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Entries in Saeed Mortazavi (12)


The Latest from Iran (28 January): Trouble Brewing 

2045 GMT: Taking the Green Out of Iran. I don't want to say the Government is in any way threatened by the Green movement, but somebody has apparently decided that, when President Ahmadinejad is speaking, the Iranian flag no longer has to be Red, White, and Green:

1630 GMT: Activist Ehsan Hushmand and 4 Kurdish students have been freed on bail.

1620 GMT: All is Well. Really. Ahmad Khatami may have tried to put out the message that Hashemi Rafsanjani and the pro-Ahmadinejad Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi have reconciled, but both Rah-e-Sabz and BBC Persian are claiming that Khatami has been pressing Rafsanjani not to publish his letter of grievance over Yazdi's allegations of Rafsanjani's irresponsibility and ambiguity.

1610 GMT: At Tehran Bureau, Setareh Sabety posts a poem reflecting on the executions of two "monarchists" (see 0940 GMT), "They Did Not Hang My Son Today".

1605 GMT: Where's Mahmoud? So how does President Ahmadinejad respond to the growing today? Well, with this declaration to officials in Tehran: “They (imperialist powers) seek to dominate energy resources of the Middle East....But the Iranian nation and other nations will not allow them to be successful."

1600 GMT: Let Mehdi Make This Perfectly Clear. We can no longer keep up with Mehdi Karroubi as he hammers home his attack against the Ahmadinejad Government. We have posted his latest interview, this one with Saham News.

1530 GMT: The Dead and Detained. The Guardian of London has updated its list of those killed and arrested in the post-election crisis. There are now 1259 people, arranged alphabetically by first name.

1525 GMT: All is Well Alert. Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami wants everyone to know that Hashemi Rafsanjani and Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, who only a few days ago slammed Rafsanjani's ambiguity, have made up and are now very good friends.

NEW Iran Document: Karroubi Maintains the Pressure (28 January)
NEW Iran Document: Resignation Letter of Diplomat in Japan “Join the People”
NEW Iran Document/Analysis: Karroubi’s Statement on the Political Situation (27 January)
NEW Iran Analysis: Leadership in the Green Movement
NEW Latest Iran Video: When Karroubi Met Fars (25 January)
NEW Iran & Karroubi: Why This is “Much Ado About Something”

The Latest from Iran (27 January): Battle Renewed

Beyond our smile, the possible significance: Government supporters are signalling to Rafsanjani that they will reduce the pressure on his family if he joins forces with them.

1520 GMT: We have posted the English translation of the resignation letter of an Iranian diplomat in Japan, asking his colleagues to "Join the People".

1000 GMT: Obama's State of the Union --- Nukes Trumps Rights. We'll have full analysis tomorrow of President Obama's speech (video and transcript in separate entry). Let's just say now that anyone expecting a boost or even a thumbs-up to the Iranian opposition will be disappointed.

Obama made only two references to Iran, and the primary one was to support his two-prong approach of engagement/sanctions on the nuclear issue:
These diplomatic efforts have...strengthened our hand in dealing with those nations that insist on violating international agreements in pursuit of these weapons....That is why the international community is more united, and the Islamic Republic of Iran is more isolated. And as Iran’s leaders continue to ignore their obligations, there should be no doubt: They, too, will face growing consequences.

Later in the speech was this fleeting reference:
We stand with the girl who yearns to go to school in Afghanistan, we support the human rights of the women marching through the streets of Iran, and we advocate for the young man denied a job by corruption in Guinea. For America must always stand on the side of freedom and human dignity.

0940 GMT: The Executions. The Iranian Students News Agency identifies the two demonstrators killed this morning, for "mohareb" (war against God), as Mohammad Reza Ali-Zamani and Arash Rahmanipour. Both had been detained before the elections as members of an outlawed monarchist group, and both had been put on television in a special Press TV documentary in August to "confess" (see separate EA video).

However, what is unsubtle is the further twisting of the two cases to fit the more recent show of resistance to the regime. The Tehran Prosecutor's office declared:
Following the riots and anti-revolutionary measures in recent months, particularly on the day of Ashura, a Tehran Islamic Revolutionary Court branch considered the cases of a number of accused and handed down death sentences against 11 of those. The sentences against two of these people... were carried out today at dawn and the accused were hanged.

The sentences for the other nine of the accused in recent months' riots are at the appeal stage... upon confirmation, measures will be undertaken to implement the sentences.

0925 GMT: As I make my way back from Dublin, two important pieces on EA:

We've posted extracts from Mehdi Karroubi's lengthy interview with the Financial Times of London, adding a snap analysis. The discussion seems to clarify Karroubi's position after this week's drama: he wants Ahmadinejad out and, while adhering to the Islamic system, he wants the Supreme Leader to be the man to defend the Constitution by pushing the President off the political cliff.

Alongside this, and indeed offering a contrast, is a guest analysis from Elham Gheytanchi on "Leadership and the Green Movement": "The Green Movement...has avoided centralized leadership and instead has mobilized ordinary people beyond what was previously thought possible."

0740 GMT: Britain's Sky News is reporting, from Iranian state media, that two Ashura demonstrators have been executed.

0700 GMT: A gentler --- if that is a word which can ever be applied to Iran's post-election crisis --- news day on Wednesday. There were no high-profile statements, and none of the drama of the Karroubi declaration of Monday.

