Iran Election Guide

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Entries in Press TV (15)


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

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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: Marches, Deaths, and Politics (16 June)

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

Iran: Four Scenarios for the Vote Recount
Iran: Video and Transcript of President Obama’s Remarks (15 June)
Related Post: The Latest from Iran: Demonstrations and An Appeal to the Guardian Council (15 June)

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APTOPIX Mideast Iran Elections

2220 GMT: Politically, the evening highlight appears to be the Supreme Leader's meeting with representatives of the four Presidential campaigns, calling for them to join together for "national unity". The move seems to be more of an attempt to buy some more political time while the Guardian Council tries to sort out its options --- all candidates will have been told of the necessity to keep demonstrations non-violent and non-threatening to the regime.

Elsewhere, chatter about gatherings has died down (it is, after all, 3 a.m. in Iran), so the hope is that there will be none of the violence that was feared earlier today.

Thanks to all for working with us today. We'll see you about 0530 GMT --- until then, our thoughts are with friends and colleagues in Iran.

2115 GMT: Breaking News On, citing the Wall Street Journal, says gunmen have seriously injured at least one person after opening fire on Mousavi supporters in Tehran. We're unable to find the specific information on the WSJ's site at this time. [Posted by Mike]

2100 GMT: Barack Obama has told CNBC that the outcome of events in Iran will make little difference to US policy towards Iran, and that Iranian hostility towards the US would remain:
"I think it's important to understand that although there is amazing ferment taking place in Iran, the difference in actual policies between Ahmadinejad and Moussavi in terms of their actual policies may not be as great as advertised," he said. "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. We have long term interests in not having them with nuclear power and funding terrorism."

[Posted by Mike]

1845 GMT: I am on a break for a couple of hours. Please keep items coming in for our late evening update --- we are following stories of a possible large march tomorrow and a statement by Ayatollah Montazeri.

1825 GMT: Reuters, citing British newspaper correspondent, says loud cries of "Allah-o-Akbar" from Tehran rooftops.

Reports that former President Rafsanjani and his daughter were amongst demonstrators marching from Vanak Square today.

1755 GMT: Twitter sources say Presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi was at the rally in front of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting complex and spoke to the demonstrators.

1750 GMT: Has the BBC, normally cautious about showing any political opinion in a conflict, tilted toward the Iranian oppositions? The Beeb's homepage has turned from its usual Red to Green.

1630 GMT: Press TV still focuses on pro-Ahmadinejad rally but adds, "Pro-Mousavi rallies surround the venue" (possibly a coded reference to demonstrating outside the main Iranian broadcasting complex), and says Mousavi is among the crowd.

1535 GMT: Twitter references to "tens of thousands" of opposition demonstrators in front of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting complex are complemented by witness reports to BBC of "a mass rally in northern Tehran".

1530 GMT: Press TV English's "News in Brief" highlights pro-Ahmadinejad rally noting, "This square was supposed to be the venue of a rally for Mousavi supporters but Ahmadinejad supporters decided to show up in the same location earlier."

1520 GMT: The pro-Ahmadinejad rally has proceeded peacefully while, after the cancellation of the main opposition rally earlier today, smaller demonstrations have been occurring across Tehran. There are stories of more attacks by security forces and paramilitary Basiji at universities, including Shiraz and Mashaad. The BBC has reported the story, which circulated yesterday, that 120 faculty resigned at Tehran University.

A note on the media coverage: it became painfully apparent this afternoon that Al Jazeera's correspondent was reported from the confines of his (badly set up for sound) office. When the programme's host mentioned this, the correspondent replied that he was free to move around Tehran but, in a convoluted explanation, added that he was restricting himself "for his own safety". I suspect Government monitors were either nearby or watching intently from a Ministry. Other international media have also been effectively blinded by teh restrictions on movement.

1255 GMT: I am off to appear on Al Jazeera English's "Inside Story" considering the politics and protests in Iran. The programme will air at 1730 GMT. Full updates will resume in about two hours.

