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Entries in BBC (9)


The Latest from Iran (30 July): Memorial Day

The Latest from Iran (31 July): And Now….?

Latest Iran Video: The "40th Day" Memorial (30 July)
Latest Iran Video: The “40th Day” Memorial (30 July – Part 2)

NEW Media Mischief: The Return of #CNNFail on Iran?
NEW Iran: Ayatollah Montazeri on the Khatami-Mousavi-Karroubi Letter (29 July)
The Latest from Iran (29 July): The Memorial and the Inauguration

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IRAN NEDA MOTHER2115 GMT: Good Night. For us at EA, a thank you to all those who have joined today and a symbolic reminder: pictured at left is Neda Agha Soltan's mother, who was not able to attend the ceremony at her daughter's grave but who lit a candle in a nearby park as her memorial.

2110 GMT: Coming to the close of an eventful day, let's drop in on Press TV's coverage: "Iran's opposition supporters, gathered at a cemetery in Tehran for a memorial service for the victims of the recent post-election unrest, have been met by Iranian police."

The image of a casual "meeting", perhaps for cake and a cup of tea, is dispelled in the next sentence, however, "Police forces on Thursday used tear gas to break up supporters of defeated presidential candidates Mehdi Karroubi and Mir-Hossein Mousavi." And the overall report is neutral, even (whisper it) somewhat favourable towards the Green Movement.

That is, except for an obligatory last sentence: "Iranian authorities say foreign agents have fueled the post-vote violence which led to the deaths."

2015 GMT: has posted a range of photographs from Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery.

2010 GMT: Tehran Bureau has an excellent selection of eyewitness accounts, all of which point towards the significance not of a single demonstration (although, if true, 40,000 in Behest-e-Zahra cemetery is impressive) but of numerous demonstrations across the capital. As one demonstrator caught the excitement, "It’s NUTS! I’ve never seen it like this before! It’s still going on, 9 pm now — raging! As I said, it's more like a riot, totally out of control."

1940 GMT: Radio Farda's website reports that hundreds of people demonstrated in Isfahan today.

1755 GMT: Islamic Republic News Agency, going "behind the scenes of the street riots", claims that the leadership of these riots are "political powers" and "retired elements of some security forces", implying that the recent protests are similar to those against the regime in the early 1980s.

1715 GMT: Reports that filmmakers Jafar Panahi, Mahnaz Mohammadi, and Rokhsare Ghaem Maghami released after being arrested earlier at Behest-e-Zahra cemetery.

1645 GMT: State-funded Press TV in Iran apparently covered the protests at Neda's grave site, with a reporter calling in a live update.

1615 GMT: Etemade Melli has an account of Mehdi Karroubi's appearance at the memorial, including the resistance of mourners when security forces accosted him, and of his speech. The English translation, courtesy of Mani:

Karroubi walked towards Neda Agha Soltan's resting place, surrounded by a large group of people. The special forces attacked him and tried to disperse and separate the people from "the reform sheikh" [Karroubi] by beating them with clubs and pepper spray. The police encountered stiff resistance from the people, and Karroubi held his ground and stated strongly that he is staying in this place.
Karroubi sat beside Neda Agha Soltan's  grave and accompanied the people by reading the Fateheh [the prayer for the dead]  for Neda. The Prayer was read with protest intonations. Afterwards Hojjatoleslam Hadi Ghaffari joined Karroubi and spoke to the people for a few minutes. During Karroubi's speech, the security forces had a conflict with the people and arrested some individuals. These forces were confronted with slogans like "let him go, let him go" and flowers by the people [police presumably released those arrested].

Mehdi Karroubi, after spending an hour with the people, moved to the exit and his vehicle, accompanied by a large number of people chanting slogans.

1600 GMT: A reader sends in two other slogans:

"As long as the Supreme Leader isn't dead, our homeland won't be our homeland"
"We don't want crocodile's tears, we don't want the government of Mesbah" [referring to Ahmadinejad's religious mentor, Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi)

1552 GMT: Ahmadinejad Flees? On 16 July, the day before Rafsanjani's Friday prayers, the President went to Mashaad. He did so again today, ostensibly to attend a gathering of scientists and faculty members.

1550 GMT: Some of the slogans from today, as reported by Mardomak's live blog:

Our Neda is not dead/the government is dead
Oh Martyred countryman! I will wrest back your vote
Fear not! fear not! we are in this together
Death to dictator
Mojtaba [Khamenei], may you die as you yearn for supreme leadership
The missiles of the basiji have no effect [Mani's Note: This echoes what was said in the 1970s, "The missiles have no effect, the Shah can only kill himself", implying what some think Ahmadinejad and maybe Khamenei must do.]

1545 GMT: Ramin Mostaghim of the Los Angeles Times (see 1345 GMT), who appears to be the best-placed "Western" correspondent in Tehran today, also says 40,000 were in Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery.

1540 GMT: Moments after writing the previous entry, this comes in from the Green Movement website Mowj-e-Sabz: there are clashes in several major streets in Tehran, including Motahari,Vali-e Asr, Beheshti, Hafez and Fatemi, with reports of police using tear gas and batons.

1535 GMT: We are receiving numerous reports of "heavy clashes" across Tehran and now in other cities like Ahwaz and Isfahan. We are refraining from giving details at this point because there is no verification of the extent of the protests and fighting.

1520 GMT: The Iranian pro-reformist website Mardomak has been live-blogging events. It reports that Mir Hossein Mousavi's wife, Zahra Rahnavard, was able to get into the cemetery. Although there were many anti-riot police present, there were no major clashes inside Behesht-e-Zahra.

