Iran Election Guide

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Entries in Fars News Agency (4)


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

The Latest from Iran (1 August): The Regime Gets Tough

Iran: How Big is the Green Wave?
Iran's "40th Day" Memorial: An Eyewitness Account
Beyond the Wave: Why the US Still Engages with Iran

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

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IRAN 40 DAY 31650 GMT: Release the Prisoners! I am just going to re-print this from Fars News Agency and await confirmation that 25 percent of Iran's prison population will soon be freed:
17,000 prisoners were freed after amnesty and commutation of punishment term of a number of prisoners by the Supreme Leader," State Prisons Organization's Deputy Director for Management and Resource Development Mohammad Ali Zanjirehi told FNA on Friday.

"40 percent of the country's inmates, who account for around 68,000 people, were liable to the amnesty," Zanjirei said, adding that 17,000 out of the 68,000 inmates have been freed and the rest have enjoyed commutation of their terms or will be granted leaves in final months of their incarceration.

The decree, originally proposed by Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Seyed Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, was issued by the Leader on the occasion of the feast of Mab'ath, marking assignment of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) to prophethood.

1555 GMT: Don't Forget That Foreign Threat. Iran's Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, who has been gone unnoticed since the 12 June election, popped up today to appear at Friday prayers in Tehran and then try his hand with the "foreign agents" speech:
Western and European countries, with their overt and covert capabilities, interfered in Iran's election... the worst among them being Britain. The countries who interfered through their television networks by telling how to instigate riots, build explosives and other tension creating activities are accomplices in all the committed crimes, murders and are held responsible.

1540 GMT: Some, However, Are Not Ready for Compromise. Defying calls for concilation, the Ministry of Intelligence has threatened the Freedom Movement of Iran (the party of nationalist Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in the 1950s) with dire consequences if they do not stop holding political meetings inside their headquarters. The Party has lodged an official complaint with the head of Iran's judiciary.

1535 GMT: Look Past Jannati. The trend in clerical statements in the last 24 hours, apart from Friday prayers in Tehran, has been a call for compromise and action on detainees (see 1510 and 1520 GMT). That fits a report from Salaam News that Grand Ayatollahs have been discussing vital "issues", and most except Ayatollah Noori-Hamedani (an ardent Ahmadinejad supporter) "have taken a similar stance against the attacks of fundamentalism".

1520 GMT: A Different Prayer Address. If Ayatollah Jannati played the hard-liner in Friday prayers in Tehran, Ayatollah Ebrahim Amini played the liberal in Qom. Amini stated:
The young have sensitive souls and do not tolerate injustice, and we must not label the young as being anti-revolutionaries and try to distance them from the revolution....The words of the young must be heard, and if they are correct, [what they say] must be accepted. If it is not right they must be advised correctly with gentle tones and respect. The young must be advised to value this revolution that was achieved at great cost to society....We must keep the young by our side not be words but by deeds and by showing them the real face of Islam.

Amini addressed specific issues such as detention, saying , the directive of Iran's head of  judiciary, Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi, clarifying the situation of the prisoners, "must be attended to... to alleviate the anxiety of their families....I wish Mr Sharoudi would have stated that the detainees and the arrested will be treated with Islamic kindness." At the same time, he supported Ayatollah Khamenei's authority, "The principle of supreme leadership is an important foundation of the establ0ishment and we all have the duty to protect this principle."

1515 GMT: Shajarian Wins! We have reported on the case of the Iranian classical singer Mohamad Reza Shajarian, who demanded that Iranian state media stop playing his music after President Ahmadinejad called his opponents "dust". The Deputy Head of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting has declared, "From now on, no more Shajarian will be broadcast from IRIB, even during Ramadan."

1510 GMT: Looking for Compromise. Ayatollah Nasser Makarem-Shirazi, addressing pilgrims at the Imam Reza Shrine in Mashad yesterday, said different political factions should stop fighting and meet with each other to reach an agreement, moving away from the "literature of conflict that exists in the media". The ayatollah said the issues of the prisoners must be resolved quickly; those who are innocent or whose misdemeanors are forgivable by Islamic kindness should be freed immediately, and hthose who have broken the law significantly must have their cases resolved quickly.

