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Entries in Hossein Shariatmadari (2)


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

NEW Iran Video: Zahra Rahnavard on Her Detained Brother
NEW A Turning Point in Iran: The Eclipse of the President
NEW Iran Timeline: How the Supreme Leader Vanquished His President
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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0630 GMT (26 July): An apology for an exaggeration in the previous entry. The editor of Kayhan did not apologise for the publication of Khamenei's letter; however, he regretted calling First Vice President Rahim-Mashai an "agent of the velvet coup" and claiming that President Ahmadinejad had abandoned the line of the Supreme Leader".

The interpretation, therefore, is not of a Presidential fightback but of a (token) face-saver for Ahmadinejad so he can return to his proper (now very limited) Presidential role in the current political battle.

2120 GMT: A Presidential Fightback? Evening news is dominated by the "United4Iran" demonstrations in 100+ cities across the world, but one intriguing development on the homefront. Ahmadinejad's advisors, through Press Secretary Ali Akbar Javanfekr,  have been criticising the media for publishing the Supreme Leader's letter about Vice President Rahim-Mashai yesterday.

They may have had some effect. This evening. the editor of Kayhan, Hossein Shariatmadari, appeared to apologise for the public attention given to the Khamenei order.

1720 GMT: The Opposition Politicians and Qom. More on the important news of the day, the Khatami-Mousavi-Karroubi letter to Grand Ayatollahs asking them to intervene to free detainees. Keeping the Change has an incisive analysis on both the immediate issue and the wider significance: "Should the Reformists be able to win over a majority of the marjahs [high-ranking clerics], it...would constitute the serious religiously-based challenge to the regime's behavior that the Reformists have been after, but have heretofore been unable to obtain."

1715 GMT: The Confessions Pressure Escalates. Allaeddin Boroujerdi, the head of the Parliamentary commission on national security and foreign policy has also stated his objections to broadcasting the confessions of detainees. Boroujerdi said that, during the meeting of this committee last week with Minister of Intelligence Ejeie, the minister stated "that legal issues make this broadcasting impractical".

1605 GMT: The Next Achilles' Heel? Member of Parliament Ali Motahari has stated: "If the confessions of the detainees are to be broadcast, all instances in which the interrogators have broken the law during the process which sometimes has lead to fatalities must also be investigated".

The statement, echoing the clerical fatwas of Ayatollah Sanei and Bayat-Zanjani, continues, "If these confessions were obtained under normal conditions they would have a useful role in enlightening the public, however, if they are obtained under irregularites they have no use at all....It is possible that the arrests themselves may be legal, but the important issue is whether the detainees have been treated according to islamic regulations, and have they been subjected to mental and physical pressures....We all must uphold the law and try to improve the current situation."

The significance is that Motahari, like Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, is considered a "principlist", the political bloc in Iran distinct from both "conservative" and "reformist" factions. With clerical pressure on the Government increasing, this could be an indication that some outside the Green Movement will be focusing on detentions and interrogations to demand changes in the system.

1600 GMT: Defending the Nation. The lead Iran story on Press TV's website today has been the statement by Revolutionary Guard commander General Mohammad Ali Jafari: "Iranian missiles have the capacity to target Israeli soil if the Zionist regime commits such stupidity including its nuclear sites."

I am sure that the content and timing of Jafari's statement have nothing to do whatsoever with the domestic blows to the Ahmadinejad Presidency, with which the Revolutionary Guard has been closely associated, in the last 48 hours.

1545 GMT: Reports of protests, and action by security forces to break them up, in Vanak and Azadi Squares in Tehran.

1340 GMT: Mir Hossein Mousavi's staff have vigorously denied any contact with foreign embassies over Iran's post-election conflict. The allegation was made on Friday both by Minister of Intelligence Ejeie and Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, the leader of Tehran's prayers.

1330 GMT: Report that Mohammad Reza Yazdan Panah, a journalist and member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, has been released from detention.