Here, however, is the striking entry. In contrast to CNN's report, taken up by other Western media, of 3000 mourners, Mardomak claims there were 40,000 in the cemetery.

1445 GMT: Picking up on some earlier news: the "reformist" Islamic Iran Participation Front has issued a strong statement asserting that the only way out of the disgrace of detentions and killings is the fall of the "coup government". Tehran Bureau offers a useful summary.

1440 GMT: A quieter phase in today's events. It appears that some mourners/demonstrators, having been hindered in their attempts at a memorial in Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery, are moving towards the Grand Mosala (the original location for today's gathering). Others are in streets around Tehran: it is report that "Vali Asr from Vali Asr Square to Vanak Square is jampacked and smokefilled".

So it is wait-and-see as to whether there is a Phase II or a series of scattered encounters. Meanwhile, a question: when he was turned away from the cemetery by security forces, where did Mir Hossein Mousavi go?

1405 GMT: Reuters,via Mehr News Agency, reports that Saeed Hajjarian was transferred from prison to a "state-owned" house today. Kazem Jalali, the head of Parliamentary Security Committee, said, "The Tehran prosecutor told me that Hajjarian was transferred today to a state-owned house with proper medical facilities....His relatives can visit him at the new place."

1345 GMT: Borzou Daragahi and Ramin Mostaghim have just filed this report for the Los Angeles Times, "Mourners overwhelm Iran security forces". If true, it is a significant account of a building protest movement. (Much of this information has circulated on Twitter but EA has not run some of the details because we could not verify. It is unclear how much of this article is based on the Twitter traffic and how much on first-hand reporting --- Mostaghim is apparently based in Tehran.)
Thousands and possibly tens of thousands of mourners, many of them black-clad young women carrying roses, overwhelmed security forces today at Tehran's largest cemetery to gather around the grave of Neda Agha-Soltan, the young woman whose videotaped shooting at a June 20 demonstration stunned the world.

"Death to the dictator," those in the long procession of mourners converging on the burial site chanted, kicking up a storm of dust as they walked. "Neda is not dead. This government is dead."

Uniformed security forces initially clashed violently today with some of the mourners, supporters and leaders of the opposition, who were trying to publicly mourn protesters who died in the recent unrest. Unsuccessful presidential candidates Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi attempted to attend the graveside ceremony marking the religiously significant 40th day since the death of Agha-Soltan and others killed in the fighting.

"Oh, Hossein! Mir-Hossein," the mourners chanted in support of him.

According one witness, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal, Mousavi stepped out of his car only to be surrounded by police, who forced him back into his vehicle and out of the cemetery.

At first mourners were confronted by the security forces, who struck them with truncheons and arrested some in an attempt to bar them from gathering at Tehran's Behesht Zahra cemetery, the country's largest. The tree-lined streets leading to the graves of Agha-Soltan and others were blocked by riot police, the witness said.

The witness said the mourners also identified and violently confronted several plainclothes Basiji militiamen.

"Police, police, support us," the mourners chanted. "God is great!"

But as the numbers mourners poured out of the nearby subway station and taxis along the highway, security forces retreated. One witness said police released detainees and began cooperating with the mourners, directing them to section 257 of the cemetery, where Agha-Soltan and others were buried. Mourners have been denied a permit to hold a ceremony in the city's Grand Mossala mosque later today, but protesters have said they will try to come together near the site of the mosque anyway, and march along nearby streets if they are prevented from entering the site....

1330 GMT: EPersian Radio is claiming that Mehdi Karroubi, 20 minutes ago in Behesht-e-Zahra, told those gathered to move towards the Grand Mosala.

1325 GMT: We've just posted the first video to come out of the memorial at Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery.

1305 GMT: BBC Persian, citing Press TV, says security forces have used tear gas to disperse mourners at Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery. (hat tip to a reader)

1255 GMT: Mohammad Khatami has issued another statement on detentions and interrogations, criticising the closure of Kahrizak Prison as a token move and declaring, "Those who are responsible must be dealt with and those abused must be compensated."

1245 GMT: Revolutionary Road is live-blogging on the memorial with details such as, "Mourners chant: 'Death to Dictator!' Basijis now chanting 'God is Great' too."

1234 GMT: Claim that Mehdi Karroubi has entered Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery.

1228 GMT: Claims of gatherings across Tehran, with largest at Ferdousi Square.

1218 GMT: BBC Persian reports that filmmakers Jafar Panahi and Mahnaz Mohammadi have been arrested during today's memorial.

1209 GMT: Deutsche Welle is also reporting (in Farsi) on clashes and arrests at Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery.

Al Jazeera English has just cut to a correspondent in Tehran (on a rooftop far from the cemetery) who is repeating the news provided by Reuters.

1200 GMT: Not a word from "mainstream" media in their headlines but EPersian Radio is claiming to carry reports by cellphone from Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery.

1145 GMT: Witness to Reuters: "Police forced Mousavi to return to his car and leave the cemetery. Police are also warning mourners to leave the place or face the consequences."

1140 GMT: Reuters reports that Mir Hossein Mousavi has entered Behesht-e- Zahra cemetery to pay his respects to those killed in post-election violence. Marchers clung to his car, chanting "Mousavi we support you".

However, there are also UNCONFIRMED reports that he has been forced to leave by security forces.

1130 GMT: And So It Begins. It is now 4 p.m. in Tehran, and Reuters is reporting, via a witness, "Hundreds have gathered around Neda Agha-Soltan's grave to mourn her death and other victims' deaths....Police arrested some of them....Dozens of riot police also arrived and are trying to disperse the crowd."

