2320 GMT: Another Rights-First Shot from the Obama Administration. Despite (possibly because of) the recent sanctions-related rush of spin in US newspapers, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took a moment to focus on Iran's political conflict today, criticising the regime's “ruthless repression” of protesters: “We have deep concerns about their behavior, we have concerns about their intentions and we are deeply disturbed by the mounting signs of ruthless repression that they are exercising against those who assemble and express viewpoints that are at variance with what the leadership of Iran wants to hear.”
2220 GMT: Have You Made "The List"? Fars News has published the names of the 60 organisations and media outlets "outed" by Iran's Ministry of Intelligence as unacceptable for contact by Iranians.
There are a lot of familiar faces, given that many of these dangerous groups were listed in indictments in the Tehran trials in August: Georges Soros' Open Society Institute is here, as is the Carnegie Foundation, Ford Foundation and the Woodrow Wilson Center, whose scholar Haleh Esfandiari was detained by the Iranians in 2007. Both the National Republican Institute and National Democratic Institute get a mention. So doe the Council on Foreign Relations, the Hoover Institute in California, Freedom House, and of course the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. The National Endowment for Democracy, funded but not run by the US Government, also gets a citation, and Human Rights Watch is a definite no-go area.
Looks like we've missed out --- in the United Kingdom, the conference centre at Wilton Park, where foreign agents must gather to plan regime change, is mentioned as is the "Centre for Democracy Studies".
Just one question, if anyone at the Ministry of Intelligence is on Overnight Foreigner Watch: why does Yale get to be the one university to receive the Great Satan's Helper prize? (And, yes, we're already getting furious e-mails from our Harvard friends.)
2200 GMT: Have just arrived in Beirut, where I will be learning from the best specialists on the Middle East and Iran this week. Thanks to EA staff for finding journalist Maziar Bahari's interview with Britain's Channel 4. We've now posted the video of Bahari, who was detained for four months after the Presidential election.
2000 GMT: Britain's Channel 4 News has just broadcast a moving interview with journalist Maziar Bahari who was held in Evin prison for 119 days. We'll post a link when it becomes available. Chief political correspondent Jon Snow also referred back to his exclusive interview with President Ahmadinejad which took place in Shiraz just before Christmas. Ahmadinejad denied troops were intimidating opponents and warned the West not to assume his country was weak.
NEW Latest Iran Video: Maziar Bahari on Britain’s Channel 4
NEW Iran: Five Expatriate Intellectuals Issue “The Demands of the Green Movement”
NEW Latest Iran Video: Interview with Committee of Human Rights Reporters (3 January)
NEW Iran: In Defence of Mousavi’s “5 Proposals”
NEW Iran: The Genius of Washington’s “Strategic Leaking” on Nukes & Sanctions
Iran: Authority and Challenge — Bring Out the (Multi-Sided) Chessboard
The Latest from Iran (3 January): Re-positioning
1540 GMT: I'm en route to a conference in the Middle East (more news tomorrow) so updates may be limited today. The EA team is minding the shop so keep sending in information and analysis.
1500 GMT: The Foreign Menace (see if you are on the list). The Islamic Republic News Agency has just published a long interview with the Deputy Minister for International Affairs in the Ministry of Intelligence ministry. He lists 62 foreign research centres and media outlets, with which all contact by Iranians is considered forbidden. The list includes Yale University, Brookings Institute, Saban Centre, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, New American Foundation, various Iran human rights groups, BBC, Voice of America, and RaheSabz.net.
1415 GMT: Regime Spokesman of Day. Hats off to Kaveh Afrasiabi, who at no point lets analysis get in the way of his re-presentation of the Mousavi statement, "Iran: From Confrontation to Reconciliation" in Asia Times.
Afrasiabi, who has been a loud proclaimer of President Ahmadinejad's legitimacy since 12 June, wears the shoes of Presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei in announcing a Mousavi "retreat" (perhaps needless to say, he does not consider the actual statement). He is pleased to report that many figures, including former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, are now behind "unity" So expect "a qualitative turn-around from the tumult of the past seven months".
And those who haven't read Afrasiabi's script? No worries, for the Green movement, given "an opportunity to drum up its democratization demands" with the death of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri", has been stopped by "a serious miscalculation" with its resort to violence on Ashura
1340 GMT: Engagement Revised. A delegation from the European Parliament has postponed its trip to Iran.
1330 GMT: Reuters is reporting from Iran state television the assertion of Minister of Intelligence Heydar Moslehi: "Several foreigners are among those who were arrested on the day of Ashura....They were leading a psychological war against the system....They entered Iran two days before Ashura."
1020 GMT: Irony Defined. Press TV's website features this headline, "Iran deplores French crackdown on protesters".
Still not convinced of our definition? Here is the opening sentence: "Iran's Foreign Ministry has lashed out at France over resorting to violence in dealing with protesters in the country, describing it as violation of human rights."
0930 GMT: A Platform for the Green Movement? Five Iranian intellectuals abroad --- Abdolkarim Soroush, Akbar Ganji, Mohsen Kadivar, Abdolali Bazargan, Ataollah Mohajerani --- have put out a statement of objectives. We are summarising in a separate entry.
0920 GMT: Where's Mahmoud? President Ahmadinejad is focusing on Iran's regional ties, especially in areas like energy and transportation. He is in Tajikistan before moving to Turkmenistan.
0910 GMT: We've posted the video of an interview with Saeed Habibi, a senior member of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters who is in hiding in Iran.
0720 GMT: The Clerical Opposition? We are looking for further information on the tantalising report, offered late Sunday, that Ayatollah Bayat-Zanjani has met separately with Ayatollah Mousavi-Ardebili and with Ayatollah Sanei in Qom.
0710 GMT: Another low-key start to the political day in Iran, as it appears that the regime ponders --- amidst its threats --- how to deal with the persistence of protests, the Green opposition gathers itself --- amidst arrests --- for the next big show of resistance, Mir Hossein Mousavi watches the response to his 5-proposal statement, and conservative/principlist politicians and clerics look for support for their alternative approach.
We have two guest analyses. Babak Siavoshy puts forth a defence of Mousavi's statement, while Gary Sick praises the "strategic leaking" of Barack Obama amidst domestic pressure for US sanctions against Iran and its nuclear programme.
Meanwhile, a Sunday testimony both to Iran's ascent up the US news agenda and the problems, as well as the possibilities, that this brings. One of the showpiece Sunday talk shows, ABC's This Week, turned over part of its Roundtable to a discussion of recent protests in Iran.
Unfortunately, after paying token attention to the internal developments --- "Every time this cycle happens, the Iranian opposition seems to come back stronger and stronger" --- David Sanger of The New York Times promoted his Sunday article (see yesterday's updates) and declared, "The first priority is the nuclear programme." Cue another round of chit-chat among the talking heads on sanctions and the reduction of Iran's political battle to "Is it more or less likely for the Iranian regime to want a deal with the West?"