Elsewhere, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has maintained his own defiance by appointing aide Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, the target of both "reformist" and "conservative" opposition, as the chief of the President’s youth advisors. This is an addition to Mashai’s positions of President’s deputy for affairs of Iranians living abroad, special advisory of President in oil affairs, head of assembly for free economic zones, and the chairman of the cultural commission in the cabinet.
Mohammad Taqi Rahbar, the head of the clergies committee in Parliament, is not impressed, however: he has criticised Ahmadinejad’s special relationship with Mashai, declaring that the President is sacrificing the regime and Government for Mashai’s favour.
NEW Iran: Rafsanjani Chooses A Side?
NEW Iran Special Analysis: What Karroubi’s Statement on “Mr Khamenei”/”Head of Government” Means
NEW Latest Iran Audio: Hossein Karroubi on His Father’s Statement (25 January)
Iran Snap Analysis: The Karroubi and Khatami Manoeuvres
The Latest from Iran (25 January): Who Makes A Move Today?
And now your nominee for bravest/most ridiculous sentence of the week: the head of the Guardian Council, Ayatollah Ahmed Jannati says: "We (the Guardian Council) held the recent election without the tiniest problem."
2030 GMT: Going after the Reporters. Two senior members of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, Koohyar Goodarzi and Mehrdad Rahimi, have been accused of "mohareb" (war against God).
1930 GMT: We've posted a special snap analysis of Hashemi Rafsanjani's statement today, which may or may not indicate he has "chosen a side" in the current conflict.
1745 GMT: Rumour of Day (3). Saham News claims that Mohammad Jafar Behdad, the political deputy of President Ahmadinejad’s bureau, has been sentenced to jail on the basis of two accusations by Ali Larijani and one by Hashemi Rafsanjani.
The charge is that Behdad wrote in an online article, deleted 50 minutes later, that those who are to blame for the killing of protesters are the persons who called Mir Hossein Mousavi on the afternoon of the elections to congratulate him, causing his delusion and subsequent decision for instigating the people to revolt. That claim points at Larjiani who, according to politicians like Ali Reza Zakani, contacted Mousavi with the news of "victory".
1740 GMT: Rumour of Day (2). Rah-e-Sabz follows up the story, linked to our analysis of Mehdi Karroubi's initiative, that former President Mohammad Khatami wrote a letter to the Supreme Leader, asking for Ayatollah Khamenei's intervention to stop the illegal activities and disregard of citizen rights of the regime.
The website reports, from an "informed source", that the Supreme Leader rejected the analysis and recommendations. It adds, dampening down the "recogntion of the President" story and any serious Karroubi-Khatami split, that rumours of Khatami criticising the reformists or endorsing the legitimacy of the government are untrue and are being spread by the regime to cause divisions in the Green movement.
1730 GMT: Rumour of Day (1). Rah-e-Sabz claims that the son of Ali Larijani was arrested during the Ashura demonstrations. He was allegedly released 24 hours later when his identity was established.
1620 GMT: The Supreme Leader's Response: It's All About the Internet. Not sure if this is really going to answer the challenge put forth in the last 24 hours....
Ayatollah Khamenei has declared in a speech on state television, "The Americans have said that they have allocated a $45 million budget to help them to confront the Islamic Republic of Iran via the Internet....This decision shows the height of the enemy's frustration. They have spent tens of billions of dollars in the past (in confronting Iran), but have achieved no results."
Leave aside the fact that the facts are a bit off-the-mark (the US Senate voted in July to allocate $50 million to expand American broadcasts and get around Internet restrictions). Can't see how Mehdi Karroubi's "Mr Khamenei" is a product of Washington's schemes.
1610 GMT: Karroubi Makes It Clear. We've posted an update on our special analysis, with Mehdi Karroubi's speech today bearing out our interpretation. It's not only that he challenged both the Government and the Supreme Leader yesterday; he's going to keep doing it.
Get ready for an escalation in the conflict.
1310 GMT: MediaFail of the Day. I've stayed away from the "Western" media coverage of the Karroubi statement, even though a lot of it is still wrong over the recognition of Ahmadinejad: this has been a confusing story and I was well off-the-mark yesterday afternoon.
That said, The Washington Post has screwed up well beyond the norm in this item in its World Digest: "Opposition's Mehdi Karroubi softens stance on Iran's leadership". It condenses an Associated Press story to the basics: "In a major shift, a senior opposition figure announced that he now recognizes Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the head of Iran's government while standing by his assertions that the presidential election was rigged....Mehdi Karroubi's new position is a retreat from his statements after the June 12 election, when he insisted that Ahmadinejad's government was illegitimate."
The original AP story by Akbar Dareini was muddled and missed important points, such as Karroubi's use of "Mr Khameini"; however, it had key passages such as, "The elder Karroubi deliberately refrained from using the word 'president' in order not to give full legitimacy to Ahmadinejad's administration." Its claim, from Karroubi's son Hossein, that the cleric "believes Ahmadinejad's government was on the verge of collapse" is softened in the World Digest to the opposition is "seeking Ahmadinejad's removal".
