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Entries in Peyke Iran (9)


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 (29 January): Sideshows and Main Events

2320 GMT: The Committee of Human Rights Reporters has issued a statement on recent allegations against its members, many of whom are detained:
The civil society’s endurance depends on acceptance and realization of modern norms and principles. When a ruling establishment with an outdated legal system tries to impose itself politically and ideologically on a modern society, the result will be widespread protests.

2315 GMT: Correction of the Day. Although it was not widely noted, there were 40th Day memorial ceremonies for Grand Ayatollah Montazeri in Qom.

2310 GMT: Diversion of the Day. From Press TV:
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's top aide said Friday Tehran is concerned about the direction of the US administration after President Barack Obama delivered his first State of the Union address.

"We have concerns Obama will not be successful in bring change to US policies," Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, the senior aide to President Ahmadinejad and his chief of staff, said.

With respect, Esfandiar, I don't think President Obama is your biggest concern right now.

NEW Iran Patriotism Special: Wiping the Green From The Flag
Iran Document: Karroubi Maintains the Pressure (28 January)
Iran Document: Resignation Letter of Diplomat in Japan “Join the People”
Iran Document/Analysis: Karroubi’s Statement on the Political Situation (27 January)
Iran Analysis: Leadership in the Green Movement
The Latest from Iran (28 January): Trouble Brewing

2300 GMT: Yawn. Well, we started the day with a sanctions sideshow (see 0650 GMT), so I guess it is fitting to close with one. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking in Paris:
China will be under a lot of pressure to recognize the destabilizing impact that a nuclear-armed Iran would have in the [Persian] Gulf, from which they receive a significant percentage of their own supplies....We understand that right now it seems counterproductive to [China] to sanction a country from which you get so much of the natural resources your growing economy needs....[But China] needs to think about the longer-term implications.

1. The White House is not even at the point of agreeing a sanctions package with the US Congress, let alone countries with far different agendas.
2. China is not going to agree tough sanctions in the UN Security Council. Really. Clinton is blowing smoke.
3. About the only outcome of this will be Press TV running a story on bad America threatening good Iran Government.

2250 GMT: Back after a break (Up In The Air is fantastic --- there, I've said it) to find that the reformist Islamic Iran Participation Front has written an open letter to Iran's head of judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, putting a series of questions over the executions of Mohammad Reza Ali Zamani and Arash Ramanipour.

1820 GMT: We've moved our item on the regime's apparent removal of Green from Iran's flag to a separate entry.

1755 GMT: Today's Pot-Kettle-Black Moment. Just came across a discussion on Press TV of a bill, passed in the US House of Representatives, threatening to block "anti-US" television channels.

Don't get me wrong: this is an incredibly stupid measure, although as Professor William Beeman, the most reflective of the three guests notes, it is a symbolic declaration unlikely to become law. However, I have to note that at no point do the words "Internet filtering", "expulsion/imprisonment of journalists", "jamming of satellite signals" (say, of Voice of America Persian or BBC Persian) come up in the conversation, which also includes a Dr Franklin Lamb and a Dr Seyed Mohammad Marandi.

1750 GMT: The Judiciary v. Ahmadinejad. At insideIRAN, Arash Aramesh has a useful summary of the suspension of the publication Hemmat by Iran's judiciary. The twist is that Hemmat, which ran into trouble for running an attack piece against Hashemi Rafsanjani, is a supporter of the Ahmadinejad Government. No surprise then that the President reportedly declared:
I am not very happy with some of the Judiciary’s actions. Someone published a paper and you shut it down. It is the job of a jury to order the closure of publications. We do not agree with such actions and believe that these actions show a spirit of dictatorship.

However, Aramesh does not connect the Hemmat story to the imprisonment of Mohammad Jafar Behdad (see 1230 GMT), an official in the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, for four months.

1725 GMT: The Latest from Gohardasht Prison. Peyke Iran reports that 300 Ashura detainees are under severe pressure by Ministry of Intelligence agents, demanding confessions of "mohareb" (war against God), in sections controlled by the Revolutionary Guard.

