Iran Election Guide

Donate to EAWV

Or, click to learn more


Entries in Expediency Council (5)


The Latest from Iran (28 June): The Regime Fails to Wrap Up the Election

The Latest from Iran Crisis (29 June): The Challenge Survives

NEW Latest Video: Rally at Ghobar Mosque (28 June)
The Iran Crisis (Day 17): What to Watch For Today

NEW UPDATE Iran: A Tale of Two Twitterers
Text: Mousavi Letter to Guardian Council (27 June)
Text: Mousavi Letter to Overseas Supporters (24 June)
The Latest from Iran (27 June): Situation Normal. Move Along.

Receive our latest updates by email or RSS- SUBSCRIBE TO OUR FEED

IRAN DEMOS 122100 GMT: Report that the eight Iranian employees of the British Embassy, detained this morning, have been released.

1900 GMT: The Rafsanjani Speech. Tehran Bureau's Muhammad Sahimi echoes our analysis (see 1655 GMT), “Rafsanjani breaking his silence. I read what Rafsanjani said. It was not saying much. He was saying the standard things, ‘the complaints must be addressed.’ He also talked about foreign roles, but did not say much. It is not clear where he stands.”

1745 GMT: Mir Hossein Mousavi was not at the rally today but it is reported that, via his mobile phone, he addressed them on loudspeakers.

BBC Persian is summarising former President Khatami's latest statement that all sides should avoid provocation and that a satisfactory resolution is possible through legal measures.

1705 GMT: While her father Hashemi Rafsanjani was setting out his public position, Faezeh Hashemi was attending (and reportedly speaking at) the Ghobar mosque rally. Mehdi Karroubi was also present.

1655 GMT: A summary of the Rafsanjani speech has now been posted online (in Farsi) by the Islamic State News Agency. The former President appears to have (cleverly) maintained his political space: he criticised "mysterious agents" who tried to create discord but also that the majority of demonstrators, when cognisant of those conspiracies, had been "neutral". Thus, his praise of the Supreme Leader sat alongside his recognition of protest as legitimate.

1635 GMT: Breaking news that former President Hashemi Rafsanjani has finally emerged in public with his first significant post-election statement: he is reported to have called for "elaborate processing of legal complaints in cooperation with candidates". He has also praised the Supreme Leader for extending the deadline for filing of complaints.

1630 GMT: Latest from Ghobar mosque. Now reports of "50,000" in vicinity. Riot police are stationed in a school nearby. Mir Hossein Mousavi has not yet shown up.

Report that lawyer/university professor Kambiz Norouzi arrested in front of the mosque.

1622 GMT: Associated Press is reporting the use of tear gas on the crowd in front of Ghobar mosque. The chant from the crowd, referring in memoriam to Ayatollah Beheshti, killed in 1981, "Where are you Beheshti? Mousavi's left all alone."

1610 GMT: We've posted the first video from the Ghobar mosque rally (and the first significant video out of Iran in four days). Only a 26-second clip, but there look to be far more than the "5000" people mentioned by CNN.

1523 GMT: First report and picture of "memorial" rally at Ghobar mosque. Former President Khatami has spoken. The mosque is full and "tens of thousands" of people are on surrounding streets

1500 GMT: Detention Update. Dr. Ghorban Behzadian Nezhad, the head of Mir Hossein Mousavi's headquarters, has been released, but prominent actresses Homa Roosta and Mahtab Nasirpour have been arrested. A report (in Farsi) of those arrested at Laleh Park (see our 27 June updates) has now been posted.

1410 GMT: It Ain't Over. Here's another clue that the political battle continues, and it comes from no less than the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. Press TV is playing its dutiful role by headlining, "Iran Slams Western Interference", but the real significance comes in Khamenei's call on Iranian politicians to toe the proper line: “If the nation and political elite are united in heart and mind, the incitement of international traitors and oppressive politicians will be ineffective.” He once again tried to lay responsibility for opposition candidates for whipping up impressionable extremists: “The people's emotions, especially that of the youth, must not be toyed with and they should not be pitted against one another."