Still, there were rumblings, most of which brought further bad omens for President Ahmadinejad.

There are reports that the Number One Target of both the "conservative" and "reformist" opposition, former Tehran Prosecutor General Saeed
Mortazavi, will not take up his position as head of the President's unit to combat smuggling. That brings Mortazavi one step closer to taking the public responsibility for the detainee abuses, especially at Kahrizak Prison. And the other primary target of the anti-Ahmadinejad forces, advisor Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, was attacked in the newspaper Mardomsalari.

On the economic front, Ahmadinejad's subsidy reduction proposal is beginning to run into trouble with Parliament. Three days into the 10-day period to comment on the President's Development Plan, legislators forced the Government to withdraw "income bracketing" for the subsidy cuts.

And another foreign firm, a US chemical company, has declared that it is ending any involvement in Iran.

There was a piece of good news for the opposition, with journalist Mehdi Hosseinzadeh released after more than 7 months in detention. However, Persian2English posts on the "catastrophic situation" in Section 350 of Evin Prison.

UPDATED Iran: The Plot Against President Ahmadinejad

URGENT UPDATE 1240 GMT: The Next Move in the Plot? Abdolhossein Ruholamini has given another interview about the crimes in Kahrizak Prison, including the abuse and death of his son Mohsen.

Ruholamini repeated the information, mentioned in our main article about his speech to a student organisation, that he has more than 3500 pages of evidence against the people in charge of Kahrizak. And he reiterated that there is independent evidence of the attempted murder of Kahrizak doctor Ramin Pourandarjan, who died last autumn. Ruholamini again singled out Ahmadinejad aide Saeed Mortazavi as the main suspect, saying the former Tehran prosecutor should accept the charges and resign instead of issuing political statements.

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

Ruholamini added the new claim that forces "behind the scenes" have been trying to get the families of victims to agree to silence, but he declared that he and some other families would "stand till the end".

These claims, however, are only the set-up for Ruholamini's political hammer blow: in a meeting with the Supreme Leader, "Ayatollah Khamenei supported my cause".

And guess where the interview has been reprinted? Well, it is in two publications linked to the central plotters against President Ahmadinejad: Tabnak, linked to Mohsen Rezaei, and in Farda, which supports Mohammad Baqer-Qalibaf.

UPDATE 1000 GMT: There has been no high-profile media coverage, to our knowledge, of our news of the Larijani-Rezaei-Qalibaf meeting. The closest intersection has been a blog post by Babak Dad, who is now writing outside Iran, and his interview on Voice of America Persian yesterday. Dad's blog considered in detail the more general story of the manoevures by Ali Larijani, Mohsen Rezaei, and Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf against the Ahmadinejad Government, while his interview  but so far he has not connected this to the specific claim of a plot to curb or remove the President from power.

UPDATE 23 JANUARY, 0700 GMT: 24 hours later, how does the plot story hold up?

Well, there was no explicit confirmation --- given the sensitivity of any attempt to depose the President, that would be unlikely --- there were no development pointing away from the possibility. Indeed, the one piece of circumstantial evidence, Ali Larijani's statement before Friday Prayers in a city southwest of Tehran, gave implied support. The Speaker of Parliament made a veiled invitation to opposition leaders to join a move, and he continued the attack on the Government's management of the economy.

(Someone is also starting some pretty wicked rumours. Notable amongst these on Friday was the "Iran banks will fail on Wednesday" story.)

EA readers maintained a healthy scepticism about the day throughout the day. Some points can be answered quickly --- because of the way we received the information and checked it, I am certain it is not regime disinformation or a pretext to move against irritants like Larijani. Other questions are far trickier, such as the role of the Supreme Leader in these manoeuvres and the process by which the plotters could pull the trigger and oust Ahmadinejad.

An EA correspondent picked up on some of these issues in "A Response to the Plot Against Ahmadinejad", and this morning we have a sharp, valuable discussion between Chris Emery and another EA Iran specialist on not only the complications of deposing the President but the uncertainties of what would follow.

UPDATE 0810 GMT: In last night's debate on Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, Hojatoleslam Ruhollah Hosseinian, a member of Parliament and fervent Ahmadinejad supporter, alleged that "some people in charge want to overthrow" the Government with the help of the Parliament.


For months we have reported on the challenge to President Ahmadinejad, not just from the Green movement but from conservative and principlist members of the Iranian establishment. Since Ashura (27 December), we have noted a rising intensity in criticism, for example, from member of Parliament Ali Motahhari and his brother-in-law, Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, as well as the Parliamentary report on detainee abuses charging Ahmadinejad aide Saeed Mortazavi with responsibility.

The question still remained. Were these criticisms being made by high-profile individuals or were they part of an organised effort to limit Ahmadinejad's authority and possibly even remove him from office?

Here is what we can now report from reliable sources:


Sometime after the demonstrations of Ashura (27 December), three well-placed Iranian politicians met to discuss current events. The protests, with their scenes of violence and, in some cases, the retreat of Iranian security forces before the opposition, had been unsettling, raising fears not only that the challenge would persist but that the authority of the Government might collapse.

The three men were 1) Ali Larijani, the Speaker of the Parliament; 2) Mohsen Rezaei, former head of the Revolutionary Guard, former Presidential candidate, and Secretary of the Expediency Council; and 3) Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf, Mayor of Tehran.

