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Entries in Mohammad Reza Tabesh (2)


The Latest from Iran (31 January): No Backing Down

2240 GMT: We close tonight by posting a video of the comments of Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, defending the regime's approach in the Presidential election and against subsequent protests, on CNN.

2155 GMT: News from Evin Prison. Another demonstration tonight by families of detainees and their supporters --- Peyke Iran reports hundreds present. The website claims 23 detainees have been released to the cheers of the crowd.

2020 GMT: All is Well! All is Well! Today's award goes to a Brigadier General Hassan Firouzabadi, who offered this assessment of the current situation:
The Islamic Republic of Iran is looking at a bright future under the aegis of the visionary leadership of Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and the support of a considerable number of devotees inside and outside the country...

“Ceremonies marking the 31st anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution will kick off this year at a time when Iran has made great progress in various fields of science and technology. The global powers, along with their supporters inside the country, desperately sought to undermine the principles of the Islamic Revolution.

So, Mr Firouzabadi, we pass over to you the EA All is Well Trophy Video:


NEW Latest Iran Video: Foreign Minister Mottaki on Elections & Protests (31 January)
NEW Iran Analysis: Mousavi and Karroubi Answer the Regime — “Defiance”
NEW Iran From the Outside: Helping Through “Active Neutrality”
Latest Iran Video: Defending the Executions (30 January)
Iran Document: Mousavi-Karroubi Declaration on Rights and 22 Bahman (30 January)
Iran’s Executions: The Reformist Participation Front Questions to Sadegh Larijani
Iran Patriotism Special: Wiping the Green From The Flag

The Latest from Iran (30 January): Threat

2015 GMT: The speaker of the reformist minority group in Parliament, Mohammad Reza Tabesh, resigned to protest restricitons such as the filtering of the party's website Parleman News and the banning of its reporter from the Parliament and preventing guests of MPs from entering the Parliament. (Those guests include family members of political prisoners. One delegation was turned away today.)

The Deputy Speaker and members of the party intervened and requested Tabesh to remain in his post.

1920 GMT: Mahmoud, They Haven't Forgotten You. Just in case anyone was wondering if the "conservative" opposition to the Government had gone quiet, a refresher on a story from yesterday....

High-profile member of Parliament Ahmad Tavakoli, in a letter to Ahmadinejad through the website Alef News, has criticised the warnings handed out to newspapers by the Press Supervisory Board: "In most of the cases the reasons mentioned were very unsound and unbelievably unjustified." Tavakoli also derided the Ministry of Intelligence's list of 60 international organisations, involved in "soft war" with whom Iranians were to have no contact: "In the spheres of politics and media, it is the duty of the government to enhance freedom and to ban illegal limitations and narrow-minded restrictions."

1915 GMT: On the Economic Front (cont.): The Central Bank has issued a gloomy report about Iran's economic performance in recent months, with declining investment, output, and exports. The report has appeared in both the Green movement's Rah-e-Sabz and the pro-Rafsanjani Ayande News.

1800 GMT: On the Economic Front. The Swiss engineering group ABB AG has stopped taking new orders in Iran with a view to ending operations in the country.

1755 GMT: Iranian Labor News Agency reports that 218 members of Parliament have signed a motion calling on "prominent figures" to support the Supreme Leader:

“We must give stern warning to the enemies and bullying powers that their conspiracies will be thwarted by Iranian wise and vigilant nation as before. We advise the prominent figures who fanned the flames of dispute to make good on their mistakes and remain committed to rule of law."

1745 GMT: Detainee News (cont.). Dr. Alireza Beheshti, Mir Hossein Mousavi’s top advisor (not to be confused with Alireza Beheshti Shirazi, another Mousavi advisor) and son of the late Ayatollah Beheshti, has complained about unacceptable prison conditions in a short telephone call to his family. Beheshti's wife said that the regime is still searching for charges against her husband; one of the possibilities is that he has multiple mobile phone numbers.

Beheshti, detained in the new wave of arrests after Ashura, has suffered a heart attack while in custody. He reportedly has not been able to meet his lawyer or study his file.

1645 GMT: Larijani, Tough Guy. An English translation of the remarks of Sadegh Larijani (see 1445 GMT), head of Iran's judiciary, from Rah-e-Sabz's original report:

Larijani, while defending the execution of a number of people, particularly those accused of being a Mohareb (enemy of God), said: "These people were Moharebs and members of terrorist groups, had weapons or were found with explosives when arrested."