1125 GMT: Saeed Mortazavi, the prosecutor of the Islamic Revolutionary Court and Prosecutor General of Tehran, has issued a statement announcing the first trials of detained protestors on Saturday and criticising the "enemies" who challenged the Presidential election, a "golden page [in] the book of religious democracy":
Once again we had to witness that the global imperialism lead by America and Britain did not accept one of the world s most democratic election and the will of you free people....Obviously some mercenaries and misled groups within the country were manipulated by foreigners, and by committing illegal and dishonest actions formed a base for the unrest of elements of the enemy.

Charges include "attacking military centres with weapons, firearms, and incendiary bombs", "attacking government centres and setting them on fire", "destroying public property", "creating panic among the people", and "contact with heretic and infidel groups".

1120 GMT: Peykeiran reports that "opposition" newspapers have been removed from the front of kiosks in Tehran since Sunday.

1100 GMT: A reader has pointed towards an Iranian blog on conditions in the Kahrizak prison, whose closure as a "non-standard" facility was ordered by Ayatollah Khamenei earlier this week. The author of the entry, who claimed he/she was detained for almost a month, writes of "200 people in single room, all beaten, bruised and wounded" and names six people who allegedly died in the prison.

1020 GMT: Revolution in Iran, drawing from a variety of sources, is maintain a running list of those who have died in the post-election conflict, adding names where possible. The list, updated yesterday, now has about 180 listed deaths with more than 60 persons identified.

1000 GMT: We've posted a separate entry, half in jest, half as serious comment on "media", on the approach of CNN to today's events: "Media Mischief --- The Return of #CNNFail?"

0753 GMT: Rooz Online breaks the news that Neda Agha Soltan's mother will NOT be at the memorial at her daughter's grave in Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery.

0745 GMT: Reconfirming the Memorial. Ghalam News, Mir Hossein Mousavi's website, still features its story from last night: "Commemoration of Martyrs Movement: Behest-e-Zahra, 1600 Hours on Thursday".

0730 GMT: New Move for Political Front? Rasoul Montajebnia, a deputy of Mehdi Karroubi's Etemad-e-Melli Party, has suggested that reformists form a "leadership assembly" including Mousavi, Karroubi and Khatami to lead all reformist groups in Iran.

0720 GMT: How You Know the Regime is Nervous. Two notable stories from the "conservative" press:

Kayhan has claimed, "We have found documents proving that some of the rioters participating in the Tehran have been killed by some thugs hired by Mousavi and Khatami."

Fars News tops this, asserting that Neda Agha Soltan "is alive and in Greece"!

0715 GMT: Ayatollah Bayat-Zanjani has also responded to the Khatami-Mousavi-Karroubi letter. Summary is in separate entry.

0700 GMT: Summarising News on Detainees. From Parleman News:

Although a lot of publicity has been given to "the release of Said Hajjarian", he has not yet been freed.
Mohammad Tavassoli, the head of the political office of the Freedom Party, was released on Monday.
Journalist Aida Mesbahi has been released on bail.
Shadi Sadr, the attorney, was released on bail.
The families of attorney Abdulfath Soltani and journalist Abdoreza Tajik have been asked to post bail.
Mohammad Atrianfar has spoken with his family and seems to be in good health.
The families of Hengameh Shahidi and Somayeh Tohidlou are concerned because they have heard nothing regarding them.
Jila Bani-yaghoub has met with her mother. Bani-Yaghoub told her mother that she does not expect to be released soon. Her husband Bahman Ahmadi has also met his family.
The families of Saeed Laylez, Ahmad Zobd Abadi and Kaveh Mozaffari have been told that these individuals are quarantined and prohibited from meeting people.

0650 GMT: Ayatollah Montazeri has published a response to the letter from Mohammad Khatami, Mehdi Karroubi, and Mir Hossein Mousavi asking for intervention on the detainees issue. We've posted the English translation, as well as other statements by clerics, in a separate entry.

0530 GMT: The Iranian post-election conflict has been marked by a convergence of complicated, often hard to see, manoeuvres behind the scenes and of high-profile events. Today's planned "40th Day" memorial, set for 4 p.m. local time (1130 GMT) at the grave of Neda Agha Soltan in Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery, is one of those events. It is the most prominent since the 17 July gathering for Friday prayers in Tehran and, arguably, the most significant since the first organised mass demonstration on 15 June, three days after the election.

Put bluntly, if the Green Movement can mobilise thousands of people on the streets of Tehran, whether or not they make it to Behesht-e-Zahra, and if Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi make their planned appearance, this will be the symbolic moment that shows --- seven weeks after the election --- that the Government has not been able to put down opposition. Conversely, if those thousands do not appear and if opposition leaders do not show up, it will be an indication that, while symbolic protests will continue, they will not put the pressure of mass activity upon the regime.

A sign of that importance is the return of some "mainstream" foreign media to the Iran story. The BBC is highlighting, "Iran Opposition Vows to Defy Ban", both in its broadcasts and on its website. Their reports have been bolstered, and indeed prompted, by a message from Neda Agha Soltan's mother expressing gratitude to those remembering her daughter. (Neda's mother will also be at Behesht-e-Zahra today, although it is unclear whether this will be as part of the 4 p.m. ceremony.) In contrast, Time magazine casts an ominous, even negative, shadow as "Tehran Braces for Another Day of Street Battles": "Although tens of thousands are expected to march in silence July 30,...many more will be staying home." (CNN and Al Jazeera English lag behind, with neither referring to today's plans.)