The meeting reached agreement on a general two-step strategy. First, the crisis with the opposition would be "solved", either through a resolution with its leaders or by finally suppressing it out of existence. Then, there would be a political campaign to get rid of the unsettling influence of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Each of the three men brought not ideas but key groups to the table. Larijani, of course, commanded a good deal of backing in Parliament and was close to the Supreme Leader. Rezaei not only had the background in the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps but also, in the Expediency Council, worked with Hashemi Rafsanjani. Qalibaf, although mostly quiet during the post-election crisis, had the base of support from his solid reputation overseeing Tehran.

(It is likely, according to sources, that Rafsanjani knows of the plan, especially given the connection with Rezaei. It is unclear whether the Supreme Leader knows its details.)

The plan, however, soon ran into trouble with its first objective. The group was unable to get the support of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi. Despite the sustained wave of post-Ashura arrests, striking at the top levels of the Green movement, the prospect of large demonstrations on 22 Bahman (11 February), the anniversary of the 1979 Revolution, remains. And it is that prospect that was reportedly worrying the Supreme Leader when he spoke last week to ask the "elites" to choose sides and stop being "ambiguous".

So the possibility arose that the second step --- the removal of Ahmadinejad --- would take priority over the first. Newspapers connected to the three men stepped up their articles criticising the Government over the post-election crisis, over the Kahrizak Prison scandal, and over the economy. Larijani went public in statements alleging mismanagement by the Ahmadinejad administration and referring to the dangers of "extremism" within, as well as outside, the Government.

Meanwhile, a key distinction was being made at every opportunity. While the Government could and should be criticised, Ayatollah Khameini should not be challenged. Larijani in particular set out the line: velayat-e-faqih, the system of ultimate clerical authority, is beyond dispute.

The immediate goals are the downfall of two men in Ahmadinejad's camp: former Tehran Prosecutor General Mortazavi, who is vulnerable because of the detainee scandal, and former First Vice-President and current Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, whose management skills as well as his character are being attacked across a range of issues.

It may be possible for Mortazavi to be removed and for Ahmadinejad to survive, assuming that none of the Kahrizak scandal sticks to him. Victory over Rahim-Mashai, however, would be a major blow to the President. After all, this was the fight of the summer, where Ahmadinejad had to give way over his relative and friend as First Vice-President --- notably because of pressure from the Supreme Leader --- but then brought him back as his closest aide.

To lose Esfandiar once is misfortune; to lose him twice political calamity. Ahmadinejad's authority would be open to further attack, and the post-election crisis could be brought upon him personally. Which brings us to....


"It may be possible for Mortazavi to be removed and for Ahmadinejad to survive, assuming that none of the Kahrizak scandal sticks to him."

Abdolhossein Ruholamini is a prominent Tehran University professor who was the chief advisor to Mohsen Rezaei. He is also the father of Mohsen Ruholamini, who died from abuse this summer in Kahrizak Prison. That death was instrumental in prompting both the closure of Kahrizak, by personal order of the Supreme Leader, and the Parliamentary enquiry into events there.

Abdolhossein Ruholamini, however, is still campaigning. Last week he met with the student movement, Islamic Community from European Countries to Iran. In a forceful speech, he declared his anger with Ahmadinejad and the Government. He made clear that he and others had decided to "claim and appeal" over the authorities at Kahrizak, Saeed Mortazavi, the police, and the judiciary: (I paraphrase) "We have much evidence against Mortazavi, against police, against some judges. (Ruholamini said that, in one case, a single judge had condemned 700 people to jail in one day.) We even have phone conversations over the killing of the doctor [Ramin Pourandarjan] in Kahrizak.”

Ruholamini made clear that his claim and appeal is also against President Ahmadinejad. And he has also said that he met the Supreme Leader over the matter and Khamenei said (paraphrasing), "Go ahead. The way is clear for you."


EA sources report the sentiment of those in and around the Larijani-Rezaei-Qalibaf meeting and the statements of Ruholamini: “We have decided to replace Ahmadinejad”. At the same time, the group is insisting that the removal has to done within the framework of law. It is notable, for example, how Mohsen Rezaei --- in an extended interview with Press TV last week --- insisted repeatedly that the difference between him and other Presidential candidates (Mousavi and Karroubi) in the post-election conflict was that Rezaei had always made his complaints within Iran's system, rather than on the streets.

The most likely path for that campaign is Parliamentary removal of Ahmadinejad --- similar to the US process of impeachment and conviction of a President --- for negligence in carrying out his duties and leading the country in a good direction. This was the process used to oust the first President of the Islamic Republic, Abdolhassan Bani-Sadr, in 1981.

That case, however, raises a question and possible complication. In 1981 Ayatollah Khomeini was behind the removal of Bani-Sadr. In this case, it is still not clear if the current Supreme Leader, and those close to him such as his son Mojtaba, are fully aware of or in line with the campaign against Ahmadinejad.

Which in turn brings us back to the earlier disputes of summer 2009, when the Supreme Leader --- after protracted battles with Ahmadinejad including not only Rahim-Mashai but also control of key ministries --- proceeded with the President's inauguration. This time, given the mounting fears over 22 Bahman, which way does he turn? Does he intervene or stand aside, letting others play out this political showdown?

The Latest from Iran (21 January): Speaking in Codes

2040 GMT: Pars Daily News claims that Seyed Hassan Ahmadian, head of Mir Hossein Mousavi's People Committee, has disappeared.

