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Entries in Ali Reza Beheshti (5)


The Latest from Iran (25 January): Who Makes A Move Today?

2145 GMT: The Karroubi Story. We've worked tonight through the stories, the rumours, and possibilities to post an interim analysis of Mehdi Karroubi's statement today on "Mr Khamenei" and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, "the head of the government of the regime".

2140 GMT: In Case You Missed It. Persian2English reports: "Abolfazl Eslami, former Counselor of the Iranian Embassy in Tokyo, writes that he has decided to join people’s movement in light of the Islamic Republics’ violence and oppression."

1955 GMT: And on the Clerical Front. Ayatollah Bayat-Zanjani has renewed his criticism of the regime, asking Iran's leaders to do "nahy az monker" (repent from the bad way).

1945 GMT: Remember the Economic Front? Most of the management of Bank Melli have been replaced.

1935 GMT: We are hoping to have a thorough, on-the-mark analysis, from an EA correspondent with excellent sources, of the Karroubi statement about 2130 GMT. (To be blunt, I got it wrong earlier today, but I think, thanks to a lot of help, we'll have the best possible reading by the end of tonight.)

NEW Iran Special Analysis: What Karroubi’s Statement on “Mr Khamenei”/”Head of Government” Means
NEW Iran Snap Analysis: The Karroubi and Khatami Manoeuvres
NEW Iran: Listening to Rumours, Whispers, and Shouts
Iran and Israel: The Start of a Beautiful Friendship?
Iran Analysis: Should the Greens Be Waiting for Economic Collapse?
UPDATED Iran: The Plot Against President Ahmadinejad
The Latest from Iran (24 January): Watching Carefully

Meanwhile, another piece of evidence to put into the mix, indicating that Karroubi is not recognising Ahmadinejad as President but merely as a "selected leader". He told Rah-e-Sabz that he stood by his comments, but the people have problems which must be solved by the government, which is responsible for the situation. He repeated a statement he had made to an English newspaper: "I am convinced that Ahmadinejad will not stay for four years."

1610 GMT: Going after Revolution. Amidst all the confusion over the Karroubi statement, a blunter political move by another cleric:

Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, who is close to the President, has made another attempt to pressure Hashemi Rafsanjani's authority. Speaking in Qom, he said that he was "shocked" at Rafsanjani's recent speech where the former President offered his view of the political situation "according to [Rafsanjani's] experience". Yazdi snapped, "Is this more important than the Supreme Leader's experience?"

Yazdi urged/warned Rafsanjani to "come back to the breast of the Revolution and the Supreme Leader", criticising Rafsanjani's ambiguity: "Your speech is not just two sides; it is many sides."

1515 GMT: We have posted a major update to our earlier analysis of the Karroubi and Khatami moves today, taking into account corrected and new information about the Karroubi statement.

1500 GMT: Hasan Ahmadian, a leading member of Mir Hossein Mousavi's campaign, was reportedly released on bail of $500,000 last night.

1300 GMT: We have posted an urgent snap analysis of the important --- if true --- developments of the Karroubi letter accepting Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as President (see 1135 GMT) and Mohammad Khatami's letter to the Supreme Leader: "Has a Deal Been Struck?"

1230 GMT: Watch-It Warning of the Day. Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi strikes the pose --- insulting senior figures and the head of the three branches of the Iran Government (the President, Speaker of Parliament, head of Judiciary) is a crime. So don't do it.

Doulatabadi also commented on other matters, including the 5 Ashura detainees tried this weeks on charges of "mohareb"/war against God and threats to national security (verdicts will be issued soon) and the murder of Professor Ali-Mohammadi (enquiry continues).

1135 GMT: A Vote of Legitimacy. Well, you can now top our morning analysis of Rumours with this report:
Iranian opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi who had refused to accept the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, now recognises the hardliner as the country's "president", Karroubi's son told AFP (Agence France Presse) on Monday.

Hossein Karroubi quoted his father as saying: "I am still of the same belief that the election was unhealthy and massively rigged. But since the (Supreme) leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) endorsed (Ahmadinejad's victory), I believe that he is the head of the government, meaning he is the president."

....Fars (News Agency) asked the opposition leader whether he now acknowledges Ahmadinejad as the president.

