Iran Election Guide

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Entries in Mohammad Sharif Malekzadeh (14)


The Latest from Iran (3 December): Medicine and Sanctions

See also The Latest from Iran (2 December): Ahmadinejad Puts His Right-Hand Man in a New Post

2055 GMT: Foreign Affairs (Egyptian Front). After a period of uncertainty over how to play its relationship with Egypt --- given President Morsi's slapdown of Iran over Syria this summer, his key role in ending the Gaza War, and then his sudden grab of powers --- it looks like Tehran is back to the promotion of an Iran-Egypt alliance to reshape the Middle East.

Kazem Jalali, a leading MP with role at the Parliamentary Research Center and the National Security Committee, puts out the line, “Egypt and Iran can play an important and effective role in the Middle East region for promoting peace and security, and providing proper grounds for unity of the Muslim world."

Jalali hailed Egypt’s 2011 revolution as a “great achievement for the regional nations,” adding, “Every revolution is usually followed by a transition period which has to be passed and the Egyptian revolution is no exception to this rule. We hope to see stability and calm in this country very soon.”

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Iran Snap Analysis: Isolating Ahmadinejad

Even the rumour smacked of disinformation and/or the desparation of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's camp. Tehran Emrooz --- linked to the President's conservative rival, Tehran Mayor Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf --- was claiming that Ahmadinejad would seek to become Mayor, a post he held from 2003 to 2005, when his Presidential term ended in 2013. The post would allow Ahmadinejad to hold a portion of the power that he craves, while he and his allies tried to put a "close friend" into the Presidency.

Probably a story which is more smoke than substance, but that smoke is still significant. So was Ahmadinejad's supposed defiance on Thursday as he vigorously defended the second phase of his subsidy cuts plans, still to be implemented five months after officials said it was imminent, and declared that his critics were covering up their failures as they slandered him.

That defiance tipped off weakness, rather than strength. The President is a fighter, of course, but here he was fighting to save the centrepiece of his economic table, rocking amidst both political fighting and the inflation surrounding the first stage of the subsidy cuts.

Equally significant is that Ahmadinejad, as he is battling in this area, is saying little or nothing on another. Instrumental in the effort to get nuclear talks in 2009 and to keep the prospect alive in 2010-2011, the President is silent in 2012. Given his nature, I doubt that is Ahmadinejad's choice --- he has been cut out of the nuclear issue.

Some will say that Ahmadinejad is "safe" because of the damaging information that he holds --- and has threatened to reveal --- on other members of the Islamic Republic's elite. That could well be true. It looks, for example, as that option of "I'll Take You Down with Me" has saved his advisors such as Saeed Mortazavi and Mohammad Sharif Malekzadeh from prosecution.

But "safe" is not the same as dominant or even influential. The President is being squeezed on a daily basis. Next year, he could be yesterday's man. The more interesting question, however, is whether he already is.


The Latest from Iran (9 May): Propaganda and Oil

See also Iran-Afghanistan Opinion: Tehran's Mistaken Posturing Over the US-Afghan Pact
The Latest from Iran (8 May): The Political Fight Over Subsidy Cuts

2042 GMT: Parliament v. President. After the postponement yesterday of the impeachment process against Minister of Labor Abdolreza Sheikholeslami, prominent MPs Ali Motahari and Ahmad Tavakoli have declared in a statement that they will resume the effort at the start of the new Parliament next month.

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The Latest from Iran (4 May): Election Day Again

The Supreme Leader casting his vote today

See also The Latest from Iran (3 May): The Oil Squeeze

1930 GMT: Elections Watch. There are no clear numbers from today's second Parliamentary elections, but Iranian media are already putting out the message of "impressive turnout".

Mehr emphasises the diversity of those voting, including "Expediency Council Chairman Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani; Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of the late Imam Khomeini; pro-reform figure Mohammad Mousavi Khoeiniha, who is the secretary general of the Association of Combatant Clerics; and National Confidence Party deputy chief Rasul Montajabnia, who is also a key member of the Association of Combatant Clerics".

And Tehran University academic Seyed Mohammad Marandi offers the inevitable proclamation that the show of domestic support for the regime will bolster it in forthcoming talks over Iran's nuclear programme.

