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Entries in Balatarin (2)


The Latest from Iran (30 January): Threat

2355 GMT: Just checking in to say we have posted a video of a Tehran University academic defending Thursday's executions of Mohammad Reza Ali Zamani and Arash Rahmanipour.

1910 GMT: We're taking an evening break. We may be back for a late-night wrap-up. If not, all the latest news will open our Sunday updates.

NEW Latest Iran Video: Defending the Executions (30 January)
NEW Iran Document: Mousavi-Karroubi Declaration on Rights and 22 Bahman (30 January)
NEW Iran Patriotism Special: Wiping the Green From The Flag
The Latest from Iran (29 January): Sideshows and Main Events

1900 GMT: Pressure on Ahmadinejad. The "conservative" campaign against the President's advisors has not ceased. The high-profile member of Parliament Ahmad Tavakoli has attacked the controversial Deputy Minister of Culture, Mo-Amin Ramin, and Ahmadinejad aide Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai.

1855 GMT: Rah-e-Sabz reports that Ali Akbar Nategh-Nouri, Hassan Rohani, and Ayatollah Mohammad Emami-Kashani have not attended meetings of the Combatant Clergy Association since the June election.

1845 GMT: On the Economic Front. Raja News reports that a 20-day ultimatum has been given to 100 people, most of them well-connected, who have not repaid $20 billion in funds from national banks. The article has a lengthy discussion of the reasons for this uncontrolled spending and problems in gettng the money back.

The website also quotes Arsalan Fathipour, chief of parliament's economic commission, that $15 billion of National Development Funds has been given to banks.

1840 GMT: Reza Mahabadian, children's rights activist & member of the Assembly of Iranian Writers, has reportedly been arrested.

1835 GMT: For the second week in a row, family members of the martyrs of 7-Tir, the terrorist attack in the early days of the Islamic Revolution that killed 72 people including Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti, held a prayer ceremony at the grave of Ayatollah Beheshti to protest the detention of his son, Alireza Beheshti, a key advisor to Mir Hossein Mousavi.

1800 GMT: The Regime's Accusations. An Iranian activist has posted a summary of the allegations against one of the Ashura defendants in today's trial:
Participation in gatherings and collusion in acts against national security. Insulting the Leader by sending e-mail to the International [Criminal] Court in The Hague, propaganda against Islamic Republic. Soft war, membership in Facebook and [Iranian Web portal] Balatarin, mass distribution of news to foreign media outlets. Participation in illegal protests...and preparation and forwarding a complaint against the honorable Leader to the World Court in the Hague.

The defendant's testimony:
I did participate in illegal protests...and did chant slogans against the regime. After the speech of the honourable Leader, I participated in three more protests in my car only and honked the horn. I was present in front of Laleh Park in the afternoon of Ashura (27 December) only as an observer. I read the news on sites like Balatarin and did send information and news to foreign news outlets. The first three weeks after the election I did chant Allah-O-Akbar (God is Great) on my rooftop. I did sent about 100 SMS (text messages) informing people of gatherings on 4 November and 7 December.

I was a member on Mohsen Sazegara's news site. Thinking because he was an ex-member of the establishment and is a dissident now, I believed him saying there was cheating in the election.

Regarding the letter to the World Court in the Hague, the petition was published on Balatarin site. I did sign this petition and encouraged my friends to sign it.

1755 GMT: We have posted a full summary and quotes from today's meeting between Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi about the rights of the people and the marches on 22 Bahman (11 February).

1745 GMT: Rah-e-Sabz reports that 40 people were arrested at a 40th Day memorial service for Grand Ayatollah Montazeri yesterday. Eight are still detained.

1725 GMT: Labour News. The Flying Carpet Institute reports that Reza Rakhshan, a leader of Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Workers’ Syndicate was released on 19 January after 17 days of detention. Rakhshan was freed on $150,000 bail money—a hefty sum for a workers’ family.

1710 GMT: "Confessions". Back from a break to learn more about the regime's manoeuvres with the threats and trials. An Iranian activist reports that, on Wednesday night, Iranian television featured the "confessions" of four post-election detainees: Mahmod Dowlatabadi, Mehdi Saiedi, Abbas Balikhani, and Borzo Kamrani. The activist considers that the show may be setting up the "mohareb" (war against God) charges and executions.

More on the charges in the trial of Ashura detainees today (see 1415 and 0945 GMT): looks like subscribing to the newsletter of supporters of IRGC founder and current regime critic Mohsen Sazegara constitutes a threat to national security.

