Iran Election Guide

Donate to EAWV

Or, click to learn more


Entries in Ebrahim Yazdi (3)


The Latest from Iran (24 January): Watching Carefully

2200 GMT: And, on the political front, Mehdi Karroubi's Etemade Melli party has issued a statement calling for the holding of a free election and permission to stage demonstrations.

Etemade Melli, via the Saham News website, repeated that Karroubi had the material to back up his accusations of detainee abuse: "It is necessary for you to know that Mr. Karroubi is standing firm and tall and has evidence for all his comments." it added in an address to the country's regime.

2145 GMT: Little hard news tonight, although rumours about Iran's economic situation continue to swirl. There is also nothing to clarify an increasingly complex domestic political contest.

One news item catches the eye, however:
A Russian banking delegation, headed by the deputy governor of the country's Central Bank, is due to visit Tehran on Monday, the Iranian envoy to Moscow announced on Saturday.

NEW Iran and Israel: The Start of a Beautiful Friendship?
Iran Analysis: Should the Greens Be Waiting for Economic Collapse?
Iran Discussion: How Would Ahmadinejad Fall? (And What Would Come Next?)
UPDATED Iran: The Plot Against President Ahmadinejad

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

"Deputy governor of Russia's Central Bank Melnikov and a number of officials from the other Russian banks will pay a visit to Iran on Monday in a bid to resolve banking issues and facilitate exchange and economic and trade activities between the two countries," Seyed Mahmoud Reza Sajjadi told [Fars News Agency].

The Russian delegation is scheduled to meet Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Iran Pourmohammadi and managing directors of a number of Iranian banks to discuss ways to expand banking relations between the two states.

1745 GMT: Your Economic Update. Reuters has a useful English-language summary of President Ahmadinejad's budget presentation to the Iranian Parliament today. Kalemeh reports that the Central Bank has extended the deadline on the validity of banknotes marked with Green slogans, effectively allowing their circulation for the indefinite future. And Persian2English carries claims of difficulties with banks in Isfahan.

1535 GMT: Ayande News keeps up its recent jabbing at the Government and regime, asking why the Supreme Leader has SL dedicated 21 speeches to post-election events if this is not a crisis.

1530 GMT: Rezaei's Latest Manoeuvre. A valued EA correspondent reports on the latest speech by Presidential candidate (and possible Ahmadinejad opponent) Mohsen Rezaei, given to students in Gilan.

Rezaei, as his recent Press TV interview, maintained his distance from the opposition by emphasising that he made his complaints about the Presidential election within the law. At the same time he complained, "We still don’t know how to face the opposition group," and noted, "In some other countries, police keeps the opposition safe rather than attacking them." Rezaei also repeated his criticism of the "very weak" Ahmadinejad Government.

And a curious post-script: news of Rezaei's speech was on Tabnak, the website linked to him, but was removed after a few minutes.

1520 GMT: Head-Spinner. OK, I'm going to have this one to smarter people to interpret. According to Kalemeh, Davoud Ahmadinejad, the brother of the President and former head of the Investigation Office of Presidency, has labeled Presidential aide and ally Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai as an Israeli agent.

1510 GMT: Bank Issues. Peyke Iran supports Internet chatter with the story that shots have been fired at Bank Melli in the city of Ram Hormuz in southwestern Iran.

1340 GMT: The State of the Detainees. Fereshteh Ghazi has published a lengthy and wide-ranging article on those arrested after the election, including the detentions of family members of activists, the lack of information on Ashura and post-Ashura detainees for families and lawyers , and the health of prisoners such as former Foreign Minister Ebrahim Yazdi.

1210 GMT: Monica Luisa Macovei, a Romanian member of the European Parliament, has publicly declared in the Parliament, "I have decided to use most of my time for this intervention to highlight the names of people who, reportedly, are in detention in Iran, some convicted to death, for criticising the political regime or for defending civil rights."