The ex-speaker of parliament, who came fourth in the disputed June 12 presidential election, replied: "I still maintain that there were problems (in the election), but with regard to your question, I should say that I recognise the president."

1130 GMT: Far-from-Academic Losses. An EA reader follows up on the story of the apparent firing of Professor Abbas Kazemi by Tehran University for his attendance at the funeral of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri (0655 GMT):
If the news is true about Kazemi being fired from U of T, that is a sad thing. Kazemi wrote The Sociology of Religious Intellectuals in Iran, which I have sitting on my table right in front of me.

1120 GMT: The Meaning of Investment. An EA reader pulls me up on my morning jab at Press TV (0755 GMT) over its story that Iran is seeking foreign investment:
On the foreign investment caps being lifted, you are missing the big story. When (President) Khatami tried to do similar things in the late 1990s, the Guardian Council and fellow conservatives completely attacked the idea, saying it was selling out the country's resources. This is another example of how Ahmadinejad is actually more of an economic liberal than Khatami (who was never really sure about economic liberalism and it was not his forte) ever was.

1110 GMT: Your Latest Plot --- Greens, the CIA, and Currency. Kayhan newspaper is none too amused that Iran's Central Bank has backed away from declaring "invalid" any banknotes with Green slogans and/or markings.

For you see, the marking of the banknotes is clearly a CIA plot, based on the ideas of Robert Helvey, a retired Army officer and associate of Gene Sharp at Harvard University. Sharp is Iran's bete noire when it comes to thoughts of "velvet revolution", and Helvey also got a mention in the Tehran trials of August.

0755 GMT: More Morning Fun from Press TV. Apparently Shamsoddin Hosseini, Iran's Economy and Finance Minister, says there will no limit on foreign investment in Iranian industrial or mineral sectors under the 5th Development Plan (2010-2015) proposed by Presdent Ahmadinejad: ”The Iranian government will be trying to remove any obstacle in the financial domain by the end of the fifth development plan."

With respect, given reports that foreign investment fell up to 96 percent between March 2008 and March 2009 (in other words, before the current political crisis), I am a bit surprised Mr Hosseini did not declare that investors would be met at Imam Khomeini Airport with flowers and cases of Parsi Cola.

0735 GMT: Press TV's Morning Spin. The Iranian state outlet offers this dramatic story, "China attacks US for online warfare in Iran":
A Chinese Communist Party editorial says the election unrest in Iran was an example of US 'naked political scheming' behind a facade of free speech....The People's Daily editorial said the US had launched a "hacker brigade" and used social media such as Twitter to spread rumors and create trouble in Iran.

Interesting that Press TV doesn't seem to notice a possible motive for China's apparent defense of Iranian sovereignty and legitimacy --- perhaps theirreporters were looking at Twitter when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made her high-profile speech last week calling for Internet freedom and focusing on China as the Number One Test Case.

0710 GMT: We've put our first updates in a separate analysis on political and economic developments.

0650 GMT: The Academic Fight over the Funerals. Norooz claims Professor Abbas Kazemi, a member of the School of Communications at Tehran University, has been fired for attending the funeral of Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri last month.

More than 110 academics and scholars around the world, including Noam Chomsky and Ramin Jahanbegloo, have called for an independent enquiry into the murder of Tehran University professor Massoud Ali-Mohammadi.

0645 GMT: Strikes and Firings. The Flying Carpet Institute reports that five workers at Rasoul Auto Company have been dismissed after strikes over disputed back pays. The employees' wages for November and December have not been settled.

0615 GMT: Sunday's Best Story? Rah-e-Sabz claims that President Ahmadinejad handed over his budget proposal to Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, the CD was blank. (Cue all the metaphors about Ahmadinejad's economic plans.) Apparently Ahmadinejad was "quickly ordered" to transfer the proposal that does exist to Parliament.

0530 GMT: We've moved our overnight updates to a separate entry, "Listening to Rumours, Whispers, and Shouts".

Iran: Listening to Rumours, Whispers, and Shouts

Of course, there has never been a phase in this post-election conflict which has been one of clarity, even over the basic demand --- expressed in the march of hundreds of thousands on 15 June --- to overturn the result of the Presidential election. This phase, however, has been particularly complex and often confusing, with manoeuvres and statements coming from all directions outside and inside the Iranian establishment.