1840 GMT: "Foreign Enemies" Cause Regime Change...and Earthquakes. Investigative Journalism of the Day from Kayhan --- the earthquake in Haiti was caused by the redoubtable US "Harp" weapon, which is more powerful than an atomic bomb.

1830 GMT: More on Larijani's Challenge. In his recent speech, Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani used the economy to challenge President Ahmadinejad, criticising the rising government budget and the failure of the 4th Development Plan. Only one-quarter of the Development Plan has reportedly been implemented.

Iran: How Should the US Treat the Green Movement? (Haghighatjoo)
NEW 2009: The View from Inside Iran
Iran Analysis: “Supreme Leader Warns Rafsanjani” — The Sequels
NEW Iran: Ahmadinejad and the Labor Movement

The Latest from Iran (21 January): Speaking in Codes

1805 GMT: Film Boycott. The famous director Abbas Kiarostami has refused to join the jury of Tehran's Fajr International Film Festival, which is scheduled to start on 25 January. Kiarostami joins other prominent figures, such as actor Ezzattollah Entezami and director Asghar Farhadi, who have turned down offers to be on the panel.

An EA reader updates: Theo Angelopoulos, the famous Greek filmmaker, has decided to withdraw from the festival.

1800 GMT: Academic Purges (cont.). Two of the Allameh Tabatabei University professors who have been banned from teaching are prominent political philosopher Seyed Morteza Mardiha and women's rights activist Saba Vasefi.

1755 GMT: The reformist Mohajedin of Islamic Revolution have issued a protest against the arrests of political activists, journalists, and students and the attacks on valuable members of the Islamic Republic for pseudo-offences, demanding their immediate release.

1630 GMT: The Tehran Prosecutor-General, Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi, has declared that anyone who associates with the Committee for Human Right Reporters is a "criminal".

Seven of the nine members of the central committee of CHRR are now detained.

1535 GMT: But the Best Will Come on Friday. Here, however, is a hint of the most explosive information we have gotten today. It will take us a bit of time to get it in proper context but....

The Plot to Remove Ahmadinejad: It involves at least three high-ranking officials in the Iran Government, one of whom is close to the Supreme Leader, one of whom is connected to the Revolutionary Guard and to Hashemi Rafsanjani, and one of whom is an influential politician but has remained almost silent in the post-election crisis. A fourth key person, who was involved in one of the Presidential campaigns and has a special grievance over the Kahrizak Prison scandal, is complementing the move with public statements.

The initial plan was to "take care" of the opposition in the current crisis and then move against the President, but it appears that this has been overtaken by events: Ahmadinejad may have to go even as the Green movement and Mousavi-Karroubi-Khatami cause complications for the plotters.

1530 GMT: Another Target for the Supreme Leader. A bit of additional (and so far unknown) information behind Ayatollah Khameini's warning to the "elites" to "take sides" this week:

Last week, Ayatollah Javadi-Amoli, the former Friday Prayers leader in Qom, sent a letter to Khameini last week criticising the Government. Javadi-Amoli reportedly, after a public class in Qom, said that "nobody can solve a problem with money", a reference to the President's handout to Iran's poorest people, and that such actions were unfair because anyone "can get love" by buying it.

Khamenei's warning was, therefore, not only to Hashemi Rafsanjani and to the "conservative/principlist opposition within" but to Javadi-Amoli for going far publicly, especially as it is becoming apparent that the Supreme Leader fears a major protest on 22 Bahman (11 February).

1520 GMT: Why the Newspapers are Being Threatened (see 0955 GMT). Look to the Deputy Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Mo-Amin Ramin. An EA source says Ramin, a former Foreign Ministry official and a friend of Ahmadinejad (he reportedly is influential in the President's thoughts on the Holocaust), is behind the warnings to no less than 15 newspapers to stop publishing critical information about the Government.

The editor of Jomhouri Eslami, Masih Mohajeri, wrote to the Minister of Culture --- after Ramin threatened closure of the newspaper for publishing the 1 January statement of Mir Hossein Mousavi --- to ask him to "Ershad Ramin" (Ershad in Persian and Arabic means "Guidance"). The Parliament asked Ramin to appear before a committee and explain his actions.

Neither initiative seems to have had any effect.

1510 GMT: An Afternoon of Inside Information. Have spent a few hours checking with some very knowledgeable people about the manoeuvres inside and outside the regime. Consider this "clerical alliance", for example:

On Tuesday, Seyed Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of the late Imam, went to the house of Ayatollah Sane'i in Qom. After a "very good meeting", Khomeini criticised the "hard-line" Society of Teachers and Researchers of Qom, headed by the pro-Ahmadinejad Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi.

With the visible support for Sane'i, who has been effectively ostracised (and arguably, after the death of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, feared) by the Government, and the denunciation of the Society, Khomeini's allegiances have been re-confirmed. Indeed, the visit was quickly condemned by Hojatoleslam Ruhollah Hosseinian, a fervent backer of the President.

1034 GMT: Defend the Supreme Leader! If you're lost like me in the confusion around the intrigues for and against the Iranian Government, Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani and Press TV hold out this simple lifeline:
"Velayat-e-Faqih is the foundation of democracy and religion in the country," Larijani told a gathering of clerics in central Markazi Province.

Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, is the current religious jurisprudent. Under Iran's Constitution, the the Assembly of Experts chooses and supervises the Leader.

