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Entries in Mir Hossein Mousavi (44)


The Latest from Iran (17 July): Compromise or Challenge?

2200 GMT: More new video from today:


1915 GMT: Infighting amongst the hardliners? From a contact: Ahmadinejad's Vice Presidential pick Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai has been criticized by the hardliner MP Mohammad Taghi Rahbar. Rahbar, who has personal ties with Khamenei, has stated that "many ayatollahs" and "AN supportors" are "extremely concerned with this choice".

1700 GMT: onlymehdi features a picture which appears to show Karroubi after he was 'roughed up' by plainclothes officers:

1615 GMT: Saham News, the official news site of Mehdi Karroubi, confirms confrontations between riot police and protesters around Tehran University today. It reports that the crowd jeered and booed an IRIB crew who tried to shoot footage, and that at around 4pm local police used tear gas to disperse the crowds.

1610 GMT: From an EA source: "In an attempt to placate the student population, Hojattoleslam Abu-Rorabi the deputy head of parliament during the closing ceremonies of the fourteenth university student olympiad in Mathematics and Chemistry alluded to the events that had occurred in Tehran University Dormitories and vowed "to resolve these problems soon". Abu-Torabi stated that Parliament with the help of university officials " is in the process of finding solutions for this huge problem" and "is trying to effect the release of some of those students  that are in trouble" and "those who have confessed to their crimes will still be treated with Islamic kindness"." [Link: Persian / English]

1605 GMT: Reports say that Mehdi Karroubi was attacked by plainclothes secret service members today. [English translation] This is also reported in the Guardian's blog.

1600 GMT: A reader sends us this article on Parleman News, containing a series of photos from inside today's prayers.

1425 GMT: The Twitter account of journalism site Demotix says a strike is planned for Tuesday.

1400 GMT: The Lede carries an account from an Iranian-American reader who witnessed bleeding protesters and the use of tear gas outside prayers today. It also links to a YouTube account with a number of videos of what it says are protesters today.

1340 GMT: onlymehdi carries this picture of an extremely low-key appearance by Mir-Hossein Mousavi at Friday prayers, originally published here:

1330 GMT: Update on the video below. There are two chants: "We are not the people of Kufeh, that abandoned Hossein!" Kufeh is an historical Shia city in Iraq, whose population betrayed the third imam of the Shia Hossein (while also being a play on Mousavi's first name, Mir-Hossein). The second chant is, as reported, "Russia! Shame on you! Leave my country alone!". [Thanks Mazdak and M.R.]

1155 GMT: Video of Mousavi supporters outside Tehran University. We believe they are chanting, "Russia! Shame on you! Leave my country alone!" Can anyone translate?


Another lower quality video can be viewed here.

1130 GMT: Press TV's unsurprising headline on Friday prayers: "Iran's Rafsanjani urges national unity".

1105 GMT: Some confusion over Mousavi's attendance at Rafsanjani's address. An EA source does not think he was there, however both AP and Reuters report that he was. It is possible that Mousavi was in attendance, but not in the front row- this would be significant in itself.

1030 GMT: A video which is said to show Mousavi supporters at today's sermon has been posted to Facebook. (You may need to be logged in to Facebook to see it- we'll keep an eye out for alternatives.)

1025 GMT: An interesting reading: "Rafsanjani said he 'consulted' some members of the Assembly of Experts. May be an indirect warning to Khamenei."

And another Rafsanjani middle-ground statement, albeit one that will be read (I think) as a slap at the regime: "All of us, people and the government, should act within the law."

1020 GMT: A contact reports that  IRIB may have brought down the volume of Rafsanjani's speech to cloak pro-Mousavi chants coming from the crowd. Mousavi was not present in the VIP area before or during Rafsanjani's speech, and neither Mousavi or Khatami appear to have been in the front rows. VIPs present included: Emami Kashani, Mahmoud Doai, Hassan Rowhani Mehdi Karroubi, Mohsen Rezai, Majid Ansari, Mohammad Reza Aref, Ali Akbar Nateq Nouri, Said Mortazavi, Mohammad Reza Bahonar.

1015 GMT: We have located an English translation of Rafsanjani's address, via the excellent NiteOwl.

1005 GMT: More evidence of Rafsanjani's sympathetic stand with protests while not breaking with regime: "Those suffered or mourning should be sympathized with."

1000 GMT: BBC Persian is reporting that police are dispersing protesters in areas surrounding the prayer site.

0955 GMT: A clear point of substance from Rafsanjani (and one fulfilling our morning projection): release the detainees.

0945 GMT: "Basij chanting in support of Khamenei, yet Rafsanjani keeps thanking them as though they are chanting for him"

Initial reading is that Rafsanjani is making a very careful but clear push for "legitimacy", implicitly criticising Government but trying to contain the scope of the challenge: "If there's no Islam we'll be lost. If there's no republic there is no action and no Islam.

0935 GMT: The speech so far: Rafsanjani has made a pointed reference to the pious life of the 7th Imam, Jafar Sadigh, explaining how he defied censorship to promote Islam. Anyone who wishes to make an analogy to present times may do so.

More directly, Rafsanjani (unlilke the Iranian Government and the Supreme Leader) has criticised China for its suppression of Uighur Muslims. For the first time in Iran, cries of "Death to China" are being heard, though Rafsanjani is urging the crowd to be moderate in its criticisms.

0930 GMT: Even at a distance (in this case, a field in eastern Britain), the excitement over Rafsanjani's address can be felt. Basiji are reported to be shouting, but it is also claimed that --- in a prayer service --- people are whistling and chanting for Rafsanjani and the "Green Wave".

Despite the interest, however, Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting is apparently not carrying the service live. If true, this might be a first for state media.

0920 GMT: Fars reports that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has unveiled his new cabinet. [link to English translation]

0915 GMT: Some overnight news from an EA contact. According to the pro-Mousavi website Mowj-e-sabz, there were protests in other parts of Mashad while Ahmadinejad was giving his speech. Eyewitnesses spoke of a sizeable security presence, including riot poice and Ansar Hezbollah members, who suppressed booing from protesters and arrested ten.

Mowj-e-sabz also reports that Ahmadinejad was snubbed by Ayatollah Vaez Tabasi, who did not officially welcome him or accompanying him during his visit to the shrine of Imam Reza. This is believed to be the first time in 30 years that the Ayatollah has withheld such courtesies from a sitting president.

0645 GMT: A side story of interest and possible significance. Yesterday it was announced that the head of Iran's nuclear programme had resigned three weeks ago. Later in the day Wikileaks reported that it had received a document outlining an accident at the Iranian nuclear plant being developed at Natanz.

Late last night access to Wikileaks was blocked in Iran.

0530 GMT: So It Begins. As Iran waits for Friday prayers, to be led by former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, reports are coming in that crowds have been gathering at Enqelab and Vali-e Asr Streets near Tehran University. Heavy security, including basiji militia, is also reported.

This is an important occasion where expectation is not matched by knowledge. As we have been analysing all week, Rafsanjani is a master politician, at least behind the scenes. Before he speaks today, he will have calculated the position and strength of every major player (including himself) and the effect that each of his courses of speech and action might have.

My tendency, given Rafsanjani's priority not only for survival but to extend his power within the system, is that he will use religious rhetoric to call for reconciliation. That can be read by Government supporters as an acceptance of the Supreme Leader's authority and President Ahmadinejad's election, but it can also be read as a re-assertion that the concerns of protesters are legitimate and must be met, not only by a reversal of detentions but also changes in electoral law and a separation of Presidential politics (the Cabinet) and oversight (the Guardian Council).

Rafsanjani will hope that the Supreme Leader will move back from direct involvement in politics (and signs are that this is occurring) and the Revolutionary Guard's influence will be checked. This will give him more space for his own assertions of power within the system.

I could be far wrong, however. Rafsanjani has the capacity to surprise, as he did with his backing of Ayatollah Khamenei to become Supreme Leader in 1989, and if he thinks the moment is right for either 1) an assertion of faith in the status quo or 2) endorsement of the opposition, he will do so.

At this moment, I would be looking for Rafsanjani's possible endorsement, given subtly but clearly, of the political front envisaged by Mir Hossein Mousavi. That would not overturn the election but would open the prospect of a broad base for a "reform" within acceptable (for Rafsanjani) limits.

