Iran Election Guide

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Iran Live Coverage: First the Space Monkey, Now a New Fighter Jet

State outlet Press TV on the unveiling of Iran's new F-313 fighter jet

See also EA Video Analysis: The Lie About an Iran "Explosion" That Became Headline News
Iran Video Feature: The Regime's "Justified" Imprisonment of Journalists
Saturday's Iran Live Coverage: The Supreme Leader's Men Launch Their Presidential Campaign

1950 GMT: The Defeat of Ahmadinejad. After today's showdown in Parliament, Speaker Ali Larijani and President Ahmadinejad have each cancelled press conferences called for tonight.

An audio of the clash between the two men has been posted on YouTube.

1850 GMT: The Defeat of Ahmadinejad. Some Western media have noticed today's dramatic events in Parliament, but they are struggling to get a handle on what happened.

Reuters has the fullest account but misses the humiliation of the President by the Speaker of Parliament --- and the impeachment of his Minister of Labor --- with the incomplete headline, "Iran President Accuses Parliament Speaker's Family of Corruption".

After giving a full description of the President's attempt to tag Larijani with corruption, via a claimed audio tape of the Speaker's brother, the article finally approaches the significant development:

"Our problem is that our president does not observe the basics of proper behavior," Larijani said. "Why did you discuss this issue here?"

Larijani continued: "Actually it's a good thing ... that you played this tape today, so that the people better understand your character."

The Washington Post focuses on the Minister of Labor's impeachment, giving only a brief description of the Ahmadinejad-Larijani exchange --- and missing the significance of it --- at the end of the article.

1610 GMT: Economy Watch. The Central Bank has put the official rate of inflation at 28.7% in January, a slight increase from 27.4% in December.

1458 GMT: Nuclear Watch. After a morning of confusion over Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi's statement, State outlet Press TV is headlining, "Iran, P5+1 to meet on Feb. 25 in Kazakhstan: Salehi".

The 5+1 Powers (US, Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia) had proposed the talks in the Kazakh capital Astana, but reports of Salehi's response did not established that Tehran had agreed.

1428 GMT: Ahmadinejad v. Larijani. How serious was the confrontation in Parliament between President Ahmadinejad and Speaker Ali Larijani as the Minister of Labor was dismissed? Consider....

Ahmadinejad, in his address to the Majlis, said he had two audio tapes. One was of his "grief and problems" (see 1336 GMT) and the other was of a meeting between his embattled advisor Saeed Mortazavi and the brother of an official. He turned to Larijani and said, "Should I say? Should I say?" --- repeating his well-known phrase, in the debates during the 2009 Presidential campaign, when he accused his rivals of corruption.

Larijani said, "Sure."

Unfortunately for Ahmadinejad, the quality of the tape was poor and MPs could not hear it. So he then declared that he had a video of the meeting between Mortazavi and "the official's brother" --- the brother being Fazel Larijani.

Ahmadinejad claimed that the Speaker's brother was asking Mortazavi to appoint someone --- "Z" --- to the Social Security Funds which Mortazavi heads, despite the opposition of many MPs and court orders for his dismissal.

The President continued, "Fazel Larijani said to Mortazavi that, if you allow this person to work, I will resolve all your problems with my brothers Ali and [head of judiciary] Sadegh."

MPs protested at this point, but Ali Larijani allowed him to continue, preventing the President's tactic of saying that he had been silenced.

When Ahmadinejad finished, Larijani said:

Mr Ahmadinejad, you were supposed to talk about impeachment of your Minister, but instead you accused me. Even if my brother has done this, then what does it have to do with me and what does it have to do with this impeachment session?

I have met your brother Davoud, and he has spoken about you and your relatives [a reference to Ahmadinejad's controversial right-hand man, Esfandiar Rahim Mashai] about their relationship with fitna [sedition] and [the "terrorist" group] MKO.

Does this allow me to tell everyone about these meetings?

The Speaker then denied Ahmadinejad's request to continue, saying it was time for the impeachment vote. Larijani chided, "Unfortunately you do not observe ethical and moral values in your words. Please leave."

Fazel Larijani has subsequently denied Ahmadinejad's allegations, while Davoud Ahmadinejad has confirmed Ali Larijani's account of their meetings.

1344 GMT: Press Watch. The conservative site Tabnak, linked to leading politician Mohsen Rezaei, is back on-line after it was suspended amid last week's crackdown on the press.

No official reason was given for the ban, although other Iranian media said it was linked to the insult of a prominent regime figure.

1336 GMT: Impeachment Watch. An EA correspondent offers more about the rebuke to President Ahmadinejad with Parliament's dismissal of his Minister of Labor.

In his speech, Ahmadinejad complained about the rejection of his decisions by Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani. Unmoved, Larijani told the President, "Please only speak about the subject, not irrelevant topics."

Ahmadinejad persisted, "I have recorded a speech talking about my problems, but some people told me not to release it as this would be unwise at this moment."