Easy to translate this: challengers like Mehdi Karroubi (1315 GMT), Mir Hossein Moussavi, and even the "conservative" Mohsen Rezaei (1405 GMT) have not bowed down to the Guardian Council.

1405 GMT: Mohsen Rezaei, the most "conservative" of the three challengers to President Ahmadinejad, has also refused to quiet his objections to the regime's handling of the post-election situation. His representative has accused the Ministry of Interior of acting against the law and told the head of the election commission that he should stop provoking public opinion.

1330 GMT: Bluster and Reality from Washington. David Axelrod, a key advisor to President Obama, has spoken about Iran in his national television interview this morning. He labelled President Ahmadinejad's recent criticisms of the US and Western countries as "bloviations" trying to cause "political diversions".

Having made the necessary rhetorical posturing, Axelrod could then put out the less palatable but pragmatic line: the US, as part of the "5+1" group, would attend talks in Paris with Iran over its nuclear programme.

1315 GMT: Karroubi Makes His Move. The first answer to the question we set this morning, "Will the Guardian Council's actions today close off the high-profile protest?", has now come. Presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi has issued a direct challenge to the Council, in effect saying it does not have the authority to rule.

Karroubi, like Mir Hossein Moussavi (and, from a different political direction, Ali Larijani), declared that the Council had lost the neutrality necessary to be a fair legislative-judicial court because certain members favoured President Ahmadinejad. He said (in the paraphrase of an Iranian translator), "The Guardian Council's actions in the past two weeks had significantly diminished their place in public opinion." The response to the calls for protest by former President Mohammad Khatami was "a big no" to the Council. Karroubi concluded, "The small section of votes assigned to me" would not stop his challenge.

1145 GMT: The internal situation has been further complicated this afternoon with news of the first approved public gathering in almost two weeks. A memorial nominally for Ayatolllah Mohammad Beheshti, a leader of the Islamic Revolution who was killed in a terrorist bombing in May 1981, will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. local time (1330 to 1530 GMT) at the Ghobar mosque in Tehran. The gathering will inevitably be projected by many as the memorial, so far denied by authorities, for those killed in post-election violence. Mir Hossein Mousavi will be attending the service.

1130 GMT: The media is dominated at the moment by the story, released this morning by Iranian state media, that eight Iranian personnel of the British Embassy have been detained.

While the development is of course serious for those arrested, it should be as a diversion from the internal conflict. There is still no information on the deliberations of the Guardian Council, which was supposed to issue its definitive  ruling on the Presidential election today.

Instead, Iranian media is offering a cocktail of stories of foreign intervention. In addition to the British Embassy story, Press TV's website is featuring "Ahmadinejad warns Obama over interference" and "Obama to fund anti-govt. elements in Iran: Report". (The latter story is based on a Friday article in USA Today.)

0725 GMT: We've posted an important document, Mir Hossein Mousavi's letter to the Guardian Council reiterating his challenge to the Presidential vote. Far from backing down, at least publicly, Mousavi has again called for a new election and called for a neutral arbitration panel rather than the Council's "special committee" to review the electoral process.

We've also posted Mousavi's letter, written on Wednesday, to his overseas supporters.

0600 GMT: As we note in our "What to Watch For Today" feature, Press TV's website is pushing yesterday's announcement of the Expediency Council, a body for legal and political resolution led by former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, calling on all campaigns to co-operate with the Guardian Council's "special committee" which is to hold an enquiry into the election. The Mousavi and Karroubi campaigns are holding out against appointment of a representative, however, because of doubts over the fairness and neutrality of the committee.

