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Entries in Razi University (2)


The Latest from Iran (13 January): Speculations and Realities

2125 GMT: More Fun with the MKO. I guess one "Dumbest Strategy of Day" Award isn't enough. Following Euro MP Struan Stevenson's cheerful advocacy of an alliance with the People's Mujahideen Organization of Iran, the political wing of the Mujahedin-e-Khaq "terrorist" group (MKO), Allan Gerson, a lawyer who has worked for the State and Justice Departments, drops by The Huffington Post to assure:
As a practical matter de-designation of the [Mujahedin-e-Khalq] as a terrorist entity will only enhance Washington's desired outcome of a peaceful resolution to the Iranian nuclear crisis. It would strengthen America's hand in bringing a faltering regime to the negotiating table by letting Tehran know in no uncertain terms that we have taken off the kid-gloves.

Oh, yeah, I'm sure that the Tehran regime, which has been trying to rally opinion by claiming a US-MKO plot to overthrow the Government, will be absolutely traumatised and have no close what to do if Washington follows Gerson's recommendation.

(Oh, so sorry, I took Gerson at face value as an objective if pretty dim commentator. He is in fact co-counsel representing the MKO in the case to take it off the US Government's terrorist list.)

2055 GMT: Former Presidents Mohammad Khatami and Hashemi Rafsanjani have written messages of condolence to the family of President Professor Ali-Mohammadi.

2030 GMT: Battling with the Clerics. A series of skirmishes between Government and clerics today. Ayatollah Sadeghi Tehrani, taking offence at remarks by Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, has declared that the retention of the former First Vice-President and current Presidential Chief of Staff in any official position is “haram” (religiously forbidden).

And Ayatollah Bayat Zanjani, a persistent post-cleric of the Government but relatively quiet in recent weeks, has re-emerged to declare that the principle of velayat-e-faqih (ultimate clerical authority) is not a principle of Islam and denying it is not a sin.

NEW Iran Analysis: Nuclear Myths, Rogue Elements, and Professor Ali-Mohammadi’s Murder
NEW Iran Special: Interpreting the Death of Professor Ali-Mohammadi
NEW Latest Iran Video: The Leverett Line on Killing of Professor Ali-Mohammadi (13 January)
Latest Iran Video: How State Media Frames Killing of “Nuclear” Professor (12 January)
Iran: How Far Do The Green Movements Go?
Iran & Social Media: Dispelling Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (Parsons)

The Latest from Iran (12 January): The Killing of the Professor

Look also for some repercussions from the Government's arrest of Mohammad Taghi Khalaji (see 1745 GMT). He is the father of prominent Mehdi Khalaji, who is based at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Expect WINEP and their allies in the Washington network of "think tanks" to get vocal --- indeed, WINEP has put out a special alert and Danielle Pletka, a Bush-era proponent of US power now at the American Enterprise Institute, has already jumped in, "Iran’s Nazi-Fascism and How You Can Help Fight It". (John Hannah, former advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney, has now joined the chorus.)

2015 GMT: The Scholars and Mousavi. 54 Iranian university professors, scholars, and expatriate intellectuals have written an open letter to express firm support for Mir Hossein Mousavi’s "5-proposal" statement, issued on 1 January, as “a step toward the consistency of the Green Movement” with "a minimum political platform with specific demands upon the government”. The signatories specifically praised “the four sections related to free elections and the preconditions for having free elections, including the release of all political prisoners, free and independent press and media, and the emphasis on the rights of forming political parties and holding gatherings”.

Interestingly, the 54 openly referred to the unstated test of the proposals, the removal of the President: “Mousavi while giving the priority to the democratic movement of the people of Iran proved that for advancing the demands of this movement is ready to negotiate with the ruling powers. His indirect position regarding the “legal” removal of Ahmadinejad through the parliament is a signature of these democratic tendencies.”

1745 GMT: BBC Persian reports that Mohammad Taghi Khalaji, a cleric close to the late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, has been arrested.

1735 GMT: Trotting Out the Lines on Ali-Mohammadi. Al Jazeera English's "Inside Story", covering the Ali-Mohammadi killing, has just started. Another appearance for Tehran University academic Seyed Mohammad Marandi (see separate video), who declares --- without presenting evidence --- that "the evidence points to the Israelis" and diverts into a declaration of American support for the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MKO).