Mehdi Karroubi's Etemade Melli party tried to put out a clear signal yesterday that the fight, both over the election and the direction of the Iranian system, goes on. Using the symbolic event of Karroubi's visit to the family of Ali Reza Beheshti, the detained chief advisor of Mir Hossein Mousavi, the party's Saham News website declared that the regime had been ignoring the rights of people for years and now did not understand the meaning of the arrests of the arrests of "sons and daughters of the Revolution". (Ali Reza Beheshti is the son of the late Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti, a key figure in the 1979 Revolution who founded Iran's judiciary.) It again cited Karroubi's case on detainee abuses, which he has pressed since July, with the example of Kahrizak Prison. (English-language summary of the statement)

Responding to a hard-line newspaper's claim that Karroubi had been "asleep" and only just woken to realise he had been manipulated by foreign agents, Etemade Melli declared:
Do you want to know who else is asleep and when they should wake up? Hold a free election or give permission for a free and safe gathering for the supporters of Karroubi and Mousavi then watch and see how people will wake you up. So it is necessary that you know that Karroubi is standing firm and confident and has proofs for all his remarks.

Etemade Melli's statement has received surprisingly attention so far outside Iran, however, in part because of the chatter over the country's economic situation. The rumours that Iran's banking sector is on the point of collapse only strengthened on Sunday, fuelled by news of individual cases of bank shutdowns and conflict. Peyke Iran, for example,featured the story of a bank in the Sadeghiyeh district of Tehran, where security forces had to disperse crowds who were demanding (unsuccessfully) the funds from their accounts.

The rumours sit, sometimes eerily, alongside other reports that there is no crisis. An EA source from Tehran reports, for example:
One can still write checks for any amount. Also, most people with bank accounts in Iran now have debit cards, and more and more stores are getting little debit card chargers. I paid my phone bill at the government office last week with my debit card. That is not an economy on the brink.

On the political scene, the biggest distraction was the story that Javad Larijani, a key official in Iran's judiciary and brother of Speaker of Parliament Ali and head of Judiciary Sadegh, had used a racial slur when denouncing Barack Obama. The episode overshadowed the important passages in Larijani's speech where he both praised and criticised Hashemi Rafsanjani, apparently in an effort to get the former President to declare his political position over the Ahmadinejad Government (see yesterday's updates).

The Latest from Iran (23 January): Looking for Clues

2155 GMT: Kalemeh reports that the wife of the late Seyed Ahmad Khomeini, the son of Ayatollah Khomeini, has been attacked by clerical students.

1905 GMT: Economic Rumour or Reality (cont. --- see 1135 GMT)? The "bank crisis" continues to spark Internet chatter, whether accurate or mischievous --- the German-based Akhbar Rooz reports on bank closures after panicked customers tried to withdraw their money because of reports of bankruptcies. And Voice of America Persian is now broadcasting on the topic.

Iran Discussion: How Would Ahmadinejad Fall? (And What Would Come Next?)
Iran: A Response to “The Plot Against Ahmadinejad”
UPDATED Iran: The Plot Against President Ahmadinejad
The Latest from Iran (22 January): Breaking News

1900 GMT: You Couldn't Make It Up (Unless You're Iranian State Media). Earlier this week Kayhan, the "hard-line" Iranian newspaper, reported that a US "HARP" energy-shifting weapon caused the earthquake in Haiti.

We noted the item in amazement and good humour --- as a reader noted, shrewd Iranians think of Kayhan as Iran's version of The Onion, the satirical US "newspaper" --- and thought that would be that. However, Press TV, linking up with Venezuelan partners, keeps the joke going today:

An unconfirmed report by the Russian Northern Fleets says the Haiti earthquake was caused by a flawed US Navy 'earthquake weapons' test before the weapons could be utilized against Iran.

United States Navy test of one of its 'earthquake weapons' which was to be used against Iran, went 'horribly wrong' and caused the catastrophic quake in the Caribbean, the website of Venezuela's ViVe TV recently reported, citing the Russian report.