1315 GMT: Ahh, There He Is. Having cleared out of Tehran before yesterday's events, President Ahmadinejad has used a speech in Mashaad today to assure everyone that, despite portrayals by his political rivals, there is no rift between him and the Supreme Leader:
This is not a political relationship ... our relationship is based on kindness. It is like a relationship between a father and his son. Your efforts will bear no fruit. This road is closed for those devils who dream about harming our relationship. Their dream will be buried along with them.

The summary from Reuters gives no indication whether Ahmadinejad referred to the dispute with Ayatollah Khamenei over the appointment of the 1st Vice President, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai. At Friday prayers in Tehran, Ayatollah Jannati, while defending Ahmadnejad against "plotters", did bring up the matter: ""Such appointments hurt your supporters ... A key position should not be given to a person who is not respected."

In light of that criticism, is Ahmadinejad's speech a gesture of apology to the Supreme Leader, ahead of his inauguration on 5 August, or will he try to restore some political authority and independence?

1300 GMT: Tehran Police Commander Azizollah Rajabzadeh has said 50 people were arrested in Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery and the Grand Mosala yesterday.

1205 GMT: More on Jannati's Address (see 1130 GMT). The Ayatollah highlighted the statement of 205 Members of Parliament in support of the Supreme Leader (which, of course, does not mean that they support Ahmadinejad). He carried out the confrontation with Hashemi Rafsanjani by returning to the disputed letter from the Assembly of Experts. Even though this was signed by only 16 of 86 members, it was still valid; most of those who could not sign, because they were scattered throughout the country for the summer, supported the initiative.

1145 GMT: An intriguing comment from a participant in Lara Setrakian's summary of yesterday's memorial: "Police were sympathetic with the people [and] told us in which row we could find Neda's grave."

1130 GMT: Getting Tough. Unfortunately, the live tweet of Ayatollah Jannati's address broke down halfway through; however, Fars News has now posted a report, and it's clear that Jannati is ready for a fight.

The Ayatollah claimed that there were those who plotted four years ago to keep President Ahmadinejad out of power, despite his 7-million vote majority and that these people were now trying "to take revenge". In the face of this threat, there should be no question of legimitacy: "If the election is invalid, then all elections of the last 30 years should be declared invalid because the process has always been the same."

Nor was Jannati subtle in his religious context for this political assertion, highlighting Prophet Mohammad's facing of his enemies and his resolve to maintain unity.

It doesn't take a genius to do the rhetorical and political mathematics. In 2005 President Ahmadinejad's second-round opponent was Hashemi Rafsanjani, the man whom Jannati is trying to depose as head of the Assembly of Experts. Welcome to the next round of this heavyweight battle.

1125 GMT: We're trying to track down an English-language summary of Ayatollah Jannati's address. Press TV English's website is silent.

0900 GMT: Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, a key member of the regime as Secretary of the Guardian Council, is giving the address at Friday prayers in Tehran today. (Jannati was one of the pro-Government members of the Assembly of Experts who tried to curb Hashemi Rafsanjani last week, putting out a statement signed by only 16 of the 86 representatives on the Assembly.)

So far the address is focusing on the need for unity, citing a petition from the Prophet Mohammad, the Yasrab, and calling on people to follow the regime. It is being "live tweeted" at the moment.

0700 GMT: Two items of note from The Huffington Post. First, Kevin Sullivan asserts, "Western Hubris Won't Reform Iran". While I differ from Sullivan's reading of developments inside Iran, his conclusion is valuable:
All of this is terribly exciting. It's also out of our control, and that's a good thing. History often needs the proper room to breathe, not the breathless instigation of a hubristic few.

Let these "greens" grow on their own.

Which makes it just a bit ironic that, in the same paper, Melody Moezzi is proclaiming, "Iran's Red Tulip Revolution".

Humble suggestion: don't impose a label on this movement. Not a plant like "Cedar". Not a colour like "Orange" or "Rose". And certainly not "Velvet".