Understandably, the significance of this moment emerged in some confusion and nervousness amongst activists yesterday. The apparent change of plans from the 6 p.m. gathering in the Grand Mosala to the Behest-e-Zahra memorial took time to emerge, and with the Government-imposed difficulties in communication, the opposition feared that many would not get word of today's schedule. This morning there seems to be an easing of those concerns, and attention is turning to the response of the Government to the gatherings. An unconfirmed report last night asserted that the Supreme Leader's office had put out a communiqué ordering no use of force against marchers. If true, that would appear to be an acceptance of large crowds at Behehst-e-Zahra and, indeed, in the streets surrounding the cemetery.

UPDATED Mitchell in Syria: Obama's Big Push in the Middle East? 

Non-Story of the Day: Israel, Iran, and “All Options on the Table”

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ASSAD MITCHELLUPDATE (28 July, 0800 GMT): Well, it looks like the Obama Administration is more than serious about getting Syria to the negotiating table. Hours after we posted Josh Landis' caution that Damascus resented continued US sanctions, a White House spokesman said, " "Mitchell explained to President Assad that the U.S. would process all eligible applications for export licenses to Syria as quickly as possible", especially "those requests to export products related to information technology and telecommunication equipment and parts and components related to the safety of civil aviation."

However, there still remains a very big obstacle to resolution of the economic issues. The spokesman added that "there has been no change" to the general sanctions legislation against Syria, imposed in 2003: "Changes to U.S. sanctions would require close coordination and consultation with Congress."
The BBC breathlessly proclaimed this morning that, with President Obama's envoy George Mitchell visiting Syria, Egypt, and Israel and with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in Tel Aviv today, this was the Obama Administration's "big push" for a Middle Eastern settlement. A moment's reflection before such a dramatic statement might have been in order: Mitchell's two previous tours of the region have been "big pushes", there was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's "big push" in the spring, and of course there was the high-profile Obama speech in Cairo. All those big pushes have brought little movement so far.

Josh Landis, evaluating the first leg of Mitchell's tour in Damascus yesterday, gives further food for thought:

First analysis of the Mitchell Meeting

George Mitchell did not say what the United States expected from Syria, especially on Hamas, as he left his meeting with Syrian President Bashir al-Assad. Mitchell said, after the meeting, that restarting talks between Syria and Israel was a “near-term goal” for Washington. “If we are to succeed, we will need Arabs and Israelis alike to work with us to bring about comprehensive peace. We will welcome the full cooperation of the government of the Syrian Arab Republic in this historic endeavor,” he said to reporters. “I told President Assad that President Obama is determined to facilitate a truly comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace."

Mitchell’s brief is Israeli-Arab peace. The main sticking point in US-Syrian relations at this time,however, is the Iraq intelligence-sharing deal, the details of which seem to be concluded, but which Syria is not implementing. Some analysts suggest that Damascus is dragging its feet out of fear of al-Qaida, which might launch a terror campaign against Syria. I find this argument dubious. Damascus insists on US compliance on concerns it has been raising with Washington for some time. I do not know exactly what these concerns are other than having an ambassador appointed, ending the era of public demonization of Syria, and normalizing relations.

Speaking of normalizing relations, the Airbus export license on which Syria had hung it hopes of reviving Syria Air and launching Pearl Airlines was rejected last month. Because the US refuses to sell new Boeing planes to Syria and has put every impediment in the way of Syria purchasing spare parts to repair its aging fleet, Syria Air is all but grounded. To remedy this embarrassing situation, President Assad has sought to buy European planes, but it turns out that over 10% of these planes are manufactured in the US, permitting the US Treasury Department to refuse permission to the Europeans to sell them to Syria. This means that Obama can effectively close down the Syrian air industry, which he is doing. The embargo on planes and aviation parts is just one aspect of the US-imposed economic sanctions Syria believes Obama should end.

The US clearly has a pack of economic, military, and political cards to play. If, for example, the US demands Syria satisfy US concerns on an entire portfolio, such as intelligence sharing and Iraq, in exchange for normalizing one element of economic relations, such as aviation, Syria will have to hand over much of its foreign policy bag of tricks simply to purchase normal relations with the West. This is undoubtedly not an exchange rate Damascus likes.

Western diplomats are not sympathetic to Syrian complaints that they are being treated unfairly. “Syrians think they are the center of the World,” one non-American Western diplomat complained to me in June. I replied that most Syrian officials I know become indignant when Westerners reminded them that they are bit players on the world stage. They insist that they have “nafis tawiil,” or long breath, meaning that they will refuse deals on terms they consider humiliating or bad even if refusal costs them a heavy price.

To predict how negotiations may turn out is pointless. It is too early to say. We don’t know what sort of deal is shaping up in Damascus or where the stickiest points are. Syrian officials explain that US-Syrian relations have been dormant for eight years and suggest that it is quite natural that only a few months of dialogue cannot break down the great distrust and misunderstanding built up by the Bush years.

Iran: How the "New Media" Tore Down the Gates of the "Mainstream" 

The Latest from Iran (24 July): Waiting for the Next Move

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ANONYMOUS IRANCNNThis afternoon, the headlines have blared out about a sudden crisis within the Iranian regime: CNN "Iran's supreme leader tells Ahmadinejad to dump deputy"; Reuters "Iran supreme leader wants vice president sacked"; BBC English "Iranian leader 'orders dismissal'". All the reports accurately summarise the story, in line with our updates today, that the Supreme Leader has sent a letter to President Ahmadinejad demanding the removal of the First Vice President Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai.