Macovei mentioned the cases of five Ashura detainees charged with "mohareb" (war against God), the 33 Mothers of Mourning and supporters recently detained (almost all have been released), arrested members of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, and other students who have been imprisoned. She asked, "What is the Commission or the Council going to do for the release of those imprisoned for political purposes? What funding does the Commission provide to human rights NGOs working on Iran?"

1150 GMT: The Standard Warning. The head of Iran's judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, has again warned of those seeking to create divisions within Iranian society, announcing that the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance will be more vigilant in monitoring and punishing publications over false information.

1140 GMT: Blowing Smoke. Unsurprising, given the political and economic contests around him, that President Ahmadinejad would put out this line today: he will have good news within days about Iran being able to produce enriched uranium of 20 percent (versus current levels of 3-4 percent), and this will make all in the Iranian nation very happy.

1025 GMT: For My Next Trick. It will be interesting to see if President Ahmadinejad can pull this off: amidst fears of inflation, he has proposed a rise of almost 25 percent in the Government budget, from $279 billion to $368 billion.

0910 GMT: We've posted a Sunday Special which we hope brings both news and a smile, "Iran and Israel: The Start of A Beautiful Friendship?".

0840 GMT: Ahmadinejad's Budget. The President has presented his budget proposals to Iran's Parliament, the Majlis. He summarised, "Emphasizing a reduction of dependence on oil revenues and an increase of non-oil revenues, with a focus on industry, agriculture and housing —these are among the main attributes of the bill," before making his pitch, "I hope that the bill will be passed with the cooperation of all lawmakers who solve the problems of the country and pave the way for the development of Islamic Iran."

Now the fun and bargaining begin, as lawmakers have ten days to present comments about the bill to the technical commissions of the Majlis.

0820 GMT: Choose a Side, Rafsanjani? Hashemi Rafsanjani's general statement on Saturday, which we analysed in our updates, has not been enough to satisfy some who want him to "choose sides" in the conflict.

The bigger news, however, however, is that the battle may not be over whether Rafsanjani backs the Supreme Leader --- the former President offered allegiance yesterday, albeit with coded reservations --- but whether he is for or against President Ahmadinejad. And there it appears that Rafsanjani has some potential allies pushing him towards the latter position.

For example, the "hard-line" newspaper Kayhan has renewed its attacks on Rafsanjani with a Sunday editorial. What is just as significant, however, is that the news of those attacks is published in Khabar Online, linked to Ali Larijani, possibly to blunt them.

Khabar, reporting from Mehr News, also features a speech by Javad Larijani, a high-ranking official in the Judiciary and the brother of Ali (Speaker of Parliament) and Sadegh (head of Judiciary), praising Rafsanjani as a "great personality" but noting his three mistakes: 1) founding the Kargozaran party in the mid-1990s; 2) running for elections in 2005; 3) making ambiguous statements about Ahmadinejad during those elections.

Analysis? Come off the fence, Hashemi, and do so in support of others, not at the head of the movement.

0815 GMT: Persian2English has published a set of pictures from the "birthday ceremony" at Neda Agha Soltan's grave yesterday.

0810 GMT: Human Rights Activists in Iran reports that Mehdi Jalil-Khani, a writer, literary critic, and journalist from Zanjan, was arrested last week after a Ministry of Intelligence raid.

0805 GMT: We're be looking for further development on both the political and economic fronts today, separating facts from rumours as the pressure seems to build on President Ahmadinejad.

We have a special analysis which offers some caution, as an EA correspondent asks, "Should The Greens Be Waiting for Economic Collapse?"

The Latest from Iran (18 January): Firewall

2205 GMT: And Here's Another One. Looks like the campaign against Hashemi Rafsanjani hasn't stopped. Someone in the regime has ensured that he will not be leading the ceremony at Imam Khomeini's memorial on 11 Bahman (1 February), the start of celebrations of Iran's Islamic Revolution.

2200 GMT: Political Teasers. While I've been out, EA readers have been sending in a series of interesting stories on the manoeuvres inside the establishment --- we'll have the best of them, with an analysis, to start Tuesday morning. Meanwhile....

