Iran Election Guide

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Entries in Expediency Council (10)


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 The "hard-line" paper Kayhan, using a historical reference, has warned that leading political figures are seeking to force the Supreme Leader to "drink from the "poison chalice" and hold direct talks with the US over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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The Latest from Iran (8 July): Admitting the "Sanctions Problem"

See also Iran Document: Tehran's Official Proposals in the Nuclear Talks in Moscow
The Latest from Iran (7 July): Warning the Green Movement

Saturday's Expediency Council Meeting2110 GMT: Poll Watch. Days after State TV's website was embarrassed by surveys indicating most Iranians would give up enrichment of 20% uranium for sanctions relief and would not support the closure of the Strait of Hormuz --- to the point where the polls were withdrawn and the BBC was accused of hacking the site --- Khabar Online produces a result of 80% opposing the blocking of the Strait.

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The Latest from Iran (22 April): A Lull in the Politics

See also Iran Document: The Repression, Abuse, and Execution of Iranian Kurds
The Latest from Iran (21 April): Getting It Right on Politics and Nuclear Talks

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.

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Iran Analysis: Who Won Ahmadinejad's Non-Interrogation? The Supreme Leader.

In the end, the "interrogation" of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was no more than a one-act show.

Some in the audience of the Western press put out critical reviews --- "His Jokes Fell Flat" --- but those missed the significance of the production. This was a play designed not to run and run, but to open and close in the same morning.

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Iran Feature: The Regime Isolates the Rafsanjani Family (Alem)

Faezeh HashemiLast week women's rights activist Faezeh Hashemi, the daughter of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, was sentenced to six months in prison and a five-year ban on political, cultural, and media activities on charges of "spreading propaganda against the ruling system". The next day, the passports of the family of Mehdi Hashemi, Rafsanjani's son, were seized at Imam Khomeini International Airport outside Tehran.

Analyst Yasmin Alem speaks to The Iran Primer of the US Institute of Peace about the apparent campaign against the Rafsanjani family:

Why was Faezeh Rafsanjani charged?

Hashemi is the most politically active of former President Rafsanjani's children. She is a prominent social activist and leading Islamic feminist. A supporter of presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi in the 2009, she participated in a number of opposition rallies after the disputed poll. Ms. Rafsanjani was arrested and briefly detained by security forces on two occasions and barred from travelling abroad.

But her conviction on 2 January 2012 stems from an interview with Rooz Online, an opposition online newspaper. The interview was conducted after she was harassed by plainclothes security agents in April 2011. She told the opposition news website that “thugs and hooligans” were running the country.

She was subsequently accused and convicted of “insulting Islamic Republic officials". She was sentenced to six months in jail and banned from membership in any political organization as well as taking part in online and media activities for the next five years. Hashemi is likely to file an appeal. While she may be able to get her jail sentence overturned, the ban on her political activities is unlikely to be lifted.

Her sentence reflects the longstanding rivalry between two of the Islamic Republic’s founding fathers: former President Rafsanjani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The two men have jockeyed for the upper hand—and the country’s political direction—since the death of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989. Hashemi’s conviction is another way for the supreme leader to pressure his political rival at a time when Rafsanjani is already at the nadir of his power.

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Iran Feature: Parliament, the Regime, and the Influence of the Clerics (Alem)

Today, the role of the clerics in parliament from both factions can be described as negligible. There are only a few exceptions to this rule.

Does the trend in parliament reflect clerical influence in other spheres of power?

No. Clerics are still at the crux of all the three branches of government.

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Iran Snapshot: The Supreme Leader's Economic Plan (Ghajar)

Ayatollah Khamenei at an Oil PlantOn July 19, Iran’s highest authority, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, published a “General Employment Policy” consisting of 13 goals or strategies to improve employment in Iran. The plan was an indirect but telling acknowledgement of Iran’s massive unemployment problem --- it follows just a week after statements by Khamenei to Iran’s Chamber of Commerce in which the Supreme Leader urged economic optimism and restraint in publishing discouraging items regarding the economy. The statement was published to virtually every state-owned or affiliated news agency in Farsi, as well as the the Supreme Leader’s website.

Ayatollah Khamenei published the plan with advice from the Expediency Council, indicating once again the high level of importance placed upon solving the unemployment crisis in Iran. It is also worth noting that the Supreme Leader’s other statements the same week were translated into English on his website --- however, perhaps due to concerns over publicizing Iran’s unemployment situation, the 13-point plan is not featured in English on the site though a copy in Farsi was posted.

The Supreme Leader’s strategies for improving Iran’s abysmal unemployment situation are as follows:

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Iran Guide: Ahmadinejad, Rafsanjani, and the Battle in the Assembly of Experts (Khalaji)

The power struggle within Iran's political elite will be on full display during the March 8-9 semiannual meeting of the Assembly of Experts [Editor's Note: We are working with the dates of 7-8 March], the body charged with selecting the country's Supreme Leader and, in the case of the imminent meeting, electing a head of the assembly for the coming year. The assembly is now led by Rafsanjani himself, who twenty-two years ago played the lead role in selecting Ali Khamenei to succeed Ruhollah Khomeini as the country's Supreme Leader. In the present predicament, President Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad and other hardliners are trying to prevent Rafsanjani from maintaining his leadership of the assembly, yet removing him would further narrow the field of Iran's religious and political elite who support Khamenei.

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Wikileaks-Iran Document: Problems with the Opposition and the April 2009

Ahmadinejad's defeats on the budget and his plan to distribute cash payments to lower-income Iranians show that power centers, such as the Majles, are actively working to pressure the President prior to the June election....

Khamenei moderated his support for Ahmadinejad following Khatami's decision to exit the contest. Hosseini predicts Mir Hossein Mousavi will win the election.

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The Latest from Iran (12 September): Activist Nazar Ahari Freed

2240 GMT: Picture of the Day. Activist Shiva Nazar Ahari leaving Evin Prison tonight after she was freed on $500,000 bail. Nazar Ahari had been in detention since July 2009.

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