1210 GMT: Not Recognising Ahmadinejad. An EA reader reports that German and Swedish media are still dominated by line that Mehdi Karroubi recognised Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as "President", so these related comments from Zahra Rahnavard (see 0640 GMT), the wife of Mir Hossein Mousavi, deserve repetition:
We neither recognise Ahmadinejad’s administration [as legitimate government] nor compromise but we honestly are following on people’s rights and demands....
We have put our hearts as our shields and we are ready for any bullet, attack or assassination.
1030 GMT: Remain Calm, All is Well (with Bonus Cultural Reference). Press TV puts out the reassurance this morning:
Bank Melli Iran (BMI) is the largest bank in Iran and across the Islamic world, considering its total assets of around $54bn, a BMI official says. The total assets of BMI at the end of second quarter of 1388 (September, 2009) have increased to US $59 billion, the head of financial department at BMI, Hojatollah Ghasemi, said Monday, denying reports that the bank is bankrupt.
Ghasemi said that BMI has no debt to Iran's central Bank, adding that the bank has no delay in repaying its international commitments.
Forgive me, but when I read the story, given the recent flurry of rumours of the demise of Iran's banks, I made this cross-cultural jump:
0905 GMT: The Mothers of Mourning have called for the immediate release of Parvaneh Maddah-Raad, who has been detained since late December. Maddah-Raad was arrested when she intervened to protest the beating of a young demonstrator at the weekly gather of the Mothers of Mourning in Laleh Park.
0900 GMT: We've posted the audio of Hossein Karroubi, the son of Mehdi Karroubi, talking to BBC Persian about his father's statement.
Also, in response to readers who are asking about the reasons for our current analysis of Karroubi's challenge to the Supreme Leader and Government, we are posting an update on our special analysis.
0734 GMT: The Regime Fights Over Newspaper. Now it appears that Government officials can't even see straight on which publications should be banned. According to Ayande News, Tehran Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi summoned officials of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance officials. He declared that he would act against media spreading false news, then criticized the Ministry for arbitrarily banning some of the media while others were openly violating laws by spreading lies and offending top members of the Government and regime.
0730 GMT: On the Economic Front. Not even Press TV tries to spin this news:
Iran's labor and social affairs minister says the country has failed to decrease the jobless rate to below 7 percent due to "the crises and global sanctions."
On Monday, Abdolreza Sheikholeslami told the Fars News Agency that the unemployment rate is about 11 percent.
The Fourth Five-Year Development Plan (2005-2010) had obliged the government to bring the jobless rate to under 7 percent by the end of the plan.
"A seven percent unemployment rate had not been achieved, as a goal, in the Fourth Five-Year Development Plan, due to the crises and global sanctions," Sheikholeslami said, without elaborating.
The Statistics Center of Iran announced that the national unemployment rate rose to 11.3 percent in the third quarter of the calendar year (ended December 21, 2009), up 1.8 percent compared to the previous year.
0640 GMT: Rahnavard on "Legitimacy". Amidst the discussion of Mehdi Karroubi's statement, Mir Hossein Mousavi has been silent. However, his wife, Tehran University academic Zahra Rahnavard, has not.
In an interview with Fereshteh Ghazi, Rahnavard makes clear that Mousavi does not and will not recognise the Ahmadinejad Government.
0635 GMT: Here's one to raise the eyebrows on the international front. The three-day visit to Russia by Saeed Jalili, Secretary of the National Security Council, due to start today, has been postponed "indefinitely".
0630 GMT: Ayatollah Bayat-Zanjani's Intervention. We made an error in translation when reporting the cleric's latest criticism of the regime yesterday. His demand of the Government was that it should "prohibit" the bad and undesirable in its actions.
0600 GMT: We will spend today seeing just how important yesterday's Karroubi statement, on Mr Khamenei and the "President", is. That will depend not only on whether Karroubi modifies the declaration or lets it stand but also on the reactions of others. Key participants like Mir Hossein Mousavi have not emerged; perhaps more importantly, there is still confusion and division in the Green movement(s) over Karroubi's move.
Some activists take the line that the statement is a concession, if not to Ahmadinejad by "recognising" him as President, then to the Supreme Leader by acknowledging his legitimacy. That opinion is sometimes linked to the assessment that Karroubi, like the regime, wants to avoid a bloody confrontation on 22 Bahman (11 February). Others, however --- and this is the current EA line, after my initial confusion and mis-interpretation --- see this as a challenge to both Government and Ayatollah Khamenei.
For now, we'll stand by the analysis that we debated and then put out last night, watching for the follow-up --- from Karroubi, from opposition leaders like Mousavi and Mohammad Khatami, from the regime, and from the Green movement(s) --- today before making any revisions.