1240 GMT: Almost three hours after it began, the pro-Ahmadinejad rally is finally receiving coverage, albeit from Press TV English. Camera shots show that Vali-e Asr Square is filled with demonstrators waving Iranian flags, while correspondent Homa Lezgee is estimating there are "thousands" in the square and giving a basic summary of their arguments that Ahmadinejad won a clear majority in an election in which almost 40 million votes were cast. Lezgee is vague on who might speak to the rally, although she says it is likely to last "several hours".

Lezgee says Mousavi supporters were in Vali-e Asr Square but have moved to Vanak Square and she has had no reports of clashes.

1205 GMT: BBC correspondent John Lyon in Tehran says that, after a loosening of restrictions on international media yesterday, reporters are now confined to their offices unless they have official permission for movement. He speculates that this indicates a power struggle within the Iranian system and, from his office, says that this situation "must remind Iranians of 1979".

1115 GMT: News services are reporting that the Mousavi campaign has called off this afternoon's rally because of fear of violence.

An extraordinary interview on Al Jazeera: Professor Sadegh Zibakalam, head of Iranian Studies at Tehran University, is saying the Guardian Council's decision to review the vote is "too little, too late" to satisfy public opinion: "Nothing short of declaring the election null and void will stop the protest of the people." Even more surprisingly, Zibakalam criticised the Supreme Leader's failure to heed the pre-election warnings, in a letter from former President Rafsanjani, of Government manipulation of the vote.

1105 GMT: We've just posted an outstanding analysis by Chris Emery of the possible outcomes of the Guardian Council's recount of Friday's vote.

1035 GMT: Echoing yesterday's developments, there is confusion as to whether the Mousavi campaign is withdrawing its support for a rally. Today's tension is heightened by the overlap of the 5 p.m. rally with the earlier pro-Ahmadinejad demonstration.

1030 GMT: The Guardian Council has rejected the appeal of the Mousavi campaign for a new election: ""Based on the law, the demand of those candidates for the cancellation of the vote, this cannot be considered."

0945 GMT: The Guardian of London has posted a handy spreadsheet of the "official" vote on Friday, broken down province-by-province.

0900 GMT: According to Saeed Ahmed, the Mousavi campaign has rejected the recount proposal and insisted on a new election. It believe a "recount will provide more opportunity for fraud".

0825 GMT: CNN's Saeed Ahmed reports that the Guardian Council told the Islamic Republic News Agency that it met with the three opposition candidates, "asked them to specify what areas they want recount, and agreed to do so". That would indicate a wide-range rather than narrow reconsideration of the vote.

In turn, this opens up the possibility that the Guardian Council may overturn Friday's result. That, however, raises the further question: would it go as far as to order a re-run election or even declare Mousavi the victor?

A possible way out would be for the Guardian Council to declare Ahmadinejad's "revised" figures at below 50 percent (vs. the 63-64 percent he supposedly received). That would lead to a second-round contest between the President and Mousavi. Such a "solution" would still be politically tricky: a scapegoat (for example, the pro-Ahmadinejad Minister of Interior) would have to be found for last Friday's unfortunate events. It would mean, however, that the Council would not have to make the choice between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi.

It is notable that all of this is occurring while Ahmadinejad is in Moscow. Yesterday, the rumour was that he had cancelled the trip. Now the rumour is that he was encouraged to leave Iran as these political manoeuvres took place.

0813 GMT: Press TV English confirms news that Guardian Council "ready to recount disputed ballot boxes".

0810 GMT: According to CNN's International Desk, Press TV in Iran is reporting that the Guardian Council will recount votes from some of the provinces in Friday's election.

0740 GMT: Concerns about possible confrontations have been raised by the announcement that there will be a pro-Ahmadinejad rally in Vali-e Asr Square at 3 p.m. local time today. Demonstrators protesting the election gather in the same location two hours later.

Press TV, reporting on both planned rallies, is emphasising Mir Hossein Mousavi's call on his supporters "to keep act peacefully and to avoid falling into the trap of street violence". Mousavi's headquarters says he is not attending the 5 p.m. rally.

0645 GMT: The office of leading politician Mohammad Ali Abtahi, an ally of Presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi, says that he has been arrested.

Morning Update 0530 GMT: State-run Press TV is reporting that seven people were killed in the "illegal rally" at Azadi Square in Tehran yesterday. There was no direct reference to the probable source of the gunfire, members of the paramilitary Basiji militia.

Instead, Press TV's initial reference, "As protesters were beginning to disperse at sundown unidentified gunmen fired shots into the crowd," has been replaced by this morning's assertion of an "attack on a military post" by demonstrators "reportedly trying to loot weapons and vandalise public and Government property". At the same time, Press TV continues to emphasize that this "was a peaceful rally up until [that] moment."

The media line, while less enthusiastic than the coverage of yesterday afternoon's rally (see 15 June updates), indicates that the Iranian Government, including the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, is trying to maintain some room for compromise with opposition.

That impression is supported by events on the political front. the optimism of yesterday afternoon has been replaced by a downbeat caution amongst opposition leaders. Mir Hossein Mousavi, writing his followers last night about his appeal to the Guardian Council over vote fraud, said, ""I don't have any hope in them."

However, in a sign that compromise might be sought, the Guardian Council are now calling the electoral outcome “provisional” and are meeting with all three opposition candidates today. The meetings occur as President Ahmadinejad is out of the country, having left for a Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Russia last night. Ahmadinejad, in a statement to the press as he departed, made no reference to yesterday's marches.

Other international media such as CNN, restricted in their movements, are following Press TV on the report of casualties.

In Washington, President Obama was asked about Iran during his press conference with Italian President Silvio Berlusconi. He replied,"[I am] deeply troubled by the violence I've been seeing on television....I think that the democratic process, free speech, the ability of people to peacefully dissent -- all those are universal values and need to be respected."

At the same time, Obama emphasized that his Administration would not intervene to influence the internal developments: ""We respect Iranian sovereignty and want to avoid the United States being the issue inside of Iran."

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IRAN DEMO 15-06-09 22230 GMT: The end of a long and, for many, amazing day in Iran with the hopes of the mass movement balanced by rumours of deaths, beatings, and detentions (one activist writes of many people being taken to Evin Prison). Still a state of tension, with uncertainty over casualty figures from this afternoon at Azadi Square and no firm confirmation of the big march for 5 p.m. tomorrow (local time) in Tehran. Tonight, there are sounds of ambulances and police sirens and occasional gunshots.

We're going to take an overnight break. Thanks to all who have supported us and given us information today. Our thoughts are with friends and colleagues in Iran.

2100 GMT: Channel 4's Lindsey Hilsum's blog has footage of paramilitaries shooting at protestors. Her blog post is here, a larger video is available here.

1930 GMT: We have learned that Tehran's Central Bazaar will be on strike tomorrow. Tonight people are cruising in automobiles through Tehran, honking their horns, but there is also a military presence and the prospect of further attacks.

Evening Update (1915 GMT): The elation over the success of the Tehran march, with a peaceful crowd in the hundreds of thousands, has been tempered by the shooting in Azadi Square.The firing appears to have broken out near a Basiji (paramilitary militia) headquarters.

News services are still confirming only one dead, but there are very disturbing images of dead and wounded allegedly attacked at Azadi. There is also nervousness over reports of clashes in other Iranian cities.

The high hopes over the address of Presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi to the Azadi crowd has been offset by a lull in political developments. The Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, has allowed state media to make all the noise after his letter to the Guardian Council for an enquiry into vote fraud, and President Ahmadinejad has suddenly gone noticeably (and uncharacteristically) silent.

There are reports, despite the claim by CNN's Octavia Nasr of a Khamenei-Mousavi deal for no more demonstrations (see 1535), of a march called for tomorrow at 5 p.m. local time in the main thoroughfare of Vali Asr Street.

1735 GMT: Rumours are still swirling about the shooting in Azadi Square. Some claim four demonstrators were killed with "many more" wounded; others claim that the assailant, a Basiji (unofficial "religious" police), was then beaten to death by the crowd. There is also an unconfirmed report of gunfire in three districts in north Tehran.

French media put the number at the rally at up to 2 million.

1705 GMT: Press TV reports that one demonstrator killed by gunfire in Azadi Square.

1700 GMT: An administrator for Mousavi's Facebook page explains the rationale behind the two slogans that they are promoting for the night rooftop protests as well as tomorrow's marches (possibly at Khomeini Shrine). The first is "allah-o-akbar" (God is Great) and the second "la-allah-a-ela-allah" (There is no God but God). These overtly religious slogans symbolise that there is no authority higher than God; tactically, they are not "questionable", by any standard measurement in Iran, and thus cannot easily provoke retaliation.

1625 GMT: Iranian activists claim to have hacked the news sites of the ultra-conservative Kayhan and
Rajanews, which have been vocal supporters of Ahmadinejad. As of now is still down but just about running.

1600 GMT: Another sign of Government re-alignment in the face of the demonstrations: Press TV reports Speaker of the Parliament Ali Larijani has appointed a committee, headed by the Deputy Speaker, to investigate "unpleasant incidents" such as the security forces' raid on the dormitories of Tehran University, and compile a "complete and impartial report". Members of the Iranian Parliament, the Majlis, who toured the dormitories have called for the release of students detained in the raids.

1535 GMT: CNN's Octavia Nasr claims on Twitter: "Deal was reached to investigate fraud allegations & Moussavi halts futher demos."

1515 GMT: In the US, leading blogger Andrew Sullivan has picked up on our analysis of how Press TV's new approach to the protests may reveal a high-level political shift, in particular in the Supreme Leader's position.

1510 GMT: CNN now leading with Iran rally, showing footage of Mousavi addressing crowd.

1500 GMT: Press TV is now clearly following a shift in the Supreme Leader's political position. Their sympathetic coverage of the rally continues, followed by a reference by Khamenei's call on the Guardian Council to review electoral results in "a meeting with Mousavi on Sunday evening" in which he encouraged the candidate "to pursue his complaints about the election through legal means".

Press TV emphasized that Khamenei "urged restraint and called on Mousavi to be careful about the enemy squad and provocation". The Supreme Leader's letter to the Guardian Council "was an effort to restore people's support and trust in their government".

The state-run outlet is even reporting on the European Union's statement of concern over the election results, as well France and Germany's summoning of Iranian Ambassadors to express their worries.

1425 GMT: Mousavi, speaking from the rooftop of a car, has addressed the rally, saying he is ready to stand in a new election. Former President Khatami has called for the election to be declared void.

CNN has caught up a bit, despite technical problems, with Christiane Amanpour reporting from the rally.

1330 GMT: Press TV is breaking into normal programmes to show live images of crowds completely filling Enqelab Square in Tehran. The studio has lost contact with the correspondent in the crowd, but the anchorman is offering a full report, noting the banners "Where is My Vote?" and the claims of opposition candidates that the election results were "rigged".

In Britain, Press TV is the only outlet broadcasting on the rally. At the moment, there is nothing on SkyNews (which has provided some updates), BBC, CNN, Fox, or even Al Jazeera.

1320 GMT: CNN reporting that Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, assured Mousavi of a fair investigation at a meeting yesterday. The Guardian Council's report is expected within 10 days, establishing a potential cooling off period. The Council is chaired by Ayatollah Jannati, a hardline conservative said to be a strong supporter of the President.

1310 GMT:  Press TV reporting that Mousavi has appeared before hundreds of thousands of supporters in Tehran.

1300 GMT: The official tally of the Presidential votes adds insult to injury for Rafsanjani. According to Jahan News, Ahmadinejad received 1122 votes in the village of Bahreman – Rafsanjani’s birthplace - while only 730 voted for Mousavi.