There's only one catch: all these news outlets are reporting about an event that took place on Tuesday. From our update at 1600 GMT that day:
According to Parleman News, the Supreme Leader ordered President Ahmadinejad to remove his choice as Vice President, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, who is also the father of Ahmadinejad’s daughter-in-law: “Without any delay, the dismissal order or Mashaei’s resignation must be announced by the President.”

OK, but what's the big deal? Better late than never to the story, right?

Well, from a political point of view, the problem with the sudden appearance of the stories is that they give a simple portrayal of a sudden dispute between Ayatollah Khamenei and the President. The true story is that the letter was sent to Ahmadinejad privately but that sources with an interest in the battle quickly leaked the news to Iranian newspapers. For the rest of Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, as we've been noting on EA, there has been manoeuvring and clashing between the Supreme Leader's camp, the President's supporters, and other "conservative" factions. The significance of today is that Khamenei has raised the stakes once more by allowing the letter to go public.

None of that context, and thus analysis, is possible with the "out of the blue" narrative of the mainstream media. For example, none of the stories note that Ahmadinejad threw Khamenei's letter back at the Supreme Leader later on Tuesday, with the President declaring that he was standing by Rahim-Mashai. Whereas CNN, BBC, etc. are at the starting gate on this story, the actual dispute is already halfway around the track.

From a media point of view, the lesson seems to go beyond the stories EA has been running about the place of "new media" in this crisis and those to come. This is no longer a question of who is more reliable because the mainstream media aren't necessarily even in the competition.

In this case, the mainstream media only "found" the story when one of the news services (I suspect, though am not sure, that it was Reuters) lifted the news from Iranian state television and news agencies. Of course, none of the mainstream outlets have correspondents in Iran, given the Government's restrictions, but --- more importantly in this case --- it appears that none of them have reporters reading the Iranian press, much of which is not run by State agencies but is linked to political factions. The story on Parleman News apparently never made it on the radar of CNN, BBC, etc. (What's more, it appears that the mainstream outlets are not even keeping an eye on English-language websites covering Iran. The Parleman News report showed up quickly on the site of the National Iranian American Council.)

In contrast, "new media" like Enduring America or the "Green Brief" of Anonymous Iran, as well as bloggers like Nico Pitney at The Huffington Post, rely upon a web of sources who have sent in or analysed material from across not only the Iranian press but regional media and websites. The point about Twitter and other devices such as Google Reader, from my perspective, is that has made this web possible. Whereas the hardest-working journalist might be able to monitor only a handful of sources even a few years ago, now dozens quickly come into play. Thus the disadvantage for most of the new media  --- namely that we don't have any money for full-time staff --- becomes a marked advantage: we don't have to rely on a Reuters to put out the story before we'll write and publish.

This is no longer a matter of "to Twitter or not to Twitter". The mainstream news services are no longer the gatekeepers of the stories because they are not at the gates. The sharpest, up-to-date coverage is coming from a new network of citizen journalists, activists, and even readers who are quick to pass on important breaking stories. It is that network that has presented the post-election Iran crisis as a continuing story, with ripples and fluctuations, rather than the mainstream media's sudden ups and downs of "the Green Movement is here"; "the Green Movement is dead"; "the Green Movement is back". And, now that the story is no longer of the Government v. the Movement but of tensions and shifts within the Government and regime, it is that network that will be the daily port of call to find out what is happening and what may happen.

Because when the gates are down, the view is less, not more, restricted.

The Latest from Iran (22 July): "The Pendulum Swings" Towards Opposition

The Latest from Iran (23 July): Preparing the Front

NEW Iran: Your Easy-to-Use Ayatollah Scorecard
NEW Iran: Playing the "National Security" Card
The Latest from Iran (21 July): The Lull in the Cycle of Protest
NEW Iran Video: The Protests Continue (21 July)

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IRAN GREEN1945 GMT: During a relatively slow period in Iran news, have been following an interesting discussion at Anonymous Iran, sparked by Josh Shahryar's "Green Brief": "they are well written and structured, and even better, they report from a "grass-root" level so that I'm able to get a better "feel" and emotional picture of what really is happening. However, does the method used in gathering this information hold up to established journalistic standards?"

1900 GMT: The Significance of the Event, not the Message. Mir-Hossein Moussavi said Wednesday that protests would continue until all demonstrators are released.

That is distinctive not because of the statement, which is merely a reiteration of what Mousavi said to families of detainees on Monday, but because of the audience. Mousavi was speaking to journalists, a significant relaxation of the restrictions put on his movements and access to media by the Iranian Government in recent weeks.

1525 GMT: Ayatollah Bayat-Zanjani, responding to questions from a "concerned person", has issued a fatwa regarding the inauguration of President Ahmadinejad
If the individual [claiming to be president] has attained his position  illegitimately and fraudulently, the inauguration ceremonies and investment of power done by the supreme leader will  are not sufficient to confer legitimacy [upon the aforementioned president] because [the act of] performing these ceremonies is not the main foundation upon which [presidential legitimacy is built upon] . These ceremonies can only invest power if the president has reached his position through an honest election process.

1245 GMT: More arrests...and more evidence that lawyers are being targeted, possibly to deter them from taking up the cases of detainees (see 1030 GMT). Lawyers Mohammad Reza Azimi and Mostafa Sha'bani have been detained.