1415 GMT: The Great Regime Change Conspiracy. Rah-e-Sabz has a lengthy account of today's trial of 16 Ashura detainees. Amidst the statements of the defendants, not only the BBC and CNN but also Balatarin, the Iranian portal for Web stories, and Facebook emerges as evil instigators of violence against the Iranian Government.

1405 GMT: Rafsanjani's Balancing Act. The Los Angeles Times, noting the statement from Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi (see 1105 GMT) calling on their supporters to join 22 Bahman rallies, also picks up the more cautious declaration from Hashemi Rafsanjani:
[Rafsanjani] called on Iranians "of all groups and camps" to turn out en masse for the holiday, but warned that any violence will serve the interests of Tehran's "enemies."

"I invite all people and political camps across the country to march on 22 Bahman and renew their allegiance to the Islamic Republic despite certain differences of opinion," he said in an address to the powerful Expediency Council.

1330 GMT: Blair and Iran. I had intended to refrain from comment until Monday on the former Prime Minister's testimony to the British enquiry into the 2003 Iraq War --- anger needs to subside in favour of reflection. (We have posted, however, a 2005 item from our archives which pointed to Blair's agreement --- in a March 2002 meeting with then-US Vice President Dick Cheney --- to join the US in a military invasion for "regime change".)

That said, The Guardian of London sizes up Blair's rather extraordinary attempt to avoid blame for Iraq 2003 by putting forth an Iran 2010:
Tony Blair has been accused of warmongering spin for claiming that western powers might be forced to invade Iran because it poses as serious a threat as Saddam Hussein.

Sir Richard Dalton, a former British ambassador to Iran, accused Blair of trying to make confrontation with Iran an electoral issue after the former prime minister repeatedly singled out its Islamic regime as a global threat in his evidence to the Iraq war inquiry yesterday.

Blair said many of the arguments that led him to confront the "profoundly wicked, almost psychopathic" Saddam Hussein seven years ago now applied to the regime in Tehran.

"We face the same problem about Iran today," he told the Chilcot inquiry....

"One result of Tony Blair's intervention on Iran – he mentioned Iran 58 times – is to put the question of confronting Iran into play in the election," [Dalton] told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

"We need to be much clearer, as voters, with our politicians and with our candidates that we expect a different behaviour and a greater integrity in our democracy next time."

The silver lining in yesterday's travesty is that the illusions and delusions of Blair's approach to Iraq --- whether or not one agrees that military action was necessary for regime change --- are exposed by his easy analogies with today's situation and his equally-easy implication that war is a simple answer. And it is a 2nd silver lining that there is no one in the current British Government who shares that illusionary/delusionary approach to Iran 2010.

1215 GMT: Press TV has published its English-language report of today's trial, recycling the points made in Iranian state media and summarised below.

1105 GMT: Taking a Stand. Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, after meeting this morning, have expressed sorrow over Thursday's executions, denounced other sentences and the "continuation of the current situation", and called on their supporters to participate in rallies on 22 Bahman (11 February).

With the statement, Mousavi and Karroubi have gone beyond their positions on Ashura (27 December). On that occasion, neither made a call for public demonstrations.

0945 GMT: The Trial. IRNA's website simply lists the charges against each of the 16 defendants. Everything from "support of terrorism" to "Communist tendencies" makes an appearance. Significantly,as previewed by Iranian officials this week, five of the 16 are charged with mohareb (war against God), a crime which carries the death penalty.

Fars' report focuses on the prosecution's opening statement, headlining the "terror training" abroad for the protesters. Here is an example of such training: the well-known terrorist centre The Brookings Institution in Washington apparently put out a report, a few months before Iran's Presidential election, setting out economic strategies.

0930 GMT: Threat. It is no pleasure to report how quickly both our headline and our morning analysis have been upheld by the regime this morning: "Iran Puts 16 Protesters on Trial". Both the Islamic Republic News Agency and Press TV feature the hearing for demonstrators arrested on Ashura (27 December), with the prosecution putting out the ritual rhetoric: "The defendants have confessed to spying, planning bomb attacks and damaging public and private properties....The defendants sent videos on the clashes between protesters and Iranian police to the ''foreign hostile networks."

0800 GMT: While catching up with this morning's news, we have posted a special analysis of the latest regime move (indeed, gamble), "We Will Kill You". We also have published the English translation of the questions put by the reformist Islamic Iran Participation Front to Iran's head of judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, over the executions of Mohammad Reza Ali Zamani and Arash Rahmanipour.

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?