1700 GMT: The International Committee for Human Rights in Iran has started a new blog. Current posts consider the Zamani/Rahmanipour executions and "Members of Committee of Human Rights Reporters Under Pressure to Make Forced Confessions".

1600 GMT: The Strategy of Deaths. Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi has offered details on the regime's handling of executions: having put to death two pre-election detainees to death yesterday, the Government has handed down five more sentences on five people arrested on Ashura (27 December). The sentences are currently being appealed.

Doulatabadi's declaration complements a recent announcement that by Iran Prosecutor General Gholamhosein Mohseni Ejei that at least three Ashura Day detainees will be executed. Ejei also said four more pre-election prisoners had been sentenced to death. (Added to Thursday's executions, Doulatabadi and Ejei's numbers match up to the "eleven" death sentences announced by Iranian state media yesterday.)

1410 GMT: Man, 1) Ayatollah Jannati is in a really bad mood after being verbally slapped by Mehdi Karroubi; 2) the Government is scared of the forthcoming demonstrations on 22 Bahman (11 February); 3) both. The Los Angeles Times offers translated extracts from Jannati's Friday Prayers address (see 1155 GMT) in Tehran:
The prophet Muhammad signed non-aggression pacts with three Jewish tribes. The Jews failed to meet their commitments, and God ordered their massacre (by Imam Ali, the 3rd Imam Shia, despite his reputation for compassion)....When it comes to suppressing the enemy, divine compassion and leniency have no meaning.

The judiciary is tasked with dealing with the detained rioters. I know you well, judiciary officials! You came forward sincerely and accepted this responsibility. You are revolutionary and committed to the Supreme Leader. For God's sake, stand firm as you already did with your quick execution of these two convicts....

God ordered the prophet Muhammad to brutally slay hypocrites and ill-intentioned people who stuck to their convictions. Koran insistently orders such deaths. May God not forgive anyone showing leniency toward the corrupt on earth.

1230 GMT: An Ahmadinejad Official in Jail. Mohammad Jafar Behdad, head of internal media at the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, has been sentenced to 4 months in prison. Behdad, a former head of the Islamic Republic News Agency, was convicted of disregarding judiciary warnings against provocative publications. His newspaper Hemmat had been suspended for a feature on "Hashemi [Rafsanjani] and his band of brothers".

1220 GMT: Verbal Skirmishes. Retired Revolutionary Guard General Ali Asgari, a former minister in the Khatami Government, has declared that Hashemi Rafsanjani must remain by the side of the Supreme Leader and denounced Rafsanjani's verbal attacker, Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, as a radical who defends a backward Islam.

On the regime side, Iran's police chief Esmail Ahmadi-Moghaddam has announced that "some of the elite are against the regime and with the enemy". At the same time, he appears to have held out a hand to Mir Hossein Mousavi, saying he "was deceived" by these wrong-doers.

1210 GMT: The "Real" Karroubi Interview. Fars News, whose distorted report on Mehdi Karroubi's views inadvertently moved Karroubi's challenge to the Ahmadinejad Government centre-stage, makes another clumsy intervention today.

Selecting extracts from Karroubi's interview with Britain's Financial Times and quoting them out of context, Fars declares that Karroubi has "100%" backed the Supreme Leader and denounced protesters.

Yeah, right.

1155 GMT: Your Tehran Friday Prayer Summary. Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, the head of the Guardian Council, had the podium today. Given that Mehdi Karroubi knocked him about a bit yesterday, Jannati was probably not in the most conciliatory of moods as he said:
Weakness in the face of events such as the "irreverence" of demonstrations on Ashura will undermine the regime. Ayatollah [Sadegh] Larijani, be a man, get tough, bring in some protesters. (Hey, but it was pretty cool that you executed those two guys yesterday to please God.)

1140 GMT: A very slow day, both for sideshows and main events. During the lull, this comment from a reader to Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish, reacting to the Zamani/Rahmanipour executions, is striking:
You see the strategy is an obvious one: start with the people who are the weakest links, some obscure monarchist group and not directly related to the reformist/Mousavi's camp or the greens, that way it would make it harder politically for [Mir Hossein] Mousavi or [Mehdi] Karoubi to defend them. Then they will advance. This is, in their mind, also the best way to send a message about Feb 11th that if you are arrested on that day, you could be executed. The combination of desperation and cruelty.

