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The Latest from Iran (19 July): Breathing Space

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2045 GMT: Two new videos have emerged which purport to show protests in Shiraz today:


The second video is here.

2035 GMT: The Guardian reports that 36 Iranian army officers were arrested after planning to attend Hashemi Rafsanjani's sermon in uniform in uniform, "as an act of political defiance." (via IranWire)

2030 GMT: Abbasali Kadkhodai, in an interview with FarsNews, responded to the criticisms of Rafsanjani and commented upon the Zanganeh and Akhondi letter.

Kadkhodai claimed that "the Guardian Council applied all possible legal means to ensure maximum trust in the election process". He also said that when we were investigating the election Larijani suggested  ".... that a committee compromised of  heads of the national auditory office, national prosecution office and a member of the Guardian Council be formed to investigate the complaints of the opposition candidates". Kadkhodai continued by claiming "... although this suggestion [of Larijani's] was problematic we accepted it ... but Mousavi and Karroubi rejected the proposal".

Kadkhodai claimed that contrary to the statement of Rafsanjani, "that in the given five days the Guardian Council used all opportinities to ensure trust [in the election process]." Commenting upon the fact that the Guardian council has been at the receiving end of critical statements, Kadkhodai said "unfortunately some prominent men made no effort to solve these problems. If they had done so, maybe the worries of Mr. Rafsanjani would have been addressed. Kadkhodai closed his interview by stating that "the Guardian Council has not shirked in performing its legal duties in the presidential election process and has left a good performance record".

2015 GMT: Another twist in the tale of Ahmadinejad's VP- Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai has just updated his personal website with a statement that says: "rumours of my resignation have been propagated by ill-intentioned people who intend to force my resignation and thereby cause the collapse of the government.  These rumours are absolute falsehoods." The confusion over his current status within the Ahmadinejad government could indicate infighting amongst Iranian conservatives.

2000 GMT: A few hours ago (see 1700 GMT) we linked to a post by Juan Cole, which suggested that Iranian hard liners weren't happy. A reader informs us that Cole has confused Ayatollah Misbah Yazdi, an ultra-hardline cleric. with Ayatollah Yazdi, also a hardline cleric.

1930 GMT: Iranian press are reporting that former President Khatami has called for a referendum on the legitimacy of the Government.

1700 GMT: Abbas Palizdar, who exposed the corruption of many officials including Ayatollah Yazdi, has been freed. (via IranRiggedElect)

Juan Cole thinks that the hard liners aren't happy.

1630 GMT: The Government buckles. Esfandiar Rahim Mashai- whose daughter is married to Ahmadinejad's son- has declined appointment as 1st Vice President after pressure from Members of Parliament.

Rumour of the Day: In a meeting last Tuesday, the Supreme Leader asked Hashemi Rafsanjani to attend Ahmadinejad's inauguration. Rafsanjani angrily refused.

1500 GMT: A significant development? Conservative site Jahan News is reporting that Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai has resigned his post as Ahmadinejad's VP pick.

1445 GMT: Parlemanews also reports that 20 pro-reformist members of Parliament are officially placing a question to the Minister of the Interior Mahsooli and Minister of Information Ejehi: "these members have asked the ministers to state under what charges these individuals- many of whom have been officials of previous governments and/or previous members of parliament- have been detained."

Another 24 reformist MPs also asked the Interior Minister: "why has a political problem been treated as a security issue?" and  have also asked for clarification about the "attack to on Tehran University Dormitories".

Mehdi Karroubi, meanwhile, has continued to visit the families of detainees, and also went to the the church of St. Sarkis in Tehran to pay his respects to the Armenian-Iranian casualties of the recent plane crash. While there he offered his condolences to the family of Dr. Leon Davidian (an Armenian member of parliament of the 6th Majlis) who was amongst the casualties. Karroubi is the highest ranking politician to have paid personal respects to the Armenian casualties- the Iranian government has come under some criticism for not demonstrating enough sympathy to the Armenian-Iranian victims.

UPDATE 1430 GMT: Parlemannews has revealed new details of Rafsanjani's pilgrimage: Rafsanjani is visiting Mashad to consult with Ayatollahs Makarem-Shirazi and Safi-Golpayegani who are also on a pilgrimage to Mashad. Parlemannews states that both Ayatollahs are strongly against Ahamdinehad's Vice Presidential pick, and also reminds its readers that Ayatollah Ezeddin Zanjani, the highest ranking cleric in Mashad is in the pro-reform fraction.

0750 GMT: The New Political Front? Rassool Montajebnia, Mehdi Karroubi's deputy in the Etemade Melli reformist party, has said that it would be very useful if former President Mohammad Khatami and Mir Hossein Mousavi established strong political parties with well-defined objectives to rally and organize their supporters. The resulting party or parties could then join forces with other parties such as Etamade Melli to advance the reformist agenda.

