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Entries in Esfandiar Rahim Mashai (17)


Iran Live: Uncertainty over the Presidential Election

The Supreme Leader's "2+1 Committee" --- failing to establish a unity candidate for June's election?

See also Iran Caption Competition: Ahmadinejad Dresses Up in Africa
Saturday's Iran Live: An Ahmadinejad Election Comeback?

1555 GMT: Election Watch

Mehr posts a series of pictures of a de facto election rally by President Ahmadinejad and his would-be successor, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, in Khuzestan Province in southwestern Iran.

In his speech, Ahmadinejad criticised those "who want to decide for people" and indicated that support payments, covering the cost of his subsidy cuts, could be increased by five times.

Mehr:also claims that Ahmadinejad is planning a meeting with 85 bloggers and an "Epic of Presence" rally for women and youth.

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Iran Live Coverage: Don't Mention the "Free Elections"

See also Iran Feature: Spotlight Returns to Detained Opposition Leaders Mousavi and Karroubi
Sunday's Iran Live Coverage: The Isolation of the Country

1714 GMT: Scare Story of the Day (cont.). I have now read the 154-page report by 5 US analysts and activists being trumpeted in the media as proof that Iran will have a Bomb by mid-2014.

As I anticipated in an earlier entry (see 1546 GMT), the report sets aside careful analysis for supposition, manipulation of some evidence, and ignorance of other facts. It should be treated as a polemic in its calls for tougher sanctions and threat of military action by the US.

1650 GMT: All the President's Men. A court has cancelled the appointment of senior Presidential aide Saeed Mortazavi as head of Social Funds Organization.

Mortazavi has long been criticised for his alleged role in the abuse and killing of protesters in the Kahrizak detention centre after the disputed 2009 Presidential election. Although he has not been prosecuted, a court ruled that he should not hold a Government post pending investigation.

President Ahmadinejad defied the order, installing Mortazavi as head of the Social Security Fund in early 2012. The Administrative Court ruled against the appointment --- the Government responded with the circumvention of renaming the agency.

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Iran Analysis: Preparing for Elections, Ahmadinejad Tries to Replace His Vice President

New Vice President? Gholam Hossein ElhamEarlier this week, we noted reports in Iranian media that President Ahmadinejad was planning to replace 1st Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi and three leading ministers. We also noted the denial from Ahmadinejad's office.

That, however, is only the beginning of the story. An EA correspondent in Iran assures us that Ahmadinejad is trying to remove his Vice President --- and it is part of a bigger plan for the Presidential election in June.

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Iran Live Coverage: The Supreme Leader Admits A Crisis

See also Iran Feature: The Top 10 Stories of 2012 --- A Currency Falls, Sanctions Expand, and Political Prisoners Continue to Resist
EA Special: 10 Predictions for 2013 --- Assad Gone, an Angry Middle East, and Little Change on "Human Rights"
Monday's Iran Live Coverage: All-Is-Well Oil Alerts

2040 GMT: Labour Front. More than 500 workers at the Safa Pipe factory have begun a fourth round of protests over conditions and the delayed payment of wages.

A worker said the demonstration began Saturday after employees were not paid in more than six months.

1940 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Popular singer and activist Arya Aramnejad was summoned today to serve his 91-day sentence.

Aramnejad has been detained on several occasions, including a five-month stay in prison from November 2011 to April 2012.

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The Latest from Iran (8 December): Tehran to Hit New Low in Oil Exports?

See also Iran Snap Analysis: A Regime Still Worried About the Green Movement? (Yes.)
The Latest from Iran (7 December): Maintaining the Oil Squeeze

1740 GMT: Nuclear Watch. The "hard-line" paper Kayhan, using a historical reference, has warned that leading political figures are seeking to force the Supreme Leader to "drink from the "poison chalice" and hold direct talks with the US over the nuclear issue.

The expression refers to Ayatollah Khomeini's statement when he reluctantly agreed to the punishing conditions of a cease-fire in the Iran-Iraq War in 1988.