1120 GMT: Another Ayatollah for Rafsanjani. Ayatollah Ali Mohammad Dastghaib has written an open letter to Hashemi Rafsanjani. Calling the former President "the old and loyal friend of the Departed Imam", Ayatollah Khomeini, Dastghaib says, "Your speech expressed all anxieties of many people of this land. all of them who are devout Shi'a muslims, and you pointed out their grievances. We saw violence acted on defenceless people, especially upon unversity students and faculty. [Everyone also saw] the filling up of prisons and brutal interogations."

Praising Rafsanjani's "reasonable suggestions to alleviate" the crisis, Dastghaid also declared, "I proclaim...using any kind of weapon ("warm" or "cold") or imposing confinement on the followers of these gentlemen [Mousavi, Karroubi and Rezaei] is equivalent to heresy....[Applying these methods] will not protect the establishment, and [these methods] are unacceptable for protecting Islam and the revolution. this behavior alienates people from Islam and the establishment."

Dastgheib concluded, "It is imperative for us [the Marjaa, upper-ranking clergy] to listen to the reasonable demands of the friends of the Imam [Khomeini] and the revolution such as Mssrs. Mousavi, Karroubi, and Rezaei, whom a very large number of people have voted for..... [This] will prevent any separation coming between us and the people."

1110 GMT: More on the battle between the Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad camps over "corruption" (0600 GMT). The Supreme Leader's representative in the Revolutionary Guard, Mojtaba Zolnour, claimed that Rafsanjani's brother donated approximately $5 million dollars (in Iranian currency) to the Presidential campaign of Mohsen Rezaei campaign. Mohammad Hashemi-Rafsanjani categorically stated, "We have not paid a penny to any campaign" and challenged the accusor to bring the allegations to court. The Rezaei camp, represented by Ali Ahmadi,  responded by  calling the charges "pure fabrication "and said, "Our budget is a thousand times smaller than Zolnour's favorite [Ahmadinejad]....If Zolnour can not either prove or withdraw his allegations we will take this case to court".

1045 GMT: Reports now emerging of plans for a rally by Mousavi and Karroubi supporters in Baharestan Square in front of the Iranian Parliament, on the day of President Ahmadinejad's inauguration (sometime between 2 and 6 August).

1030 GMT: Lots of Internet chatter about the fate of Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, a human rights lawyer and founder of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi’s human rights group, who was arrested on 9 July. Dadkhah has now been charged with possession of two pistols and opium; his defenders believed he is being singled out to intimidate lawyers from representing detainees.

Dadkhah is the lawyer for Abdolfatah Soltani, another human rights lawyer, who was arrested on 16 June.

0730 GMT: Cracks in the Security Wall? As we reported yesterday, Iran's police chief Esmail Ahmadi-Moghaddam, is talking tough:
The security forces will stand in front of any individual of whatever rank that tries to disregard law....[These] individuals create crisis in order to grab power and are the same individuals that claim that they follow the ways of the revolution and Imam [Khomeini] but in fact disregard the principles of supreme leadership....If someone loses an election and then tries to nullify the results, he makes the whole election process useless.

Ahmadi-Moghaddam's deputy added, "The police will punish any illegal gathering."

In contrast the new head of the political-religious office of the Iranian Armed Forces, seems to have distanced the military from the conflict: "Today one of the reasons why the Iranian Armed forces are so popular is that it has refrained from entering the political fray.....Members of the armed forces should be the most well versed in political issues while they remain above the fray."

0715 GMT: Favourite entry from the "Green Brief" by Josh Shahryar on yesterday's demonstrations:
Many eyewitness accounts reported that some security forces would stop running after protesters and start cursing their superiors. Many complained of fatigue and were seen panting and telling protesters, “To just go and leave us alone.”

0620 GMT: So, Did the "Power Overload" Protest Work? After Tuesday night's attempt to black out the Iranian electrical grid by turning on appliances, an interesting announcement from the Tehran electricity authority: "Observe the correct pattern of electricity consumption especially in peak electricity consumption hours."

0615 GMT: Picking up on a story from Monday. Mir Hossein Mousavi's wife, Zahra Rahnavard, said that her brother has been detained for more than a month. It was widely known, soon after the elections, that members of Mousavi's family had been arrested, but Rahnavard's statement is the first direct confirmation of continued detention.

0600 GMT: More on growing Rafsanjani confidence and Ahmadinejad weakness. Rafsanjani's brother Mohammad Hashemi has said he will take court action over allegations of corruption against Rafsanjani made by the Supreme Leader's representative in the Revolutionary Guard.

Meanwhile a Presidential representative has complained that Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting is not giving "fair" coverage to Ahmadinejad: "[IRIB was] not willing to communicate the heartfelt and emotional scenes" of the President's Thursday appearance in Mashaad.

0545 GMT: Our correspondent Mani posts on an another sign of shifting opinion:

It is interesting that the conservative-leaning Khabar Online is becoming more and more favourable to Mousavi, as it gives space and attention to his proposal for a political front, which "will be formed within a week". The news site states that "[all] reformist parties and groups and some conservative ones have shown interest in joining Mousavi's political front", although Mousavi "seems to be selective with regards to which groups he would like to include in this front".

Khabar Online received this news directly from Alireza Beheshti, one of Mousavi's chief advisors, who said, "By Thursday Mousavi will acknowledge the individuals advising him in forming this political front and will also [provide definitions] making this political front unique". The story reports that Mohammad Reza Bahonar, the Deputy Speaker of the Majlis (Parliament), has said, "In our meeting with Mousavi we told him that if he works the framework of law, we will support him....We are not joining his party but we will support his political activity that is within the framework of law." The "we" in this statement refers to Bahonar, Habibollah Asgharoladi and Yahya Ale-es-hagh, members of a conservative fraction of parliament who met with Mousavi a few weeks before.