0650 GMT: The Wall Street Journal, relying on a leaked document, reports:
A privately owned German company, Knauf Gips KG, warned its Iranian employees working in Iran that they would be immediately dismissed if caught in antigovernment protests....

Iran's government pressured Knauf to issue the order after a senior executive was arrested during Friday prayer demonstrations two weeks ago, according to people familiar with the case. The company, which has 22,000 employees around the world, was told that such a letter would be a condition for the executive's release.

An executive of Knauf, which makes drywall, warned in the letter:
We would like to remind all of our employees to remember that they are not only representing their private opinion when being politically active, but their actions could fall back negatively on our Knauf companies in Iran. Therefore, from now on, if anybody from our company gets caught demonstrating against the current government, he or she will be immediately dismissed.

0630 GMT: A quieter start today, so we've taken the opportunity to write a special analysis of what may be next both for the Iranian Government and for the opposition, "How Big is the Green Wave?".

0505 GMT: Press TV English's latest report is one of cautious understatement, both of the events and of numbers: "Police have dispersed hundreds of Iranians who sought to gather in a cemetery south of the capital of Tehran to commemorate those killed in the post-election unrest." The brief item, however, did refer to police use of tear gas, to the appearance of Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi (before he was turned back by security forces), and to the mourners' attempts to gather at the Grand Mosala.

While there was no reference to demonstrations elsewhere in Tehran and outside the capital, Press TV is also refraining from language criticising the protestors and their challenge to the 12 June election.

0500 GMT: News of a death that was lost amidst yesterday's memorial: "On Wednesday, the Paris-based monitoring group Reporters Without Borders urged authorities to explain the death of journalist Alireza Eftekhari on June 15. His body was handed over to relatives on July 13. A news release said Eftekhari died from a severe beating."

The Latest from Iran (26 July): Four Days to The Green Movement's Next Wave

The Latest from Iran (25 July): A President Retreats

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UNITED4IRAN2115 GMT: Meanwhile, Rafsanjani Plays It Cool. Amidst the Government chaos, the former President is playing down talk of a serious rift within the regime. According to Mehr News Agency, Rafsanjani praised the Supreme Leader, "He is a progressive and forward-looking thinker in different subjects. The propaganda by the foreign media who try to suggest that there is a power struggle in the top level of the regime is unfair injustice to the Islamic revolution."

The statement appears to be a continuation of Rafsanjani's strategy to show allegiance to Ayatollah Khamenei while manoeuvring against a weakened President: "I have hope in the supreme leader to solve the current problems based on his knowledge and experience and I still stick to the solutions I offered in the Friday prayer."

With these comments, Rafsanjani is also maintaining his position against the "hard-line" members of the Assembly of Experts, who attempted to undermine him in a statement earlier this week.

2100 GMT: Well, This is a Fine Mess. Conflicting reports all night over the state of the Ahmadinejad Cabinet. Some accounts now say that the President fired only Minister of Intelligence Ejeie and has not dismissed the other three (Culture, Health, and Labour); Ahmadinejad apparently realised he would face a vote of confidence in Parliament if all four ministers were removed from office.

Other accounts say Minister of Culture Saffar-Harandi resigned in protest. Still others say both Ejeie and Saffar-Harandi were sacked.

1700 GMT: Confusion. There are reports that President Ahmadinejad has withdrawn the dismissal of Minister of Culture Saffar-Harandi (and presumably other ministers), as he did not realise that the Cabinet could no longer meet without a vote of confidence from the Iranian Parliament.

1642 GMT: Our correspondent Mani confirms our suspicions (1325 GMT) that Press TV and Fars News misrepresented the statement of Mehdi Karroubi, which supposedly criticised other opposition politicians for supporting Hashemi Rafsanjani. The "genuine" statement of Karroubi is in Etemade Melli.

1638 GMT: Abdolhossein Roohul Amini, the father of Mohsen Ruholamini, who died in detention, has published a statement after the cancellation of his son's funeral. He has thanked all people expressing their sympathies to his family and said the memorial was cancelled to prevent any violence against the public by "oppurtunistic factions".

1635 GMT: Confirming earlier news --- President Ahmadinejad's inauguration has been scheduled for 5 August.

1630 GMT: Darius Ghanbari, a "reformist" Member of Parliament, has said, "Decisions regarding the participation of reformist MPs in the swearing-in ceremonies of Ahmadinejad, in the votes of confidence in Ahmadinejad's cabinet, and on interaction with the overnment has been postponed to the general meeting of the reformist fraction that will convene this Tuesday."

1615 GMT: Ayatollah Hashim Hashim-Zadeh Hareesi, the representative of East Azerbaijan in the Assembly of Experts, has denied that the statement signed by 16 members, which denounced Hashemi Rafsanjani, represented the opinion of the 86 representatives in the Assembly. Hareesi told journalists, "Collecting signatures by telephone, while most members of the Assembly of Experts are scattered in various cities, cannot constitute a statement."

1445 GMT: Ayatollah Yousef Sanei has declared his readiness to attend the 30 July "40th Day" ceremony for those killed by security forces on 20 June.

1430 GMT: Another Iranian official has joined the chorus against television confessions. Mohammad-Javad Larijani, Secretary of the Human Rights Headquarters of Iran's judiciary, said, “I am against the broadcasting of confessions. I think it is the judiciary officials who should explain to the people the issues and violations of election laws by the Reformists.”

The Press TV article is notable, however, for other reasons. Larijani is a possible successor to the current head of Iran's judiciary, Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi, and his interview raises other issues about detention: "When asked why some of the detainees have not been allowed to contact their families yet, Larijani stressed that all the rights of the detainees should be respected." And it breaks the silence on suspicions over abuse of prisoners, prompted by the high profile of one death: "At least one of the detainees, named Mohsen Roholamini [son of an ally of Presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei], has died in prison."

Larijani is the most possible candidate to replace Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Shahroudi.

1325 GMT: Meanwhile, on Press TV. The state network's website says nothing about the dramatic news of Ministers being fired. Instead, it runs an article trying to break Mehdi Karroubi away from the Green Movement.

The supposed quotes from Karroubi initially portray a leader accepting the election results and working for changes in his party: “Times have changed and there is an urgent need for far-reaching party reforms. We should review the post-election developments and plan our actions accordingly."

There is a hint of Karroubi's wider concerns in his statement, “After all, we are working in an environment that is biased and unfair. Our rivals are well-equipped and we are empty-handed, in the same way we were during the elections," but Press TV then emphasises the difference between Karroubi and other challengers to the Government: "It is most interesting how the very Reformist figures, who had criticized Hashemi-Rafsanjani and had stated that his political heyday is over, are now supporting him. This is not right.”

That attack both on Rafsanjani and other opposition leaders overshadows the final sentences of the article: "Karroubi asserted that he would continue his challenge to the legitimacy of the Ahmadinejad government: 'I will not step down from my complaints to the election results for as long as I live.'"

1305 GMT: The Government Breaks Apart. Now Tabnak reports that Minister of Intelligence Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejeie has been dismissed. Like Minister of Culture Saffar-Harandi, also fired by the President (see 1255 GMT), Ejeie challenged Ahmadinejad in a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday over the selection of the First Vice President.

There are unconfirmed reports that the Minister of Health and the Minister of Labour have also been removed from office.

1255 GMT: Is the Ahmadinejad Government Imploding? Mehr News reports that the President has fired his Minister of Culture, Mohammad-Hossein Saffar-Harandi. Earlier this week Saffar-Harandi walked out of a Cabinet meeting amidst heated debate over the appointment of the First Vice President, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai.

1245 GMT: Despite its recent setbacks, the Government seems intent on provoking a fight. It is being reported that the funeral of Mohsen Roohul Amini, the son of Presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei's campaign manager, has been cancelled because of pressure from the authorities. Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi had announced they would attend the funeral of Roohul Amini, who died in detention (see 0640 GMT).

0800 GMT: In our first update just over an hour ago, we asked our Big Question: after the successes of the last week, what will be the next steps for the opposition?

Our correspondent Mani has just given us the Big Answer. Mir Hossein Mousavi Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi have sent the following request to the Minister of the Interior:
We take the oppurtunity to inform you that we intend to hold a memorial service to commemorate fellow citizens of our country who lost their lives due to to the recent horrific events. We request permission to hold this memorial service on mordad 8 1388 [30 July 2009], the 40th day after the starting of these events, at the grand prayer centre of Tehran. We would like to mention that this service will not include any speeches and will only involve listening to recitations from the Holy Koran. We will also request that the participants show their respects to the departed by maintaining silence.

Significantly, this Thursday, 30 July, is not the 40th day after the 12 June election or after the first mass demonstrations (and first deaths of protestors) on 15 June. Instead it is the 40th day after 20 June, when dozens of demonstrators, including Neda Agha Soltan, were killed by Iranian security forces.

(Agence France Press now has the story, which originally appeared in the Iranian Students News Agency.)

0750 GMT: After recent reports, including footage on BBC Persian, indicating that its members have been working with Iranian security forces, Lebanon's Hezbollah has denied any involvement: these are rumours "spreading sedition and division between the two brother nations of Lebanon and Iran".

0740 GMT: The "Power Overload" Protest. Remember the recent attempts to black out Iranian cities, at the start of the 9 p.m. national news, by turning on all applicances to overload the electrical grid?

The Revolutionary Guard certainly does. General Seyed Mohammad Hejazi has announced, "The plugging in of irons at 9 pm every night is an act of subversive sabotage."

0735 GMT: More Cabinet Difficulties. The Ministry of Industry, Ali Akbar Mehrabian, has been found guilty of fraudulently trying to register an invention of another researcher as his own. Last year, the Minister of Science was forced to resign when he falsely claimed to hold a Ph.D. from Oxford University.

0725 GMT: Larijani Breaks Ranks? The Speaker of the Parliament, Ali Larijani, is resigning his position as Majority Whip. Officially, the reason is that he "understands that there is a conflict of interest" between the two roles. Given that the conflict is pretty obvious, it is more likely that Larijani is distancing himself from pro-Ahmadinejad MPs. Larijani has never sat comfortable alongside the President's supporters, and relations were further strained after the election when the Speaker called for investigations of security forces' raids on Tehran University and criticised the Guardian Council.

0715 GMT: Two weeks ago, we reported on the protest of Mohammad Reza Shajarian, the leading Iranian classical singer, against President Ahmadinejad's portrayal of his opposition as "dust". Shajarian has refused to allow Iranian state media to broadcast any of his music.

Etemade Melli has the latest on the dispute, with Shajarian promising to use all legal means to prevent any airplay.

0705 GMT: I Didn't Give In....Really. President Ahmadinejad may have been forced to dismiss the First Vice President, but he is still trying to save some face in the showdown. He has put Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai in charge of his office staff.

0640 GMT: Another boost for the Green Movement yesterday with the impressive show of support in "United4Iran" gatherings across the world. As news came in of more than 2000 people in New York, the "green scroll" from the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and other demonstrations from Amsterdam to Dubai, there was a notable lifting of spirits amongst Iran activists.

Now, however, the opposition has to think through its next steps. Today "reformists" will decide whether to attend next week's inauguration of President Ahmadinejad. In an act of great political as well as humanitarian significance, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi have announced they will attend the funeral of Mohsen Roohul Amini. Roohul Amini was the son of the campaign manager of Presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei; he died in prison after he was detained on 9 July.

Meanwhile, the regime is trying to repair internal relations. The Kayhan newspaper, having played a significant role in the pressure on President Ahmadinejad to get rid of his First Vice President, offered a limited apology to restore the image of Ahmadinejad acting in line with the Supreme Leader (see yesterday's updates). Ayatollah Khamenei, speaking to the participants in the 26th Koran competition, said:
The meaning of unity is that we must agree on fundamentals. Although we may disagree on less important issues this must not lead to disunity....Absolute ostracizing of others over these less important issues is not good [for the establishment] everyone must help in rebuilding the country....[The issues of the last few days] must not increase divisions, and one should not defame an individual and subsequently reject all of his capabilities based on a single issue....The Islamic republic allows people [that believe in the establishment] to have different viewpoints.

There was, however, a possible rebuke to Ahmadinejad in the Supreme Leader's warning, "These differences should not be mixed with sinful personal ambitions.

Iran Timeline: How the Supreme Leader Vanquished His President

A Turning Point in Iran: The Eclipse of the President
The Latest from Iran (25 July): A President Retreats

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AHMADINEJAD KHAMENEIYour cut-out-and-keep guide to the final victory of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei over President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the dispute over the appointment of First Vice President Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai:

1502 in Tehran (1032 GMT): Iranian Students News Agency posts Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami's address at Friday prayers in Tehran.

1745 Tehran (1315 GMT): Iranian press summarises Khatami address. Two sentences stand out: "I wish the President would accept the friendly criticisms of his friends. We consider this government to be legitimate and we support it, however it is our kindly and supportive concern for the president that leads us to request him to reconsider his decision."

2011 Tehran (1541 GMT): Khabar Online publishes a response form Ahmadinejad's Press Secretary, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, denying that the Supreme Leader has given the President a directive ordering the dismissal of the First Vice President:
Mr Ahmadinejad is a strong arm of the Supreme Leader for serving the higher ideals of the people and the establishment, however some individuals are attempting to break this useful and competent arm. Amongst those who are against Mashai's installment, there are individuals for whom Mashai is irrelevant and their goal is to break the will of the President. Experience has proven that the president and Mr. Ahmadinejad's government defer to the supreme leader and if the Supreme Leader sends a directive we will obviously obey.

Is it the job of the Deputy Speaker of Parliament or the Speaker of Friday Prayers to deliver these directives to the President?....Whenever the Supreme Leader wishes to make his opinion known he announces it personally or he sends a directive missive from his office....If the Supreme Leader has this opinion, the problem will be resolved by consultations.

2041 Tehran (1611 GMT): The official text of Khamenei's order, written five days earlier, to Ahmadinejad is published in Fars News. Publication follows in Tabnak ( 2050). Khabar Online (2113), and Etemade Melli (2210).

The publication of the statement sends the message to the President: You are dishonest, as it has been five days since you received this order.

Midnight Tehran (1930 GMT): A reader sends Enduring America an urgent e-mail. Fars News is reporting the statement of Ahmadinejad's senior assistant: Rahim-Mashai has resigned as First Vice President.

The Latest from Iran (1 July): The Opposition Regroups

The Latest from Iran (2 July): The “Gradual” Opposition

NEW Iran: Text of Mousavi’s Statement to Supporters (1 July)
Iran: The Post-Election Challenge from the Clerics of Qom
NEW Iran Audio and Text: The “Ghaffari Tape” Criticising the Supreme Leader
The Latest from Iran (30 June): Opposition, It’s Your Move

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2130 GMT: Orwell Would Be So Proud. From an Iranian source on Twitter:
For the 2nd consecutive night reps of prosecutor general & Cultural Ministry were present in publication house demanding alteration of some pages of the Etememad Melli paper. Those reps asked for omitting the interview of the paper's manager as well as [an] analysis of Iran election. The interview was about the reasons for which the paper's publication was prohibited yesterday.

2050 GMT: According to reports, the pro-Karroubi Etemad Melli was only one of six newspapers banned today.

2045 GMT: We've added English-language extracts to the audio of Ayatollah Hadi Ghaffari's denunciation of the Supreme Leader.

2000 GMT: After a three-week blackout, SMS is again working in Tehran. No interruption of the "Allahu Akhbars": "God is Great" is being shouted from the rooftops of Tehran tonight.

1945 GMT: Lara Setrakian of ABC News (US) is also watching Qom, "Keep hearing 2 watch what the clerics say in this phase of #iranelection ex Ayat. Taheri just called this gov illegitimate." (Ayatollah Jaleleddin Taheri is not "ex" but resigned his position as prayer leader in Isfahan in 2002, protesting against the leadership of Iran.)

1925 GMT: More on the Clerical Divide. Mohammad Sahimi of Tehran Bureau is also considering the "differences between hard-liners and leftists [that] go back to 1988", but he adds, "What has been surprising is the reaction of moderate clerics and the silence of clerical hard-liners."

While the Supreme Leader may now have the upper hand over the opposition, Sahimi notes, I think perceptively:
By coming down most definitively on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s side, Ayatollah Khamenei may no longer be considered to be above the fray, or even feign impartiality. He has now become just another politician subject to criticism. This is damaging, not only to the concept of Velaayat-e Faghih, but also to the whole concept of Mahdi, the hidden 12th Imam, who is supposed to come back some day to save the world from injustice, corruption and chaos. How can the “deputy” of the hidden Imam be as fallible as the next politician?

1520 GMT: That was fast. Fintan Dunne has already posted our 45-minute conversation (see 1510 GMT) about the current political situation in Iran.

1510 GMT: I just finished two interviews, an hour-long discussion to be broadcast later on the Islam Channel's Politics and Beyond programme on "Western Media and Iran" and a conversation with freelance Fintan Dunne on the political conflict and possible accommodation between the different Iranian parties.

On his website, Mr Dunne raises the possibility that a compromise was possible on Monday morning between the Guardian Council and Mir Hossein Mousavi, only hours before the Council closed off the election as fair and final.

1448 GMT: Etemad Mellinewspaper was shut down today by Iranian authorities when it tried to publish a statement from Mehdi Karroubi. It will be allowed to publish tomorrow.

1445 GMT: Press TV is reporting that three of the four Iranian employees of the British Embassy who were detained have been released.

1430 GMT: Another question from Mir Hossein Mousavi, "How can we ask people to spend their religious faith trusting us when they're being blatantly lied to?" He concludes, "It's our historic mission to continue our protest and not abandon retrieving people's rights."

1345 GMT: Just like yesterday, the morning quiet has been replaced by late-afternoon manoeuvres. The Islamic Iran Participation Front has declared, "The election was the result of a year long coup d'etat...that harmed the establishment's legitimacy inside and outside Iran....We openly announce that the result is unacceptable."

And on his website, Ghalam News, Mir Hossein Mousavi has issued his 9th statement to supporters, asserting that the Government is "illegimate". He has called for the release of detainees. And, cleverly, he has turned the regime's pretext of "foreign interference" back upon the Government: "We're worried that this government due to its multitude of intrinsic and extrinsic weaknesses [may be on the] verge of granting advantage to foreigners."

Mousavi asks, "How can people trust a regime which imprisons its friends, colleagues and children?"

1300 GMT: In the category Funny If It Wasn't So Horrible: "Javan newspaper [linked to the Revolutionary Guard] wrote that Mohammad Ghoochani [the chief editor of Etemad Melli] confessed....[that he] traveled to an Arab country to train for ''soft subversion'. Ghoochani does NOT have a passport and has not traveled abroad in the past two years."

1230 GMT: Remember what we said yesterday about President Ahmadinejad's "Pyrrhic victory"? (We had called the President a "lame duck", but an Iranian colleague said he doubted that Ahmadinejad knew what a lame duck was.)

Here you go....
Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called off a trip to Libya for an African Union summit on Wednesday. A spokesman at Ahmadinejad's office said the Libya visit had been canceled. He gave no reason....Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi later told state television Ahmadinejad was too busy to go.

This cancellation is in sharp contrast to Ahmadinejad's show of triumph, four days after the election, when he went to Russia for a Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting.

Now the question: is the setback for Ahmadinejad "external", with other countries seeing Iran as unsuitable for close contact, or is it "internal", with other leaders putting a leash on the President?

1215 GMT: Very little political movement, but Lara Setrakian of ABC News (US) brings a disturbing report that the paramilitary Basiji have asked Iran's chief prosecutor for an investigation into Mir Hossein Mousavi's role in protests, laying nine charges, including disturbing security, against him. The "crimes" carry a possible jail sentence of up to 10 years. The initial story came from Iran's Fars News Agency.

0935 GMT: The Washington Post offers details on the public "confession" of detained Newsweek reporter Maziar Bahari, which we noted yesterday. Bahari told local news media that he had covered "illegal gatherings" and promoted a "color revolution" on the model of those in Central and Eastern Europe in the last decade. "The activities of Western journalists in news gathering and spying and gathering intelligence are undeniable," he said.

Continuing the Iranian authorities priority on Britain rather than the US as the chief enemy, Bahari was described as a "former BBC reporter".

0925 GMT: More on the debate amongst the clerics of Qom, which we're covering in detail today, this time from the pro-Government side: "The influential head of a Shiite seminary decreed that 'opposing the view of the Guardian Council is not legal, religious or socially acceptable.' Ayatollah Morteza Moghtadai called for a continued clampdown on opposition demonstrations, saying that 'the view of the leadership is the last word, and everybody in the country must obey it,' Fars reported."

0820 GMT: Michael Slackman's story in The New York Times, "Iran Seeks to Close Door on Further Protests", notes a troubling incident to add to the hundreds (thousands?) of detentions:
One of the most recent arrests, of Bijan Khajehpour, an independent political economist, sent a chill deeper yet into Iran’s civil society because he had not been involved in the opposition demonstrations, political analysts said. Mr. Khajehpour had been detained at the airport coming into the country from Britain, and like many others, has disappeared into the notorious Evin prison, raising concerns over the scope of the crackdown and the prospect of a political purge, the analysts said.

“Bijan was perhaps the last independent-minded analyst living in Tehran who continued to travel to Europe and the U.S. and give open lectures about Iran,” said Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “He always believed that if he was totally transparent, the government would understand he was not doing anything wrong.”

0745 GMT: We just posted our morning features, an analysis of the post-election debate amongst clerics in Qom and the leaked audio of the criticism of the Supreme Leader by Ayatollah Hadi Ghaffari. Moments later, we learned of the latest statement by the philospher and cleric Mohsen Kadivar, a long-time critic of the Iranian leadership, on the "inherent contradiction" between a republic and the iranian system of clerical authority, Velayat-e-Faqih. The Supreme Leader, Kadivar writes, has three options: religious despotism, removal from the Constitutional, or a new form of constitutional leadership.

0515 GMT: There is a regime confidence, rolled out in Press TV English this morning, that it is beyond the election crisis. Interview upon interview with pro-Government Members of Parliament declared: 1) "no one in Qom", referring to clerics, "is talking about the election anymore"; instead 2) there should be a focus investigating and "repair[ing] the damage" caused in the last 18 days (a not-so-veiled attempt to pin responsibility on the "reformists" and, more subtly, a justification of the detentions); 3) it's foreign operatives who caused all this trouble. The last point received the most attention, with a student journalist (message: some of them are on our side) giving the history of outside intervention, supported by footage of CNN set next to images of the 1953 overthrow of the Iranian Government.

A senior advisor to President Ahmadinejad, Mojtaba Samareh Hashemi, was then interviewed, "President Obama had a very good start" with his promises to change US policy on Iran, the Middle East, and Guantanamo Bay"; however, "he has made many claims and we are still waiting for his action....he is under pressure ....from the neo-conservatives and the Israeli Lobby....We think that the President must be more powerful and must comply with [his] principles."

Yet, for all these bold declarations (there is now even a mention of President Ahmadinejad being sworn in "within the next three months"), the rumbles of political challenge continue. Both President candidate Mehdi Karroubi and former President Mohammad Khatami issued statements yesterday that protest would not stop, and their words were supported by reformist parties and the Association of Combatant Clerics. In Qom, which supposedly is not talking about the election, several clerics have come out in the last 72 hours with scathing criticism of the Government.

And, while the public show of defiance receded yesterday amidst the heavy security presence, we have indications that the silence is not a capitulation but a sign that the demonstrators are planning the next move. In particular, we're watching to see if this information stands up: Mir Hossein Mousavi was silent on Monday, but there will be a significant show of resistance in the next 48 hours.