1035 GMT: I am in the midst of an interesting and challenging discussion with Kevin Sullivan of Real Clear World, sparked by a column by Joe Klein of Time. Which should come first: a focus on Iran and the nuclear issue or consideration of the internal political dynamics between the Government and the post-election Green Movement?

0950 GMT: How serious was the argument over the First Vice President? The head of Iran's armed forces, Major General Seyed Hassan Firouzabadi, had written President Ahmadinejad to ask for Rahim-Mashai's dismissal.

0935 GMT: The resignation letter of former First Vice President Rahim-Mashai has been published. Ahmadinejad's response has also appeared: " I had hoped that with the elimination of some negative pressure, you could remain in the First Deputy position."

0900 GMT: Our correspondent Mani sends in important news:
In an open letter, a number of reformist politicians led by Mohammad Khatami, Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi have asked the Grand Ayatollahs of Qom to remind "relevant segments of the establishment" of "the dire consequences" of their "anti-legal methodologies". The letter asks the Grand Ayatollahs to intervene to free the current post-election detainees.

The reformist politicians, stating that arrests have been done with "no legal justification" and have "blackened the name of the Islamic Republic both within Iran and abroad", declare, "The only solution to this situation would include the following: A clear and serious effort to stop the post-election atmosphere of fear and coercion caused by the increased presence of security forces, freeing all detainees, and restoration of the mechanisms by which the accusations of election irregulariites can be legally addressed."

They add, "The families of the detainees have been stonewalled by officials when they have tried to obtain legal recourse; this has caused many problems for these families". The "disturbing news" regarding the physical and mental well-being of the prisoners has exacerbated the level of anxiety already felt by these families.

The authors also challenge state media, calling Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting "the propaganda machine of the coerced confessions project". IRIB, "by broadcasting staged confessions, is attempting to prove spurious charges that have been made against a popular movement".

0725 GMT: Protests are being held in more than 100 cities across the world today in support of the Green Movement. Information is available on the United4Iran website.

0720 GMT: Amidst the uncertainty over how many of the 86 members of the Assembly of Experts have turned against Hashemi Rafsanjani (see 0645 GMT), one has made his position clear. Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Akbar Qoreyshi has written an open letter criticising Rafsanjani for not separating himself from the post-election opposition: “After the Leader’s strong defense [of you] in his Friday Prayers sermon, I told you in a letter that the leader’s defense had solved everything and it would be best that you apologize to him and tell the nation that you have nothing to do with your child or children’s actions....Unfortunately my letter was ignored.”

0710 GMT: More on Karroubi and Iran's Security Forces (see 0645 GMT). Mehdi Karroubi has criticized the treatment of detainees by the security forces in an open letter to Minister of Information Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejeie. Karroubi said recent information from reliable sources caused him deep concern about the conditions of confinement and demanded that Ejeie, carrying out his responsibilities, identify all parties responsible for recent horrific events and asserts that this is the minister's responsibility.

Karroubi, adidng that the withholding of information from the families of detainees is also a cause for great concern, concluded that it is a sorry state of affairs that citizens are treated so poorly by an Islamic Government.

0645 GMT: A relatively quiet Friday sprang into life during the afternoon with the emerging opposition, not only from the Supreme Leader but from across "conservative" ranks, to President Ahmadinejad over the Vice-Presidential appointment of Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai. Ahmadinejad's capitulation last night is so significant that we've covered it in a separate analysis.

Meanwhile, Ayatollah Yousef Sanei has extended his public support of the protest movement with a fatwa moving religious blame from the detainee to the Iranian authorities:

1) If you are under arrest, coerced and put under extreme pressure and forced to make a false confession to stop torture, your false confession is not a sin. However, those responsible for such methods have committed a sin;
2) Confessions that are obtained under duress and torture have absolutely no validity in an Islamic court;
3) Under Islamic and Shia law, interminable interrogations, especially those done arround midnight, are absolutely forbidden.

Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri has issued a fatwa condemning the behaviour of the security forces towards Mehdi Karroubi as he arrived at Friday prayers in Tehran last week. In an incident picked up in widely-distributed photographs, Iranian police jostled Karroubi, knocking off his turban.

Covering the other side of the clerical debate, Keeping the Change digs into this week's supposed declaration of the 86-member Assembly of Experts reaffirming support of the Supreme Leader and, more importantly, seeking the dismissal of Hashemi Rafsanjani as head of the Assembly. The analysis notes the discrepancy between only 16 signatures and state media's claim that 50 clerics (in other words, a majority) support the declaration. In contrast to our own interpretation that this is a power-play by an important pro-regime minority on the Assembly, Keeping the Change concludes:
Many of the Assembly's members owe their positions to Khamanei and have deep loyalties to the Supreme Leader. For them to support the letter, while withholding their names, may be a compromise position that suits both their political passivity and their fidelity to Khamanei.

The Latest from Iran (21 July): No Lull in the Cycle of Protest

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

NEW Iran Video: The Protests Continue (21 July)
NEW Iran Video: Ahmadinejad Failure in Mashaad? (17 July)
The Latest from Iran (20 July): How Far Can This Go?

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IRAN GREEN2200 GMT: Press TV jumps in on the debate over the choice of Iran's 1st Vice President, and it is siding with the Supreme Leader rather than President Ahmadinejad:
A senior Iranian parliamentarian says the Leader of the Islamic Revolution has advised the president to reverse his decision in appointing Esfandyar Rahim-Masha'i as his top deputy.

"Without any delay, the removal or acceptance of Masha'i's resignation must be announced by the president," Mohammad-Hassan Aboutorabi-Fard, the first Majlis [Parliament] vice speaker, told the Iranian Students News Agency on Tuesday....The removal of Rahim-Masha'i from key positions and presidential deputies is the collective decision of the political establishment.”

1930 GMT: No confirmed reports on whether the "power overload" protest scheduled for 9 p.m. local time (1630 GMT) succeeded in causing blackouts, although there were unconfirmed claims that parts of Tehran, Karaj, and Qazvin lost power.

1910 GMT: The pro-Green Movement website Mowj-e-Sabz confirms that, in addition to Sunday's demonstrations in Tehran and Shiraz, there were sizable protests in Tabriz.

1900 GMT: A source expands on our post about Hashemi Rafsanjani's sharp response today to Ayatollah Khamenei:
Rafsanjani's website has recently posted a part of his memoirs that can be interpreted as a retort to Khameini's not so well concealed threats. The key section of this posting is as follows:

"An individual must not be intimidated by anything in this world. Whenever an individual faces a test it is insufficient to only have good intentions and unacceptable to limit oneself to empty slogans and claims. Each generation faces a test and challenge and the greatest test a man faces is when because of his love to god he is asked to sacrifice his spouse, his children and his capital. One must be brave."

Rafsanjani's website concludes the preceding paragraph with the following commentary: "The ironclad strength of these words indicate that the young Rafsanjani in his "struggle for the rights of people", had been well schooled by the great Khomeini on how to move beyond fear."

1845  GMT: We've posted the first video from today's protests in a separate entry.

1745 GMT: A Showdown between Ahmadinejad and Khamenei? Yes, you read that right. A source confirms our report (1600 GMT) that the Supreme Leader has ordered the President to force the resignation of his Vice President, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai. However, an update claims that Ahmadinejad has insisted in an interview that the VP will remain in office: "Rahim-Mashai is a great supporter of the Islamic Regime, is a great believer in the principle of supreme leadership, leads a simple life and has served the public with distinction. He has been chosen as a VP and will continue to serve."

1740 GMT: I apologise for this morning's inaccurate headline, "A Lull in the Cycle of Protest". It has now been changed.

1730 GMT: BBC English has decided that maybe, just maybe, it should be paying attention to Iran again. I am listening to a report from Jon Leyne, who had been evicted from the country, has been brought back to say, "The pendulum could be swinging back to the opposition." He adds that he has heard from a source inside Iran that "defiance is growing". He concludes, "The system has been badly damaged by this....This is a country in the throes of change." The BBC website is also reporting that "hundreds, even thousands" of people protested.

1700 GMT: Reports, as with previous protests, that cellphone service cut in central Tehran. Claims that Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting facilities surrounded by special forces as crowds chant slogans.

1600 GMT: 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.” (NIAC Insight has an English summary.)

1550 GMT: Al Arabiya, citing "a witness", is now headlining, "Iran police clash with protesters", with hundreds at 7 Tir Square and dozens detained: "The witness said the protesters were chanting slogans against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the government, including 'Ahmadinejad -- resign, resign' and 'Death to the dictator'.

1510 GMT: Reports that protests are building in Tehran, particularly near 7 Tir Square. Reuters is first "mainstream" agency to report clashes with security forces.

1440 GMT: Reports of clashes between demonstrators and security forces at Vali-e Asr Square in Tehran and Cinema Saadi Cross in Shiraz. People have moved to 7 Tir Square Square, but claims of attacks with tear gas as security forces hold the squares.

1430 GMT: The text of the letter addressed to the Speaker of the Parliament, Ali Larijani by two pro-Mousavi advisors --- Bijan Zanganeh, Minister of Petroleum in the Khatami Government and Moussavi's liason with Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, and Abbas Akhoondi, a prominent Professor of Law at Tehran University and Mousavi's liason with the Guardian Council --- with a "fundamental framework of the proposed solution" has now been posted on the Internet.

The letter was sent on 20 June but only released on Sunday (see our updates on 19 July for a summary).

1400 GMT: The Ultimate Enemy - More on the denunciation of the Khatami call for referendum by Kayhan editor Hossein Shariatmadari (see 1130 GMT). Shariatmadari has claimed the proposal has the "same instructions as Michael Ledeen, read the CIA" have proposed for regime change in Tehran. Ledeen, a rabid critic of the Iranian system who pressed for military action to overthrow it in 2003, is based at the American Enterprise Institute.

1130 GMT: Holding the Line. "Conservative" newspapers have denounced the call by former President Khatami and the Assocation of Combatant Clergy for a referendum on the legitimacy of the Government. Hossein Shariatmadari, appointed by the Supreme Leader as the managing director of Kayhan, echoed Ayatollah Khamenei's "foreign intervention" theme, "They have suggested yet another Western plot to raise havoc by proposing a referendum. The main idea of this plan is to trigger tension. Their proposal is illegal and impractical." An editorial in Khabar asserted, "Such controversial proposals, despite their appeal to protestors... challenge the basis of the system. A referendum would create challenges which our country cannot harbour and it would incite unrest instead of building confidence."

1010 GMT: Reports that today's march, commemorating a 1952 rally for the Government of Mohammad Mossadegh, will take place at 3 p.m. local time (1030 GMT) from Rezaie Square to Mossadegh's tomb.

1000 GMT: The chief of Iran's police, Esmail Ahmadi-Moghaddam, has accused the opposition of "inciting sedition" and declared his force would act firmly to uphold the law. "Some people who failed to realize their election goal go on spreading doubt in different ways and then turn that ... into inciting sedition," Esmail Ahmadi-Moghaddam said. "This group of individuals voice the slogan of law abidance but they themselves do not observe the law ... they are sheer liars."

0945 GMT: The Battle is On, Round Two. No more questions, as in the first weeks of the post-election conflict, as to whether Hashemi Rafsanjani will work only behind the scenes. The former President has taken on the Supreme Leader's Monday speech, writing in a quote from his memoirs, "There is a test for every generation. People's issues are the most important test for this one."