So, for the Karroubi camp, progress through established parties is the way forward. Montajebnia stated that the current political front of Mousavi is  currently in a rather vague state and does not have a well-defined pattern.

0745 GMT: It looks like that Russia may be growing uncomfortable with its backing of President Ahmadinejad. The "conservative" news site Khabar Online writes, "A specialist from the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies has acknowledged significant irregularities in the election results, concluding that Ahmadinejad may have won but not with such a great margin".

0730 GMT: A Trip to Watch. Hashemi Rafsanjani is in Mashaad on a pilgrimage to Imam Reza. The visit comes only 72 hours after President Ahmadinejad went to the city.

Meanwhile, the Government faces more pressure with criticism of the choice of Vice Presidents (see yesterday's updates), now being seen in some "conservative" press. The reformist Member of Parliament Darius Ghanbari is actively investigating methods to impeach Ahmadinejad and may use the VP issue as a rallying cry.

0700 GMT: Unsurprisingly a relatively quiet Saturday after all the tension of the day before. Both the Government and opposition appeared to be taking time to reposition.

However, another clear sign of the dynamic between Hashemi Rafsanjani's now-public position and the opposition challenge came in an open letter, published in both "conservative" and "reformist" outlets, from two advisors to Mir Hossein Mousavi --- Bijan Zanganeh, Minister of Petroleum in the Khatami Government and Moussavi's liason  with Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, and Abbas Akhoondi, a prominent Professor of Law at Tehran University and Mousavi's liason with the Guardian Council --- addressed to Ali Larijani.

The letter was originally sent to Larijani on 20 June, the day after the Supreme Leader spoke at Friday prayers. However, "regretfully these suggestions were not attended to by people in charge", so Zanganeh and Akhoondi "hope that public knowledge of this letter may be of some use". Parleman News adds the political significance: the publication of this letter is "in direct response to the critics of Mr Rafsanjani's recent speech, especially to those that take issue with Rafsanjani's statement that the Guardian Council did not effectively use the five extra days given to them [to resolve the election's irregularities]".

The letter is a useful platform, echoing Rafsanjani's address, for political progress rather than a manifesto of changes. 1) Trust must be reestablished between the two opposing sides; .2) The right to protest the election results must be officially accepted, respecting rights guaranteed by the Iranian constitution. These rights include the right to congregate to protest peacefully, the right to have a public voice, and the right to be fairly represented in other national media. Specifically, Mir Hossein Mousavi must be given the opportunity to state his position in national television.

Significantly, Zanganeh and Akhoondi follow this, in the re-publication of the 30 June letter, with an indication that the Mousavi camp has not given up the challenge to the 12 June election. Given the Guardian Council blatant support of President Ahmadinejad during and after the election, a body "comprised of prominent Iranians that are universally considered to be trustworthy" should be formed for arbitration.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi intervened in an interview with Deutsche Welle, saying that Hashemi Rafsanjani told the truth about the regime but not all the truth.

Reports contnue of arrests on Friday, including youth group members of Mir Hossein Mousavi's party.

Reader Comments (10)

Interesting time for the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies to release its Iranian election evaluation. Maybe "Death to Russia" didn't sound so great...

July 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

[...] via enduring america: Meanwhile, the Government faces more pressure with criticism of the choice of Vice Presidents (see yesterday’s updates), now being seen in some “conservative” press. The reformist Member of Parliament Darius Ghanbari is actively investigating methods to impeach Ahmadinejad and may use the VP issue as a rallying cry. [...]

July 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFREE IRAN NOW!

What a great idea!! Mousavi starting a new political party? The regime can tell him who can run and who can't and in the end the regime will make sure that his party loses (AGAIN). What's the poin? Do they think the people are that dumb?

July 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMike Smith

[...] via enduring america: [...]

[...] ambience From EA (The Latest from Iran (19 July): Breathing Space | Enduring America) [...]

[...] July 19, 2009 [...]

July 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterE-Ron « Don’t Try

Just wanted to thank you for your excellent, and continuing, coverage of events as they occur in Iran!

July 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJM Hanes

Thanks for the videos from Shiraz (presumably, as always). I've wondered what's been happening in cities beyond Tehran.

Such courage... does anyone know the lyrics of the song in English?

July 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

JM- thanks for the compliment. Posting's been a bit thinner on the ground since Friday due to Scott being away, but thanks to a couple of great sources we've hopefully managed to keep things going...

July 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMike Dunn

Venice resident Rhonda DeVictor said she noticed the empty lot when she first moved into the neighborhood 12 years ago ofauoy ofauoy - North Face us.

November 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterzdulqx zdulqx

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