1845 GMT: Arrest at Beheshti Ceremony. Norooz reports that the son-in-law of Ali Reza Beheshti, the detained Mousavi chief of staff, was taken away by Iranian authorities today. The arrest occurred at the protest/ceremony (see 1500 GMT) at the grave of Ayatollah Beheshti, Ali Reza's father.

1635 GMT: Rafsanjani Chooses A Side or Issues a Warning? The Los Angeles Times, via Iranian Labor News Agency, reports on remarks by Hashemi Rafsanjani today: "At the present juncture, I consider the Supreme Leader to be the most competent individual to resolve the problems the Islamic Republic is currently faced with."

Rafsanjani's remarks follows Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's speech this week calling on "elites" to stop being ambiguous in the current conflict and to choose sides. Beyond his apparent declaration of allegiance --- note the "at the present juncture" --- Rafsanjani maintained a customary general call for unity, "I'm quite sure that moderate individual from both political camps in the country can help the Supreme Leader find solutions to the existing problems."

Then, however, Rafsanjani offered some intriguing remarks on "extremism":
I've always based my action on moderation and refrained from any extremism. Since the victory of the revolution, we have not witnessed proper conditions any time extremists were given room to maneuver....

Extremists have always cleared the way for counterrevolutionaries to damage Islam, the regime and its leadership. As far as I know (emphasis added) the Supreme Leader, he never favors illegal acts and extremisms from any political factions.

Rafsanjani followed this with an invocation which could be read either as a defense of velayat-e-faqih (clerical supremacy) or a veiled put-down that Ayatollah Khamenei has not maintained the high standards required of his position:
The Islamic Republic has managed to reach stability thanks to popular support and the leadership of Imam [Ruhollah] Khomeini who won people's hearts. Today, all forces loyal to the system and the revolution should feel obliged to safeguard this valuable legacy. The world will open to us if we effectively create a free and developed country free of any superstition.

1630 GMT: Fars News has posted an article on today's trial of three detainees arrested during the Ashura protests. The three are among five defendants who are on trial; all today were accused of links to the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MKO).

1623 GMT: Neda's Birthday Ceremony. Setareh Sabety translates the account, provided by an Iranian activist (see 1500 GMT), of today's ceremony on the birthday of Neda Agha Soltan:
Near 2 p.m. we reached plot 257, Neda’s grave was adorned with candles, rose petals and pictures of her childhood. From the first moments...plainclothesmen in cars and on motorcycles started surrounding the plot.

Neda’s mother claimed (Iranian authorities) had not allowed her to hold a 40th day memorial for her daughter so she had to commemorate her birthday instead. The previous day authorities had told Neda’s brother that holding a birthday (celebration) for her was allowed as long as no slogans were chanted.

Slowly the number of people attending the ceremony increased. Present were mourning mothers and their supporters and tens of (other) individuals who had made it to the cemetery. When Neda’s mother saw the people appearing one by one, as she was crying loudly, she addressed her martyred daughter, "Neda darling, wake up and see how many guests are here for you. Last year you were alone. Wake Up!” The distraught mother would sometimes sit by her daughter’s grave and stare at it, remembering her.... It seemed like the people surrounding this mother and her daughter’s tomb were remembering Neda’s last open-eyed look. The look that seemed to scream freedom!

Neda’s birthday cake was placed on her tomb with a ‘27’ on it, while her mother cried, “My darling Neda is twenty-seven, People’s Neda is 27 years old." As the crowd increased around 2:45 p.m., two cars from security forces stood facing plot 257. The security forces stepped out with three plainclothes men --- Neda’s aunt was taking pictures of the tomb when the forces spoke to Neda’s father and asked to see the pictures in Neda’s aunt’s mobile phone.

Ashkan Sohrabi’s mother called and (said) that on Navab St. officers stopped cars and kept them from going to Behesht-e Zahra cemetery. For as long as 15 minutes they had prevented Ashkan’s family from moving. Finally they managed to get to Behesht-e Zahra from another route.

At the end of the commemoration the Mourning Mothers stood in front of Neda’s tomb and quietly sang this poem from Parvin:

You left my heart is heavy
From the night you did not return
Blissful world turned sad
From the night you failed to return

At 3:25 p.m. an unmarked white van stopped in front of plot 257 and a few plainclothes men came out as though to make the crowd disperse.