Even more interesting is CNN's return not only to the story, bumping Michael Jackson to #2, but to a highly critical position on the Iranian regime. Both its website and its current international broadcasts are highlighting the testimony of an Amnesty International official that the Basiji are taking injured demonstrators from hospitals. The claim follows a Friday report from Human Rights Watch of Basiji raiding homes and beating civilians, and Amnesty also has a list of detainees to add to that compiled by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

The Iran Crisis (Day 17): What to Watch For Today

The Latest from Iran (28 June): The Regime Tries to Wrap Up the Election
NEW Text: Mousavi Letter to Guardian Council (27 June)
NEW Text: Mousavi Letter to Overseas Supporters (24 June)
The Latest from Iran (27 June): Situation Normal. Move Along.

Receive our latest updates by email or RSS- SUBSCRIBE TO OUR FEED

IRAN GREENIn the next eight hours we may know whether the high-profile challenge both to the Presidential vote and to the Iranian system continues or whether the, movement for change enters a longer-term, less visible phase. The Guardian Council will declare, after its purported recount of 10% of the ballot boxes, that the election was fair and that the count was accurate. What is unknown is whether all campaigns, and in particular those of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, will endorse the result. If they are, then this should end the high-level opposition, and  protest (while still very significant) will be carried out in numerous, often subtle ways; if the representatives stay away, then leading politicians and clerics have not given up.

There still may be yet another short-term compromise which delays any immediate resolution. On Thursday, the Guardian Council announced that a "special committee" would conduct an enquiry into the conduct of the election. It asked that all campaigns designate members of the committee. As of this morning, the Mousavi and Karroubi camps have not named their representatives, arguing that other members appointed by the Council are not fair and neutral.

Press TV's website offers one important signal, one that never made it to "Western" media yesterday, behind the manoeuvres.. The Expediency Council, which nominally rules on disputes of law and the political process, called on all candidates to cooperate fully with the Guardian Council's "inquiry": “As the best and most appropriate way, the Expediency Council asks all to observe the law and resolve conflicts and disputes (concerning the election) through legal channels.” Beyond the formal statement is the apparent concession of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani to the re-election of his foe, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Rafsanjani leads the Council and, soon after the vote, had tried to bring it into the open against the outcome.

Behind this political showpiece is the threatening backdrop of the crackdown on dissent. Public clashes continues, even if it is difficult to get details (yesterday's alleged beating of women activists in Laleh Park is a pertinent case). Easier to document, even amidst the media blackout, is the scale of the arrests and detentions. Hundreds, including the most important associates and advisors of Mousavi and former President Mohammad Khatami, journalists (both "mainstream" and "new media", such as the Twitterer "persiankiwi"), students, and other activists, are now in prison.

The Latest from Iran (19 June): Speeches and Rallies

Iran: The 7 Lessons of the Supreme Leader’s Address
Iran: Live Blog of Supreme Leader's Address (19 June)
NEW Transcript: Ayatollah Khamenei’s Speech at Prayers (19 June)
NEW Video: Obama Statement on Iran (19 June)
Latest Video: The Protests in and Beyond Tehran
Iran Eyewitness: The Wednesday and Thursday Demonstrations in Tehran
Iran Eyewitness: More Audio from “Alive in Tehran”
Text: Mousavi Speech to Tehran Rally (18 June)

The Latest from Iran (18 June): From Green to "A Sea of Black"

Receive our latest updates by email or RSS- SUBSCRIBE TO OUR FEED

KHAMENEI2003 GMT: From former President Mohammad Khatami's Facebook page: "Please join Mousavi, Khatami and Karoubi tomorrow at 4pm from Enghelab Sq. to Azadi Sq. in Tehran for a crucial green protest."

2000 GMT: We've posted the video of President Obama's latest statement on Iran.

1955 GMT: The US Senate has followed the House of Representatives in a resolution supporting Iranian citizens espousing "the values of freedom".

1940 GMT: Reports that residents in Tehran again took to their rooftops tonight to shout, "God is Great" and "Death to the Dictator", despite the warning in Ayatollah Khamenei's address at Friday prayers.

1845 GMT: The US House Representatives has passed, by a 405-1 vote, the following resolution:
Expressing support for all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law, and for other purposes.

Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(1) expresses its support for all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law;

(2) condemns the ongoing violence against demonstrators by the Government of Iran and pro-government militias, as well as the ongoing government suppression of independent electronic communication through interference with the Internet and cellphones; and

(3) affirms the universality of individual rights and the importance of democratic and fair elections.

Representative Ron Paul of Texas cast the lone No vote.

1725 GMT: We've just posted a rough English-translation transcript of the Supreme Leader's speech.

1525 GMT: We've just posted Chris Emery's snap analysis of the Supreme Leader's speech, "7 Lessons".

1330 GMT: The Ministry of the Interior has turned down the application for a permit for Saturday's 4 p.m. march at Enqelab Square.

1300 GMT: Press TV English is focusing on the Supreme Leader's criticism of "Western countries" and "Western media" in his speech today calling for an end to "illegal rallies".This includes Khameini's misrepresentation of President Obama's statement this week: "The US President [said] Washington had been waiting for people to take to the streets."

Press TV English is also reproting on a "massive rally" by worshipers denouncing the West and expressing "their readiness to defend the achievements of the Islamic revolution".

1240 GMT: The Clerical Challenge? Today's Washington Times offers further details on Hashemi Rafsanjani's attempt to rally clerics against the electoral outcome: "Three grand ayatollahs have responded, but they are the same three who have gone on the record in the past denouncing government policies to little effect." They are Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, who at one time was the designated successor to Ayatollah Khomeini but is now under effective house arrest, Ayatollah Yusef al-Sa'nei, and Ayatollah Mousavi Ardabili. According to the paper, "The dozen or so other senior clerics in Qom are doing little."

The report relies on Mehdi Khalaji, who is with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and has been a strident critic of the Iranian Government, but it does correspond with other information we have received.

1200 GMT: The opposition campaign has made an immediate response to Ayatollah Khamenei's challenge. According to reliable Twitter sources, there will be a rally at 4 p.m. local time in Enqelab Square. Presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi and former President Mohammad Khatami will attend.

1005 GMT: And not too difficult to read the next critical step. Do the opposition campaigns and their supporters, given the Supreme Leader's threats against any new marches, stand down their plans to demonstrate tomorrow?

That decision will be made not only in response to today's speech but in response to the Guardian Council's meeting with representatives of Presidential campaigns tomorrow.

0953 GMT: Not too difficult to give an immediate reading of the Supreme Leader's address: he laid down the line to those challenging last Friday's election results. He declared that the outcome was final, indicating that any adjustment of "mistakes" would be far less than the 11-million vote lead of President Ahmadinejad. While not blaming the leader of opposition campaigns for violence, he said they would be "responsible" for "terrorist plots" carried out under cover of the demonstrations.

Khamenei's attacks on "Western interference" had a dual purpose. He was warning off other countries, especially the US (note the direct reference to President Obama's relatively mild statements about the demonstrations), from any intervention. At the same, he was using that pretext of "intervention" to mobilise support for the re-election of President Ahmadinejad.

And there was also a challenge to former President Rafsanjani to cease and desist in his own attempts to challenge Ahmadinejad and, by implication, the Supreme Leader. I may have immediately mis-heard/mis-interpreted Khamenei's references to Rafsanjani and "corruption" --- analysts are saying that the Supreme Leader was not targeting Rafsanjani's allegations of corruption against Ahmadinejad; instead, Khamenei was offering a conciliatory hand by chiding the President's allegations against Rafsanjani --- the final statement was definitive: "I am closer to the President's views."

0945 GMT: We've moved the live blog of Supreme Leader's address to a separate entry.

0815 GMT: In Britain, Al Jazeera is giving a English translation of the Supreme Leader's address. CNN is carrying out a commentary, while Sky News is taking the Press TV English feed.