Sadegh Larijani once again reiterated the resolve of the judiciary in dealing with Mohareb groups and said, "Legal criminal procedures were meticulously followed during every phase of the investigation with regards to the cases of these individuals."

With regards to those who seek to create an illusion that there was negligence by the judiciary system in dealing with the defendants and who suggest that they were arrested hastily and without respect for the law, Larijani said, "The criteria by which the judiciary addresses all judicial cases is based only on Sharia (religious and divine law)."

1615 GMT: Detainee News. Seyed Alireza Beheshti Shirazi, a senior advisor to Mir Hossein Mousavi senior advisors and the chief editor of his Kalemeh Sabz newspaper, is still in solitary confinement. Beheshti, detained in the Ashura demonstrations, has not been charged, has not been given a lawyer, and has not been allowed to contact his family.

Dr. Ali Arab Mazar, another imprisoned Mousavi advisor, has finally spoken to his family in a two-minute phone call.

1445 GMT: Defending the Executions. A quiet news day has been interrupted by a statement from the head of Iran's judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, justifying Thursday's executions of Mohammad Reza Ali Zamani and Arash Rahmanipour.

1015 GMT: Colleagues at Iran Review in Tehran have notified us of a series of analyses, from their staff and from the Iranian press, offering insight into Iranian positions on Afghanistan, on the West's approach to Tehran's nuclear programme and Russia's position, and on Iraq's forthcoming elections.

0935 GMT: Fist-Shaking of the Day. Officials in the Obama Administration use their favourite reporters at The Washington Post and The New York Times, to show they are getting very tough with Iran.

With further sanctions on Tehran complicated both by the resistance of other countries and by differing views of the White House and the US Congress, "military officials" have proclaimed that anti-missile defences are being accelerated in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait.

There are other motives in the posturing. An administration official declares, “Our first goal is to deter the Iranians” if Tehran gets a bit miffed about tougher sanctions. That's a pretty weak line, since Iran is unlikely to launch an overt military attack (to my knowledge, Tehran has not done so since the 1979 Islamic Revolution). The official's second aim, "to reassure the Arab states", is more a pointer to the ongoing political battle between Iran and the US for influence in the region. The third objective, however, may be the most significant, beyond the appearance of toughness, "There is certainly an element of calming the Israelis as well.”

0850 GMT: Spinning Hashemi. Iran's state outlet, Press TV, gives the "appropriate" reading for Hashemi Rafsanjani's cautious, balanced statement on the marches of 22 Bahman (11 February). Setting aside any notion of a challenge to the regime, the website headlines, "Hashemi-Rafsanjani: February 11 rallies will foil outside ploys".

0820 GMT: The website of the Holland-based Radio Zamaneh, a key location for news and analysis in the post-election crisis, has been attacked by the "Iranian Cyber Army", the same group that diverted traffic from the Green website Mowj-e-Sabz,   Twitter, and the Chinese service Baidu.

0805 GMT: Another Show of Defiance. More than 2000 people --- detainees' families, Mothers of Mourning, and supporters --- reportedly gathered outside Evin Prison on Saturday night to call for an end to executions.

After the killing of two detainees on Thursday and rumours of more hangings, the demonstrators demanded not only an end to executions but also the unconditional release of all political prisoners. The families of prisoners were told that 23 detainees would be freed, and a few were released, including a 23 year-old woman who expressed her thanks to the crowd.

0800 GMT: The biggest news story on Saturday was the statement of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, responding to the regime's threats, trials, and executions, as they maintained their criticism of the Government and called on followers to march on the anniversary of the 1979 Revolution, 22 Bahman (11 February). We have posted a separate analysis.

Amidst our continuing discussions of the relationship between the Green movement and those outside Iran, we have also posted an incisive comment from Mahmood Delkhasteh, proposing the policy of "active neutrality".

And we have posted a video of a Tehran University academic, speaking on Al Jazeera English, defending last Thursday's executions of two political prisoners.

The Latest from Iran (9 January): Watching Carefully

2225 GMT: More on Khamenei Speech (see 1445 and 1850 GMT). An EA reader who watched the Supreme Leader's address today sends an interesting e-mail, "His speech did not sound aggressive. It sounded more as a request for calm and acting with wisdom after the fallouts of Ashura. It appeared that he was lacking in confidence. Same for the crowd."