Ayande News continues its campaign against former 1st Vice President and Ahmadinejad aide Esfandiar Rahim-Mashi. The newspaper features the claim that several Rahim-Mashai relatives have been appointed to the board of the state automobile company Saipa, taking a controlling interest.

Rahim-Mashai's son, Reza, has become managing director of Saipa's investment branch while his nephew is now the company's head of business development.

NEW Iran Analysis: How “Mohareb” Death Sentences May Hurt Regime
Latest Iran Video: Marandi on CNN on Detainee Abuses “Mortazavi to Blame” (17 January)
Iran: The Ali-Mohammadi Case “A Political Assassination”

Iran: The Ali-Mohammadi Funeral “The Stolen Coffin”
UPDATED Iran Video & Translation: Dr Etaat’s Opposition On State Media (14 January — Parts 3-5)

Latest from Iran (17 January): Setting Aside Diversions

2150 GMT: More on the assassination of prosecutor Vali Haji Gholizadeh, shot dead in front of his home in Khoy City in Iran's West Azerbaijan province, bordering Turkey and Iraq. A police official says, "A special unit has been formed to identify those behind this assassination."

1935 GMT: Another 5-Point Plan (cont.). Radio Zaamaneh has published an English-language summary of the 5-point plan presented by 34 Iranian women (see 1615 GMT). The signatories, call for an “annulment of all discriminatory and anti-women laws, recognition of women’s right to their body and mind, ending violence against women and prosecution of all perpetrators of the crimes committed in the past thirty years” as part of a resolution of the current crisis. They also support "freedom of thought, speech and assembly", call for an end to torture and the death penalty, and demand “the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners”.

The 34 women put their 5 points within the framework of the Islamic Republic, "not changing the president or limiting the power of the leadership; but rather the realization of fundamental and structural changes”.

1920 GMT: Vali Haji Gholizadeh, the prosecutor of Khoy, a town in western Azerbaijan in northwestern Iran, has been killed by a gunshot.

1653 GMT: I'll be away for a few hours for academic and media work, returning about 2100 GMT for an evening update.

1650 GMT: Norooz is reporting that the Qoba Mosque in Shiraz, which was occupied by pro-Government groups who closed the offices of Ayatollah Dastgheib, has reopened.

1615 GMT: Another 5-Point Plan. Responding to and interacting with Mir Hossein Mousavi's 5-point proposal of 1 January, 34 Iranian women have published their own 5-point manifesto for resolution of the political crisis.

1440 GMT: Demonstrations and Trials. One reliable Iranian activist is updating on today's "mohareb" trial of five accused, while another is reporting that 100s of family members of detainees have gathered outside the Tehran Prosecutor General's office.

1145 GMT: Poking at "Foreign Intervention", Chapter 2 (see 0940 GMT). Minister of Interior Mostafa Mohammad Najjar has declared the Islamic Republic will have its revenge on "foreign elements" (and, yes, he means you, Israel) over the assassination of Professor Massoud Ali-Mohammadi.

1130 GMT: The "Mohareb" Trials. Iranian Students News Agency is reporting that five protesters, detained on Ashura (27 December), have gone on trial, accused of "mohareb" (war against God), a charge that could carry the death sentence. The Islamic Republic News Agency has said the five are members of the People's Mujahideen Organisation of Iran (PMOI).

See our related analysis, "How 'Mohareb' Death Sentences May Hurt Regime".

0940 GMT: Mottaki to Britain "We Will Decide If We Like You". Today's poke at "foreign intervention" comes from Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, who says: "Iran has carried out a thorough study on its relations with Britain in different fields particularly over the past six months. There are 10-12 working fields between Iran and the UK. We are currently reviewing each area."

No word yet of British panic over the statement.

0800 GMT: The Regime and Mohareb. We've posted a report by Edward Yeranian of Voice of America which points to risks for the regime in threatening death sentences for protesters because they are "mohareb" (warriors against God).