(For US readers: think of it through the words of Paul Crowe (played by Burt Reynolds) in the 1974 classic The Longest Yard: "The most important thing to remember [in American football] is....Protect your Quarterback --- Me!")

1030 GMT: Ayande News stirs the pot a little more, published an analysis of why different "hard-liners" may be trying to bring down the regime.

1025 GMT: Massoud Nur Mohammadi has joined his brother Saeed, a member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, in detention.

1005 GMT: On the Mortazavi Battlefront. The headline fight over the future of former Tehran Prosecutor General and Ahmadinejad aide Saeed Mortazavi continues. The President has expressed determination to defend Mortazavi against accusations of responsibility for detainee abuses.

0955 GMT: Hitting the Newspapers. As the conflict within the Iranian establishment intensifies, the warnings escalate. No less than 15 publications --- Tehran Emrooz, Bahar, Tose'e, Rouzan, Jahan-e Eqtesad, Ettelaat, Etemaad, Asrar, Jahan-e San'at, Mardomsalari, Arman-e Ravabet-e Omumi, Jomhouri, Poul, Farhikhtegan, and Afarinesh --- have been threatened with suspension for "inappropriate" material.

Those articles include the biting reply of member of Parliament Ali Motahhari, who is in the forefront of criticism of the Government, to Ahmadinejad Chief of Staff Rahim-Mashai, the critique of Hassan Rohani, an ally of Hashemi Rafsanjani, of the severe security situation (amniati) and the lack of freedom of speech on 29 Dey, and the most recent statement of Mohammad Khatami.

0905 GMT: Prisoners Revolt. Human Rights and Democracy Activists in Iran reports that solitary confinement prisoners at the Gohardasht facility, the site of alleged physical abuse and torture, gained control of their ward for a period of time on Monday. This is the third recent occasion when inmates have rebelled and temporarily taken over sections of the prison.

0855 GMT: Today's Unhelpful Help from the US. Writing in The Wall Street Journal, which has embraced support of the opposition as the way to regime change in Iran, James Glassman and Michael Doran are not even subtle and/or smart enough to hide their real priorities:
Al Qaeda bombers on U.S. airliners need prompt attention, but it is Iran, a supporter of terrorism now developing the capacity to fire nuclear-tipped missiles, that may pose the greatest threat to global stability and American security.

That threat can be diminished three ways: by military action, by compromise by Iran's regime, or by a new, less bellicose government taking power in Tehran. The first two appear unlikely, but the third, at least since protests broke out last June after the presidential election, seems more and more realistic. Yet so far the United States and its allies have shrunk from seriously encouraging that third way.

Having gone this far, I'm not sure why they didn't just put together the words "Green Movement" and "pawn". And take a wild guess what the Iranian regime will do with this opinion piece if it bumps into it.

Most importantly, compare this screed with the thoughts of reformist Fatemeh Haghighatjoo, which we've posted in a separate entry, on the best US approach towards the Iranian opposition.

(A far-from-unimportant opinionated side note: Glassman and Doran were both key officials in the George W. Bush Administration's disastrous and often unintentionally humourous efforts at "public diplomacy".)

0835 GMT: And here's more knife-twisting from Khabar Online: "Iran Rial Stands as the 3rd Weakest World Currency". In a not-so-subtle criticism of the Government's management of the economy, the website notes, "The latest figures on the value of various currencies against the US dollar show that Iranian rial is only stronger than dobra of Sao Tome and Vietnamese dong."

0830 GMT: Larijani v. Ahmadinejad Showdown. Following our report yesterday, the English version of Khabar Online, the website close to Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, uses "members of Parliament" to put the demand bluntly: "[President's Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-] Mashai To Be Ousted or Resigned".

0820 GMT: Taking Apart Khamenei's Speech. I doubt it will worry the Supreme Leader, given the source, but the Green movement's Rah-e-Sabz has published a sharp critique in a general challenge of Khamenei's supremacy and policies.

The website asks how Khamenei can demand the support of "nokhbegan" (intellectuals), if he has to dictate to them what they have to think. It also condemning his "plot theory", based on "cultural attack", which he has put forward from the very beginning of his Leadership. Rah-e-Sabz raises the issue of "nokhbe-koshi" (killing intellectuals).

0710 GMT: Academic Purges (cont.). After our news yesterday that at least six Allameh Tabatabei University professors have been relieved of their duties, an Iranian activist is reporting further terminations of contracts.

0644 GMT: As we catch up with the news this morning, we will also continue the attempt to bring out the meaning in the recent speeches of the Supreme Leader, Hashemi Rafsanjani, and other prominent Iranian players in the post-election conflict. Who is threatening who? Who is allying with whom?

Meanwhile, we post a scholarly example of analysing "in code": Tehran-based Mahmoud Reza Golshanpazhooh's survey of 2009 considers the tensions within the country as well as the nuclear question and Iran's foreign relations. And we have a not-so-coded interview with Fatemeh Haghighatjoo, a former reformist member of Parliament who had to leave Iran for the US in 2005: "The United States should carefully and delicately support the opposition movement based on United Nations conventions [on human rights]."

The Latest from Iran: If Khamenei's Other Shoe Drops (20 January)

2240 GMT: Balatarin Lives (for Real). An update and possible correction on our earlier story (1914 GMT) about the fate of Balatarin, the Iranian news portal. The site is back up, and some Iranian activists are saying that the supposed "successor" Agah Tarin was actually a regime attempt at imitation.