0645 GMT: More on Mousavi meeting with detainees' families (see 0500 GMT). A valued source sends in these quotes from the opposition leader:
[Connecting the arrested with foreign governments] is a defensive tactic employed by individuals that that are threatened by [the idea] of people being free. This [fictititious] connection only serves as a pretext and justification, but everyone knows what these arrests are really about. Our people know that these arrested individuals have gentle and impressive personalities that have served this establishment for many years and it would be impossible to believe that any of them will sell National Interests to foreigners.....[These allegations] are an insult to the public's vote and their intelligence and will have its unsavory consequences.

The Iranian people saw corruption in the election process and sponteneously rallied to defend their rights. This wave of indignation will not be quenched by thousands or even ten thousands of arrests....We are stating that what has happened is against the law and against the ideals of the revolution and against the constitution and against the will of the people.

A government that establishes itself by hook or crook will be a weak government. It will be a government that will give major concessions to foreign governments, because it lacks popular support. Returning people's trust [to government] has an extremely high priority for us, because a loss of this trust may have serious consequences for our country."

[Upholding] individual freedoms of the people has a can ensure the security of society in a much more positive way than security crackdowns with wooden and metal clubs, in fact these crackdowns compromise the security of our country. Our people are much more mature [to deserve] a regression to pre-revolutionary unacceptable methods.

0635 GMT: Keeping It in the Family. President Ahmadinejad may have been rebuffed in his attempt to name the father of his daughter-in-law as a Vice President, but Mowj-e-sabz claims that Ahmadinejad's son-in-law Mehdi Khorshidi will be the head Presidential Secretary, and the husband of Ahmadinejad's sister-in-law will be the head of the Iranian national youth organization.

0625 GMT: An intriguing follow-up reports on Sunday's demonstrations in Shiraz (see video in our updates for 19 July) in the Ehsan ampitheatre. The website Mowj-e-sabz claims that this rally, "a gathering of the election campaign managers of Mousavi and Karroubi", is the "first official gathering of the reformists after the elections and it also is the first gathering of the reformers that has a permit".

Given that the Government has not given a permit for demonstration in Tehran since 15 June, apart from the Beheshti memorial at Qoba mosque on 28 June, this rally was likely to have received permission from provincial officials. So who are they and will they now face retribution from the regime?

0600 GMT: There are reports that protestors will turn out on the streets today, linking the demonstration to one on the same day in 1952 in support of the nationalist Government of Mohammad Mossadegh.

0500 GMT: The crisis in Iran has now "settled", if that word can be used, into a rhythm in which a prominent show of opposition is followed by a regime reaction and then a few days of quiet. Friday's address by Hashemi Rafsanjani brought a response from the Supreme Leader yesterday, and this morning both sides are taking a step back to assess the position. The one scheduled event for today is the "power overload" protest for 9 p.m. local time, with demonstrators hoping to black out the national news by switching on electrical appliances.

Josh Shahryar's "Green Brief" summarises one notable development, the meeting of Mir Hossein Mousavi with families of detainees. The opposition leader is using these occasions not only to show support for the detained and their relatives but also to indicate that protest has not ebbed and to set out political positions. Yesterday he said the Green Movement was peaceful but was ready to make sacrifices, declaring, “The Iranian Nation had matured and that the use of pre-1979 tactics wouldn’t be enough to silence it....The Nation had been reborn and was going to defend its achievements.”

Mousavi asked the government to ensure freedom of speech and condemned ongoing arrests. And, in a rebuttal to the line of the Supreme Leader, he said it was “an insult to the Iranian Nation to suggest that foreigners had orchestrated the post-election protests in Iran".

Mousavi's Facebook page also continues to be an active location to challenge the Government. This morning it has countered an appearance by the Iranian Foreign Minister, declaring, "WE ARE THE MEDIA!" It is featuring the call by the Association of Combatant Clergy for a referendum on the legitimacy of the Government (see yesterday's updates), and it is highlighting a video, which allegedly shows a lack of public turnout for President Ahmadinejad's appearance in Mashaad on Friday (see separate entry).