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Iran Live Coverage: "Sedition is On the Way"

See also Sunday's Iran Live Coverage: Nuclear Talks in Istanbul

1620 GMT: Election Watch. A pointed statement from Presidential candidate Mostafa Pourhommadi --- even more significant because Iranian media is disseminating it in Persian and English --- aiming at President Ahmadinejad....

Pourmohammadi, former Minister of Interior and current Inspector General, challenged the likelihood of Ahmadinejad promoting his controversial right-hand man, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, as his succeesor: "It has been said that Mr. Mashai intends to become candidate. We have counted for that and know what to do. We have to do our own job. We must not reveal our tactics now.”

Significantly, Pourmohammadi also pointed to the possibility that the recent spate of campaign declarations --- which include former Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, Deputy Speaker of Parliament Mohammad Reza Bahonar, and Expediency Council official Hassan Rohani --- might be reconciled with the Supreme Leader's 2+1 Committee seeking a "unity" candidate: "Our collective tactic is to agree on one person if there is a powerful rival.2

Pourmohommadi continued, "If the ruling side candidate has a high capacity we will enact our own plans, if he doesn’t and goes into coalition with others again we will have our own plans.”

1610 GMT: Shipping Watch. The National Iranian Tanker Company has appointed Ali-Akbar Safaei as Managing Director.

Safaei, a NITC board member, replaces Hamid Behbahani. No reason was given for the change and it is unclear if Behbahani stepped down or was fired.

NITC has been under serious pressure in recent months because of US-led sanctions, some directly on the company and others affecting its ability to transport oil.

1010 GMT: Confrontation of the Day. A top naval official, Commander Siavosh Jarreh, has said that Iran's 24th Fleet has warned off an Australian reconnaissance plane near the Sri Lankan coast.

Jarreh said the Australian aircraft was approaching the Iranian fleet, consisting of a helicopter carrier and a destroyer, for photographic imaging.

"Immediately after receiving the warning, the Australian reconnaissance plane changed its flight course, but it began dropping submarine detection devices...all of which was picked up by [our] marines," he added.

The Iranian ships moved to the Strait of Malacca after docking and training exercies in China.

0840 GMT: Tough Talk of the Day. How do you turn a report of the US "enhancing its defence capabilities against North Korea and Iran" into a sign of American weakness?

Tabnak shows the way --- the step has been prompted by "the failure of America's missile system in Europe".

0830 GMT: Revolutionary Guards Watch. Beyond the warning of "sedition" from the Ahmadinejad camp (see 0650 GMT), commander Mohammad Ali Asoodi --- a representative of the Supreme Leader --- offers this telling statement, "Our enemies know our martyrs well, and for that reason their goal is to overcome the culture of martyrdom in our society."

An EA correspondent interprets:

The Revolutionary Guards are really bigging up the culture of martyrdom. It was always there, but recently there has been a massive amount of propaganda over it.

I ask if this is an example of the Guards supporting the Supreme Leader or staking out a position beyond him.

The correspondent responds, "They are looking after their own interests."

0700 GMT: The Battle Within. A follow-up on last month's conflict between President Ahmadinejad and Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, which erupted publicly when Ahmadinejad used a speech on the floor of the Majlis to accuse the Larijani family of corruption...

Babak Zanjani, the businessman accused of shady and possibly illegal deals with the Larijanis, has said one of the brothers, Fazel, "had not asked him directly to facilitate his economic activities".

Zanjani said he had a five-minute meeting with Fazel Larijani about the businessman's "plans to buy companies and social security organisations": "Fazel Larijani...said: 'If you want some help with these tasks, we will help" but no help was requested."

Interestingly, Zanjani issues the denial in an interview with BBC Persian, tarred by the regime as an outlet of Iran's enemies.

Zanjani also used the BBC to declare that, after the imposition of Western sanctions upon him for allegedly aiding Iran's nuclear activities, he had decided to move his money back to the Islamic Republic.

0650 GMT: Sedition Watch. Mohammad Ali Asoodi, Revolutionary Guard Commander and representative of the Supreme Leader's office, has claimed that a "sedition deeper than in 2009" is on its way before June's elections.

However, Asoodi's main concern does not appear to be the Green Movement, which emerged in the protests over President Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election four years ago. Instead, he seems to be worried about Ahmadinejad and his allies.

Speaking at a memorial for another Guards commander, allegedly assassinated by the "terrorist" Mujahedin-e Khalq, Asoodi pointed to heated speculation that, if Ahmadinejad's right-hand man Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai is not approved by the Guardian Council to run, the President might not go ahead with the elections.

That rumour started circulating in Iranian media, and was re-cycled by some Western outlets, earlier this month. So far, there is no substance for it --- indeed, it is not clear how Ahmadinejad could overrule the Guardian Council and Supreme Leader and abandon the election --- but Assodi's statement points to more than a passing worry over the President's next moves.

The commander concluded, "Since we have total obedience to the Supreme Leader, we will see what the Supreme Leader wants."

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