2000 GMT: An Iranian activist reports that journalist Nasrin Vaziri has been released after 23 days in prison.

1950 GMT: Rah-e-Sabz reports that Ali Reza Beheshti, Mir Hossein Mousavi's chief advisor, has suffered a heart attack in detention. It adds, however, that Beheshti has contacted his family and said that he is now better.

1914 GMT: Balatarin Lives. Balatarin, an Iranian website similar to the Digg or NewsVine portals, has been an important news source during the post-election crisis but was knocked off-line recently. Now a successor, Agah Tarin, has appeared.

1910 GMT: Mohsen Safai Farahani, recently sentenced to six years in prison, will be released today on bail of $700.000 $ for five days during the appeal against the verdict.

NEW Iran Analysis: “Supreme Leader Warns Rafsanjani” — The Sequels
NEW Iran: Ahmadinejad and the Labor Movement
Iran Analysis: The Supreme Leader Warns Rafsanjani
Iran Special: Breaking Mousavi’s Movement — Beheshti & Abutalabi
Iran Analysis: Reality Check (Yep, We Checked, Government Still in Trouble)
The Latest from Iran (19 January): Cross-Currents

1900 GMT: The Battle Against Ahmadinejad. For all of our attention to the manoeuvres around the Supreme Leader's speech, this may be the most important news on the in-fighting in the establishment. An unnamed influential member of the hardliners who supports the Government declares that Ahmadinejad Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai "is out".

The website that prints this news, adding, "It appears as if the Government will put away Rahim-Mashai at an appropriate quiet moment"? The pro-Larijani Khabar Online.

1845 GMT: A group of economics professors have asked for the release of Professor Ali Arab Mazar of Allameh Tabatabei University, one of Mir Hossein Mousavi's top advisors, arrested after Ashura.

1840 GMT: Journalist, writer and critic Mehdi Jalil-Khani was arrested on Monday in Zanjan. He was brought blindfolded and handcuffed to the intelligence, accused of "insulting the leader".

1830 GMT: Now Poets are Banned. This entry from Pedestrian deserves to be quoted in full:
Ferdowsi is a monumental 10th century Persian poet. His Shahnameh (Book of Kings, translated into English by Dick Davis) is a national epic read and revered across Iran.

Now the wife of imprisoned journalist, Bahman Ahmadi reports that one of the charges for which he will have to serve an eight year prison sentence is, according to the judge’s verdict: “publishing an epic poem by the poet Ferdowsi on June 12th, 2009 in order to invite the public to protest and revolt.”

It is noted that Bahmad Ahmadi himself was not even allowed to read the verdict.

1455 GMT: The Coughing Protest. Rah-e-Sabz claims that a recent "political education" event at an Iran army barracks had to be cancelled when hundreds of soldiers starting coughing, apparently when the speaker criticised the late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri. Commanders have asked for a list of the dissident coughers.

1445 GMT: Toeing the Line. In a prolonged Press TV advertisement for the regime, Presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei has blamed the post-election conflict on opposition candidates (Mousavi, Karroubi) who refused to act within the law and on foreign powers trying to unsettle the regime.

The only hint of Rezaei criticism of the Government was the invocation to distinguish between "protesters" and "rioters", both amongst security forces and Iran's state media, but he was happy to support Press TV's uplifting image of "democracy in Iran", with both sides learning to "act within the law".

Rezaei did throw out a conciliatory lifeline to the "Green movement" in the last part of the discussion by invoking the current televised debates as a reason for hope that opposition demands will be considered. Strange, however, that he would allow Press TV to push maybe the most important part of the interview --- Rezaei's letter for "unity" sent to the Supreme Leader earlier this month --- to the final minutes of the conversation.

1440 GMT: Black Comedy. University professors have published a "last will", to be retrieved after their demises: "I, Professor XXXXXX, killed by a bomb/bullet/fallen from a high floor/ suffocated with a string/fallen in a sulphuric acid bath hereby declare that 1) I was not a nuclear scientist, 2) I was never a supporter of Ahmadinejad."

Ebrahim Nabavi offers helpful proposals to Iran police chief Esmail Ahmadi-Moghaddam, who seems to have recently discovered the difference between BMW and SMS.

1435 GMT: Academic Purges. Six prominent professors of Allameh Tabatabei University have been relieved of their duties.

1400 GMT: The Follow-Up on Khamenei & Rafsanjani. We've posted a separate entry on varying responses to yesterday's speech by the Supreme Leader.

1148 GMT: Labour Issues. Deputy Oil Minister Seyfollah Jashn-Saz has warned, "If payments in oil sector continue like this, some employees will leave the country." Not leave the sector, leave the country.

Meanwhile, we've posted an interesting interview with an Iranian labour activist about the situation under the Ahmadinejad Government.

1140 GMT: Baghi's Detention. The wife of journalist Emadeddin Baghi, detained just after Grand Ayatollah Montazeri's death (supposedly for his interview of Montazeri), has spoken about her husband's arrest and detention.

1130 GMT: Where's Mahmoud? Well, in addition to biking and jogging (see 0900 GMT), President Ahmadinejad has met Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdel Mehdi. No mention of Iran's internal situation but Ahmadinejad did put out the line, "Maintenance of unity and integrity among regional countries will be the only way to thwart the conspiracies of enemies."