1250 GMT: Just to bring home the significance of the previous item, Press TV is state-owned media. Until this morning, it has given almost no attention to the protests against Ahmadinejad's election. The sudden change to in-depth, even effusive coverage of the demonstrations points to a wider political shift: whether this is in line with a "compromise" accepting the legitimacy of the claims of the protests (and, beyond that, the appeal to the Guardian Council) remains to be seen.

1235 GMT: Press TV is now reporting on "hundreds of thousands" in today's rally from Enqelab Square to Azadi Square, protesting the outcome of the Iranian election. The gathering is in defiance of the Ministry of Interior's refusal to give a permit. So far, based on video and on the correspondent's report, the rally appears to be peaceful and calm.

1120 GMT: BBC Persian report that Mousavi, Karroubi, and former President Mohammad Khatami will attend today's protest, an indication that earlier attempts to abandon the march stemmed either from confusion or Government misinformation.

1037 GMT: Chris Emery reminds us in the context of former President Rafsanjani's letter to the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khameini, asking for a review of the election results: a pre-election Rafsanjani letter asking for investigation of "insults to the Islamic Republic" by Ahmadinejad, was supported by more than 100 senior clerics from Qom.

This clerical opposition to Ahmadinejad should be noted as an ongoing factor in the manoeuvres amongst the Supreme Leader, Ahmadinejad, Mousavi-Karroubi, and Rafsanjani.

1018 GMT: Confusion over whether Mousavi headquarters have now "un-cancelled" the call for this afternoon's march, with some activists saying Mousavi and Karroubi will attend and others claiming that Mousavi's website --- which cancelled and then retracted the cancellation --- may have been taken over by people hostile to the demonstrations.

Suspicions of a "trap" have been further fuelled by reports of Government gun emplacements at Azadi Square, the endpoint of the march.

0920 GMT: A possible important turn of events. State media are reporting that the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, did meet with Mir Hossein Mousavi. The Supreme Leader is now ordering an investigation of allegations of electoral fraud.

0850 GMT: Reports that this afternoon's march in Tehran will go ahead, despite refusal of permit by Ministry of Interior and possible withdrawal of support from Mousavi headquarters.

0803 GMT: The website for the Mousavi campaign has just announced the cancellation of today's march.

0800 GMT: Reuters reports, "Iran's top legislative body, the Guardian Council, said on Monday it had received two official complaints from defeated presidential candidates and would issue its ruling within 10 days." The complaints came from candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mohsen Rezaei; there is no mention of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani (see 0515 GMT update).

A spokesman for the council, which must formally approve the election results for the outcome to stand, said it had received appeals from moderate former prime minister Mirhossein Mousavi and former head of the Revolutionary Guards, Mohsen Rezaie.

0745 GMT: According to CNN, the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency is reporting a further endorsement by the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, of the election's outcome: "Pointing to enemies' massive propaganda campaign to discourage people from taking part in the elections, Ayatollah Khamenei also said there was really a divine miracle behind this elections, given its results that was 10 million higher than any of the previous ones in the 30-year history of elections in Iran." (Note: It appears that IRNA's website is either overloaded or has crashed.)

Khamenei's statement should be seen as a response to the move by former President Rafsanjani, appealing to the Guardian Council, to void the election results (see 0515 GMT update).

0725 GMT: Twitter accounts such as Change For Iran are posting photographs of students who were reportedly beaten at Isfahan University when security forces entered dormitories.

0615 GMT: Iranian media report that the Ministry of the Interior has denied the permit for this afternoon's march.

Morning Update (0515 GMT): Two potentially important events are likely to dominate the day's developments. The first is the appeal, led by former President Hashemi Rafsanjani (pictured), to Iran's Guardian Council  The Guardian Council is Iran's political and legal body of last resort, and under Iranian law, it must ratify the declared election results.