Nothing new there, but an interesting twist with the other guest, Siavush Randjbar-Daemi of the University of London. Ranjdbar-Daemi, who has very good sources on Ali-Mohammadi, is able to set out that the Tehran physicist has no connection with Iran's nuclear programme. He also brings out Ali-Mohammadi's support of Mir Hossein Mousavi.

This brings out the quote of the day from Marandi: "The Iranian Atomic Energy Organization did not say that he had absolutely nothing to do with them; they said that he did not work for them." Which somehow proves that Ali-Mohammadi was indeed involved in the nuclear programme.

Oh, sorry, this is the Quote of the Day: "The fact that someone voted for Mr Mousavi does not mean he is a Mousavi supporter. Most of my colleagues who voted for Mr Mousavi no longer support him today. That issue is long gone."

1730 GMT: Ali-Mohammadi's Last Lecture. An absolutely reliable EA source has confirmed that the audio file of Professor Ali-Mohammadi's statement at Tehran University last week (see 1450 GMT) is genuine.

1555 GMT: Dumbest Strategy of Day "Let's Promote MKO". A great day at The Washington Times: having scooped the Dumbest Exploitation of the Ali-Mohammadi Case award with "War with Iran Nears" (see 1045 GMT), they give space to a member of the European Parliament, Struan Stevenson, to call for support of the People's Mujahideen of Iran, the political wing of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq armed resistance (see 1005 GMT).

Stevenson seems oblivious to the notion that almost none of the groups in the Iranian opposition want to work with the PMOI/MEK or that taking the organisation off the US Government's terrorist list would feed the Iranian regime propaganda line that Washington is backing a group which has sought regime change --- often with violence --- for more than a generation. Indeed, he seems oblivious to any consideration of realpolitik as he concludes, "This is intervening in Iran's internal affairs in favor of the mullahs - and now realpolitik dictates this has to be changed."

1545 GMT: Don't Look Here, Look Over There! Another of President Ahmadinejad's "Let's Talk About the World but Not About Iran" televised speeches....

West trying to dominate the Middle East and Central Asia:""All their planning is aimed at this goal. Human rights, fighting nuclear weapons and terrorism are all a big lie....With the pretext of September 11 they started the fire of war in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and today in Yemen."

Israel will be vanquished: "The supporters of Zionists should know that the Zionist regime is on the way down to collapse and no one can save it. The Iranian nation will cut from the arm any hand that has been extended to it with the aim (of committing) a crime."

And Saudi Arabia should get on the right side (against Israel) and not on the wrong side (in Yemen): "We were expecting that Saudi Arabian officials act like a mentor and make peace between brothers, not that they themselves enter the war and use bombs ... and machineguns against Muslims. If only a small part of the weapons of Saudi Arabia were used in favor of Gaza and against the Zionist regime, today there would be no sign of the Zionist regime in the region."

1450 GMT: Ali-Mohammadi Recording? An Iranian activist has posted claimed audio of a statement by Professor Massoud Ali-Mohammadi at Tehran University last week.

1440 GMT: So We're NOT Deporting Iranians? Word in from the National Iranian American Council that the author of a proposed US law (which is idiotic on the whole, let alone in parts) has at least dropped a measure that could have sent Iranians in the US packing:
Congressman Gresham Barrett's (R-SC) office has confirmed to NIAC that he will drop language aimed at deporting non-immigrant Iranians from the U.S. when he reintroduces the Stop Terrorists Entry Program (STEP) Act today....

When the STEP Act was first introduced in 2003, it contained provisions that would have mandated the deportation of all Iranians on student visas, temporary work visas, exchange visas, and tourist visas from the United States within 60 days....

Though the elimination of the deportation provisions constitutes a significant victory for the Iranian-American community, the bill remains problematic. It would make it illegal for Iranians to travel to the United States, though some exceptions may be made for medical emergencies and political or religious asylum after "extensive federal screening."