1610 GMT: Radio Farda reports that, during today's meeting with the family of Ali Reza Beheshti after the ceremony protesting his detention (see 1500 GMT), Mehdi Karroubi declared that the road to resolve the issue of detainee abuse "had been closed".

It is unclear whether Karroubi's statement was in response to the overtures from Ali Larijani (see yesterday's updates) for opposition leaders to join a process of reconciliation.

1505 GMT: Amidst his further allegations of Government abuses and crimes over the Kahrizak Prison scandal (noted as part of the coverage of "The Plot Against Ahmadinejad"), Abdolhossein Rumolamini claimed that a fourth detainee, Ramin Aghazadeh Ghahremani, was killed at the facility last year. The incident was covered up to “avoid hurting the public's conscience”.

1500 GMT: Two Ceremonies. Family, mourning mothers, and supporters gathered at the grave of Neda Agha Soltan this afternoon. Activists report that security forces stopped some people from attending.

A ceremony was also held at the grave of the late Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti to protest the detention of his son Ali Reza, chief advisor to Mir Hossein Mousavi. Those attending were family members of the martyrs of 7-Tir, killed in an attack soon after the 1979 Revolution which took 72 lives, including Ayatollah Beheshti. The family members also Hashemi Rafsanjani, in his role as the head of the Expidency Council and the Assembly of Experts, to protest Ali Reza Behesti's imprisonment.

1300 GMT: We have posted an urgent update in "The Plot Against Ahmadinejad": a new interview with Abdolhossein Ruholamini with claims on the Kahrizak Prison deaths, printed in the newspapers linked to both Mohsen Rezaei and Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf.

1235 GMT: Alef News has continued its pressure on the Government, opening a discussion on the problems of the Presidential election.

1225 GMT: Mohammad Hassan Haeri Shirazi, the son of Ayatollah Haeri Shirazi, has continued his challenge to the Supreme Leader. Having criticised Khamenei for overseeing a deterioration of democracy and the moves to an oppressive regime, Haeri Shirazi has declared that the Supreme Leader must be accountable for the actions of his headquarters and associated institutions (IRIB, Revolutionary Guards and Basiji, Islamic Propaganda Organization, deputies in universities, Kayhan newspaper, and the Guardian Council).

1150 GMT: Health Concerns. In addition to the heart attack of Mousavi advisor Ali Reza Beheshti, Rooz Online notes the transfer to hospital of Hassan Ahmadian, head of the Mousavi campaign's public committee, because of a worsening kidney condition.

1145 GMT: The 31 Manifesto (cont. --- see 0845 GMT). Rooz Online has an English translation of an interview with Dariush Ashouri, one of the expatriate intellectuals who signed this week's declaration: "The Green movement’s strategy of nonviolence is a reflection of a new political philosophy in Iranian society. The foundations of this philosophy are the principles of tolerance and pluralism."

1135 GMT: Economic Rumour or Reality? After chatter this week that Iran's major banks are on the verge of insolvency, Peyke Iran reports that the Bank-e Mellat branch in Tehran's Bazaar was closed by security forces. And Rah-e-Sabz writes that the Government has asked Parliament for 15 billion Toman ($15.2 million) to ease the cash problems of the banks.

1125 GMT: Mediawatch (2). Britain's Channel 4 goes for human interest rather than political recommendation, featuring an interview with Caspian Makan, the fiancé of Neda Agha Soltan. Neda, who died from a Basiji gunshot on 20 June, would have been 27 today.

1010 GMT: Mediawatch. A big symbol of the changing line in the US Government and associated networks towards the Green movement comes in Richard Haass' "Enough Is Enough" for Newsweek, as he explains, "Why we can no longer remain on the sidelines in the struggle for regime change in Iran".

Haass, who was a high-level official in the State Department in the Bush Administration and now heads the Council on Foreign Relations, marks himself out as a "realist" in the artificial divide from "neo-conservative".
However, given the stalemate in the talks on Iran's nuclear programme, Haass now believes, "The United States, European governments, and others should shift their Iran policy toward increasing the prospects for political change. Leaders should speak out for the Iranian people and their rights."