(It should be added that Bahonar's manoeuvre is not an open challenge to the election but support of what he sees as a positive compromise. In another newspaper interview, he criticised Ahmadinejad: "He should not equate criticism with sabotage....No one has given his performance an A+." However, he also said, "Mousavi has a huge misconception that he has won....Mousavi asked us to nullify the elections and we refused.")

Khabaronline then reports on, and criticises the response of state-run media: "[In addition to their denuciations of Mohammad Khatami and Mehdi Karroubi] government supporters are clamouring that the legal formation of a political front also requires official permission from the interior ministry....This clamor is just a red herring that diverts attention from the main issue: the fact that during the election the contemptuous treatment of the law led to a great unease and anxiety and that the people converging on Mousavi are the same ones that warned society of the dangers of this contempt."

0515 GMT: Tuesday was an unusual day. My morning update mentioned the possibility of an afternoon protest, coming one month after the big demonstrations of 20 June and the death of Neda Agha Soltan and 57 years after a protest for the nationalist Government of Mohammad Mossadegh, but did not make much of it. Almost every day brings chatter about a march, and there was no sign of endorsement for the gathering from any of the opposition leaders.

By late afternoon, however, it was clear that there had been far-from-unimportant marches. The numbers are uncertain, though even cautious news agencies were ready to say "thousands" rather than "hundreds". The security forces again prevented a single mass gathering, notably in 7 Tir Square.

However, the persistence and size of the demonstrations was significant enough to pick up widespread attention. CNN ran a dramatic report linking protests and alleged footage of Basiji firing at the crowd. For the first time in many days, BBC English took notice; indeed, their correspondent Jon Leyne, almost silent after his expulsion from Iran weeks ago, was declaring that "the pendulum had swung" again and that there must be major change in the Iranian system.

The BBC report is over-dramatic, at least at this point, but Tuesday was more than a sign that the story continues, especially with confirmation that sizable demonstrations have taken place outside Tehran. The public demonstrations needs to be set alongside, and indeed intertwined with the pressure within the system against not only President Ahmadinejad but also the Supreme Leader. The short but sharp response of Hashemi Rafsanjani,indirectly but clearly addressing Ayatollah Khomeini's attempt on Monday to intimidate the opposition leaders, should not be underestimated. The former President was not only endorsing protest but encouraging it.

In that context, it remains to be seen whether the Supreme Leader's continuing strategy to confront rather than compromise --- his Monday address should be set alongside his 19 June prayer speech, which will eventually either be seen as a defiant assertion of his power or one of the greatest blunders he has ever made --- will work. Meanwhile, President Ahmadinejad is looking not only foolish but foolhardy. He seems to have received no boost from his Thursday speech in Mashaad (see separate entry on the video dispute), which was overtaken by Rafsanjani's weekend trip to the city, and his manoeuvres in the choice and defence of his first Vice President have been clumsy. Perhaps more than clumsy --- having unsettled many of his own supporters, Ahmadinejad looks foolhardy in his resistance to Khamenei's call to let Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai go.

The Latest from Iran (13 July): Challenge Renewed

NEW Iran Video: Sohrab Arabi Funeral (13 July)
Iran Opposition Alert: Friday is the Day?

The Habitat Effect: Twitter, Spammers, and #iranelection
The Latest on Iran (12 July): When Is Normal Not Normal?

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2000 GMT: If Ayatollah Montazeri is suffering from dementia, with his words written by someone else (see 1400 GMT), he's hiding it well. As expected, he has issued a statement criticising the Chinese Government's treatment of Uighur Muslims and adding, "Silence from other governments, particularly Muslim governments has caused great surprise and regret."

1910 GMT: Media Twist of the Day. Kayhan newspaper,  a staunch supporter of the Ahmadinejad Government, has been summoned to court to answer charges of "disseminating lies intended to poison public opinion".

Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mohammad Khatami have also lodged defamation charges against Iran newspaper.

1900 GMT: Catching up with news reported earlier today: about 200 faculty of the medical school of the University of Tehran have protested the arrest of political activists. Dr. Jila Marsoosi, a faculty member and the wife of detained politician Saeed Hajjarian, also a member of this faculty ddressed the crowd.

1800 GMT: Now, This is Intriguing. Part of the intrigue is in the report on Press TV's website. Habibollah Asgaroladi, a senior member of the Islamic Coalition Party, has described the formation of a new political party by Mir Hossein Mousavi as "favorable", saying, "Establishing a party to voice one's ideas and political perceptions is a wise move."

Asgaroadi and his party are "principlists", loosely defined as advancing the principles of the Isamlic Revolution and falling in between the "conservative" and "reformist" camps.

That makes his endorsement of Mousavi eyebrow-raising. But the other part of the intrigue is that the report comes via Press TV. That's right, the same State media outlet that has been anxious to downfall the political legimitacy of a Mousavi-led campaign.


1405 GMT: More jitters. Deutsche Welle reports that Hossein Fadaei Ashtiani, the head of "Society Dedicated to the Islamic Revolution", has said, "One of the results of the elections was a distinction between those who are real fundamentalists and those who claim to be fundamentalists...[it has] been made clear thar some people claiming to be fundamentalists are exhibiting non-fundamentalist behavior". The article links Ashtiani's statement to other "conservative" disquiet, notably Mohsen Rezaei's declaration (which is now being publicised widely) of a six-point programme for electoral resolution.