There is a wider significance in Rafsanjani's appeal, however. The Guardian Council is the only authority that can remove the Supreme Leader. So this is a challenge by a former President, who has backed challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi against President Ahmadinejad, to Ayatollah Khamenei, who moved quickly to endorse Ahmadinejad's victory.

The second event occurs this afternoon at 4 p.m. local time (1130 GMT) with a march, organised by Mousavi headquarters, in Tehran. There are conflicting reports on whether the Ministry of Interior has approved the march, let alone allowed Mousavi to speak, and whether the challenger's headquarters will call for it to go ahead if it is not legally permitted.

The overnight news is mainly of individual stories of clashes and beatings. It is almost impossible, given the restrictions on media and on phone and Internet service, to get a co-ordinated view of events, especially outside Tehran. CNN, for example, has to go with an account by "an eyewitness" of the beating of a man by security forces after he tried to protect a 14-year-old girl.

Twitter is still the best channel for news, but this is fragmented and hard to verify. Indications are that some of the most serious clashes are occurring at universities in Tehran and other cities. There are rumours of numerous casualties at hospitals and of arrests of senior politicians such as former President Mohammad Khatami.

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We are signing off for the night. Thanks to all who kept up with us today and our thoughts with friends and colleagues in Tehran. We'll be back about 0530 GMT.

2230 GMT: Reports indicate that, although it is 3 a.m. in Iran, people are still milling about and shouting on the streets.

2100 GMT: Claims are coming in that tanks are on the streets of Tehran.

2045 GMT: We're sifting through reports of killings and of political developments; the latest is that Mir Hossein Mousavi will not be allowed to speak at the Tehran rally tomorrow afternoon. Meanwhile, we have posted latest video from protests yesterday and today.

1920 GMT: Protestors claim to have taken down Ahmadinejad's website by "swarming" it. They are now targeting Ayatollah Khamenei's website.

1845 GMT: Reports of four people killed in demonstrations in Rasht. There are claims of additional minibuses arriving with extra security forces and police.

The rally organised by Mousavi headquarters will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. Tehran time (1130 to 1330 GMT) on Monday, marching from Enqelab Square to Azadi (Freedom) Square. Mousavi will address the crowd.

1730 GMT: Numerous reports of clashes at universities across Iran, with students beaten and detained. Universities include Tehran, Sharif, and Guilan in Rasht. Final examinations have been postponed at a number of universities.

According to Tehran Bureau, Zahra Rahnavard, the wife of Mir Hossein Mousavi, has confirmed plans for a rally on Monday and a national strike on Tuesday. She made the announcement in a talk to University students in Tehran.

1425 GMT: Although the importance of the public response to the election outcome should not be underestimated, it appears that events may now turn on a power struggle at the highest levels of the Iranian system.

In this reading of developments, it is not just an issue of President Ahmadinejad trying to retain his office but of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, preferring to work with a "new generation" of politicians rather than an older group associated with the years after the Islamic Revolution (examples include Hashemi Rafsanjani, Mir Hossein Mousavi, and Mehdi Karroubi).

This strategy is now being resisted not only by Mousavi, who has a history of differences with the Supreme Leader from his days as Prime Minister in the 1980s, but also by former President Rafsanjani. Rafsanjani, who lost to Ahmadinejad in the 2005 election, was the target of the current President's attacks just before the election.

Ahmadinejad's latest verbal salvo was his declaration last night that this was the time for the best representatives of the people to come forward and not just those who had worked with the Father of the Revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini. Meanwhile, there were stories of Rafsanjani meeting with Mousavi and Karroubi to plan their next steps to overturn the outcome and, consequently, to challenge the Supreme Leader.

We're preparing a full analysis of this struggle for Monday.

1300 GMT: Pro-Mousavi outlets are saying that there will be a march along Vali Asr Boulevard, a main Tehran north-south road, on Monday and a national strike on Tuesday.

