tehran Prosecutor: "Bring me and Ahmadinejad's fellows 2 court. I am ready for any sentence, if corruption cases are investigated."

The President launched the current political crisis on 3 February when, on the floor of Parliament, he alleged that Fazel Larijani had approached Ahmadinejad's controversial advisor Saeed Mortazavi for a political favour. The two sides subsequently swapped videos, accusing each other of corruption.

Mortazavi was arrested and released on bail last week, but Fazel Larijani was not detained.

0950 GMT: Mousavi's Daughters Arrested. The opposition site Kalemeh reports that the daughters of detained opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard have been arrested.

Zahra and Narges Mousavi were detained after raids on their homes.

No charges have been announced, but the arrests may be related to statements made by the daughters about the conditions of their parents' strict house arrests. Zahra and Narges Mousavi said they had been blocked for months from seeing their mother and father and that the detainees had been given inadequate health care.

Mir Hossein Mousavi and Rahnavard were put under house arrest two years ago, preventing them from joining opposition protests.

0910 GMT: Ahmadinejad v. Larijanis. Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, has denounced the attack by Ahmadinejad supporters on Speaker Ali Larijani, forcing him to abandon a speech in a Qom mosque on Sunday --- Boroujerdi said it was an "insult" against Masoumeh Mosque, the second most important in Iran, the Revolution,Imam Khomeini, and the Supreme Leader.

The Deputy Speaker called for an investigation and said the Governor of Qom Province must answer for the incident.

0900 GMT: Supreme Leader Watch. If President Ahmadinejad has his "Viva Spring", the Supreme Leader has his "I'm a Revolutionary", as in his Thursday speech, "I'm a revolutionary, not a politician".

Supportive media use the slogan atop images of the crowd from Sunday --- the front page of the Khorasan daily:

0738 GMT: Ahmadinejad's Political War. Some of the President's supporters who broke up Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani's speech on Sunday, shouting and throwing prayers stones and shoes:

0658 GMT: The Ahmadinejad Speech. "Viva Spring" --- in President Ahmadinejad's explosive speech on Sunday, the 34th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, these were the two words that caught the attention of some Iranians.

An EA correspondent explains, "'Viva Spring' is an expression associated with Ahmadinejad's former Chief of Staff and close friend, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai. So, by using it on the day of the Revolution, Ahmadinejad was effectively launching the campaign for Rahim-Mashai to succeed him in June."

Rahim-Mashai, who left his post late last year to work with the Organization of Islamic Co-operation, is is known for the declaration, "We have one spring. That is the Mahdi [Hidden Imam], who will come soon."

BBC Persian summarises the reaction, not all of it positive. MP Mohammad Esmaeel Kothari, a former commander of the Revolutionary Guards, criticized the speech of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said, "If this is a repeated  slogan for a candidate for the forthcoming election , it is a clear violation by engineering the election."

"Viva Spring" has appeared elsewhere this week. It was featured on posters by Ahmadinejad's supporters as they greeted him on the President's return from a trip to Egypt. It was shouted by pro-Ahmadinejad men as they broke up the speech, throwing prayer stones and shoes, by the President's rival Ali Larijani yesterday in a Qom mosque.

However, "Viva Spring" was only the start of Ahmadinejad's speech at Azadi Square at Tehran. The President not only gave implicit support to Rahim-Mashai. He accused his opponents --- Larijani; his brother, head of judiciary Sadegh; and even officials close to the Supreme Leader --- of trying to rig the June election, denying Iranians their choice of the "best man".

We post a Special Analysis in a separate entry, "Ahmadnejad Declares Political War".

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