0750 GMT: Remembering Montazeri. Video of the bazaar at Najafabad, the birthplace of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, was empty on Thursday to mark the passing of the cleric in late December. Memorials for the "40th Day" of Montazeri's death were planned for both yesterday and today.)

0650 GMT: There are a number of obstacles to clear this morning before getting to the important developments. Foremost amongst these is last night's news that the US Senate, the upper house of the Congress, has approved tougher sanctions against Iran. The focus is on petroleum, denying loans and other assistance from American financial institutions to companies that export gasoline to Iran or help expand its oil-refining capacity. The penalties would extend to companies that build oil and gas pipelines in Iran and provide tankers to move Iran’s petroleum. The measure also prohibits the United States Government from buying goods from foreign companies that do business in Iran’s energy sector.

Even if sanctions are central to a resolution of Iran's political crisis, as opposed to their place in the manoeuvres over Iran's nuclear programme --- personally, I don't think they are --- there is a lot of bureaucratic road to cover before they are in place. The Senate has to agree its version of the bill with the House of Representatives. More importantly (and The New York Times story ignores this point), the Obama Administration so far has opposed the petroleum measures because they are unlikely to be effective. The White House and State Department prefer "targeted" sanctions, aimed especially at economic interests of bodies like the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps.

Then there is the Washington sideshow of Very Important People battering each other in the guise of offering the Very Best US Policy on Iran. The Washington Post announces the boxing match between Richard Haass, formerly of the State Department and now head of the Council for Foreign Relations, and the Flynt/Hillary Leverett duo, formerly of State and the National Security Council. The punches are entirely predictable --- Haass, while proclaiming himself a "realist", has joined the chorus of US experts singing of "regime change", while the Leveretts are staunchly defending the legitimacy of the Iran Government --- and pretty much swatting air when it comes to the complexities of the Iranian situation. (But Haass was best man at the Leveretts' wedding, which turns a marginal story into a "quirky" one.)

So where are the significant stories? Well, there is yesterday's execution of two detainees, Mohammad Reza Ali Zamani and Arash Rahmanipour, who were jailed in April 2009 for endangering Iran's national security. In one sense, this is another sideshow. Obviously, neither Zamani and Rahmanipour were involved in post-election protest and the "monarchist" group to which they allegedly belonged is not significant in the Green movement.

However, the regime was far from subtle in linking the hangings of the two men to the demonstrations of Ashura (27 December), and that linkage --- inadvertently --- displays its fear of the forthcoming marches on 22 Bahman/11 February, the anniversary of the 1979 Revolution. What's more, by promising the executions of nine more detainees if everyone didn't just shut up and go away, the Government made a risky commitment. Either it goes ahead with the executions, making more martyrs for the protests, or it backs down.

And then there is The Week of Mehdi Karroubi, with the cleric launching another broadside against President Ahmadinejad and his allies yesterday. Some media continue to be led astray by confusion over Karroubi's loud and emerging strategy --- The New York Times, for example, mis-reads Karroubi's latest statement as "conciliatory remarks...shifting the blame for the violent postelection crackdown away from Ayatollah Khamenei".

They are not. Karroubi is both giving the Supreme Leader (or "Mr Khamenei", as he was labelled on Monday) a chance and setting him a test: do what you are supposed to do under our Constitution and Islamic Republic, Supreme Leader, and make your President accountable for injustices and abuses.

Enjoy all the sideshows, folks, but in this political circus, that's your centre-ring main event.

The Latest from Iran (25 January): Who Makes A Move Today?

2145 GMT: The Karroubi Story. We've worked tonight through the stories, the rumours, and possibilities to post an interim analysis of Mehdi Karroubi's statement today on "Mr Khamenei" and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, "the head of the government of the regime".

