Iran Election Guide

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Entries in Seyed Mohammad Marandi (15)


Iran Today: Guardian Council Approves Eight Candidates --- What Next?

"Western Sources" and Media Put Out Scary Stories About Leaked Nuclear Report

As customary, extracts from the latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency are being fed by Western officials to the media with the scariest-possible interpretation.

The report says that Iran's stock of 20% uranium is still below the level of 250 kilogrammes needed for a single atomic bomb, with Tehran holding 182 kilogrammes and another 140.8 kilos in a state for civilian-only use.

Three diplomats, however, made sure that George Jahn of the Associated Press has the dramatic lede that Tehran "has installed close to 700 high-tech centrifuges in an upgrade of its uranium enrichment program since the start of the year". (Jahn apparently has forgotten that in January the diplomats were talking of 3000 centrifuges.)

Reuters recycles the line that "Iran is pressing ahead with the construction of a research reactor" using plutonium from the Arak heavy-water reactor.

As EA noted earlier this year, dissecting a scare story in The Daily Telegraph, plutonium is a natural by-product of heavy-water reactors, and other countries use it in their civilian programmes.

The unintentional humour, howver, comes from the Institute for Science and International Security, which has previously seen pink tarpaulins and doom-laden magnets as harbingers of Iran's sinister atomic plans. This time, the Institute warns, "Iran Laying Asphalt at the Suspect Parchin Site".

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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 Coverage: 34th Anniversary of Islamic Revolution --- But How Many Are Celebrating?

One of a set of photos of today's rally in Tehran for the 34th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution

1725 GMT: The Ahmadinejad. Distracted by the nuclear issue, Western media continue to miss the primary significance of the President's speech and the escalating political conflict in Iran.

Even the Christian Science Monitor, whose Scott Peterson is one of the best correspondents on Iran, is far from the mark: its summary of the "soaring, defiant rhetoric" makes no reference to Ahmadinejad's attacks on his rivals, including his allegation that they will rig the June Presidential election.

Interestingly, there has been no reaction so far from the camp of the Supreme Leader, who used a Thursday speech to tell Ahmadinejad and the Larijani brothers --- head of judiciary Sadegh and Speaker of Parliament Ali --- to cease political fire.

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Iran Live Coverage: Celebrating Victory Over Protests

See also Saturday's Iran Live Coverage: Cheerleading for Sanctions

Tehran, 30 December 20091759 GMT: At the Movies. The Iranian Directors Union has warned that cinema is on the verge of closure amidst censorship and economic difficulties.

Scores of movie houses have reportedly shut this year. The Ministry of Culture gave the reassurance that Iranians could always watch television.

1750 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. Faezeh Hashemi, the daughter of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, has been put in solitary confinement for three weeks for "insulting the Supreme Leader" and "disturbing order in prison".

Hashemi is serving a six-month sentence for propaganda against the regime.

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The Latest from Iran (2 November): Ahmadinejad Remains Quiet About Supreme Leader's Warning

A Tehran rally marking the 33rd anniversary of the takeover of the US Embassy

See also EA Video Analysis: The Secret US-Iran Nuclear Talks
The Latest from Iran (1 November): Supreme Leader Tells His Top Officials "Stop Fighting"

2043 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. A revision of our opening item today....

President Ahmadinejad has now responded to the Supreme Leader's warning to the heads of the three branches of Government to stop bickering and "pay attention to responsibilities". While ostensibly pledging loyalty to Ayatollah Khamenei, he continued to throw punches at head of judiciary Sadegh Larijani and Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani:

I am convinced that you decisively guard the constitution, particularly the fundamental rights of the people, and safeguard the elevated position of the popularly elected president, the second highest official position in the country, and the institution executing the constitution. And you are opposed to any measure which weakens his sphere of competence and important responsibilities.

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The Latest from Iran (9 August): The Syrian Front

The 48 abducted Iranians in Syria

See also Iran Snap Analysis: Tehran Recognises Syrian Opposition --- 4 Possible Explanations
Iran Opinion: A Response to Foreign Minister Salehi's "Wisdom and Providence" on Syria
The Latest from Iran (8 August): A Short Break for the Olympics

1745 GMT: Foreign Affairs Watch (Syrian Front). Representatives of the 28 countries attending the Tehran conference have issued a statement "expressing support to the legitimate demands of the Syrian people to carry out reforms in order to build democracy and promote all-out political partnership of different parties and opposition groups to exercise their right to run their own country, in a peaceful manner and calm atmosphere and without any foreign intervention".