The Latest from Iran (16 July): Waiting for Rafsanjani's Prayers

NEW The “Other” Rafsanjani: Faezeh Hashemi Criticises Supreme Leader, Government, Khatami
NEW Iran: How Friday's Prayers Might Develop
UPDATED Iran: How Many Protesters Have Died?
The Latest from Iran (15 July): Chess not Checkers

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1940 GMT: A contact reports that Ahmadinejad's business trip to Mashad could be met with opposition demonstrations. Online rumour has it that an 'assassination attempt' will be staged by the Ahmadinejad camp, which will provide an excuse to increase security and surveillance in Iran- which can then be used against the opposition.

1930 GMT: A group of scholars have released a letter in support of Ayatollah Ostadi, who said after leading prayers in Qom last Friday that they would be his last for the foreseeable future. [Link: Persian / English via iran88] One of the scholars is Ayatollah Javadi-Amoli. [Link: Persian / English]

1920 GMT: An article on the UG Government's Radio Farda site demonstrates the diversity of opinion over what may be in The Rafsanjani speech tomorrow. The staunchlly pro-Government Kayhan is asking for a "unifying speech that is worthy of a pillar of Islamic leadership", while members of the reformist party have stated that "generally speaking, Mr. Rafsanjani's speeches in Friday prayers  have always had large political significance with huge effects".

1715 GMT: A possibly significant development from Wikileaks on the resignation of Aghazadeh as head of the Iranian nuclear programme: "Week ago, source in Iran gave WL a report of a nuclear accident at Natanz. Now Iran's nuke head resigns-no reason. Anyone know more?"

1610 GMT: Twitter's IranRiggedElect states that Mehdi Karroubi will also attend Friday prayers. (AUT News link, in Persian).

1600 GMT: The Guardian has updated its database of dead and detained in Iran- it now contains almost 700 names.

1545 GMT: Twitter's iranbaan reports says that, "Etemade Melli newspaper reports that Mohammad Khatami, Mehdi Karroubi, Hashemi Rafsanjani, and Ali  Nategh Nouri will not attend Ahmadinejad's inauguration ceremony."

1230 GMT: How Big is This News? Iranian Students News Agency reports that the head of Iran's nuclear programme, Gholam Reza Aghazadeh, submitted his resignation to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad almost three weeks ago.

It is unclear if the resignation is related to post-election conflict and why news of it was not released until now. An Enduring America correspondent notes, however, that the development could be very unsettling in the ongoing manoeuvres between Iran and the "West": "Aghazadeh was close to Ayatollah Khamenei but had also developed a good rapport with [former International Atomic Energy Agency head Mohammad] El-Baradei. He was one of the last of the Khatami-era officials."

Combined with Hillary Clinton's clumsy statement on Iran yesterday --- the US will "engage" but only to the end of September --- this news points to difficulties related to but beyond Iran's internal situation.

0835 GMT: Some public threats are being made that Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mohammad Khatami "will be beaten up" in Friday prayers. Possibly in response, the conservative newspaperKayhan has declared that " while some individuals claiming to be hezbollah [followers of the party] may engage in thuggish behavior, the intelligent Iranian public should recognize that this behavior is not hezbollah etiquette and should ostracize such individuals".

0830 GMT: More on the efforts of the Interior Ministry (0700 GMT) to check the protests. The ministry, which currently can authorise or ban political parties, has taken the unprecedented step of declaring that its permission is required for a "political front" of groups. The step comes after news this week that Mir Hossein Mousavi was seeking to form a front for the opposition challenge.

0745 GMT: Fintan Dunne has offered an estimate of 245 protester deaths since 12 June. We've posted an analysis in our separate blog on the casualties.

0700 GMT: The Regime Strikes Back (a Bit). Interior Minister Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejeie shook a fist at the opposition in a press conference on Wednesday, claiming that the Intelligence Ministry enquiries into post-election conflict were finding culprits: "The role of some of these political figures has been proven and their case is nearing completion."

Beside putting out an unsubtle warning 48 hours before Friday prayers, Mohseni-Ejeie was also indicating that the Government would hold out against pressure to release detainees. As cases were still being investigated, "no exact time can be announced for their release." He added that confessions obtained from those arrested could be made public, should the country's judiciary decides to do so.

0500 GMT: Just over 24 hours to go before Friday prayers in Tehran, to be led by former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, and all is relatively quiet in Iran. The one important exception was last night's confirmation by Mir Hossein Mousavi that he will join the march to the prayer site. The news, which broke on Mousavi's website and Facebook page, was reconfirmed three hours ago.