Larijani interrupted, "I am advising you to publish it."

The Speaker then asked Ahmadinejad, "Why do you not obey the law and Velayat-e Faqih [the Iranian system including the Supreme Leader]?"

1326 GMT: Impeachment Watch. In a sharp blow to the Ahmadinejad Government, Minister of Labor Abdolreza Sheikholeslami has been dismissed by Parliament.

The 290-member Majlis voted 192-56, with 24 absentions, to remove Sheikholeslami. Doing so, it rejected an appeal by President Ahmadinejad in a personal appearance in the chamber.

The Minister has been under fire for the Ahmadinejad Government's protection of controversial advisor Saeed Mortazavi. The President has defied court orders since last year ordering the removal of Mortazavi --- accused of involvement in the abuse and killing of post-election protesters in summer 2009 --- as head of the Social Security Funds.

1111 GMT: Nuclear Watch. Iranian media is not mentioning Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi's statement (see 1011 GMT) that the 5+1 Powers have proposed nuclear talks in Kazakhstan on 25 February, let alone the agreement of the Islamic Republic to the proposal.

Instead, headlines are over Parliament's consideration of the impeachment of the Minister of Labor --- with an appearance by President Ahmadinejad --- and more military tough talk from the head of the Revolutionary Guards, Mohammad Ali Jafari: "The Zionist regime (Israel) can only be dealt with through resistance and retaliation."

1011 GMT: Nuclear Watch. A somewhat confusing report from Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi's statement at the Munich Security Conferrence today....

Salehi said, "I have good news --- I heard yesterday that the P5+1 or EU3+3 (US, UK, France, Russia, China, and Germany) will be meeting in Kazakhstan on February 25."

It was unclear, however, if Salehi was saying that Tehran has agreed to join the discussion.

A European diplomat said the 5+1 Powers have proposed a new round of talks on 25 February in Kazakhstan but added that Iran had still not given a firm answer..

0811 GMT: Trade Watch. Another blow for Iran's foreign reserves --- India has announced that it will stop all payments in Euros for Iranian goods, notably oil, from this week.

Since July 2011, India has been paying for 55% of the imports through Euros from a Turkish bank, but officials confirmed that new US sanctions will block that option.

Instead, all Indian payments will be in rupees. Because the Indian currency is not convertible internationally, Iran can only use the revenues to pay for goods and services from Delhi.

The current level of Iran's foreign reserves, estimated at $80 billion at the end of 2011, is unknown, but they are believed to have fallen sharply amid economic tensions and sanctions.

0758 GMT: Nuclear Watch. The diplomatic dance that we identified on Saturday --- the suspension of talks about nuclear talks for several months, but Iran, the US, and the European Union's participants all making clear they are open to resumption in the autumn --- continues....

Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has responded to US Vice President Joe Biden's statement that Washington is ready for direct talks but Iran must be forthcoming and genuine in discussions.

Salehi indicated that Tehran was prepared for 1-on-1 negotiations with Washington, but America "must prove its sincerity".

0750 GMT: President v. Parliament. An important non-military appearance for President Ahmadinejad this morning --- he is in Parliament to defend Minister of Labor Abdolreza Sheikholeslami.

Sheikholeslami is under fire not only over economic problems but also the ongoing political dispute over Ahmadinejad's advisor Saeed Mortazavi. MPs have threatened to impeach the Minister if Mortazavi --- accused of involvement in the abuse and killings of post-election protesters in summer 2009 --- is not removed as head of the Social Security Funds.

Courts have ruled since last year that the advisor must be removed, but the Ahmadinejad Government has defied the orders.

0730 GMT: Military Postures. Earlier this week Iranian media were headlining the Islamic Republic's first launch of a monkey into space. There have been complications over the story, however, with photos of two different monkeys leading to speculation that the passenger had died on the 75-mile journey above Earth or that the launch never took place. Yesterday an official explained the confusion, asserting that one of the photos was an archive image of a monkey used in testing in 2011.

Never mind. Iranian media had already moved to a new show-piece. On Saturday morning, President Ahmadinejad and Minister of Defense Ahmad Vahidi unveiling the F-313 fighter jet, named Qader (Conqueror), for "preservation of peace".

Some cynics were still not impressed, however. Observers noted that images and videos showed the Qader was a "mock-up" model, missing components that would ensure it flew, let alone conquered the enemy. One specialist blog then took apart footage of the jet in flight as a "remote-controlled airplane", rather than a full-sized fighter.

Never mind. This morning Iranian media have new military postures to highlight. Revolutionary Guards commander Mohammad Hossein Sepehr says "Iran is a global cyber-power", while Deputy Chief of Staff Masoud Jazayeri proclaims, “Syria’s response to the recent aggression of the Zionist regime against this country will send this regime into a coma."

And Press TV gives us a sneak peek at the next military pose: "The Islamic Republic of Iran will be unveiling upgraded versions of two domestically designed and manufactured battle tanks this week."

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