2140 GMT: In Case You Missed It. Persian2English reports: "Abolfazl Eslami, former Counselor of the Iranian Embassy in Tokyo, writes that he has decided to join people’s movement in light of the Islamic Republics’ violence and oppression."

1955 GMT: And on the Clerical Front. Ayatollah Bayat-Zanjani has renewed his criticism of the regime, asking Iran's leaders to do "nahy az monker" (repent from the bad way).

1945 GMT: Remember the Economic Front? Most of the management of Bank Melli have been replaced.

1935 GMT: We are hoping to have a thorough, on-the-mark analysis, from an EA correspondent with excellent sources, of the Karroubi statement about 2130 GMT. (To be blunt, I got it wrong earlier today, but I think, thanks to a lot of help, we'll have the best possible reading by the end of tonight.)

NEW Iran Special Analysis: What Karroubi’s Statement on “Mr Khamenei”/”Head of Government” Means
NEW Iran Snap Analysis: The Karroubi and Khatami Manoeuvres
NEW Iran: Listening to Rumours, Whispers, and Shouts
Iran and Israel: The Start of a Beautiful Friendship?
Iran Analysis: Should the Greens Be Waiting for Economic Collapse?
UPDATED Iran: The Plot Against President Ahmadinejad
The Latest from Iran (24 January): Watching Carefully

Meanwhile, another piece of evidence to put into the mix, indicating that Karroubi is not recognising Ahmadinejad as President but merely as a "selected leader". He told Rah-e-Sabz that he stood by his comments, but the people have problems which must be solved by the government, which is responsible for the situation. He repeated a statement he had made to an English newspaper: "I am convinced that Ahmadinejad will not stay for four years."

1610 GMT: Going after Revolution. Amidst all the confusion over the Karroubi statement, a blunter political move by another cleric:

Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, who is close to the President, has made another attempt to pressure Hashemi Rafsanjani's authority. Speaking in Qom, he said that he was "shocked" at Rafsanjani's recent speech where the former President offered his view of the political situation "according to [Rafsanjani's] experience". Yazdi snapped, "Is this more important than the Supreme Leader's experience?"

Yazdi urged/warned Rafsanjani to "come back to the breast of the Revolution and the Supreme Leader", criticising Rafsanjani's ambiguity: "Your speech is not just two sides; it is many sides."

1515 GMT: We have posted a major update to our earlier analysis of the Karroubi and Khatami moves today, taking into account corrected and new information about the Karroubi statement.

1500 GMT: Hasan Ahmadian, a leading member of Mir Hossein Mousavi's campaign, was reportedly released on bail of $500,000 last night.

1300 GMT: We have posted an urgent snap analysis of the important --- if true --- developments of the Karroubi letter accepting Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as President (see 1135 GMT) and Mohammad Khatami's letter to the Supreme Leader: "Has a Deal Been Struck?"

1230 GMT: Watch-It Warning of the Day. Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi strikes the pose --- insulting senior figures and the head of the three branches of the Iran Government (the President, Speaker of Parliament, head of Judiciary) is a crime. So don't do it.

Doulatabadi also commented on other matters, including the 5 Ashura detainees tried this weeks on charges of "mohareb"/war against God and threats to national security (verdicts will be issued soon) and the murder of Professor Ali-Mohammadi (enquiry continues).

1135 GMT: A Vote of Legitimacy. Well, you can now top our morning analysis of Rumours with this report:
Iranian opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi who had refused to accept the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, now recognises the hardliner as the country's "president", Karroubi's son told AFP (Agence France Presse) on Monday.

Hossein Karroubi quoted his father as saying: "I am still of the same belief that the election was unhealthy and massively rigged. But since the (Supreme) leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) endorsed (Ahmadinejad's victory), I believe that he is the head of the government, meaning he is the president."

....Fars (News Agency) asked the opposition leader whether he now acknowledges Ahmadinejad as the president.

The ex-speaker of parliament, who came fourth in the disputed June 12 presidential election, replied: "I still maintain that there were problems (in the election), but with regard to your question, I should say that I recognise the president."