The delegates, who included three Foreign Ministers and diplomats from eight Arab countries, expressed support for the six-point Annan Plan, even though it is now effectively dormant, and called for delivery of humanitarian aid. They also endorsed an Iranian call for a three-month cease-fire from the start of the religious occasion of Eid al-Fitr on 19 August.

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The Latest from Iran (5 July): Chest-Thumping

Tough talk from Tehran University's Seyed Mohammad Marandi on Press TV: "The United States knows that its ships in the Persian Gulf are sitting ducks when it comes to Iranian missiles"

See also The Latest from Iran (4 July): "Neither Side Understands the Other" in Nuclear Talks

1950 GMT: The Battle Within. Back from a break to find an excellent summary in Payvand of the latest contest between President Ahmadinejad and clerics within the establishment....

Ahmadinejad started the fight by removing Mohammad-Hossein Mousavipour, the Governor of the religious centre of Qom, with Karam-Reza Piryiyaei.

Mousavipour was appointed in October 2009 as Qom's first-ever cleric Governor, in an attempt by the Government to repair relations after the disputed Presidential election of June. He is close to Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani and his deputy Mohammad Reza Bahonar.

Piryiyaei has been Governor of Hamedan Province, but his notable qualification in this case is that he supported Ahmadinejad during the President's controversial 11-day boycott of his duties in spring 2011, prompted by a dispute with the Supreme Leader over control of the Ministry of Intelligece.

Protests against the change of governor have come from the Qom Friday Prayer leader, other senior clerics, Qom MP Mohammad-Reza Ashtiani, and students affiliated to the Basij.

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Remember Iran Flashback: 20 June 2009 --- The Death of Neda...And Many Others

Protest and a gunshot victim in Tehran, 20 June 2009

1915 GMT: A few hours ago, we posted a video of a woman "badly injured" by a gunshot in today's demonstrations. The footage is so graphic that we have moved to the "jump page" after the More... tag.

I have just read more information on The New York Times blog about the incident. The woman was a bystander watching events; according to a doctor who witnessed the event, a paramilitary Basiji deliberately fired at her chest. She died within moments of the shooting.

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Remember Iran: An EA Special --- Three Years Ago Today, A Moment of Compromise?

Silent protest march, 16 June 2009

Re-reading our coverage from three years ago today, I was surprised. The following months of conflict and repression had eroded any memory of the moment when --- perhaps unsettled by the mass march of the previous day demanding a fair election, perhaps playing for time --- the regime had offered a glimmer of compromise.

At least eight protesters had been slain the previous evening, several students at Tehran University were dead after raids by security forces, and hundreds of people were detained, but the Supreme Leader was ordering the Guardian Council to consider a re-count of the Presidential ballots and was meetings with representatives of all four candidates, asking them to pursue "national unity".

We re-live the moment, re-posting our Live Coverage and the analysis by EA's Chris Emery, "Four Scenarios for a Vote Re-Count". 

There are other surprises as well. On 16 June 2009, I was on Al Jazeera's Inside Story with Professor Anoush Ehteshami and Tehran University's Seyed Mohammad Marandi --- whom I had known for almost a decade --- to discuss the mass protests of the previous day and the Supreme Leader's moves for a possible recount. 

Marandi is now known as one of the most strident defenders, in English-language media, of the regime's legitimacy and its crackdown on opposition. Yet in this episode, he has yet to adopt the position that Presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi have pursued "sedition" by calling out riotous supporters on the streets. Instead, he notes without criticism the presence of "both sides" --- the Green Movement and Ahmadinejad's supporters --- in making their cases over the election.

And my own position? I don't think I would change a single word of this, three years later: "I don't think we'll ever know if there was fraud committed last Friday....I think the issue is transparency....And I think there's also a power struggle going on within the political and clerical elites."

We re-post the full episode.


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Remember Iran Video: The Surprise of the Protests (Marandi/Ehteshami/Lucas)

Al Jazeera English's Inside Story, broadcast on 16 June 2009, with Tehran University's Seyed Mohammad Marandi, Professor Anoush Ehteshami of Durham University, and EA's Scott Lucas: