Iran Election Guide

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Entries in Deutsche Welle (2)


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.

The Latest from Iran (6 July): Covered in Dust

The Latest from Iran (7 July): Sitting Out a Storm

UPDATED Iran: Solving the Mystery of The “Association of Researchers and Teachers of Qom”
UPDATED Iran: Joe Biden’s “Green Light” and an Israeli Airstrike
The Latest From Iran (5 July): Treading Water

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2145 GMT: The death toll in Tehran may be far higher than official figures suggest. Fintan Dunne has posted this English rewrite of an article in Le Figaro:
One of a pair of Iranian doctors, who fled the capital to France says an unofficial tally by medical staff at Tehran area hospitals counted 92 violent deaths related to conflicts with security forces. The death toll is considerably at variance with an official figure of 17 deaths.

1700 GMT: An Iranian website is reporting on a meeting that Mir Hossein Mousavi held with "friends and acquaintances" on the occassion of Imam Ali's birthday. Mousavi said that the election had shown the problems of the Iranian system and repeated that the State faced questions over its legitimacy at home and abroad. He declared, on the issue of protest, "The movement will continue," but this would be within a legal framework.

1635 GMT: The Regime Wins One? Mehr News Agency reports that the Speaker of the Parliament, Ali Larijani, has finally congratulated President Ahmadinejad on his "victory". Larijani had caused some friction for the post-election procession with his querying of the neutrality of the Guardian Council and his demand for an enquiry into the raids on the dormitories of Tehran University. (hat tip to Nico Pitney)

1555 GMT: But here's the real significance of the Khamenei statement: yes, there is an fight going on within the rgime. According to Press TV, Khamenei "pointed to the internal disagreement among Iranian officials", although he then "explained that despite such disputes these officials stand united against the enemy". That's the point to remember amidst his bluster, "In the event of enemy intervention, the Iranian nation, despite differences of opinion, will unite and become an iron fist against them." 

1550 GMT: Look! Over There! The Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, has again brought out the foreign menace. Speaking on Monday, he warned Western countries against "meddling" in Iran's internal affairs: ""Such governments should be careful with their hostile approach and remarks. The Iranian nation will react." Khamenei also referred to protesters as a "depressed" and "distressed" minority.

1545 GMT: Expect a standstill in developments tomorrow. Confirmation that Tehran will be "shut down" for 24 hours tomorrow because of dust pollution.

1515 GMT: The LA Times is carrying confirmation of Mousavi's apparent decision to launch his own political party (which we reported yesterday).

1300 GMT: Another Lemming Jumps. The Wall Street Journal runs with Sunday's inaccurate and misleading New York Times story, plus a lot of general background, to try and catch attention with a Clerics v. The Regime story.

1240 GMT: Rumour of the day: a significant portion of the Revolutionary Guard have turned against the Supreme Leader. Twitter user MikVerbrugge claims the source of this information is an Iranian officer they are in contact with.

1230 GMT: Another British embassy worker has been freed, leaving one member of staff still in detention.

0920 GMT: And a nice reminder of the political tension behind the scenes. The German service Deutsche Welle reports that Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, a staunch supporter of President Ahmadinejad, sent a stern letter to the Speaker of the Parliament, Ali Larijani, warning him to "obey" the Supreme Leader.

0915 GMT: Press TV's website also features the comment of police chief Esmail Ahmadi-Moqaddam that "two-thirds" of those arrested in post-election conflicts had been freed or released on bail. The missing detail? Neither the police chief nor Press TV mention how many people were detained.

0845 GMT: Last night we began received reports of a large duststorm moving across Iran from the west, reaching Tehran today.

That's an apt metaphor for the current political situation. There's been an uneasy settling of conflict over the last few days but the sense that, even though public activity was reduced, there could soon be another clash. Ironically, even though there is almost no breaking news coming out of Tehran, that sense is heightened this morning.

On the clerical front, there is enough intrigue to fill several crises. That intrigue has been elevated (and, indeed, exaggerated) by Sunday's misleading New York Times story of a dramatic challenge to the Supreme Leader from Iran's "most important" clerical faction, the "Association of Teachers and Researchers of Qom".. We've sorted out fact from fiction in a separate post.

On the political front, both the regime and the opposition are manoeuvring ahead of the planned demonstration on Thursday. Protest will continue today, "Father's Day" in Iran, as relatives of detainees gather in front of Evin Prison. On the other side, the Islamic Revolution's Guard Corps (Revolutionary Guard) used a Sunday conference to put out warnings. The political head, General Yudollah Javani declared:
Today, no one is impartial. There are two currents; those who defend and support the revolution and the establishment, and those who are trying to topple it. Those who wanted to topple the revolution made a mistake in their calculations. They had ignored the awareness of the people and the role of the Leader.

The Commander of the Revolutionary Guard, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, added, “We are convinced that the IRGC must play a deciding role in the preservation and continuation of the revolution.” (He added that this should in no way be interpreted as “meddling” by the IRGC in politics.)

Iran's Chief of Police, Esmail Ahmadi-Moqaddam, chipped in with a public statement keeping the foreign menace alive: "The BBC and the British Embassy, spearheaded efforts aimed at provoking unrest and incited people to commit civil disobedience and go on strike." It is still unclear whether any local staffers of the British Embassy will stand trial for "endangering national security".