1130 GMT: Far-from-Academic Losses. An EA reader follows up on the story of the apparent firing of Professor Abbas Kazemi by Tehran University for his attendance at the funeral of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri (0655 GMT):
If the news is true about Kazemi being fired from U of T, that is a sad thing. Kazemi wrote The Sociology of Religious Intellectuals in Iran, which I have sitting on my table right in front of me.

1120 GMT: The Meaning of Investment. An EA reader pulls me up on my morning jab at Press TV (0755 GMT) over its story that Iran is seeking foreign investment:
On the foreign investment caps being lifted, you are missing the big story. When (President) Khatami tried to do similar things in the late 1990s, the Guardian Council and fellow conservatives completely attacked the idea, saying it was selling out the country's resources. This is another example of how Ahmadinejad is actually more of an economic liberal than Khatami (who was never really sure about economic liberalism and it was not his forte) ever was.

1110 GMT: Your Latest Plot --- Greens, the CIA, and Currency. Kayhan newspaper is none too amused that Iran's Central Bank has backed away from declaring "invalid" any banknotes with Green slogans and/or markings.

For you see, the marking of the banknotes is clearly a CIA plot, based on the ideas of Robert Helvey, a retired Army officer and associate of Gene Sharp at Harvard University. Sharp is Iran's bete noire when it comes to thoughts of "velvet revolution", and Helvey also got a mention in the Tehran trials of August.

0755 GMT: More Morning Fun from Press TV. Apparently Shamsoddin Hosseini, Iran's Economy and Finance Minister, says there will no limit on foreign investment in Iranian industrial or mineral sectors under the 5th Development Plan (2010-2015) proposed by Presdent Ahmadinejad: ”The Iranian government will be trying to remove any obstacle in the financial domain by the end of the fifth development plan."

With respect, given reports that foreign investment fell up to 96 percent between March 2008 and March 2009 (in other words, before the current political crisis), I am a bit surprised Mr Hosseini did not declare that investors would be met at Imam Khomeini Airport with flowers and cases of Parsi Cola.

0735 GMT: Press TV's Morning Spin. The Iranian state outlet offers this dramatic story, "China attacks US for online warfare in Iran":
A Chinese Communist Party editorial says the election unrest in Iran was an example of US 'naked political scheming' behind a facade of free speech....The People's Daily editorial said the US had launched a "hacker brigade" and used social media such as Twitter to spread rumors and create trouble in Iran.

Interesting that Press TV doesn't seem to notice a possible motive for China's apparent defense of Iranian sovereignty and legitimacy --- perhaps theirreporters were looking at Twitter when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made her high-profile speech last week calling for Internet freedom and focusing on China as the Number One Test Case.

0710 GMT: We've put our first updates in a separate analysis on political and economic developments.

0650 GMT: The Academic Fight over the Funerals. Norooz claims Professor Abbas Kazemi, a member of the School of Communications at Tehran University, has been fired for attending the funeral of Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri last month.

More than 110 academics and scholars around the world, including Noam Chomsky and Ramin Jahanbegloo, have called for an independent enquiry into the murder of Tehran University professor Massoud Ali-Mohammadi.

0645 GMT: Strikes and Firings. The Flying Carpet Institute reports that five workers at Rasoul Auto Company have been dismissed after strikes over disputed back pays. The employees' wages for November and December have not been settled.

0615 GMT: Sunday's Best Story? Rah-e-Sabz claims that President Ahmadinejad handed over his budget proposal to Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, the CD was blank. (Cue all the metaphors about Ahmadinejad's economic plans.) Apparently Ahmadinejad was "quickly ordered" to transfer the proposal that does exist to Parliament.

0530 GMT: We've moved our overnight updates to a separate entry, "Listening to Rumours, Whispers, and Shouts".

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 (23 January): Looking for Clues

2155 GMT: Kalemeh reports that the wife of the late Seyed Ahmad Khomeini, the son of Ayatollah Khomeini, has been attacked by clerical students.