0700 GMT: More on Target Mortazavi. Press TV's website is headlining the letter by 55 members of Parliament to President Ahmadinejad and the head of Iran's judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, "demanding clarification" on the Kahrizak prison enquiry and the case of Saeed Mortazavi.
0650 GMT: And If You're Really Into Battles. On the Ahmadinejad v. Rafsanjani front, Hojetolelam Saghaye Biriaa, an advisor to Ahmadinejad, used a speech to criticise the Green Movement and then attacked the former President, "The Leader’s approach and beliefs are completely different to those of Hashemi Rafsanjani, exactly like Imam Khomeini, whose understanding and beliefs were different to the approach and beliefs of Ayatollah Montazeri."

0640 GMT: Motahhari v. The Government (Round 45). Just to highlight another running story, the "challenge within" from member of Parliament and Larijani ally Ali Motahhari, here are the weekend's headlines:

Motahhari directly criticised Ahmadinejad, accusing him as being one of the principle causes of the post-election crisis and saying he has to apologize to people for his wrong actions. Ahmadinejad advisor Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai responded to a group of journalists: “Firstly, what Motahhari is saying is cheap and baseless and, secondly, we are in the processes of filing a complain against him."

Back came Motahhari, declaring that Mashai should not interfere in and talk about issues which are beyond his "brain capacity" and that he should continue working on his ridiculous plan of Iran-Israel friendship. Then Motahhari returned to Ahmadinejad: the President is like "the person who has caused a big and tragic (car) accident but he has escaped from the scene and we have to try and penalise and punish the person who has the most responsibility".

0600 GMT: Rah-e-Sabz reports concerns over the deteriorating health of Ebrahim Yazdi, the former Foreign Minister and leader of the Freedom Movement of Iran, who has been detained since Ashura (27 December). The 79-year-old Yazdi was also held just after the June election but, on that occasion, was soon released.

0555 GMT: Cyber-War Update: Mahmoud Silenced. President Ahmadinejad's blog is still off-line, weeks after the website was attacked.

0540 GMT: The lead news this morning continues to be the regime's effort at legitimacy through the investigation of the detainee abuses at Kahrizak Prison. A couple of months ago, the speculation was that former Tehran Prosecutor General Saeed Mortazavi would be the fall guy, facing a trial and jail for his supposed lead role in the scandal of beatings and deaths of prisoners. That was deflected by Mortazavi's appointment as an aide to President Ahmadinejad, but now it appears that he is the firewall against challenges to others in the Government and regime, including the Supreme Leader.

We've got the video of the CNN interview in which Tehran University academic Seyed Mohammad Marandi lays out, in the guise of reporting and analysis, the strategy. (Apologies to those of you in the US whom CNN have blocked from seeing the video; the alternative, as laid out by our readers, is to download the video from CNN's Amanpour website and play it back on QuickTime.)

Elsewhere, Agence France Presse picks up on the opening provided by the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting debates, in which some reformists have made telling challenges to the regime. While we have highlighted the remarks of Dr Javad Etaat, posting the video and translation of his contribution, AFP notes the exchange between reformist member of Parliament Mostafa Kavakebian and "hard-line" editor of Kayhan, Hossein Shariatmadari.

The Latest from Iran (6 January): Distractions

IRAN GREEN2030 GMT: US Walks Tightrope on Green Movement. Earlier today we posted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's declaration about the "ruthless repression" of the Iran Government. Now State Department official John Limbert, who has direct responsibility for Iran, has put out a longer, more balanced statement.

On the one hand, Limbert continues the rhetoric criticising and cautioning the regime, "I think it's very hard for the government to decide how to react to the legitimate demands of the people. The more violence it uses, the more it will hurt itself in the end....We will never remain silent in the face of state violence and the mistreatment of people."

On the other, Limbert is also assuring that the Obama Administration will not break off discussions with the Ahmadinejad Government: "As you know, the U.S. president is determined to renew ties with Iran despite all the problems -- which we don't underestimate -- based on a new beginning."