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The Latest from Iran (14 September): Ahmadinejad's Public Relations Triumph

See also Iran Video: Full Ahmadinejad Interview with NBC News
Iran Interview: Ahmadinejad to Washington Post "If US Gives Us Uranium, We Will Stop Production"

2110 GMT: Ahmadinejad's Public Relations Triumph? Another warning signal tonight for the President over his mention of the freeing of US hikers Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer....

Press TV features the remarks of MP Parviz Sarvari, a member of Parliament's National Security Commission, "If Iran was to release these two [spies] without receiving anything from the US Government in return, this would be against the spirit of the Islamic Revolution."

The significance lies not so much in the statement of Sarvari, who is known for heated remarks --- this week he called for the execution of Ahmadinejad's right-hand man Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai (see 0655) --- as in Press TV deciding to give it prominence.

2047 GMT: Omission of the Day. Press TV reports on the President's speech today:

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announces government plans to introduce reforms in the banking system and to strengthen the country's currency.

“Reforming the banking system was placed on the government's agenda and, by God's grace, reforms in this system will begin this year,” Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday in a public address in the northwestern city of Ardabil, the official presidential website reported.

He added that the changes would prevent discrimination in the distribution of banking loans to Iranians.

“I am hopeful that, through banking reforms injustice in granting loans will be no more and the means [enabling] of misuse of public funds will be no longer.”

So what is missing from this report? (Hint: the magic number is 2.6 billion --- see 1445 GMT.)

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Iran Document: Supreme Leader to MPs "Heckling of President Ahmadinejad is Disgraceful"

Ahmadinejad Faces Parliament after HecklingMy unhappiness is because of the disrespect that was provided to the President. You disrespected the President. You have the right to point out things to him, question him, and even censure him but you cannot insult anyone, particularly the President. The Presidency is a respectable office in the constitution. Look at the record, Presidents have always had opponents in the Majlis; but when were they insulted in such a manner? This insulting behavior was cruel, unjust and a sin.

My concern is about the Majlis. I was really concerned about the Majlis itself. What kind of a situation is this in which the Majlis, a forum that is presented as the representative of the virtues of people, engages in cries of "No, No", and prevents someone from expressing his view? I have repeatedly told Mr. Larijani to prevent such behavior. Why is there such disrespectful "No No" calling? The only thing they have not done is start a physical fight and jump all over each other, like they do in some countries.

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Iran Overview: 4 Questions and Answers About the Political Situation (Eshraghi)

Ejecting Ahmadinejad from office before the end of his term would come at a high cost, and it’s only likely to happen if he makes himself absolutely intolerable for the Supreme Leader and the regime as a whole. In other words, it depends on a cost-benefit equation where the price of removing him is set against the price of continuing to put up with him.

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The Latest from Iran (28 June): Towards the Next Elections

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.

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The Latest from Iran (26 June): When Arrests Are "Normal"

2000 GMT: Reformist Watch. MP Dariush Ghanbari has given an indication that reformists --- or at least those allied with him --- will participate in the 2012 Parliamentary vote, saying they have "serious plans" for the elections.

1910 GMT: The Hunger Strikers. Kalemeh reports that two of the six hunger strikers at Rajai Shahr Prison, Masoud Bastani and Isa Saharkhiz, have been transferred to the infirmary.

Earlier today (see 1650 GMT) Isa Saharkhiz's son Mehdi said his father was in "critical condition" after three days on hunger strike.

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The Latest from Iran (25 June): A 2nd Week for the Hunger Strikes

2040 GMT: Elections Watch. Teaser of the day comes from Aftab News, which reports that a series of allies of Tehran Mayor Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf have resigned their posts to run for Parliament next March and that Qalibaf has set up an election headquarters.

1925 GMT: Oil and Politics. Further signs of pressure on Tehran over the international oil price....

Iran's OPEC representative Mohammad Ali Khatibi has charged, "America and Europe...have done everything they could to reduce global oil prices. The developments of the past few days are not at all based on supply and demand or the needs of the market, but are rather a side effect of political pressure exerted particularly from the American side."

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