1905 GMT: Economic Rumour or Reality (cont. --- see 1135 GMT)? The "bank crisis" continues to spark Internet chatter, whether accurate or mischievous --- the German-based Akhbar Rooz reports on bank closures after panicked customers tried to withdraw their money because of reports of bankruptcies. And Voice of America Persian is now broadcasting on the topic.

Iran Discussion: How Would Ahmadinejad Fall? (And What Would Come Next?)
Iran: A Response to “The Plot Against Ahmadinejad”
UPDATED Iran: The Plot Against President Ahmadinejad
The Latest from Iran (22 January): Breaking News

1900 GMT: You Couldn't Make It Up (Unless You're Iranian State Media). Earlier this week Kayhan, the "hard-line" Iranian newspaper, reported that a US "HARP" energy-shifting weapon caused the earthquake in Haiti.

We noted the item in amazement and good humour --- as a reader noted, shrewd Iranians think of Kayhan as Iran's version of The Onion, the satirical US "newspaper" --- and thought that would be that. However, Press TV, linking up with Venezuelan partners, keeps the joke going today:

An unconfirmed report by the Russian Northern Fleets says the Haiti earthquake was caused by a flawed US Navy 'earthquake weapons' test before the weapons could be utilized against Iran.

United States Navy test of one of its 'earthquake weapons' which was to be used against Iran, went 'horribly wrong' and caused the catastrophic quake in the Caribbean, the website of Venezuela's ViVe TV recently reported, citing the Russian report.

1845 GMT: Arrest at Beheshti Ceremony. Norooz reports that the son-in-law of Ali Reza Beheshti, the detained Mousavi chief of staff, was taken away by Iranian authorities today. The arrest occurred at the protest/ceremony (see 1500 GMT) at the grave of Ayatollah Beheshti, Ali Reza's father.

1635 GMT: Rafsanjani Chooses A Side or Issues a Warning? The Los Angeles Times, via Iranian Labor News Agency, reports on remarks by Hashemi Rafsanjani today: "At the present juncture, I consider the Supreme Leader to be the most competent individual to resolve the problems the Islamic Republic is currently faced with."

Rafsanjani's remarks follows Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's speech this week calling on "elites" to stop being ambiguous in the current conflict and to choose sides. Beyond his apparent declaration of allegiance --- note the "at the present juncture" --- Rafsanjani maintained a customary general call for unity, "I'm quite sure that moderate individual from both political camps in the country can help the Supreme Leader find solutions to the existing problems."

Then, however, Rafsanjani offered some intriguing remarks on "extremism":
I've always based my action on moderation and refrained from any extremism. Since the victory of the revolution, we have not witnessed proper conditions any time extremists were given room to maneuver....

Extremists have always cleared the way for counterrevolutionaries to damage Islam, the regime and its leadership. As far as I know (emphasis added) the Supreme Leader, he never favors illegal acts and extremisms from any political factions.

Rafsanjani followed this with an invocation which could be read either as a defense of velayat-e-faqih (clerical supremacy) or a veiled put-down that Ayatollah Khamenei has not maintained the high standards required of his position:
The Islamic Republic has managed to reach stability thanks to popular support and the leadership of Imam [Ruhollah] Khomeini who won people's hearts. Today, all forces loyal to the system and the revolution should feel obliged to safeguard this valuable legacy. The world will open to us if we effectively create a free and developed country free of any superstition.

1630 GMT: Fars News has posted an article on today's trial of three detainees arrested during the Ashura protests. The three are among five defendants who are on trial; all today were accused of links to the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MKO).

1623 GMT: Neda's Birthday Ceremony. Setareh Sabety translates the account, provided by an Iranian activist (see 1500 GMT), of today's ceremony on the birthday of Neda Agha Soltan:
Near 2 p.m. we reached plot 257, Neda’s grave was adorned with candles, rose petals and pictures of her childhood. From the first moments...plainclothesmen in cars and on motorcycles started surrounding the plot.

Neda’s mother claimed (Iranian authorities) had not allowed her to hold a 40th day memorial for her daughter so she had to commemorate her birthday instead. The previous day authorities had told Neda’s brother that holding a birthday (celebration) for her was allowed as long as no slogans were chanted.