1125 GMT: While almost all of the Mothers of Mourning detained in recent weeks have been released, Persian2English highlights the case of one supporter who is reported to be in solitary confinement in Evin Prison.

1115 GMT: Who Killed Professor Ali-Mohammadi? Everyone (except us). The "hard-line" newspaper Kayhan reportedly has identified those responsible for the explosion which killed physicist Massoud Ali-Mohammadi last week. Iran's judiciary should go after Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mohammad Khatami, and Mehdi Karroubi who are partners with the "black triangle" of the CIA, Mossad, and Britain's MI6.

0930 GMT: The Khamenei-Rafsanjani Dance. Press TV spins yesterday's speech by former President Hashemi Rafsanjani (and ignores the Supreme Leader's address) to portray unity: "Hashemi echoes Leader in observing law".

0900 GMT: Where's Mahmoud? President Ahmadinejad handles the economic crisis by riding a bike. And jogging.


0845 GMT: The US-based journalist and scholar Mehdi Khalaji has written a long article about his father, Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Khalaji, who was arrested last week:
By initiating a crackdown on peaceful protesters and suppressing the first generation of the Islamic Republic, the government has simultaneously discredited its Islamic legitimacy and undermined its revolutionary credentials. This regime has transformed my father from a man concerned with keeping Ayatollah Khomeini's shoulders warm into an enemy of the state. This is a revolution that eats its own children. It places its survival at risk.

0600 GMT: It's a curious but effective phrase: "Waiting for the other shoe to drop" is not just waiting, but waiting with an expectation based on nerves and fear.

So this morning we start by looking around for reactions to the Supreme Leader's speech yesterday. Our initial line, based on a very good source, was that Ayatollah Khamenei had dropped the first shoe to warn Hashemi Rafsanjani that it was time to choose sides.

However, as an EA reader helpfully intervened last night, the warning could have been intended for others in the "elite". Again, we emphasize those within the establishment --- an elite whom Khameini said could assist "sedition" with their ambiguity --- rather than the opposition. In weeks after Ashura (27 December) and before the Supreme Leader's statement, the conservative/principlist challenge to the Government neared insurgency, setting the immediate goals of taking down former Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi and Ahmadinejad's right-hand man Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai.

The insurgency, carried out through newspapers as well as around the Iranian Parliament, has not yet achieved either immediate goal, but it is likely that Mortazavi will have to resign as a Presidential aide, possibly serving jail time. So one reading of Khamenei's warning to the elite is that the challenge stops there.

That said, if this was a throw-down to those in the establishment beyond Rafsanjani, there's a risky slippage in the Supreme Leader's words. Critics like Ali Motahhari have not been ambiguous in their interviews; they want the removal of President Ahmadinejad or, at least, his reduction to a humiliated figurehead as he gives a public apology for the post-election failures and abuses.

If the critics don't back away from that demand, Khamenei will face a moment beyond yesterday's speech and possibly any declaration he has made since the week after the election: does he drop the other shoe and offer his unconditional backing to Ahmadinejad or does he back away and let a far from ambiguous "elite" despatch the President on a permanent holiday?

The Latest from Iran (18 January): Firewall

2205 GMT: And Here's Another One. Looks like the campaign against Hashemi Rafsanjani hasn't stopped. Someone in the regime has ensured that he will not be leading the ceremony at Imam Khomeini's memorial on 11 Bahman (1 February), the start of celebrations of Iran's Islamic Revolution.

2200 GMT: Political Teasers. While I've been out, EA readers have been sending in a series of interesting stories on the manoeuvres inside the establishment --- we'll have the best of them, with an analysis, to start Tuesday morning. Meanwhile....

Ayande News continues its campaign against former 1st Vice President and Ahmadinejad aide Esfandiar Rahim-Mashi. The newspaper features the claim that several Rahim-Mashai relatives have been appointed to the board of the state automobile company Saipa, taking a controlling interest.

Rahim-Mashai's son, Reza, has become managing director of Saipa's investment branch while his nephew is now the company's head of business development.

NEW Iran Analysis: How “Mohareb” Death Sentences May Hurt Regime
Latest Iran Video: Marandi on CNN on Detainee Abuses “Mortazavi to Blame” (17 January)
Iran: The Ali-Mohammadi Case “A Political Assassination”

Iran: The Ali-Mohammadi Funeral “The Stolen Coffin”
UPDATED Iran Video & Translation: Dr Etaat’s Opposition On State Media (14 January — Parts 3-5)

Latest from Iran (17 January): Setting Aside Diversions

2150 GMT: More on the assassination of prosecutor Vali Haji Gholizadeh, shot dead in front of his home in Khoy City in Iran's West Azerbaijan province, bordering Turkey and Iraq. A police official says, "A special unit has been formed to identify those behind this assassination."

1935 GMT: Another 5-Point Plan (cont.). Radio Zaamaneh has published an English-language summary of the 5-point plan presented by 34 Iranian women (see 1615 GMT). The signatories, call for an “annulment of all discriminatory and anti-women laws, recognition of women’s right to their body and mind, ending violence against women and prosecution of all perpetrators of the crimes committed in the past thirty years” as part of a resolution of the current crisis. They also support "freedom of thought, speech and assembly", call for an end to torture and the death penalty, and demand “the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners”.

The 34 women put their 5 points within the framework of the Islamic Republic, "not changing the president or limiting the power of the leadership; but rather the realization of fundamental and structural changes”.