1335 GMT: Students on Ali-Mohammadi. Students of the Physics Department of Tehran University have issued a statement condemning the assassination of Professor Massoud Ali-Mohammadi and expressing their condolences to his family. The students claim that Ali-Mohammadi was outspoken in recent months in support of the Green Movement and university protests. They add that Ali-Mohammadi was not involved in Iran's nuclear programme.

1305 GMT: A Sit-In Success? An Iranian website is claiming that students at Razi University in Kermanshah, after sit-in protests and boycotts of final examinations, have succeeded in getting release of their classmates from detention.

1215 GMT: Motahari presses ahead. The campaign of Ali Motahari, high-profile member of Parliament and brother-in-law of Ali Larijani, against the Ahmadinejad is now being waged on a daily basis. Today Motahari wrote an open letter to the head of Iran's judiciary, Sadegh Larijani. Opposing the appointment of Saeed Mortazavi as a Presidential aide, Motahari has asked Larijani to investigate the role of Mortazavi, formerly Tehran's Prosecutor General, in post-election detainee abuses.

Ali Shakrokhi, the head of the Juridical Commission of Parliament, has added a twist by suggesting that Ahmadinejad could sue Motahari over allegations that the President is responsible for post-election crisis.

1155 GMT: Stay the Course. The regime is not giving up on its quest to portray Professor Ali-Mohammadi's murder as a foreign plot. To the contrary, Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani declared today:
We had received information a few days before the incident that intelligence services of the Zionist regime intend to carry out terrorist acts in Tehran in cooperation with the CIA....After the failure of all its hostile policies, it currently resorts to the physical elimination of Iranian nuclear scientists.

Larijani even got personal with a verbal assault on President Obama:
Such filthy actions are easy to carry out but such adventurism will do you no good....You have practically promoted acts of terrorism....This black spot will be recorded in the dossier of US crimes against the Iranian nation.

1045 GMT: Dumbest Exploitation of the Ali-Mohammadi Case. The editorial staff of The Washington Times know what it all means: "War with Iran Nears":
The coming conflict will not be an overnight air strike followed by bellicose language, like the Israeli attack on the Syrian nuclear site in September 2007. Disrupting Iran's nuclear program will require Israel to undertake a sustained campaign. Iran will launch reprisal attacks through its proxies in Gaza and Lebanon, encourage Syria to respond, foment chaos in Iraq and Afghanistan and potentially order terror attacks on Western targets.

1005 GMT: Strange But True. On the same day that Iranian state media was claiming Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MKO), backed by the US Government, may have killed Professor Ali-Mohammadi, the political wing of the organisation --- the People's Mujahideen Organization of Iran (PMOI) --- was appearing in a Washington court to get itself removed from the US Government's list of terrorist organisations.

The PMOI lawyer claimed, "The organization has foresworn violence. We walk the walk. There have been no terrorist acts by PMOI for eight years." He had no success, however. US Government lawyers declared that Washington would not negotiate with "an organization that for at least 30 years has been involved in terrorism, violence, assassination, et cetera" and that "classified material" made clear that the group should still be listed.

1000 GMT: In a separate entry, EA's Mr Smith uses excellent sources and knowledges to consider the political significance of the murder of Professor Massoud Ali-Mohammadi.

0910 GMT: The Mothers of Mourning. Persian2English offers a vital addition to our report last night of the freeing of those Mothers of Mourning who were detained during their Saturday protest: they were released on bail, so criminal charges are still pending.

0900 GMT: The Ali-Mohammadi Case. The "Iran Royal Society", who --- according to Iranian state media --- had claimed responsibility for the killing of Professor Massoud Ali-Mohammadi, have denied any involvement.

The Los Angeles Times has a full report on the murder and on Mohammadi, and The Washington Post adds useful information.

And The Guardian of London offers an interesting editorial comment:
As the regime in Tehran loses its last vestige of legitimacy with its own people, it is important that international sanctions do not restore to the Iranian leadership its role as defender of the faith. The US must not play into the hands of an Iranian president keen to cast domestic opponents as foreign agents. The temptation in Washington is to think that it can influence events in Iran. It has in the past, but rarely, if ever, for the better.

0845 GMT: Overnight news continues to be dominated by the murder of Tehran University physicist Massoud Ali-Mohammadi. We have a special feature considering the politics and propaganda around the case, and we also have a video of Flynt Leverett using the episode to set out his line on the US pursuit of regime change and support of "terrorism".