Slowly the number of people attending the ceremony increased. Present were mourning mothers and their supporters and tens of (other) individuals who had made it to the cemetery. When Neda’s mother saw the people appearing one by one, as she was crying loudly, she addressed her martyred daughter, "Neda darling, wake up and see how many guests are here for you. Last year you were alone. Wake Up!” The distraught mother would sometimes sit by her daughter’s grave and stare at it, remembering her.... It seemed like the people surrounding this mother and her daughter’s tomb were remembering Neda’s last open-eyed look. The look that seemed to scream freedom!

Neda’s birthday cake was placed on her tomb with a ‘27’ on it, while her mother cried, “My darling Neda is twenty-seven, People’s Neda is 27 years old." As the crowd increased around 2:45 p.m., two cars from security forces stood facing plot 257. The security forces stepped out with three plainclothes men --- Neda’s aunt was taking pictures of the tomb when the forces spoke to Neda’s father and asked to see the pictures in Neda’s aunt’s mobile phone.

Ashkan Sohrabi’s mother called and (said) that on Navab St. officers stopped cars and kept them from going to Behesht-e Zahra cemetery. For as long as 15 minutes they had prevented Ashkan’s family from moving. Finally they managed to get to Behesht-e Zahra from another route.

At the end of the commemoration the Mourning Mothers stood in front of Neda’s tomb and quietly sang this poem from Parvin:

You left my heart is heavy
From the night you did not return
Blissful world turned sad
From the night you failed to return

At 3:25 p.m. an unmarked white van stopped in front of plot 257 and a few plainclothes men came out as though to make the crowd disperse.

1610 GMT: Radio Farda reports that, during today's meeting with the family of Ali Reza Beheshti after the ceremony protesting his detention (see 1500 GMT), Mehdi Karroubi declared that the road to resolve the issue of detainee abuse "had been closed".

It is unclear whether Karroubi's statement was in response to the overtures from Ali Larijani (see yesterday's updates) for opposition leaders to join a process of reconciliation.

1505 GMT: Amidst his further allegations of Government abuses and crimes over the Kahrizak Prison scandal (noted as part of the coverage of "The Plot Against Ahmadinejad"), Abdolhossein Rumolamini claimed that a fourth detainee, Ramin Aghazadeh Ghahremani, was killed at the facility last year. The incident was covered up to “avoid hurting the public's conscience”.

1500 GMT: Two Ceremonies. Family, mourning mothers, and supporters gathered at the grave of Neda Agha Soltan this afternoon. Activists report that security forces stopped some people from attending.

A ceremony was also held at the grave of the late Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti to protest the detention of his son Ali Reza, chief advisor to Mir Hossein Mousavi. Those attending were family members of the martyrs of 7-Tir, killed in an attack soon after the 1979 Revolution which took 72 lives, including Ayatollah Beheshti. The family members also Hashemi Rafsanjani, in his role as the head of the Expidency Council and the Assembly of Experts, to protest Ali Reza Behesti's imprisonment.

1300 GMT: We have posted an urgent update in "The Plot Against Ahmadinejad": a new interview with Abdolhossein Ruholamini with claims on the Kahrizak Prison deaths, printed in the newspapers linked to both Mohsen Rezaei and Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf.

1235 GMT: Alef News has continued its pressure on the Government, opening a discussion on the problems of the Presidential election.

1225 GMT: Mohammad Hassan Haeri Shirazi, the son of Ayatollah Haeri Shirazi, has continued his challenge to the Supreme Leader. Having criticised Khamenei for overseeing a deterioration of democracy and the moves to an oppressive regime, Haeri Shirazi has declared that the Supreme Leader must be accountable for the actions of his headquarters and associated institutions (IRIB, Revolutionary Guards and Basiji, Islamic Propaganda Organization, deputies in universities, Kayhan newspaper, and the Guardian Council).

1150 GMT: Health Concerns. In addition to the heart attack of Mousavi advisor Ali Reza Beheshti, Rooz Online notes the transfer to hospital of Hassan Ahmadian, head of the Mousavi campaign's public committee, because of a worsening kidney condition.

