Iran Election Guide

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Entries in Mohammad Reza Bahonar (63)


Iran Today: Tehran on Nuclear Talks "No Time-Wasting"

Nuclear Negotiators Catherine Ashton & Saeed JaliliProtest Watch

Iranian media report on protests in Hormozogan and Fars provinces because of reorganisation of local governments and authorities' expropriation of a mine.

Presidential Election Watch

Arsalan Fathipour, the head of Parliament's Economy Commission, has said he will stand for the Presidency. He declared that he wants a Parliament of economists and he will revive the Planning Centre.

Clerical Watch

Ayatollah Nouri Hamedani, meeting Presidential hopeful Hassan Rohani in the holy city of Qom, has said that many current problems are because of the weakness of current officials.

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Iran Analysis: Losing Control of the Presidential Election?

Far from getting a clearer picture on how the regime is going to organise the Presidential election, the weekend's developments have confirmedat least seven factions:

1. The Supreme Leader's Committee, which has yet to name a candidate;

2. The "Followers of Imam's Line and Leadership Front", with its four Presidential candidates;

3. The Rafsanjani camp;

4. President Ahmadinejad's camp, who would like to put forth Ahmadinejad's right-hand man, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, but may have to settle for Minister of Roads Ali Nikzad;

5. The "hard-line" Endurance Front, including leading cleric Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, which has been relatively quiet and has not announced a preference;

6. Other conservative and principlist candidates, the most vocal of whom has been Mohsen Rezaei, Secretary of the Expediency Council and former commander of the Revolutionary Guards;

7. The reformists, some of whom will participate in the election but who are unlikely to have a high-profile candidate unless former President Mohammad Khatami stands and who have been crippled by the regime's restrictions.

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Iran Live: Nuclear Talks Grind to a Halt --- What Next?

See also Iran Special: The Stalled Nuclear Talks --- Why Tehran Cannot Give Up Its Right to Enrichment
Saturday's Iran Live: Decoding the Signals from the Nuclear Talks

2055 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Blogger and poet Reza Akvanian has been arrested.

Akvanian, a writer for the blog “Salhaye Khoobe Zendegi (Life’s Good Years)", was also detained in February 2010 by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence and given a one-year prison sentence, with five years suspended, for “insulting the leader and the President” and “association with outsiders by sharing news reports".

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Iran Live: Decoding the Signals from the Nuclear Talks

Iran Snap Analysis: No Advance in the Nuclear Talks on Friday
Friday's Iran Live: Nuclear Talks Resume in Kazakhstan

1942 GMT: Nuclear Watch. The American attempt to put the spin on the outcome of the nuclear talks has now emerged.

A "senior U.S. official" told reporters that, despite the failure to make any advance, there was no breakdown in nuclear negotiations and that diplomacy would continue.

The official said Iran could be subjected to more economic sanctions in the future, as Western governments seek to step up pressure, but he also claimed that there were some positive signs in the two sets of Almaty discussions in February and April: "Our exchanges were more natural and free-flowing than they had been in the past talks."

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Iran Live: Nuclear Talks Resume in Kazakhstan

Iran Analysis: 5-Point Beginner's Guide to Today's Nuclear Talks
Iran Feature: Talking Tough --- How the US and Tehran Mirror Each Other's Rhetoric
Thursday's Iran Live: Tehran's Positive Signals for Nuclear Talks

1430 GMT:Nuclear Watch. Joanna Paraszczuk surveys reaction in the Iranian press to today's talks in Kazakhstan....

ISNA gave a neutral report on Friday afternoon, noting that Iran's nuclear negotiating team had a new member, Mehdi Safari, the former ambassador to China.

ISNA also reported that the spokesman for the lead negotiator of the 5+1 Powers, Catherine Ashton, said they were not going to put any new offers on the table in this round of talks, and that Tehran needed to prove its nuclear programne had no military dimension.

Fars News, close to the Revolutionary Guards, focused on Iran's position. It repeated comments by Ali Bagheri, Iran's deputy negotiators, that Tehran had come up with specific recommendations for cooperation with the 5+1, and that those proposals had been presented in Moscow last June.

Iran believed the proposals were a "confidence building step, i.e. actions that both sides have to agree to do as part of a comprehensive solution", Bagheri said.

Hardline Mashregh News, meanwhile, criticised comments by Ashton's spokesman Michael Mann as "strange".

Mashregh noted that Mann had tried to respond to an Iranian journalist's question about why Europe had not made "the slightest effort to stop Israel's nuclear activities", and why the 5+1 were talking about Iran's nuclear program and not West Jerusalem's.

The journalist added that world powers ignored the fact that two-thirds of non-aligned nations supported Iran's nuclear programme.

Mann responded that the "discussions about resolving Iran's nuclear programme must be completed and it is not possible to set a deadline for that", according to Mashregh.

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Iran Live Coverage: Seeking the "Unity" Candidate for the Presidency

1410 GMT: Election Watch. The conservative Jahan News tips off both nerves and in-fighting with its concern over photos of President Ahmadinejad's right-hand man, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, on monitors at Imam Khomeini International airport.

Jahan claimed that the photos, accompanied by short quotes, "reveal a serious intention to enter the elections" by Rahim-Mashai.

Rahim-Mashai, formerly Ahmadineajad's Chief of Staff, has not yet officially announced his candidacy. He may be blocked by the Guardian Council from standing, so the Ahmadinejad camp put up an alternative candidate, Minister of Roads Ali Nikzad, last weekend.

