Now the important question: is this chest-thumping merely a complement to the talk and manoeuvres for discussions with the US and the 5+1 Powers on Iran's nuclear programme? Is it the indication that Tehran is stepping away from negotiations? Or does it point to a continuing battle within the regime, with the Revolutionary Guards' commanders trying to win over Supreme Leader and quash the efforts of others --- not only the diplomats, but also politicians like the Larijani brothers --- for the discussions with Washington?
Entries in Amir Ali Hajizadeh (8)
2034 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. The young children of detained lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh have reportedly been denied a visit, as the attorney enters the fourth week of a hunger strike over prison restrictions.
Sotoudeh's husband Reza Khandan wrote:
At the visitation area, despite the fact that prisoners are normally granted face to face visits if they present a letter, we were told that we need to go to the prison’s main gate in order to visit with Nasrin.
At the main gate, after presenting them with the letter allowing us to see Nasrin in person, we were forced to wait 3 hours. Nima who suffers from asthma started having a cough attack as a result of his cold and the poor air condition.
The prison’s administration office eventually closed and an hour after the official prison visitation hours and after such a long wait, we returned home extremely disappointed, never being able to see Nasrin.
The children were starring at that prison gate for 3 1/2 hours. Every time that gate opened and closed they waited patiently to hear their names so that they could see their mother.
1810 GMT: Discovery of the Day. Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the head of Parliament's National Security Committee, has claimed that the German company Siemens installed explosives in equipment for an Iranian nuclear site. He said that the operation was discovered by authorities, and Siemens must explain itself.
Reports have circulated that the Stuxnet virus was introduced into Iranian computers, used in the nuclear programme, through vulnerabilities in Siemens equipment.
2046 GMT: Excuse of the Day. Earlier today (see 1103 GMT) we reported on the curious episode where State TV's website suddenly pulled a poll when 63% of respondents favoured giving up enrichment of uranium if sanctions would be relieved. Well, here comes the explanation....
Iran's state TV is charging the BBC with hacking its website to change the results of a poll about Iran's nuclear program....
The TV report Wednesday said the actual figure who favoured suspension of enrichment] was 24 percent, and the rest favored retaliation against the West with measures like closing the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a key to exporting oil from the Gulf.
1513 GMT: War Watch. There has been quite a flutter on the Internet over comments by the former head of Israel's internal intelligence agency Shin Bet, Yuval Diskin, critising Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak over postures and policies on Iran based on "messianic feelings". Diskin said he would not trust the Israeli leaders in the event of a pre-emptive strike on Iran's nuclear sites.
The comments should be seen in the context of a wave of recent comments by former and current Israeli military and intelligence leaders, including former head of the Mossad, Israel's foreign intelligence service, Meir Dagan and current Chief of General Staff Benny Gantz, playing down talk of an imminent Iranian nuclear weapons capability and warning against the consequences of an Israeli attack (see the discussion in Comments).
Interpretation? Seeing this as a possible contest and even rift between the military and the political leadership, I would note the significant influence of the ties between the Israeli and the US military and inteligence communities. Washington's military commanders have not only been vocal this spring in their caution against an assault; they have given signals to Israeli counterparts that they would like to see the same out of West Jerusalem.
Video from The Guardian:
2040 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. President Ahmadinejad has used the set-piece of a visit from Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to put out the line of Tehran's close relations with Baghdad in a challenge to the West and Israel:
If Tehran and Baghdad are powerful and dignified, there will be no place in the region for the enemies of nations, including the US and the Zionist regime. “The hegemonic powers that have been slapped by the two nations are trying to keep countries like Iran and Iraq weak in order to bring the entire region under their domination and control by creating dissention and sowing discord.
2010 GMT: Spin Watch. An instructive story about how Iranian State media re-packages economic news to find the "positive"....
Earlier today (see 1257 GMT) we reported the finding of the International Monetary Fund that Iran's inflation rate in 2011 was twice that of other countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
Well, although that story was in Iran's Aftab News, you won't find it in Fars or State outlets IRNA and Press TV. Instead, IRNA features a message from Tehran to the IMF:
Iran as one of the co-founders of International Monetary Found expects a supportive role from this organization, Governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Mahmoud Bahmani said here on Friday.
Bahmani made the remark in a meeting with the IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde on the sidelines of semiannual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington.
Fars has almost the exact same story.
Now watch as today's Press TV, citing Fars, suddenly turns the story, "Iran Economic Reforms Positive, Constructive: IMF Chief":
Managing director of International Monetary Fund (IMF) says the economic reforms carried out by the Iranian government in recent years, especially the Subsidy Reform Plan, have been positive and constructive.
In a meeting with Governor of the Central Bank of Iran Mahmoud Bahmani on the sidelines of semiannual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington, Christine Lagarde expressed hope that Western sanctions against Iran's central bank would be lifted.
Lagarde also indicated her concern about the fluctuations in global oil prices and their impact on the world economic growth.
We can find no record anywhere of Lagarde making these alleged remarks.
2110 GMT: Currency Watch. The Iranian rial continues to slide against the US dollar. Having broken the 13000:1 barrier for the first time this summer, it sank from 13100:1 on Sunday to 13280:1 today, also falling against the British pound and Euro.
Meanwhile, economic expert Bijan Abdi has sharply criticised, "Our benefit from the Year of Economic Jihad" --- declared by the Supreme Leader in March --- "is next to nothing." He blamed the Ahmadinejad Administration and Parliament for the failure.
Without naming the President, Larijani said, "We are confronted with political 'lumpenism', politicians should not agitate society mentally."
The Speaker used the derogatory term "laat-baazi", referring to the indecent behaviour of a rascal, as he indicated, "A certain political person has not enough manners or honour."
1810 GMT: Khamenei's Balancing Act? More on the statement of the Supreme Leader's representative to the Revolutionary Guards, Mojtaba Zolnour (see 1435 GMT)....
While defending Ayatollah Khamenei's support of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the 2009 election, Zolnour said that the "nezam" (system) was interrogating elements of the "deviant current".
Significantly, Zolnour indicated that the President's right-hand man Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai was the head of this deviant current and that the Guardian Council would reject him as a Presidential candidate in 2013.
1800 GMT: Ahmadinejad v. Khamenei? The pro-Ahmadinejad Absar News has warned the "aghazade-ha" (sons of influential persons) not to eliminate the President.
So at whom is Absar pointing? Digarban thinks it is Mojtaba Khamenei, the son of the Supreme Leader.