1145 GMT: The 31 Manifesto (cont. --- see 0845 GMT). Rooz Online has an English translation of an interview with Dariush Ashouri, one of the expatriate intellectuals who signed this week's declaration: "The Green movement’s strategy of nonviolence is a reflection of a new political philosophy in Iranian society. The foundations of this philosophy are the principles of tolerance and pluralism."

1135 GMT: Economic Rumour or Reality? After chatter this week that Iran's major banks are on the verge of insolvency, Peyke Iran reports that the Bank-e Mellat branch in Tehran's Bazaar was closed by security forces. And Rah-e-Sabz writes that the Government has asked Parliament for 15 billion Toman ($15.2 million) to ease the cash problems of the banks.

1125 GMT: Mediawatch (2). Britain's Channel 4 goes for human interest rather than political recommendation, featuring an interview with Caspian Makan, the fiancé of Neda Agha Soltan. Neda, who died from a Basiji gunshot on 20 June, would have been 27 today.

1010 GMT: Mediawatch. A big symbol of the changing line in the US Government and associated networks towards the Green movement comes in Richard Haass' "Enough Is Enough" for Newsweek, as he explains, "Why we can no longer remain on the sidelines in the struggle for regime change in Iran".

Haass, who was a high-level official in the State Department in the Bush Administration and now heads the Council on Foreign Relations, marks himself out as a "realist" in the artificial divide from "neo-conservative".
However, given the stalemate in the talks on Iran's nuclear programme, Haass now believes, "The United States, European governments, and others should shift their Iran policy toward increasing the prospects for political change. Leaders should speak out for the Iranian people and their rights."

Given Haass' place in the Washington-New York corridor of power and his image as a "moderate", the column is being quickly picked up as a sanction for the US Government's backing of the Iranian opposition. Barbara Slavin of The Washington Times and Laura Rozen of Politico, both channels for and gatekeepers of the acceptable in US foreign policy, are already circulating the article.

0955 GMT: The Moving Image of Protest. More directors, including Britain's Ken Loach, have announced that they will not attend Iran's Fajr Film Festival.

0950 GMT: Launch of the "Greenlist". Sabzlist, a listing service for the Green movement, has been launched. Initial posts include requests for volunteers, offers of assistance, and a call for an MC for a fundraiser.

0940 GMT: Non-Story of the Week. Press TV's website announces, "An Iranian lawmaker says the Parliament (Majlis) has settled on limiting relations with Britain, rather than a full severance of ties as advocated in a bill last week."

The bill, if passed, would still have consequences, reducing the level of diplomatic representation between Iran and Britain from Ambassador to Chargé d'Affaires. However, it is primarily a vehicle for bluster about "foreign intervention", as in lawmaker Hossein Sobhani-Nia's declaration, "Considering the gross interference of the British government in the post-election developments, the Parliament (Majlis) has opted for lowering the level of ties between Tehran and London."

0830 GMT: Claims of the Week. Peyke Iran has two stories which raises eyebrows. The first asserts that the relatives of high-ranking officials are fleeing Iran and seeking asylum abroad.

The website also alleges that children are now being detained when their activist parents are arrested by Iranian authorities.

0825 GMT: The 31 Manifesto. This week's statement by 31 Iranian intellectuals and artists, calling for a new system in which government is separated from religion, continues to attract attention. Deutsche Welle Persian features an interview with signatory Hossein Bagherzadeh, who declares that the Green movement differs from the 1979 Revolution.

0820 GMT: Movin' On Up. President Ahmadinejad's advisor on press affairs, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, is reportedly going to become the head of the Islamic Republic News Agency.

0815 GMT: A new Green website, Neda-ye Sabz-e Azadi, has been launched and has immediately been filtered by Iranian authorities.

0800 GMT: We begin this morning by reviewing yesterday's feature on "The Plot Against President Ahmadinejad". There is an update evaluating how the story stands up 24 hours later, and Chris Emery and an EA Iran specialist consider the complications of removing the President and what comes next.