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Entries in David Cohen (7)


Iran Special: "Iranian Fighters Fire on US Drone" --- What is the Connection with US-Iran Nuclear Talks?

Iran displays a US drone after it crashed in the east of the country in November 2011

The significant story from Iran this week has been the continued political signals for renewed talks on the Iranian nuclear programme, not only with the 5+1 Powers (US, Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia) but also directly with American officials. Officials like Mohammad Javad Larijani, brother of the head of judiciary and the Speaker of Parliament, have indicated --- after issuing ritual denuncations of the American foe --- that Tehran will speak with the US "even in the bottom of hell". On Thursday, President Ahmadinejad tried to seize the limelight --- and any eventual credit --- with his own reference to discussions.

But on Thursday, that spotlight was turned from diplomacy to confrontation. Why?

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The Latest from Iran (13 July): Revolutionary Enemy-Breaking Queues for Chicken

See also Iran Snapshot: A Clumsy Intervention by Britain's Intelligence Chief
The Latest from Iran (12 July): Keeping the Oil Flowing....Maybe

1549 GMT: Immigration Watch. Kalemeh claims that Afghan immigrants, the subject of increasing restrictions by the regime in recent weeks, are no longer allowed to drive.

1545 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Saham News says that opposition figure Mehdi Karroubi, held under strict house arrests for 17 months, has not been allowed to attend the funeral of his sister.

1541 GMT: Economy Watch. ISNA reports that the price of domestically-produced cigarettes has doubled in recent weeks.

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The Latest from Iran (6 June): The Oil Squeeze

See also Iran Feature: The Week in Civil Society --- From #SaveMaleki to the "Shoot the Apostate" Video Games
Russia Audio Feature: Moscow's Manoeuvres With Iran --- Scott Lucas with Monocle 24
The Latest from Iran (5 June): The House Arrests

2028 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Amir Hossein Alavi, a member of the student alumni group Advar Tahkim Vahdat and a supporter of the Freedom Movement of Iran, has been arrested after being summoned to Zanjan’s Intelligence Bureau.

1913 GMT: Devious West Watch. Sohrab Salehi, the head of the Basij Professors Organization has asserted that, by imposing sanctions, the West wants to present the Supreme Leader as the main cause of inflation in Iran.

Look for more of this in the near-future from higher-level officials. If the nuclear talks collapse --- which I think is probable, given today's signals --- and when the European Union's cut-off of imports of Iranian oil takes effect from 1 July, the Islamic Republic's officials will need someone to break for the escalating economic tensions in Iran. Since that "someone" cannot be Ayatollah Khamenei, the "West" will have the lead role of villain.

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The Latest from Iran (11 May): The Battle Within

"Naqi", the song that led to an Ayatollah's call for the death of rapper Shahin Najafi (see 0620 and 1200 GMT)

See also Iran Snap Analysis: Isolating Ahmadinejad
The Latest from Iran (10 May): Supreme Leader Comments on Detained Mousavi and Karroubi

2035 GMT: At the Book Fair. The next level of censorship at the 25th Tehran International Book Fair....

After at least 11 publishers were banned from the exhibition, another six booths have been shut down for inappropriate displays. Two reportedly had posters of Nashr Cheshmeh, one of the banned publishers. Another had a posted of the famous Persian king Cyrus.

1720 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. Nothing distinctive in the President's speech during his promotional tour in northeastern Iran (see 1400 GMT)....

Speaking in Rashtkhvar, Ahmadinejad says the West should drop its “bullying” stance: “If the Iranian nation makes up its mind to do something, all devils and ill-wishers of the world cannot make them backtrack on their resolve."

The President continued that worship of the Devil, wealth, power, or worldly whims instead of God was the root cause of all human problems: “If the world powers worship the Almighty God, they will not make stockpiles of nuclear and chemical arsenals and will not try to occupy other territories.

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The Latest from Iran (24 October): How To Instantly Become an Iranian Citizen

See also Iran Video Interview: Ahmadinejad Puts Out His Standard Lines to CNN's Zakaria
The Latest from Iran (23 October): Qaddafi Visits the Supreme Leader

1835 GMT: No-Irony-at-All Elections Watch. A leading member of the Islamic Constancy Front, Morteza Agha Tehrani, has urged authorities to safeguard the coming elections and ensure that “votes are not stolen and there is no cheating".

The Constancy Front was established earlier this year by supporters of President Ahmadinejad and his allies. It has been at odds with other conservative factions who have sought a unified front for next March's Parliamentary vote.

In a meeting on Saturday in Qom, Agha Tehrani said: “If you truly want competent people to be elected to office, do not steal or buy votes and do not cheat.”

1605 GMT: CyberCrime. Minister of Communications and Technology Reza Taghipour has declared that the use of VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) and proxies is a “crime": “Now VPNs have been cut off in the country because their use is a legal violation.”

With a VPN, Internet users can get access to internet providers outside Iran by using ISPs within the country. Iranians have been using the VPNs and proxies to circumvent strict censorship by the Islamic Republic of foreign and domestic websites.

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The Latest from Iran (4 May): Economy Watch

2010 GMT: Cabinet Watch. Back to today's confusing chapter in the crisis over the President and his attempted dismissal of the Minister of Intelligence....

The website 7 AM, close to Presidential aide Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, offers an explanation for why Minister of Intelligence Heydar Moslehi was reportedly at the Cabinet meeting (see 1225 GMT) but did not appear in the photograph issued by the President's office (see 1610 GMT).

7 AM says "an informed source in the President's office (Rahim-Mashai?) denied" that "the President ordered the Minister of Information out of the Cabinet meeting". The source adds that going in and out of the Cabinet meeting "is not unusual".

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Wikileaks Special: Dissecting the Claim "Saudi Arabia A Cash Machine for Terrorists"

A fine example this weekend of keeping a careful eye on press coverage of the WikiLeaks documents and using the original cables to reach a more considered judgement....

The Guardian of London headlines, "WikiLeaks cables portray Saudi Arabia as a cash machine for terrorists". This is supported by the sub-headline: "Hillary Clinton memo highlights Gulf states' failure to block funding for groups like al-Qaida, Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba".

Not exactly.

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