2220 GMT: Halting the Mothers of Martyrs. An Iranian activist reports that, during their weekly march in Laleh Park, about 30 of Mothers of Martyrs in the post-election crisis and their supporters were arrested and taken to Vozara detention centre.

2200 GMT: Mortazavi --- Scapegoat or Valued Official? Iran-watchers may want to set aside a few moments for former Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi, whose future may turn upon the developments in the internal contest amidst conservatives and principlists.

Days after Mortazavi was reportedly named as prime "suspect" in the Parliamentary investigation of the deaths of Kahrizak detainees, he was formally named as President Ahmadinejad's advisor to combating smuggling of drugs and currency.

NEW Latest Iran Video: Sharif University Demonstration (9 January)
Iran: Four Responses to the “Wrong Questions” of the Leveretts (Lucas)
Iran: “What is This Opposition?” Right Answers to Wrong Questions (Shahryar)

The Latest from Iran (8 January): Karroubi Under Attack

Interpretation? Mortazavi is now the proxy in the battle between key conservatives/principlists and Ahmadinejad. The President wants him as a sign of Ahmadinejad's authority and as a firewall to any move by Parliamentary challenges; Ahmadinejad's critics see Mortazavi's downfall as a necessary victory in their battle.

Another marker in the dispute is a statement by a "pro-Government" student organisation criticising Ahmadinejad for the appointments of Mortazavi and for Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, the former First Vice-President --- a few days after his appointment, he was removed from office amidst vehement criticism from the conservatives/principlists  who may be aiming at Mortazavi ---  who is now Ahmadinejad's chief of staff.

2150 GMT: A Release. An EA reader writers that Reza Najafi, an Iranian translator, was released from jail on Thursday. Najafi worked for Caravan Publishing, which is owned by Arash Hejazi, the doctor who tried to save the life of Neda Agha Soltan.

1920 GMT: The Khamenei Manoeuvre (Part 2). This article, from Payvand, should be read in conjunction with the passage of the Supreme Leader's speech offering some rhetorical concession on violence:
Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani has criticized the people who made derogatory remarks about Mohsen Rezaei in regard to his recent letter to the Supreme Leader about Mir-Hossein Mousavi's recent proposals. Larijani made the remarks at a meeting with national police chiefs in Qom on Thursday.

"Rezaei has been a real mujahid (one who struggles in the cause of Islam) and strived wholeheartedly during the (1980-1988) Iran-Iraq war. Naturally, since he has entered the political scene, some of his ideas may be criticized. But why do some political figures question his career as a mujahid?"

"Today, society needs convergence not discord and not steps meant to undermine recognized figures' positions," he added.

It is not too speculative to treat Larijani as a channel for the political views of the Supreme Leader, and this manoevure is a clear call --- "Back Off" --- to those "hard-liners" who have criticised Rezaei for suggesting that a deal may now be struck with Mir Hossein Mousavi.

And there's more. Larijani said, "We should not call anyone who has different views a dissident and a hypocrite. In line with the Supreme Leader's directives, all people should try to create unity in the country to prepare the ground for economic activities, investment, and development."

That passage walks hand-in-hand with this week's declarations by high-profile MP Ali Motahari, on video and in print, calling for some negotiation of views and approaches to get out of the current post-election difficulties.

1850 GMT: Mixed Messages. Borzou Daragahi of The Los Angeles Times picks up on a passage from today's Supreme Leader statement (see 1445 GMT) that may point to some pull-back from all-out confrontation:
Relevant bodies should fully respect the law in dealing with the [post-election] riots and the ongoing events. Those without any legal duty and obligations should not meddle with these affairs, Everyone should hold back from arbitrary acts and everything should go within the framework of the law.

The obvious connection to make is that Khamenei's message is, first and foremost, to the conservative/principlist politicians who have been pressing for some sign of regime concession on the crackdown. That has including Presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei's letter and the challenge of member of Parliament Ali Motahari (covered in this week's EA updates).

Doesn't look like this part of Khamenei's message has filtered down through the ranks, however. Brigadier General Mohammad-Reza Naqdi, the head of the Basiji militia, preferred to pick up on the Supreme Leader's passage praising action against the "corrupt" and "rioters":
Now, all our people expect the security and intelligence organs as well as the judiciary to take action. People will jump to the fray if they feel these bodies are lax in their duties. People are critical of the laxness of security and judicial bodies against conspirators.