0810 GMT: The Supreme Leader has now appeared in the square, which is opposite Tehran University.

0805 GMT: Press TV English is providing live coverage of Friday prayers, with a large crowd awaiting the Supreme Leader. Their current commentary is defending the recent silence of President Ahmadinejad and his advisors, as the "powerful bodies" of the Assembly of Experts, Expediency Council, and Ministry of the Interior are making the necessary statements. Their analyst, Nader Mokhtari, is praising "a tribute to the strength of Iranian democracy that allows people to go out and voice their opinions and voice their grievances on the streets. It shows a great degree of tolerance in the face of destruction that has been wrought on Tehran by certain elements."

0710 GMT: Tehran Bureau has posted an interesting overview of the political battle between former President Hashemi Rafsanjani and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, "Rafsanjani's Next Move".

0700 GMT: It is 1130 GMT and almost everyone, including news reports, are awaiting the Supreme Leader's appearance. An Iranian witness has told "Alive in Tehran" (see separate post) that, rather than marching to prayers, the opposition protestors will demonstrate on Saturday.

We have also posted eyewitness testimony from Thursday's demonstration and the text of Mir Hossein Mousavi's speech to the rally.

Morning Update (0530 GMT): The Known: the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameini, will address those attending Friday prayers in Tehran. It will be his first public appearance since the election, and his first statement since his call for "calm" and "unity" earlier this week after meeting with representatives of the Presidential campaigns. The event will be shown live by State media, including Press TV English.

The Unknown: it is unclear whether opposition campaigns, notably that of Mir Hossein Mousavi, will organise a march to today's prayers or whether they will hold a demonstration on Saturday, when the Guardian Council will be meeting with representatives of all four Presidential candidates.

It is even more uncertain what is happening in political and religious gatherings behind the scenes. In particular, there is speculation about the latest initiatives of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, who has been trying to organise clerical protest and even a formal position of the Assembly of Experts and Expediency Council against the electoral outcome. We have gathered some interesting analysis about Rafsanjani's position and will be posting later today.

Press TV continues to give prominence to the "official" Government line, featuring not only the Supreme Leader's Friday speech and the Guardian Council's Saturday meeting with the campaigns but also an extended report on protests in London against the BBC's coverage of the crisis. However, the broadcaster is also referring (briefly) to Thursday's demonstration in Tehran and noting Presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei's appeal for details of the vote recount (he was turned down sharply). CNN's correspondent in Tehran says he is now restricted to one report per day --- today, it will be the Supreme Leader at Friday prayers, the images of which can be broadcast --- and CNN crew's requests for extensions of visas are being turned down.

The Latest from Iran (18 June): From Green to "A Sea of Black"

The Latest from Iran (19 June): The Known and the Unknown

Iran: EA’s Chris Emery in The Guardian – “Khamenei’s Supreme Dilemma”
Iran: What’s Happening? Sifting Information from Rumours on Twitter
LATEST Video: The Protests in and Beyond Tehran
Iran after the Elections: Confession, Accusation and Warning from Israel
The Latest from Iran (17 June): Uncovering the News on Attacks, Protests, and the Supreme Leader

Receive our latest updates by email or RSS- SUBSCRIBE TO OUR FEED

IRAN DEMOS 41805 GMT: I'm off to see Billy Bragg in concert, hoping he will do a version of "Waiting for the Great (Green) Leap Forward". Mike Dunn and Ali Yenidunya are keeping an eye out for any big developments.

1715 GMT: The rally, estimated by BBC as "100,000" people, has taken place peacefully in Tehran, with Mir Hossein Mousavi addressing the crowd.

I have just finished an interview with BBC World. It was clear, from preparation as well as the actual discussion, that BBC --- with their correspondent in Tehran effectively under "lockdown" --- is increasingly relying on "talking heads" with connections to Iran to provide information on detentions and political manoeuvres. (Sub-text: EA readers, please keep sending any information/feedback you might have.)

1520 GMT: Revelation or political stunt? Iranian state-run media reporting that authorities "thwarted a terrorist plot to plant bombs in mosques and other crowded areas in Tehran on election day".