1920 GMT: Vali Haji Gholizadeh, the prosecutor of Khoy, a town in western Azerbaijan in northwestern Iran, has been killed by a gunshot.

1653 GMT: I'll be away for a few hours for academic and media work, returning about 2100 GMT for an evening update.

1650 GMT: Norooz is reporting that the Qoba Mosque in Shiraz, which was occupied by pro-Government groups who closed the offices of Ayatollah Dastgheib, has reopened.

1615 GMT: Another 5-Point Plan. Responding to and interacting with Mir Hossein Mousavi's 5-point proposal of 1 January, 34 Iranian women have published their own 5-point manifesto for resolution of the political crisis.

1440 GMT: Demonstrations and Trials. One reliable Iranian activist is updating on today's "mohareb" trial of five accused, while another is reporting that 100s of family members of detainees have gathered outside the Tehran Prosecutor General's office.

1145 GMT: Poking at "Foreign Intervention", Chapter 2 (see 0940 GMT). Minister of Interior Mostafa Mohammad Najjar has declared the Islamic Republic will have its revenge on "foreign elements" (and, yes, he means you, Israel) over the assassination of Professor Massoud Ali-Mohammadi.

1130 GMT: The "Mohareb" Trials. Iranian Students News Agency is reporting that five protesters, detained on Ashura (27 December), have gone on trial, accused of "mohareb" (war against God), a charge that could carry the death sentence. The Islamic Republic News Agency has said the five are members of the People's Mujahideen Organisation of Iran (PMOI).

See our related analysis, "How 'Mohareb' Death Sentences May Hurt Regime".

0940 GMT: Mottaki to Britain "We Will Decide If We Like You". Today's poke at "foreign intervention" comes from Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, who says: "Iran has carried out a thorough study on its relations with Britain in different fields particularly over the past six months. There are 10-12 working fields between Iran and the UK. We are currently reviewing each area."

No word yet of British panic over the statement.

0800 GMT: The Regime and Mohareb. We've posted a report by Edward Yeranian of Voice of America which points to risks for the regime in threatening death sentences for protesters because they are "mohareb" (warriors against God).

0700 GMT: More on Target Mortazavi. Press TV's website is headlining the letter by 55 members of Parliament to President Ahmadinejad and the head of Iran's judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, "demanding clarification" on the Kahrizak prison enquiry and the case of Saeed Mortazavi.
0650 GMT: And If You're Really Into Battles. On the Ahmadinejad v. Rafsanjani front, Hojetolelam Saghaye Biriaa, an advisor to Ahmadinejad, used a speech to criticise the Green Movement and then attacked the former President, "The Leader’s approach and beliefs are completely different to those of Hashemi Rafsanjani, exactly like Imam Khomeini, whose understanding and beliefs were different to the approach and beliefs of Ayatollah Montazeri."

0640 GMT: Motahhari v. The Government (Round 45). Just to highlight another running story, the "challenge within" from member of Parliament and Larijani ally Ali Motahhari, here are the weekend's headlines:

Motahhari directly criticised Ahmadinejad, accusing him as being one of the principle causes of the post-election crisis and saying he has to apologize to people for his wrong actions. Ahmadinejad advisor Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai responded to a group of journalists: “Firstly, what Motahhari is saying is cheap and baseless and, secondly, we are in the processes of filing a complain against him."

Back came Motahhari, declaring that Mashai should not interfere in and talk about issues which are beyond his "brain capacity" and that he should continue working on his ridiculous plan of Iran-Israel friendship. Then Motahhari returned to Ahmadinejad: the President is like "the person who has caused a big and tragic (car) accident but he has escaped from the scene and we have to try and penalise and punish the person who has the most responsibility".

0600 GMT: Rah-e-Sabz reports concerns over the deteriorating health of Ebrahim Yazdi, the former Foreign Minister and leader of the Freedom Movement of Iran, who has been detained since Ashura (27 December). The 79-year-old Yazdi was also held just after the June election but, on that occasion, was soon released.

0555 GMT: Cyber-War Update: Mahmoud Silenced. President Ahmadinejad's blog is still off-line, weeks after the website was attacked.

0540 GMT: The lead news this morning continues to be the regime's effort at legitimacy through the investigation of the detainee abuses at Kahrizak Prison. A couple of months ago, the speculation was that former Tehran Prosecutor General Saeed Mortazavi would be the fall guy, facing a trial and jail for his supposed lead role in the scandal of beatings and deaths of prisoners. That was deflected by Mortazavi's appointment as an aide to President Ahmadinejad, but now it appears that he is the firewall against challenges to others in the Government and regime, including the Supreme Leader.

We've got the video of the CNN interview in which Tehran University academic Seyed Mohammad Marandi lays out, in the guise of reporting and analysis, the strategy. (Apologies to those of you in the US whom CNN have blocked from seeing the video; the alternative, as laid out by our readers, is to download the video from CNN's Amanpour website and play it back on QuickTime.)

Elsewhere, Agence France Presse picks up on the opening provided by the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting debates, in which some reformists have made telling challenges to the regime. While we have highlighted the remarks of Dr Javad Etaat, posting the video and translation of his contribution, AFP notes the exchange between reformist member of Parliament Mostafa Kavakebian and "hard-line" editor of Kayhan, Hossein Shariatmadari.