In the lull before the event, the most intriguing discussion has been of Rafsanjani's approach tomorrow. Maryam at Keeping the Change has an excellent consideration of "the delicate balancing act that Rafsanjani will likely play on Friday". Reviewing both the former President's objectives and the hopes and fears of the opposition movement, Maryam summarises from "a source in the Mousavi campaign": "They are expecting Rafsanjani's speech to unite the opposing factions, though they also believe he will speak about the rights of the people and be critical of the government's treatment of them during the election crisis."

That assessment points to some interesting realities and some even more interesting questions. Rafsanjani's emergence highlights the striking weakness of President Ahmadinejad, whose relegation to the sidelines has been further illustrated by his flight to Mashaad and thus his non-appearance in Tehran on Friday. Just as striking has been the recent silence of the Supreme Leader. I cannot recall a statement by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei after the 18 Tir protests of last Thursday, which were scathing about the supposed role of his son, Mojtaba, in manipulating the election and leading security forces against the opposition.

But this is no means now a simple alliance of Rafsanjani with the Green Movement against the Government. Maryam's assessment points to the negotiation that is taking place between the former President, who after all was a key reason why Khameini ascended to the Supreme Leadership, and those who have been pressing for substantial change to the system. If Rafsanjani calls for a unity government, does Mousavi accept? Under what conditions? What of the reactions of Mehdi Karroubi, Mohammad Khatami, and other opposition leaders, some of whom still remain in detention? And how would the Rafsanjani appeal be received by a fragmented clerical leadership in Qom?

Maybe more importantly, is "compromise", if that is the word offered or hinted at by Rafsanjani, a word that will be accepted by a mass of protesters who have rallied but then been beaten --- verbally, emotionally, and sometimes physically --- by those in power?

The Latest from Iran (15 July): Chess not Checkers

The Latest from Iran (16 July): Waiting for Rafsanjani's Prayers

NEW Iran's Culture Protest: Singer Shajarian Turns Government to Dust
LATEST Iran Video: Mousavi, Rahnavard with Sohrab Arabi’s Family (14 July)
Iran: Scott Lucas on “Sea of Green Radio”
Iran: Facing the Rubicon of the Supreme Leader’s Authority
The Latest from Iran (14 July): Ripples on the Surface

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MOUSAVI RAHNAVARD1940 GMT: Today, it was Mehdi Karroubi who carried out the opposition strategy of high-profile meetings with families of detainees.

1745 GMT: A Quiet Afternoon --- And Then. After hours where little happened, Mir Hossein Mousavi confirmed on his website that he will attend Friday prayers as part of a march "to collect freedoms" from the Government.

1105 GMT: Tabnak doesn't stop with the Kordan revelations (see 1030 GMT) in its embarrassment of the Government. It also runs an extensive, unflattering profile of Mohammad Mehdi Zahdi, the Minister of Science, Higher Education, and Technology

1030 GMT: Dishing the Dirt. One sign of a Government's weakness is when former members start giving up secrets. So it proves today with President Ahmadinejad's former Interior Minister, Ali Kordan, who was forced to resign over a faked Ph.D. from Oxford University.

So far Kordan's revelations, offered to Tabnak, mainly concern the current Speaker of Parliament, Ali Larijani, but Ali Akbar Nategh-Nouri, now an advisor to the Supreme Leader, Mohsen Rafiqdoost, a founder of the Revolutionary Guard, and Ahmadinejad also appear.

1000 GMT: Estimated deaths in this morning's plane crash now at 168.

Further arrests: Marjan Abdollahian and Koroush Javan Khorshid of Hamshahri newspaper have been detained.

0900 GMT: Iranian state media are confirming the crash of a plane travelling from Tehran to Yerevan in Armenia. The plane came down northwest of the Iranian capital near Qazvin. All 150 aboard are feared dead.

0800 GMT: Following our update below about the dynamics of Friday's prayer service, a post by "Maryam" at Keeping the Change catches the eye, both for its call for demonstration and its suspicion of the former President leading the prayers: "If Rafsanjani's Friday speech is perceived to be against the demonstrators and/or in favor of the regime, then it is likely that the divide that has slowly been developing between the protestors and the Reformists will be radically transformed into an insurmountable abyss, and that the course of the Iranian uprising will once again be instantly altered."