Given Haass' place in the Washington-New York corridor of power and his image as a "moderate", the column is being quickly picked up as a sanction for the US Government's backing of the Iranian opposition. Barbara Slavin of The Washington Times and Laura Rozen of Politico, both channels for and gatekeepers of the acceptable in US foreign policy, are already circulating the article.

0955 GMT: The Moving Image of Protest. More directors, including Britain's Ken Loach, have announced that they will not attend Iran's Fajr Film Festival.

0950 GMT: Launch of the "Greenlist". Sabzlist, a listing service for the Green movement, has been launched. Initial posts include requests for volunteers, offers of assistance, and a call for an MC for a fundraiser.

0940 GMT: Non-Story of the Week. Press TV's website announces, "An Iranian lawmaker says the Parliament (Majlis) has settled on limiting relations with Britain, rather than a full severance of ties as advocated in a bill last week."

The bill, if passed, would still have consequences, reducing the level of diplomatic representation between Iran and Britain from Ambassador to Chargé d'Affaires. However, it is primarily a vehicle for bluster about "foreign intervention", as in lawmaker Hossein Sobhani-Nia's declaration, "Considering the gross interference of the British government in the post-election developments, the Parliament (Majlis) has opted for lowering the level of ties between Tehran and London."

0830 GMT: Claims of the Week. Peyke Iran has two stories which raises eyebrows. The first asserts that the relatives of high-ranking officials are fleeing Iran and seeking asylum abroad.

The website also alleges that children are now being detained when their activist parents are arrested by Iranian authorities.

0825 GMT: The 31 Manifesto. This week's statement by 31 Iranian intellectuals and artists, calling for a new system in which government is separated from religion, continues to attract attention. Deutsche Welle Persian features an interview with signatory Hossein Bagherzadeh, who declares that the Green movement differs from the 1979 Revolution.

0820 GMT: Movin' On Up. President Ahmadinejad's advisor on press affairs, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, is reportedly going to become the head of the Islamic Republic News Agency.

0815 GMT: A new Green website, Neda-ye Sabz-e Azadi, has been launched and has immediately been filtered by Iranian authorities.

0800 GMT: We begin this morning by reviewing yesterday's feature on "The Plot Against President Ahmadinejad". There is an update evaluating how the story stands up 24 hours later, and Chris Emery and an EA Iran specialist consider the complications of removing the President and what comes next.

The Latest from Iran: If Khamenei's Other Shoe Drops (20 January)

2240 GMT: Balatarin Lives (for Real). An update and possible correction on our earlier story (1914 GMT) about the fate of Balatarin, the Iranian news portal. The site is back up, and some Iranian activists are saying that the supposed "successor" Agah Tarin was actually a regime attempt at imitation.

2000 GMT: An Iranian activist reports that journalist Nasrin Vaziri has been released after 23 days in prison.

1950 GMT: Rah-e-Sabz reports that Ali Reza Beheshti, Mir Hossein Mousavi's chief advisor, has suffered a heart attack in detention. It adds, however, that Beheshti has contacted his family and said that he is now better.

1914 GMT: Balatarin Lives. Balatarin, an Iranian website similar to the Digg or NewsVine portals, has been an important news source during the post-election crisis but was knocked off-line recently. Now a successor, Agah Tarin, has appeared.

1910 GMT: Mohsen Safai Farahani, recently sentenced to six years in prison, will be released today on bail of $700.000 $ for five days during the appeal against the verdict.

NEW Iran Analysis: “Supreme Leader Warns Rafsanjani” — The Sequels
NEW Iran: Ahmadinejad and the Labor Movement
Iran Analysis: The Supreme Leader Warns Rafsanjani
Iran Special: Breaking Mousavi’s Movement — Beheshti & Abutalabi
Iran Analysis: Reality Check (Yep, We Checked, Government Still in Trouble)
The Latest from Iran (19 January): Cross-Currents

1900 GMT: The Battle Against Ahmadinejad. For all of our attention to the manoeuvres around the Supreme Leader's speech, this may be the most important news on the in-fighting in the establishment. An unnamed influential member of the hardliners who supports the Government declares that Ahmadinejad Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai "is out".