1425 GMT: The health of Ibrahim Yazdi, who was detained yesterday in a hospital in Tehran and taken to Evin Prison, is reported as critical. Apparently, Yazdi has been returned to hospital and his family called to immediately go there.

1335 GMT: Intriguing coverage of the opposition rallies on Press TV's English-language website. The lead is a statement by a Mousavi advisor that those causing violence are "not supporters of, or linked to Mousavi or his camp." The report puts a question mark over the official results ("According to the Interior Ministry [Mousavi] has lost to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad even in the East-Azerbaijan province where he hails from") and notes "mass rallies by hundreds of thousands of Mousavi's supporters".

No news on the site yet of today's protest.

1330 GMT: Further to Chris Emery's excellent analysis of the political battle at the highest levels of the Iranian Government, this quote from an article in the Los Angeles Times: "'It's very civilized, like a game of chess,' said one figure in Rafsanjani's inner circle. 'But our game is with Khamenei. Ahmadinejad is just a pawn.'"

1150 GMT: Spinning the Arrests: Press TV is quoting the Intelligence Ministry that it has arrested a number of "main agents" behind post-election violence.

Reports that Sharif, Tehran, Polytechnic, Shiraz, and Tabriz Universities are closed with Sharif University examinations delayed to September.

1145 GMT: Cyber-Politics: the Facebook page of Mir Hossein Mousavi has become a hot location for dissemination of information and a rallying of political views and comment.

1130 GMT: Spokesman for Guardian Council says that they will meet three Presidential candidates --- Mousavi, Rezaei, and Karroubi --- on Saturday: "This will enable them to raise issues and points they wish to discuss with the members of the council, and also provide a direct contact with the candidates."

1100 GMT: The main opposition rally will take place at 4 p.m. local time (1130 GMT) in Imam Khomeini Square in Tehran. Presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi will be present.

Ibrahim Yazdi, leader of the Freedom for Iran movement, has been arrested in hospital. (Yazdi was to have been arrested on Tuesday, but security forces found that he was not at home.)

Reports from inside Iran indicate the scale of the crackdown on dissent, both with criticism of the opposition candidates and their supports and with a focus on Western interference via media and the Internet.

There is a claim on Twitter that the Mayor of Tehran, in a secret report to Parliament, estimated the size of Monday's rally at close to 3 million.

0800 GMT: Juan Cole has posted two US Government Open Source translations of the Iranian media: a state-run Isfahan TV report on the violence of "a group of adventurists" and the comments of the police chief of Fars Province: ""From today police will give no leeway to opportunist elements trying to provoke disorders during these demonstrations."

0630 GMT: A poster at "Anonymous Iran" is offering a summary of stories from Twitter: "There is NOTHING included here that is not from a reliable tweet." While caution is needed with this purported information, many of the points have been verified in part or in full by other sources, including the threat to protestors from "plainsclothesmen" and the location of demonstrations across Iran. We'll post the full summary in a separate post in the next hour.

Morning Update (0600 GMT): The dominant colour of the Iranian crisis changes from Green to Black this afternoon, as tens of thousands of opposition marchers are expected in Tehran. Presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi has called for demonstrators to produce "a sea of black", wearing dark clothing in mourning for those killed in Monday's rally and other incidents across Iran.

Elsewhere, the political colour is a very murky grey. International media continue to be cut off from events. Perhaps more significantly, state-run Press TV has now pulled back not only from any references to opposition marches but also to criticism of the Government, such as the Parliament-led call for an enquiry into the security forces' raids on university dormitories. Instead, Iran's media are concentrating on attacks on Western "interference".

So what might be happening? There is no news from the Guardian Council's supposed recount of the vote. Instead, Government authorities are focusing on the role of the Supreme Leader in uniting the country. Ayatollah Khameini's leading of Friday prayers is now a key event in this effort, with offers to transport people from around the country to Tehran. In contrast, nothing has been heard from President Ahmadinejad.