Beyond the furour, there is a useful, first-hand reminder of the conflict in a letter from Tehran claiming, "The Regime is Over".

The Latest from Iran (10 January): "Middle" Ground?

1950 GMT: An American Strategy? I really don't understand what the Obama Administration is playing at. At the same time as Administration officials are putting out the story that the US is moving to a "sanctions for rights" approach (see separate analysis), the top US military commanders are going on rhetorical red alert and talking about confrontation.

First there was the preview of General David Petraeus' remarks (see 0745 GMT). Now the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, is declaring that while the US is following a diplomatic path with Iran, military options cannot be ruled out. Mullen is also saying that he is convinced Iran is pursuing the military nuclear programme.

That might mean the US gun is loaded, but then Mullen says, "An attack by us or anybody else would be destabilising," and he assures that US officials have noted the "legitimate concern" that the Iranian opposition would have to support the regime in the event of a US assault.

I'm sorry, but I'm far too tired to make sense of this. Watch the video and see what you can do.

1935 GMT: Report Is Not Enough. The reformist Imam Khomeini Line party has declared that the Parliament report on detainee abuses is a positive step but is incomplete, failing to consider a number of allegations against officials and security forces. The party cites the attacks on University dormitories and the death of the Kahrizak doctor, Ramin Pourandarjan, as cases that should have been cited.

1930 GMT: Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi announced that a Syrian journalist working for Dubai TV, arrested on Ashura (27 December), was released Sunday. Doulatabi also said a Swedish diplomat was detained on Ashura and later freed.

NEW Latest Iran Video: Military Commander Mullen on US Options (10 January)
NEW Iran Special Analysis: A US Move to “Sanctions for Rights”?
NEW Iran: Challenge to The Government in “The Heartlands”?
The Latest from Iran (9 January): Watching Carefully

1920 GMT: Larijani Playing the Hard Man. Ali Larijani, the Speaker of Parliament, may have played supporting act to President Ahmadinejad's speech today, but he still took the opportunity to talk tough: "Opposition figures have to distance themselves from rioters in an attempt to correct their political records."

1720 GMT: Rafsanjani's Silence. The Los Angeles Times has picked up on the interview of Hashemi Rafsanjani's brother, Mohammad Hashemi (see 0730 GMT), explaining that the former President has been silent "because no one listens to him":
In the early days of the revolution the opposition based in abroad, monarchists, and his foes abroad stormed him with their verbal attacks. Now, unfortunately some people within the system make slanders against him and some media without paying attention to the remarks of [the Supreme Leader] keep on libeling him.

That's the positive way of being the situation: Rafsanjani is choosing to lie low, awaiting his chance to arise. The negative way of framing it might be that Rafsanjani has been pressured into submission.

1625 GMT: Ahmadinejad Targeted? You may have noticed a theme in our LiveBlog --- the growing conservative/principlist challenge to the President.

I held off on noting this video fully until an EA correspondent could confirm the reading, but in this clip, member of Parliament Ali Motahhari declares that Ahmadinejad has to be considered as one of the sources of trouble as well as Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi.

1535 GMT: Iran's Hot New Television Series. It's called "Confessions of Ashura" --- whether it's a documentary or fictional drama is likely to be in the eye of the beholder.

1515 GMT: And Another University Demonstration (see 1100 GMT). About 800 students gathered at Shahid Behesti University yesterday to protest attacks on the campus and detentions of their classmates.

1505 GMT: Diplomatic Protests. A former Iranian diplomat has claimed that five current foreign service officers, serving in four Iranian embassies in European countries, have applied for asylum.

1430 GMT: Mediawatch. Reuters is featuring the story of the Parliament report on detainees, especially the abuses at Kahrizak prison:
More than 145 people detained after Iran's disputed June election were kept for several days in a room of 70 square metres at a Tehran jail, including three who died, a parliamentary report was quoted as saying on Sunday....

It rejected the initial claim by officials, including then Tehran chief prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi, that the three deaths were caused by meningitis...."Their deaths are attributed to various issues such as limitation of space, poor sanitary conditions, inappropriate nutrition, heat, lack of ventilation and ... also as a result of physical attacks."