The website that prints this news, adding, "It appears as if the Government will put away Rahim-Mashai at an appropriate quiet moment"? The pro-Larijani Khabar Online.

1845 GMT: A group of economics professors have asked for the release of Professor Ali Arab Mazar of Allameh Tabatabei University, one of Mir Hossein Mousavi's top advisors, arrested after Ashura.

1840 GMT: Journalist, writer and critic Mehdi Jalil-Khani was arrested on Monday in Zanjan. He was brought blindfolded and handcuffed to the intelligence, accused of "insulting the leader".

1830 GMT: Now Poets are Banned. This entry from Pedestrian deserves to be quoted in full:
Ferdowsi is a monumental 10th century Persian poet. His Shahnameh (Book of Kings, translated into English by Dick Davis) is a national epic read and revered across Iran.

Now the wife of imprisoned journalist, Bahman Ahmadi reports that one of the charges for which he will have to serve an eight year prison sentence is, according to the judge’s verdict: “publishing an epic poem by the poet Ferdowsi on June 12th, 2009 in order to invite the public to protest and revolt.”

It is noted that Bahmad Ahmadi himself was not even allowed to read the verdict.

1455 GMT: The Coughing Protest. Rah-e-Sabz claims that a recent "political education" event at an Iran army barracks had to be cancelled when hundreds of soldiers starting coughing, apparently when the speaker criticised the late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri. Commanders have asked for a list of the dissident coughers.

1445 GMT: Toeing the Line. In a prolonged Press TV advertisement for the regime, Presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei has blamed the post-election conflict on opposition candidates (Mousavi, Karroubi) who refused to act within the law and on foreign powers trying to unsettle the regime.

The only hint of Rezaei criticism of the Government was the invocation to distinguish between "protesters" and "rioters", both amongst security forces and Iran's state media, but he was happy to support Press TV's uplifting image of "democracy in Iran", with both sides learning to "act within the law".

Rezaei did throw out a conciliatory lifeline to the "Green movement" in the last part of the discussion by invoking the current televised debates as a reason for hope that opposition demands will be considered. Strange, however, that he would allow Press TV to push maybe the most important part of the interview --- Rezaei's letter for "unity" sent to the Supreme Leader earlier this month --- to the final minutes of the conversation.

1440 GMT: Black Comedy. University professors have published a "last will", to be retrieved after their demises: "I, Professor XXXXXX, killed by a bomb/bullet/fallen from a high floor/ suffocated with a string/fallen in a sulphuric acid bath hereby declare that 1) I was not a nuclear scientist, 2) I was never a supporter of Ahmadinejad."

Ebrahim Nabavi offers helpful proposals to Iran police chief Esmail Ahmadi-Moghaddam, who seems to have recently discovered the difference between BMW and SMS.

1435 GMT: Academic Purges. Six prominent professors of Allameh Tabatabei University have been relieved of their duties.

1400 GMT: The Follow-Up on Khamenei & Rafsanjani. We've posted a separate entry on varying responses to yesterday's speech by the Supreme Leader.

1148 GMT: Labour Issues. Deputy Oil Minister Seyfollah Jashn-Saz has warned, "If payments in oil sector continue like this, some employees will leave the country." Not leave the sector, leave the country.

Meanwhile, we've posted an interesting interview with an Iranian labour activist about the situation under the Ahmadinejad Government.

1140 GMT: Baghi's Detention. The wife of journalist Emadeddin Baghi, detained just after Grand Ayatollah Montazeri's death (supposedly for his interview of Montazeri), has spoken about her husband's arrest and detention.

1130 GMT: Where's Mahmoud? Well, in addition to biking and jogging (see 0900 GMT), President Ahmadinejad has met Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdel Mehdi. No mention of Iran's internal situation but Ahmadinejad did put out the line, "Maintenance of unity and integrity among regional countries will be the only way to thwart the conspiracies of enemies."

1125 GMT: While almost all of the Mothers of Mourning detained in recent weeks have been released, Persian2English highlights the case of one supporter who is reported to be in solitary confinement in Evin Prison.