On the other side, Mousavi's call for a re-run of the election is likely to be joined by Presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei (the other candidate, Mehdi Karroubi, is already appearing in opposition rallies). However, the most significant manoeuvres may still be those of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani and his effort to set key bodies like the Assembly of Experts and the Expediency Council alongside the challenge to Ahmadinejad and, at least implicitly, to the Supreme Leader. The New York Times, which has benefited from the news blackout as it offers analysis rather than spot coverage, has a useful article this morning on the important role of clerics in developments.

The Latest from Iran (17 June): Uncovering the News on Attacks, Protests, and the Supreme Leader 

NEW The Latest from Iran (18 June): From Green to “A Sea of Black”

Iran: Reading the Supreme Leader's Politics
Video: President Obama’s Statements on Iran (16 June)
Iran: The First Audio from "Alive in Tehran"
Iran: An Alternative View of the Election and Demonstrations
NEW Iran: Worst Political Analogy of the Day
Iran: Four Scenarios for the Vote Recount

Receive our latest updates by email or RSS- SUBSCRIBE TO OUR FEED


2115 GMT: We're closing off our coverage for the night with news that Mousavi has called for the release of protesters arrested in the past days' rallies. That news comes via CNN, who also have more on the Iranian football team's green wrist bands.

1700 GMT: Al Jazeera says state-run media in Iran briefly showed this afternoon's rally. SkyNews and CNN (albeit briefly) also are now showing images.

One of the banners from the Iran-South Korea World Cup football qualifier: "Go to Hell Dictator".

1600 GMT: Al Jazeera English have obtained film of the rally from 7 Tir Square showing thousands of people, most silent, marching. The gathering is calm.

Thank goodness for these images because the Iranian Government is now trying to squeeze out any notion of legitimate protest. Press TV English is leading with the Foreign Ministry's denunciation of "irresponsible meddling" by Western governments. The "American card" is now being played: amongst those summoned by the Ministry to hear the Government's protests is the Swiss Minister, the representative of US interests, and the Intelligence Ministry is saying that opposition websites are funded by American and British companies.

1518 GMT: Reports that Presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi is at 7 Tir Square rally.

1510 GMT: Reports indicate that the demonstration in 7 Tir Square is so large that people are having problems getting off the underground and buses into the square.

If true, this may be one of the largest gatherings to be "non-covered" by the media. International journalists are effectively shut away, and state-run Press TV English is not saying a word about the rally.

1315 GMT: Among the 100+ reportedly arrested on Tuesday: Saeed Hajjarian, former Tehran councillor and advisor to President Khatami, Mohammad Ali Abtahi, Vice President under Khatami, and Mohammad Tavassoli, first mayor of Tehran. Ibrahim Yazdi, head of the Freedom Movement of Iran, avoided arrest because he was not at home.

Opposition activist Saeed Leylaz, who gave interviews over weekend to American and British media, also arrested.

1303 GMT: Reports that today's opposition demonstration will converage on 7 Tir Square from two directions, one group coming from Tehran University via Enqelab Avenue and one coming from Vanak Square.

The Iran national football team initially wore, then removed, green wristbands in their World Cup qualifying match with South Korea.

1300 GMT: Have just returned from BBC; staff said they are almost "blind" in Iran because of restrictions. Many CNN reports now consist of a London staffer walking into a room of computers and pointing out what is on YouTube.

1130 GMT: I am off for a live interview with BBC World TV, airing about 1215 GMT.

1125 GMT: Reports that Presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei has written a letter saying that, if Guardian Council does not offer details of vote recount today, he --- like Mousavi --- will ask for a new election.

1100 GMT: The latest message from Mir Hossein Mousavi to his supporters, via his campaign website: "Thursday afternoon wear black to mourn & participate in rallies or gatherings. I'll be there too."

Press TV English is now doing a balancing act, following news of the enquiry into the attacks on the Tehran University dormitories with a report on an Intelligence Ministry report to the Parliament, followed by their joint declaration urging "people to exercise restraint. No one should act in such a way as to play into the hands of the Western countries and Israel."