0600 GMT: Early in the post-election conflict, the US analyst Gary Sick commented that "Iranians prefer chess to football". I'm not sure about that: the folks I met in Iran were passionate about the latter (Persepolis v. Esteglhal rivals Manchester United v. Liverpool or even the good Red Sox v. the evil Yankees). The chess part, however, is more than appropriate. This is a contest which will not be decided by one overwhelming blow. Instead, it is a series of moves, some of which cannot yet be read even if they can be anticipated.

Momentum for Friday's prayer service, led by Hashemi Rafsanjani, continues to build. Marchers are anticipating a gathering which cannot be declared illegal, and the participation of key leaders is eagerly awaited though not yet confirmed. The latest symbolic move was the visit of Mir Hossein Mousavi and his wife, Zahra Rahnavard, to the family of the slain protestor Sohrab Arabi (see video in separate entry).

At the same time, there is still uncertainty over how Friday will unfold. Rafsanjani is a powerful figure, but he is also a politician who is not trusted by many people. There is speculation that, rather than presenting a symbolic alliance with the challenge of the protesters, he will use the prayer service to put forth a limited compromise. Ebrahim Nabavi, the prominent Iranian writer living in Belgium, has published an open letter to Rafsanjani, "with much respect and peace", asking him to represent faithfully the concerns of the people.

If so, he may be serving a Government which continues to stagger amidst tension and division. While a window of 2-6 August for Ahmadinejad's inauguration as President has been announced, it is notable that it is still three weeks away. The regime's attempts to limit any challenge are being firmly resisted: Mohammad Hashemi Rafsanjani, the former President's brother, countered a written declaration against the protests by General Sayyed Hassan Firouzabadi, the head of Iran's armed forces, saying that Firouzabadi gravely insulted the Iranian people.

And in Qom, where unease amongst clerics is increasing, even if it is not emerging as a direct challenge to the Government, the staunchly pro-Ahmadinejad Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi has tried to hit back with a series of answers to questions about the Iranian system of clerical authority (velayat-e-faqih) and the position of the Supreme Leader.

LATEST Iran Video: Mousavi, Rahnavard with Sohrab Arabi's Family (14 July)

Iran Video: Sohrab Arabi Funeral (13 July)

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14 July: Sohrab Arabi's Mother, Parvin Fahimi, Talks to BBC Persian (in Farsi)


14 July: Mir Hossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard Visit Arabi Family Home (Part 1 of 2)


14 July: MirHossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard Visit Arabi Family Home (Part 2 of 2)


The Latest from Iran (14 July): Ripples on the Surface

NEW Iran: Scott Lucas on "Sea of Green Radio"
NEW Iran: Facing the Rubicon of the Supreme Leader’s Authority
NEW Beyond the Election: Talking Turkey to Iran?
The Latest from Iran (15 July): Chess not Checkers

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IRAN MAHABAD2140 GMT: A Convenient Business Trip. Reports that President Ahmadinejad is going to Mashaad on Friday which means (coincidentally, I'm sure) that he will not be at the prayers led by Hashemi Rafsanjani.

2000 GMT: From Sea of Green to River of Blood. An unusual protest in Mahabad in Kurdistan, where activists turned the water red. A correspondent writes that the red river is in honour of Dr Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou, who was assassinated in 1989. Some claim that President Ahmadinejad was involved in the murder.

1900 GMT: In addition to the meetings of opposition politicians with families of detainees, Mir Hossein Mousavi and his wife, Zahra Rahnavard, visited the family of the slain demonstrator Sohrab Arabi on Tuesday. (hat tip to JE re the photo)

1730 GMT: Parleman News offers an interesting overview (in Farsi) of the dynamics between Hashemi Rafsanjani's leadership of Friday prayers in Tehran and the possible attendance of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mohammad Khatami in a march to the site.

1530 GMT: The Hunters Become the Hunted? Yesterday we reported on pro-Government newspapers, having published scathing criticism of opposition leaders, being challenged by lawsuits.

It now appears that this may be a co-ordinated strategy. Reports are coming in that Alireza Beheshti has sued Kayhan for alleging that he has had connections with "foreign" agents and Hashemi Rafsanjani's son Mehdi Hashemi has sued Iran paper, Fars news agency, and Raja News. Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mohammad Khatami have also filed lawsuits.

1400 GMT: Clerical Unease. We've just posted a separate entry on an emerging issue: do clerics dare challenge the authority of the Supreme Leader?