1115 GMT: Who Killed Professor Ali-Mohammadi? Everyone (except us). The "hard-line" newspaper Kayhan reportedly has identified those responsible for the explosion which killed physicist Massoud Ali-Mohammadi last week. Iran's judiciary should go after Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mohammad Khatami, and Mehdi Karroubi who are partners with the "black triangle" of the CIA, Mossad, and Britain's MI6.

0930 GMT: The Khamenei-Rafsanjani Dance. Press TV spins yesterday's speech by former President Hashemi Rafsanjani (and ignores the Supreme Leader's address) to portray unity: "Hashemi echoes Leader in observing law".

0900 GMT: Where's Mahmoud? President Ahmadinejad handles the economic crisis by riding a bike. And jogging.


0845 GMT: The US-based journalist and scholar Mehdi Khalaji has written a long article about his father, Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Khalaji, who was arrested last week:
By initiating a crackdown on peaceful protesters and suppressing the first generation of the Islamic Republic, the government has simultaneously discredited its Islamic legitimacy and undermined its revolutionary credentials. This regime has transformed my father from a man concerned with keeping Ayatollah Khomeini's shoulders warm into an enemy of the state. This is a revolution that eats its own children. It places its survival at risk.

0600 GMT: It's a curious but effective phrase: "Waiting for the other shoe to drop" is not just waiting, but waiting with an expectation based on nerves and fear.

So this morning we start by looking around for reactions to the Supreme Leader's speech yesterday. Our initial line, based on a very good source, was that Ayatollah Khamenei had dropped the first shoe to warn Hashemi Rafsanjani that it was time to choose sides.

However, as an EA reader helpfully intervened last night, the warning could have been intended for others in the "elite". Again, we emphasize those within the establishment --- an elite whom Khameini said could assist "sedition" with their ambiguity --- rather than the opposition. In weeks after Ashura (27 December) and before the Supreme Leader's statement, the conservative/principlist challenge to the Government neared insurgency, setting the immediate goals of taking down former Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi and Ahmadinejad's right-hand man Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai.

The insurgency, carried out through newspapers as well as around the Iranian Parliament, has not yet achieved either immediate goal, but it is likely that Mortazavi will have to resign as a Presidential aide, possibly serving jail time. So one reading of Khamenei's warning to the elite is that the challenge stops there.

That said, if this was a throw-down to those in the establishment beyond Rafsanjani, there's a risky slippage in the Supreme Leader's words. Critics like Ali Motahhari have not been ambiguous in their interviews; they want the removal of President Ahmadinejad or, at least, his reduction to a humiliated figurehead as he gives a public apology for the post-election failures and abuses.

If the critics don't back away from that demand, Khamenei will face a moment beyond yesterday's speech and possibly any declaration he has made since the week after the election: does he drop the other shoe and offer his unconditional backing to Ahmadinejad or does he back away and let a far from ambiguous "elite" despatch the President on a permanent holiday?

Iran Special: Breaking Mousavi's Movement --- Beheshti & Abutalabi

Throughout the day, skilled Iran-watchers have been noting the treatment of Dr Alireza Beheshti, the chief advisor to Mir Hossein Mousavi, as he appeared in a Tehran court on Monday. Mousavi's website Kalemeh reported that, when Beheshti appealed against his detention (an appeal which was denied), he was taken to the hearing in pajamas and slippers. Behesti also looked dishevelled with an unkempt beard, due to the lack of grooming kits or a mirror in solitary confinement.

Adding insult, Beheshti was kept waiting in the corridor and treated rudely by guards who accompanied him. The treatment is given an added edge because Beheshti, who was detained this autumn but soon released, is the the son of the revered martyr Ayatollah Mohammad Hossein Beheshti, the founder of the Islamic Republic's judiciary.

The Latest from Iran (19 January): Cross-Currents

The apparent campaign to break Beheshti is part of a wider story: this could be the regime's big push to crush the Mir Hossein Mousavi challenge once and for all. For it was not only Beheshti who appeared in court yesterday.

A valued EA source reports that Massoud Abutalabi, another key Mousavi advisor, also had to attend a hearing. Abutalabi, who is suffering from a heart condition, was arrested last week and has been held in Evin Prison. There is no news yet of the proceedings or any sentence for Abutalabi, who like Beheshti is a Professor at Tarbiet Modares University.