NEW Iran: Hillary Clinton on Engagement & Pressure with Regime of “Ruthless Repression”
UPDATED Iran: The 60 Forbidden Foreign Organisations
Latest Iran Video and Transcript: Haghighatjoo and Marandi on CNN (4 January)
Iran: How Outside “Help” Can Hurt the Green Movement

2020 GMT: Setareh Sabety has posted an article commenting on the recent declaration of five Iranian intellectuals living abroad and declaring, "[Their] ten demands...should be embraced because they provide the democratic framework within which we can debate the future of our beloved Iran."

2010 GMT: Kalemeh is reporting the latest statement of Mehdi Karroubi that he is "prepared for everything" and "could not have imagine" the behaviour of the regime in the post-election conflict.

1950 GMT: Mesbah Yazdi Calling for Death Penalty? Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, close to President Ahmadinejad, ran out the standard line on the "evil" protests as the product of the "West" and Jews today. He allegedly added, however, that the demonstrators were "corruption on earth" and, as such, are subject to the death penalty.

1940 GMT: Iran's Energy Boost. "Turkmenistan has opened a second gas pipeline to Iran....Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad inaugurated the new 30km (19 miles) pipeline with Turkmen President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov in a ceremony in the desert near the Iranian border."

What is interesting beyond the story is that the BBC not only reports the development but praises it for "further eroding Russia's historical domination of its energy sector". Not sure the US authorities will see the deal in exactly the same way.

1930 GMT: Oh, Please (with an MKO twist).... We try our bet to limit the damage, but sometimes you cannot keep a bad article down. Laura Rozen of Politico, who normally has the best pairs of eyes and ears in Washington, swallows The New York Times "Iran Nuclear Bunkers/Tunnels" story (see 0640 GMT). What's more, she inadvertently highlights more reasons for concern, quoting Broad:

In late 2005, the Iranian opposition group [Mujahedin-e-Khalq] held news conferences in Paris and London to announce that its spies had learned that Iran was digging tunnels for missile and atomic work at 14 sites, including an underground complex near Qum. The government, one council official said, was building the tunnels to conceal “its pursuit of nuclear weapons”.

Hmm.... That's Mujahedin-e-Khalq, dedicated by all means to topple the Iranian regime. A neutral source for solid, reliable intelligence?

1430 GMT: With continued quiet, I'm off to address the conference in Beirut. Back for evening updates around 2000 GMT.

1305 GMT: Mortazavi Accused? Alef reports that a Parliament committee has unanimously approved a report, after several months of investigation, naming Saeed Mortazavi --- former Tehran Prosecutor General and current aide to President Ahmadinejad --- as chief suspect in the death of detainees in Kahrizak Prison.

1240 GMT: The day continues quietly in Iran, and in the lull more media mischief (see 0640 GMT). The Washington Times declares, "Iran's Al Qaeda Connection in Yemen", based on the suspect testimony of a former Guantanamo detainee, a suspect letter supposedly from Al Qa'eda Number 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri, and the assertion of a Yemeni politician.

For sheer stupidity, however, this pales into insignificance beside the Guardian's allocation of space to a Brian Binley, whose comment, "End Appeasement of Iran's Regime", offers this approach to resistance:
If the British government seriously wishes to find a solution to the Iran problem, they need look no further than the streets of Tehran and the Iranian people's determination to purse democratic ambitions.
For a number of years now, colleagues and I on the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom have worked with Iran's largest opposition group in exile, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, and its president-elect Maryam Rajavi to strengthen our policy towards Iran whilst seeking increased support for the Iranian opposition movement.

That would be the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the political wing of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq and its often-violent campaign to overthrow the Iranian Government since 1979.

Such political "wisdom" deserves a separate entry, I think.

0920 GMT: Breaking the Movement. Rooz Online reports the Freedom Movement of Iran, many of whose members have been detained, including the recent re-arrest of its head Ebrahim Yazdi, has suspended operations for the first time in its 48 years. The organisation added, “While we express our regret at the regime’s unlawful confrontation aimed at limiting the free flow of information and the demand that the Freedom Movement of Iran stop the activities of its official website and its analytical website Mizan until further notice, we reserve the right to legally pursue our rights in this regard.”