The regime pursued "back-channel" discussions with the US in the autumn, but these appear to have come to a halt in October. Since then, Tehran has grown frustrated with an apparent failure of Washington and its allies to talk about an Iranian proposal trading enrichment of 20% uranium for sanctions, and this week Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani indicated the Islamic Republic is backing away from the idea of direct talks.

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Iran Snap Analysis: A Regime Still Worried About the Green Movement? (Yes.)

Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, a member of the Supreme Leader's inner circle, addresses an audience before the March 2012 Parliamentary elections

“The impressive participation of 85% of the people in the 2009 election was a subject of pride for us, but unfortunately some embittered the sweetness of the election the day after and labelled the regime [guilty] of fraud....The damage by the seditionists was no less than the damage Saddam did in the 8-year war [between Iran and Iraq in the 1980s.”

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The Latest from Iran (4 December): Regime Concern over Political Prisoners?

State outlet Press TV on Revolutionary Guards' capture of a US dronem, announced today

See also Iran Analysis: A Debate Over Ahmadinejad's Political Future
Monday's The Latest from Iran (3 December): Medicine and Sanctions

2100 GMT: Book Corner. More than 100 Iranian writers, poets, and translators have called for an end to book censorship in an open letter.

The literary figures want the abolition of the requirement that writers obtain authorisation from the Culture Ministry before publishing:

Iran is one of the rare countries in the beginning of the 21st century where authors have to ask for a license from the state in order to publish their books, even though the requirement is not stated in the constitution....

In reality, this method amounts to hostage taking of freedom of expression, creativity, and the livelihood of writers by the government in order to impose its ideas on the authors.

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Iran Analysis: The Resurrection of Ahmadinejad's Right-Hand Man?

In the first part of President Ahmadinejad's second term, after protests over the disputed 2009 election had been suppressed, Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai was a headline figure. The expectation that Ahmadinejad would name Rahim-Mashai as his desired successor guaranteed both support and criticism of the controversial aide.

As Ahmadinejad became engulfed in his own political problems after his failed attempt to extend power in spring 2011, Rahim-Mashai receded from view. Opponents pressed him with allegations that he was a supporter of the US and Israel --- even that he was Jewish --- as well as claims of corruption and financial mismanagement. The Chief of Staff, once vocal, maintained a cautious silence.

However, on Thursday, there was an apparent resurrection.

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The Latest from Iran (15 November): Tehran's Open Call for Nuclear Talks

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and Iran's Secretary of the National Security Council, Saeed Jalili

1759 GMT: A Death in Detention. Head of judiciary Sadegh Larijani has declared that he will deal "firmly" with anyone found guilty of abuse, torture, and/or wrongful behaviour in the case of blogger Sattar Beheshti, who died during interrogation in prison last week.

See Iran Feature: The Last Blog of Sattar Beheshti, Murdered by Security Forces in Prison

1753 GMT: Health Watch. Minister of Health Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi, trying to stave off criticism and calls for her impeachment (see 0945 GMT), has declared that Iran has risen from 56th to 20th in the world in medical care in the last 10 years, and that the Islamic Republic is 14th in the world for pharmaceuticals.

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The Latest from Iran (14 November): Ahmadinejad Threatens to Expose Corruption

See also Iran Opinion: Sanctions Support Regime's "Internet Repression"
The Latest from Iran (13 November): Admitting a Blogger's Death in Detention

1945 GMT: Nuclear Watch. After weeks of signals, the regime has made its public push for renewed nuclear discussions today.

Iran's lead negotiator Saeed Jalili has called on the 5+1 Powers (US, UK, France, Germany, China, and Russia) to return to the negotiating table as soon as possible, stressing Tehran's readiness for talks.

Press TV pointedly calls Jalili "the representative of Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei" to emphasise the Supreme Leader's blessing of the announcement.

Jalili spoke in Tehran alongside Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who welcomed “an earliest possible resumption of talks...preferably before the end of the year".

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