And Islamic Revolution Guard Corps commander Brigadier General Abdollah Araqi has proposed involving the Basiji militiamen, who are now within the Revolutionary Guard, in some IRGC operations.
Most Basijis are not inclined to militarism and so we have trained those interested in military activities separately within the framework of several battalions. The most-trained Basijis are now with Imam Hussein Battalions and their employment in security issues could be influential.

1840 GMT: Getting It Right About the Opposition. Following our responses to this week's attempt by Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett to promote the legitimacy of the Ahmadinejad Government by belittling the opposition, Abbas Milani adds his critique in The New Republic. The take-away quote: "The U.S. can either stand with the people of Iran, and support their quest for democracy—a democracy, incidentally, that offers the only solution to the nuclear problem as well—or it can side with those who defend the moribund regime."

1815 GMT: The University Demonstrations Continue. Compared to the tumult of last month, Iran's universities have been relatively muted in terms of open protest (though not, it should be noted, signed of opposition such as exam boycotts). Today, however, students at Sharif University came out in a show of protest over detentions of their classmates.

We've posted three clips.

1510 GMT: I'll be back in a couple of hours to round up latest news and analysis. Thanks to EA readers for keeping the information coming in.

1500 GMT: For Mahmoud, It's the Nukes. President Ahmadinejad, meanwhile, is staying away from (or being kept from) the internal situation, as he declared in his nationally-televised speech that that further UN Security Council sanctions will not deter Iran from pursuing its nuclear programme:
[Other countries] issued several resolutions and sanctioned Iran ... They think Iranians will fall on their knees over these things but they are mistaken....We are not interested in conflicts (but) you are continually demanding things.

They should not think they can put up obstacles in Iranians' way ... I assure the people ... that the government will whole-heartedly defend Iran's rights and will not back down one iota.

1455 GMT: Reza Razaghi, one of the members of the central legal committee of Mir Hossein Mousavi, was arrested early this morning and moved to an unknown location.

Yadoolah Eslami, a former member of Parliament, has also been arrested.

1445 GMT: Khamenei's Back. Just arrived back in snowy Birmingham to find that, a few thousand miles away, the Supreme Leader has appeared publicly for the first time since Ashura. (You can have a peek at the video.)

Textbook stuff from Ayatollah Khamenei, speaking to visitors from Qom, about how appropriate it is to come down hard on the demonstrators: "The officials of the three forces saw for themselves what the nation is asking for, therefore, they must perform their duties well towards the corrupt and the rioters." (Note: I would be grateful if readers could verify whether Khamenei referred to Ahmadinejad by name.)

The Supreme Leader also played the foreign-spectre-behind-the-opposition card: "The U.S. and Britain and other arrogant powers, as well as their domestic misguided (allies), acted under the banner of struggle against the Imam (Ayatollah Khomeini) and the revolution since the very beginning of the victory of the Islamic revolution. The situation is the same now."

0320 GMT: The Newest Deal has an analysis, which matches up with some information I've received, of the offering-up of former Tehran Prosecutor General Saeed Mortazavi as a sacrifice for the deaths of detainees at Kahrizak Prison. A broader way to consider this is that Mortazavi's fate is a "firewall" for the Ahmadinejad Government. If he is punished, the line might be held against pressure on others, including the President.

0300 GMT: Friday was a day, apart from the drama of the gunfire at Mehdi Karroubi's motorcade, to pick up pieces of information and put them together. I had the pleasure of a long chat with a couple of top Iran-watchers. Parts of the discussion will be shaping analyses in forthcoming days, but the two general lines of note were "marathon, not sprint" and "change is coming".

Meanwhile, some of those pieces to note before making my way back to Britain....

The Western media is now responding quickly to headline news from Iran: within hours of the Karroubi incidence, The New York Times, The Times of London, and The Guardian of London, amongst London, had posted stories.

Iran human rights organisations reacted by building the incident into another demand on the Government, referring to possible Basiji and Revolutionary Guard involvement in the events in Qazvin and calling on the regime to ensure the safety of opposition leaders. Reformist members of Parliament, such as Mohammad Reza Tabesh, are asking Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani to safeguard "insulted" legislators.

The Government is definitely going to use the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MKO) "terrorist" line as a battering ram against the opposition: state media indicated on Friday that 5 Ashura detainees going on trial will be charged with membership of the organisation.

More news is emerging of students at Iran universities boycotting final examinations in protest at detentions of classmates.