1400 GMT: The regime is looking very jittery today. A reader sends in this information:
It seems that [Ayatollah] Montazeri [who issued a fatwa on Saturday denouncing the Government] is considered to be a real threat by Ahmadinejad et. al. The pro-Ahmadinejad news site 'Rajanews' has claimed that Montazeri is suffering from some sort of dementia. Rajanews also claims that all fatwas said to be from Montazeri are in fact written by Mohsen Kadivar. The reformist daily Parleman-news has published a statement by Montazeri's son in which categorically denies these charges by asserting that Montazeri is in great health and all Fatwas and statements are issued under his direct supervision. In fact his son concluded that Montazeri is in the process of issueing a statement regarding the plight of the Chinese muslims.

1350 GMT: It is being reported that Mohsen Hajjarian, son of detained politician Saeed Hajjarian, has been released after his arrest yesterday.

1345 GMT: We've now posted video from the funeral of Sohrab Arabi, showing hundreds of demonstrators holding up his photograph and chanting.

1130 GMT: A side story, but an important one. The Iranian Government's effusive support of China's handling of the Uighur crisis in the northwest of the country has been criticised not only by opposition groups but by high-ranking clerics such as Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi Golpaygani and Ayatollah Nasser Makerem-Shirazi, who have objected to the repression of Muslims.

1000 GMT: Unsurprisingly, there is a heated media battle within Iran, one example of which is the rumor (noted in the blog on "Friday is the Day?") that this week's leadership of Tehran prayers will be the last for former President Hashemi Rafsanjani. Pro-Government publications are trying to portray the opposition as weak and divided.

The strategy is not working smoothly, however. At least one important cleric, Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi Golpaygani, has criticised State-run media for issuing statements in his name of support for the Government. He denounced the Islamic Republic News Agency as a purveyor of falsehoods.

0815 GMT: Ferehsteh Ghazi ("iranbaan"), writing for Rooz Online, claims that families of detainees are being threatened by the judiciary. They are told that, if they speak about the plight of their relatives, news will be withheld from them and the detainees "will be held longer".

0810 GMT: We're awaiting news on whether the funeral of Sohrab Arabi, the 19-year-old killed on 15 June by Basiji gunfire but whose body was only released to the family this weekend, was the occasion for public demonstrations.

0800 GMT: One exception to the item below about the absence of the "mainstream" media from the Iran story. The excellent Borzou Daragahi of the Los Angeles Times, now reporting from Beirut, recognises the potential significance of this Friday's Rafsanjani appearance at Tehran prayers. Daragahi has also picked up on the statement of the head of Ayatollah Khamenei's office of university affairs, Mohammad Mohammadian (see 0615 GMT), "We cannot order public opinion to get convinced. Certain individuals are suspicious about the election result, and we have to shed light on the realities and respond to their questions."

0703 GMT: Perhaps needless to say, the Iran story is now one for the "new" media. State-run Press TV prefers the image of legitimacy for the Government, covering the arrival of Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki in Egypt for the meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement. (President Ahmadinejad has still not been received by a foreign leader since his summit in Moscow days after the election.)

CNN catches up with the story that the family of Shorab Arabi, killed by Basiji gunfire during the mass demonstration on 15 June, only learned of his death in recent days. Al Jazeera English and BBC English, focused on Britain's political and military difficulties in Afghanistan, have disappeared.

0700 GMT: Regime Feel-Good Story of the Day. Javan newspaper, linked to the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps, has been explaining that it is very good for detained politician Saeed Hajjarian to be in Evin Prison, as he can get the best medical care there rather than at home.

0615 GMT: After a quiet period since last Thursday's 18 Tir protests, there is a sense this morning --- based on movements from both sides --- that the political challenge is about to resume, with private and public protests converging.

The shift is reflected in two stories. The first, which we put together last evening, is of the linking of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani's re-appearance at Friday prayers in Tehran with a mass march to the site.

The second concerns signs from the regime that it may be looking for some limited compromises to meet the political and legal demands of the opposition. Signals come not only from Friday's call at Tehran prayers by Ayatollah Kashani for a Parliamentary review of the election process but also from a statement by the Supreme Leader's representative for universities that "the recent protests in society are not of a malicious nature", criticism at Friday prayers in Qom by Ayatollah Reza Ostadi of the system's handling of public concerns, and a declaration by the judicial commission that all protesters will be freed within 10 days. It is also worthwhile watching the reaction to Presidential Mohsen Rezaei's six-point proposal for a political settlement, which may (or may not) have emerged after discussions with members of the Iranian leadership.

Beyond these emerging manoeuvres is a fatwa from Ayatollah Montazeri, the one-time successor to Ayatollah Montazeri, calling the Supreme Leader "illegitimate", as he is working against religion, and asking the public to challenge and, if necessary, pay a heavy price to remedy the situation. We briefly reported on the fatwa on Saturday but discussion of it only took off yesterday. We are cautious about the significance, as Montazeri has been ostracised and put under house arrest for many years, but others see vital reinforcement for the opposition movement. Tehran Bureau has a useful summary in English.

With the "mainstream" media now almost silent, the political battle is being played out in the "new" media. One of the weekend flutters was over an alleged "cyber-attack" on Twitter, with the important "hashtag" #iranelection overwhelmed at times by spam messages for products and get-rich-quick schemes. EA's Mike Dunn has untangled the story, which appears to be one more of crass attempts by marketers and schemers to make money rather than deliberate political sabotage.