Jahan, linked to the politician Alireza Zakani, is still convinced that the President will pursue Plan A:

some say that Ahmadinejad will never take the risk because [Rahim-Mashai's] candidacy will not be approved by the Guardian Council. But others, who appear to have a more logical point, believe that not making Mashai a candidate puts in question the philosophy of the President in the prices he has paid for [Mashai] in the last several years.

Jahan concludes, “At this moment, the actions of Mashaei and the administration points in the direction of Esfandiar Rahim Mashai’s candidacy.”

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Iran Live: Still Looking for "Unity" for the Election

The Supreme Leader's "2+1 Committee" --- MP Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, Khamenei advisor Ali Velayati, and Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf --- who are seeking a "unity" candidate for the Presidential election

See also Iran Analysis: This Week's Nuclear Talks --- A 5-Point Guide to the US and European Position
Monday's Iran Live: Will Iranians Celebrate "Islamic Republic Day"?

1410 GMT: Food Watch. Nasser Karimi offers another story on the soaring price of pistachios, a luxury for New Year celebrations, adding this twist:

The government, which usually tries to contain Iranians' anger over the economy, has heartily backed the pistachio boycott — again for reasons tied to the Western-led sanctions over Iran's nuclear program. Pistachio exports provide a small but important pipeline for foreign revenues at a time when sanctions are squeezing Iran's oil and gas sales. Authorities say fewer nuts consumed at home means more available to sell abroad.

The pale green nuts are Iran's top non-oil export, though admittedly they are very distant second. Iran earned at least $750 million last year from exporting the nut, with some estimates as high as $1 billion.

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Iran Live Coverage: The Pre-Election Fight Escalates with Ahmadinejad

1300 GMT: Obama Conspiracy Watch. Joanna Paraszczuk writes....

Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi, the commander of the Basij militia, has accused President Obama of "congratulating the Iranian people in Persian but acting in Hebrew" in his message for Iranian New Year.

Naqdi accused Washington of spouting rhetoric and expecting the Iranian people to believe its slogans. Referring to a 2010 nuclear deal put forward by Iran, after mediation by Turkish and Brazilian leaders, the commadner said that Obama had promised to solve the issue but had refused to accept that deal.

Naqdi also commented on Michelle Obama's announcement of the Best Picture Oscar for the "anti-Iranian film" Argo, saying that her actions proved that the annual awards were political in nature.

"We are glad that these facts were made clear to the Iranian people," he said, noting that Michelle Obama had shown the world the truth about the Oscars.

Naqdi's comments follow those of a senior military commander, Yaghoub Soleimani that some "supporters of the Islamic Revolution" want to organize a prize for Michelle Obama for proving that Hollywood movies are politically and not artistically motivated.

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Iran Live Coverage: "America is Trying to Eliminate Islam from Iran"

See also Iran Special: Sanctions, "Analysis", and the Never-Ending Circle of Propaganda --- From NIAC to Neo-Cons
Thursday's Iran Live Coverage: Another Challenge to Ahmadinejad

2041 GMT:Sanctions Watch. Turkey exported almost $120 million worth of gold to Iran in February.

The figure suggests the two countries' trade of gold for natural gas has resumed despite tighter US sanctions, though at levels below last year's surge.

Turkey sold no gold to Iran in January, as banks and dealers eyed the implementation of US restrictions on 6 February that tightened control over transfer of precious metals to the Islamic Republic.

TA six-month waiver exempting Turkey from US sanctions, because of its reduction of imports of Iranian oil and gas, is due to expire in July. Ankara, Tehran's biggest natural gas customer, has been paying for energy imports with Turkish lira, because sanctions prevent it from paying in dollars or euros.

Turkey sold $117.9 million worth of gold to Iran last month, while exports to the UAE, which has served in the past as a transit route to Tehran, rose to $402.3 million from $371 million in January.

Turkey's monthly gold sales to Iran peaked last July at $1.8 billion.

2011 GMT:Economy Watch. Mohammad Reza Bahonar --- Deputy Speaker of Parliament and Presidential candidate --- has said that only 20-30% of Iran's economic problems are because of sanctions. The rest, he said, are due to mismanagement.

Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani has made a similar criticism of the Ahmadinejad Government.

Bahonar, citing "serious spikes in prices", sepcifically blamed President Ahmadinejad's subsidy cuts plans and the manner in which housing projects were implemented. He said many factories had closed or were in danger of doing --- thus the Supreme Leader's declaration of a "Year of National Production” had not been fulfilled.

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Iran Live Coverage: What Happened in the Nuclear Talks in Istanbul?

See also Iran Feature: So What is The Regime's "Must Read" US Book?
Monday's Iran Live Coverage: "Sedition is On the Way"

1955 GMT: Education Watch. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for the dismissal of the heads of Tehran University and Tarbiat Muddares University, Khabar Online reports.

Khabar published what it said was a letter from the President to Kamran Daneshjoo, the Minister of Science, Research, and Technology, calling for the firings.

Reports also claim Ahmadinejad is insisting on the dismissal of the head of Jahad Daneshqai University and Amir Kabir University.

An EA correspondent suggests that the reason for these requests is because the four University Presidents oppose Ahmadinjad's close confidante and advisor Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai studying for a Master's degree.

Some observers believe the Guardian Council could use Rahim-Mashai's lack of a postgraduate degree to prevent him from standing for President.

1915 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. Faezeh Hashemmi, the daughter of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, has been released from prison after serving a six-month term.

Hashemi was detained in September on charges, imposed in 2011, of spreading propaganda against the Islamic Republic. The court also banned her from political activities for five years.

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