1400 GMT: Update --- Arrests of the Mothers of Mourning.

The 30 arrested Mothers of Mourning and supporters, arrested at Laleh Park yesterday, were taken by bus this afternoon to Revolutionary Court, passing more than 70 other mourning mothers and supporters had gathered since 8:30 a.m. outside Vozara detention centre. Those inside the bus showed Victory signs, while supporters followed in cars.

Those amongst the arrested include Mansoureh Behkish, Dr. Laila Sayfollahi, and sisters Hakimeh and Sedigheh Shokri.  One of the detained, a 75-year-old grandmother, has reportedly been taken to hospital.

1345 GMT: Ahmadinejad v. Parliament --- The Economic Front. President Ahmadinejad has addressed the Parliament to submit the draft of the Five-Year Development Plan to the Parliament. The plan sets the guidelines for the development of infrastructure, covering not only only the economy but also social, political, cultural, defense, and security areas.

No real clue in Ahmadinejad's rhetoric to either his political strategy or Parliament's reaction: "The draft is totally objective, enjoys an internal coherence, is compatible with the current situation of the country and is developed in a transparent and operational way."

1200 GMT: Taking Down Mortazavi? Parleman News reports that the findings of a special Parliament committee on arrests and detentions have been read in the Majlis.

According to the article, the role of Saeed Mortazavi, former Tehran Prosecutor General, in the abuses of Kahrizak prison was officially recognised, and this committee stressed that the judiciary system should be held accountable for events.

1100 GMT: Another Student Demonstration. Word emerges of a sit-in strike, coinciding with final exams, at Razi University in Kermanshah in western Iran to protest the illegal detention of classmates.

0950 GMT: Justice Denied. Economist and journalist Saeed Laylaz has not been allowed to read out his defence in the appeal of his 9-year sentence.

0935 GMT: We've posted a special assessment of Washington's shift in policy, "Sanctions for Rights"?

0930 GMT: Score 1 for EA, 0 for US Strategy. Less than two hours ago, we noted the declaration of General David Petraeus that all contingencies, e.g. military action, are in play regarding Iran, and predicted, 2No prizes for guessing what Iran's state media will make of that soundbite."

This just in from Press TV's website, "US drops strongest hint of Iran blitz in months."

0835 GMT: Piling on The Leveretts. Muhammad Sahimi joins the shredding of last week's New York Times opinion piece, by Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett, trying diminish the Green movement and promote the Ahmadinejad Government.

0830 GMT: Movement Outside Tehran? We've posted an interesting piece by Borzou Daragahi of The Los Angeles Times on political shifts beyond the capital.

0745 GMT: This Weekend's Unhelpful Statements. From the Iranian side, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki made the jump from nuclear discussions to "regime change" allegations yesterday, "Western countries know that Iran does not seek to produce nuclear weapons. However, they intend to use it as a pretext for interfering in internal affairs."

No surprise there --- I heard a well-placed Iranian academic make the same "regime change" claim against the United States last week --- but it does nothing to break the stalemate in the talks on uranium enrichment.

And then from the US side, there's General David Petraeus, the head of the military's Central Command. Petraeus, in an interview to be aired on CNN today, whips out the spectre of The Bomb: "It would be almost literally irresponsible if CENTCOM were not to have been thinking about the various 'what ifs' and to make plans for a whole variety of different contingencies" against Tehran.

No prizes for guessing what Iran's state media will make of that soundbite, when it refers to "interfering in internal affairs".

0730 GMT: We're working on an analysis, to be published Monday, of manoeuvres including and surrounding the Supreme Leader's statement on Saturday. While the attempt to break the Green movement will continue, the question is whether this can be moderated, reducing overt violence and perhaps punishment specific officials for past excesses, while some notional "unity" arrangement can be struck with conservative/principlist critics.

Meanwhile, bits and pieces....

In the midst of these possible manoevures, an interesting comment from Mohammad Hashemi, who claims that former Hashemi Rafsanjani is remaining silent "because no one is listening".

Persian2English offers the latest information on detained members of the student movement Daftar-Takhim-Vahdat.