1100 GMT: When Culture and Politics Collide. A reader reminds us of the show of defiance by Shajarian, one of the most popular classical Iranian musicians. When Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, celebrating his "victory", compared protesters to "dust", Shajarian replied that the President was also dust. He then refused to allow any broadcast of his music (except for the song "Rabbanaa") by Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting.

For an introduction to Shajarian's music, I've watched his performance in the benefit concert after the Bam earthquake in 2003.

0835 GMT: A disturbing story about Iranian surveillance. There have been rumours for days that those entering the country have been subject to detailed investigation about their contacts in Iran. Now National Public Radio in the US reports, albeit via second-hand information from a "trusted colleague":
On passing through the immigration control at the airport in Tehran, [an Iranian-American] was asked by the officers if she has a Facebook account. When she said "no", the officers pulled up a laptop and searched for her name on Facebook. They found her account and noted down the names of her Facebook friends.

0740 GMT: One to Watch --- Compromise in the Cabinet? State media is already highlighting the prospect of a Cabinet reshuffle by President Ahmadinejad. Now a still speculative but clear idea is emerging of using that reshuffle for a compromise. In an interview published today, Morteza Nabavi, a "moderate right-wing conservative" and managing director of Resalat newspaper, advocates a new Administration that will "use both factions".

0625 GMT: Josh Shahryar's "Green Brief" reports: "Mehrdad Heydari, a prominent reporter in northeastern Iran, was killed in Mashhad under suspicious circumstances today by unknown individuals. Heydari had been publishing reports that were deemed anti-government in the past few weeks....Before Heydari, Hamid Maddah, a member of Mousavi’s party, died under torture in Mashhad two weeks ago."

0605 GMT: Latest on plans for the march to Friday prayers. The newssite Sharaf says it is probable that Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi will participate, but spokesmen for both men say decisions will be announced in forthcoming days through "official channels".

0600 GMT: A significant sign of Iran's post-election isolation abroad. The contract for the long-awaited Nabucco gas pipeline in Turkey was signed yesterday but Iran, one of the major producers of natural gas, was not invited.

0545 GMT: Etemade Melli claims that the number of "prohibited" speakers on a list kept by the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) has grown from 100 to 1200 since the election.

0500 GMT: An unusual day yesterday. While there was no single dramatic event, a series of political and religious developments gradually put together a picture of a regime in discussions and some tensions over changes. As a pro-reformist correspondent put it, "The reform movement seems to have gained momentum and it is fighting the Ahmadinejad faction back. Considering that brute-force and coercion form an integral part of the modus operandi of this faction, I hazard to guess that this lack of suppression indicates that Ahmadinjad's group is weakened enough that it can not conjure up its millitant thugs as easily as it used to."

I'm cautious about that assessment. Detentions continue, and we still have not seen what would happen if there was a sustained attempt at a mass gathering of protest. However, the political signs were definitely of pressure for some recognition of the complaints over the election and its aftermath. And what made this even more striking was that the news of that pressure came not through the "West" or Twitter chatter but through Iran's own media.

News in the Western "mainstream" was limited to the statements of Ayatollah Montazeri criticising the regime, but our updates yesterday tracked a series of complaints from other clerics and politicians over detentions, the electoral process, and the state of the Ahmadinejad Government. Those complaints brought some rather heavy-handed (and panicked?) denunciations in the pro-Ahmadinejad press, which in turn led to threats of court action against "conservative" Iranian newspapers. Even more importantly, those complaints have brought a limited response, for example, the ruling that no person can serve both in the President's Cabinet and on the Guardian Council and on the request for Parliament to consider a new electoral law.

The issue is how far the regime bends. We are waiting to see the outcome of a series of talks being held by the National Security Commission. Reports yesterday indicated that, having spoken to opposition politicians, the NSC was now speaking to President Ahmadinejad. In Parliament, there was criticism of some of Ahmadinejad's advisors, notably his chief spokesman/Justice Minister.

And, of course, there is Friday. Supporters of the Government responded to the news that former President Hashemi Rafsanjani would lead Tehran prayers with the rumours that 1) no, he wouldn't 2) if he did, it would be the last time. Rafsanjani's supporters knocked down those stories. And the former President? He was meeting with novices in the religious school at Khorosan: "The clergy must have a relevant program for addressing the needs of society and should not be out of touch with social phenomena".
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