The Iranian Foreign Ministry has also criticised "irresponsible meddling....insulting to the Iranian's people intelligence" by Western countries.

0930 GMT: I am off for an interview with BBC News about the current US approach to Iran.

0920 GMT: Friday is shaping to be an important day in this crisis. As Dr Seyed Mohammad Marandi indicated in our discussion on Al Jazeera yesterday, Ayatollah Khamenei will lead Friday prayers, while Mousavi supporters are saying they will march to the site.

0830 GMT: We wondered earlier what former President Rafsanjani was doing (0600 GMT). Reports emerging that he is meeting with the Expediency Council, an Iranian body which officially resolves differences or conflicts between the Iranian Parliament and the Guardian Council and also advises the Supreme Leader.

Press TV English reports that the Minister of the Interior has ordered an enquiry into the security forces' raid on Tehran University dormitories earlier this week.

0800 GMT: The official line inside Iran seems clear: Press TV English has just devoted the first minutes of its hourly news to the Supreme Leader's call for calm and unity. CNN has been reduced to repeating its "social media" story while Al Jazeera's correspondent in Tehran is struggling with poor sound and poor visibility in his office.

Outside Iran, however, there are interesting turnings. From London, Nazanin Ansari, the diplomatic editor of Kayhan newspaper, is telling Al Jazeera, "What the Supreme Leader has done, he has actually cornered himself. Soon you will see the Leader against the population and the marchers. We hear the chants of, "Down with the Dictator! Down with the Dictator! It is not so much against Mr Ahmadinejad as it is turning against the Supreme Leader."

0700 GMT: A reply via Twitter to our question below about Obama's statements on Iran, "He is allowng it to remain Iranian fight. Not Iran v US. If it became about US, [Iranian] government would crack hard on protesters. Government could say this is about US interference & really go after protesters. Not now. This is Iran people wanting change."

0630 GMT: We're still working through last night's somewhat curious statement by President Obama to CNBC, "I think it’s important to understand that either way we are going to be dealing with a regime in Iran that is hostile to the US." On the surface, it appears that he is both 1) maintaining the line that Washington will "engage" with Ahmadinejad if he remains in power; 2) damping down expectations of sudden movement in US-Iran relations if Mir Hossein Mousavi does becomes President.

Fair enough from a power politics standpoint. But, given the spin about US support for free expression and fair politics, what message does Obama's statement send to those demonstrating for a challenge to last Friday's vote? (My colleague Steve Hewitt has noted that yesterday morning, British Foreign Minister David Miliband sent out a similar message of "Mousavi is not a reformist" on the BBC.)

We've posted the videos of Obama's interview with CNBC and his earlier statement on Iran at his press conference with South Korea's President.

Morning Update 0600 GMT: All media except Iran's state-run services are effectively shut down inside the country. With reporters confined to their hotel rooms and offices to file reports, CNN is featuring the rise of "social media" such as Twitter.

That social media, while invaluable, can only offer a partial and uncertain picture. There are reports of more raids by police and paramilitary Basiji on university dormitories overnight --- we have video of the aftermath of one raid at Isfahan. Indications are that protests against President Ahmadinejad's re-election will take place in Tehran around 4 or 5 p.m. local time (1130-1230 GMT).

Politically, the notable intervention last night was the call of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, for calm and unity after his meeting with representatives of the four Presidential campaigns. The statement appears to be an attempt to get political breathing space, rather than a move towards a settlement, as the Guardian Council purportedly reviews part of last Friday's vote. The presence of opposition campaigns at the meeting indicates a willingness to support the Supreme Leader's call for non-violence; what will be more interesting will be their response (and the response of their supporters) to the implied plea for time to let the Guardian Council do its work.

(It is also notable, for us, that there has been no indication of former President Rafsanjani's political moves after his visit to Qom earlier this week to seek the support of senior clerics and the Assembly of Experts. President Ahmadinejad, meanwhile, is effectively on the sidelines while he is out of the country.)