0730 GMT: To Be Fair. Disdain for some of the US portrayals of "Iran" this morning should be balanced with a hat-tip to Robin Wright of The Los Angeles Times, who considers the possibility of "An Opposition Manifesto in Iran":
Three bold statements calling for reform have been issued since Friday, one by opposition presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi, one by a group of exiled religious intellectuals and the third by university professors. Taken together, they suggest that the movement will not settle for anything short of radical change.

0640 GMT: Not much breaking news from Iran overnight and this morning, with the outcome that the US papers are awash in distracting rhetoric, tangential stories, and even a forceful call to recognise the legitimacy of the Iranian regime.

The rhetoric comes from Emanuele Ottolenghi in The Wall Street Journal. A long-time proponent of regime changes in countries such as Iraq, Ottolenghi grabs the Ashura story of the martyrdom of Imam Hussein to praise "Iran's Righteous Martyrs": "This time we should root for [them]." (Presumably the United States was unable to root for Imam Hussein in the 7th century.)

The Los Angeles Times, in an article by Robert Faturechi, features the claims that the cost of the Green movement's protests has been the "loss" of three detained Americans:
With street protests raging in Iran, political activism is on the rise among Los Angeles' already vocal Iranian American community. Flag-waving demonstrators clad in the opposition movement's signature green have been a common sight outside the Federal Building in Westwood, and Iranian-language media is abuzz with debate.

But when it comes to the three young American hikers being held in Iran on espionage charges the community has been decidedly silent. No large demonstrations, little conversation, virtually no push for action.

For William Broad in The New York Times, the issue is not the politics either of the Iranian protests or the imprisoned US trio, but Nukes, Nukes, Nukes.

In yet another piece fed to him by by "American government and private experts", Broad launches the latest proclamiation of Imminent Iranian Threat: "Iran has quietly hidden an increasingly large part of its atomic complex in networks of tunnels and bunkers across the country."

On a different page of The Times, however, the Iranian Government has a vocal defence team. Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett, in the latest of their numerous calls for discussion with President Ahmadinejad and his representatives, open with the declaration: "The Islamic Republic of Iran is not about to implode. Nevertheless, the misguided idea that it may do so is becoming enshrined as conventional wisdom in Washington."

To bolster their argument that the Obama Administration has no choice but to engage with Ahmadinejad, the Leveretts throw out a confetti of unsupported assertions:
Antigovernment Iranian Web sites claim there were “tens of thousands” of Ashura protesters; others in Iran say there were 2,000 to 4,000....Vastly more Iranians took to the streets on Dec. 30, in demonstrations organized by the government to show support for the Islamic Republic (one Web site that opposed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election in June estimated the crowds at one million people)....

Even President Ahmadinejad’s principal challenger in last June’s presidential election, Mir Hossein Mousavi, felt compelled to acknowledge the “unacceptable radicalism” of some Ashura protesters.

The Leveretts do put a series of challenges, discussed also at EA, about the opposition's leadership, its strategy, and its objectives, but this is all to prop up the "default" option that the regime (whose political, religious, economic, and ideological position is not examined beyond that claim of a million protesters on its behalf on 30 December) must not only be accepted but embraced in talks.

Just as the US Government set aside the inconvenience of Tiananmen Square 20 years ago, so it should put in the closet the trifling annoyance of those Iranians who demonstrate against rather than for the Government. The Leveretts conclude:
As a model, the president would do well to look to China. Since President Richard Nixon’s opening there (which took place amid the Cultural Revolution), successive American administrations have been wise enough not to let political conflict — whether among the ruling elite or between the state and the public, as in the Tiananmen Square protests and ethnic separatism in Xinjiang — divert Washington from sustained, strategic engagement with Beijing. President Obama needs to begin displaying similar statesmanship in his approach to Iran.