1220 GMT: We have received our first message from Iran via Facebook in more than 24 hours.

Reports from Sharif University claim more than 2000 people are protesting.

1145 GMT: Iranian authorities have closed down Al-Arabiya's bureau in Tehran.

1130 GMT: Have just returned from a jogging break to join President Ahmadinejad's news conference in progress. Ahmadinejad, after declaring the Friday result was "the will of the people", is playing the nationalist card, in particular the Iran v. the "West" card. He is attacking Western media for their interference and saying that Western countries only accept "democracy" if the decision goes the way that they wish.

1025 GMT: The Mousavi campaign has told Al Jazeera that it will appeal to the Guardian Council, and it has applied to the Ministry of the Interior for a permit to hold a rally in Tehran. Al Jazeera's correspondent, continuing to be extremely careful on-air, has downplayed the move to the Guardian Council, as there is "no indication the election was anything but free and fair".

0955 GMT: Reports of protests at Sharif University, with 120 faculty resigning.

0910 GMT: Al Jazeera's correspondent in Tehran is being very careful with what he says on-air. He is cautious in references to demonstrations and questions the reports of arrest of more than 100 activists.

Students at Tehran University report that security forces entered the dormitories during the night. Further demonstrations are planned for today.

IRAN DEMOS 2Protesters have blocked one of the major expressways in/out of Tehran, bringing traffic to a standstill.

0905 GMT: Al Jazeera reports that the Ministry of the Interior has prohibited any unapproved public gathering but the order is being defied. This is apparent "spontaneous", as Mousavi headquarters are not supporting a public rally at this point. There are now reports of tear gas being used on demonstrators near Ahmadinejad headquarters.

Reports are also emerging of demonstrations and clashes in Rasht.

0900 GMT: There is still contact via the Internet with Iran, although reports are that the service is extremely slow, and there are fears of monitoring by security services.

Reports, apparently based on information given several hours ago to Reuters by former Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi, are that more than 100 "reformist" activists have been arrested. According to Abtahi, many of those arrested were members of the party Mosharekat. The brother of former President Mohammad Khatami is also reportedly among those detained.

0740 GMT: I have just seen an extraordinary interview on Al Jazeera. Professor Sadegh Zibakalam, the head of Iranian Studies at the University of Tehran, in contrast to the official line, commented on "spontaneous" demonstrations, emphasizing that they are without leadership so far. He added that there are rumours of the house arrest of Mousavi and also of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Zibakalam then began to criticise the Government reaction as "too harsh". At that point the feed to Al Jazeera was cut.

0735 GMT: Attention will soon turn to both the official Ahmadinejad victory celebration and any counter-demonstrations and rallies. Already there is tension over a supposed call for Mousavi supporters to rally in front of his campaign headquarters at 12:30 Tehran time --- some believe this is a trap laid by security forces, and Mousavi's office is calling on people to hold back from attending.

MORNING UPDATE 0700 GMT: The last few hours have been dominated by stories that opposition leaders, including Presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, have been put under house arrest. Just before midnight GMT, the news of Mousavi's arrest was sent on Twitter by a pro-Mousavi activist (who is also the source of the dramatic photos we mentioned in yesterday's updates).

It is very difficult to get any information on this, as well as claims that up to 100 Iranians have been killed in protests. Social media such as Facebook have been cut, mobile phone service has been suspended or restricted, and it appears the Internet has been cut or seriously disrupted. Important but sometimes unverified information can be gathered through a few websites such as Tehran Bureau (although access to this is now difficult --- the Twitter site is still working). Our most important link to news now is via first-hand testimony on Twitter --- we have to be careful about unverified claims and even mis-information, but are doing our best to cross-check.

Press TV English has turned into an outlet for Ahmadinejad's victory. It has just led its news with stories of Ayatollah Khamenei's endorsement of the outcome, Ahmadinejad's speech, and a report of the vote. They also had a political analyst denouncing Mousavi's press conference on Friday claiming victory (although another analyst then wondered how Mousavi received only a third of the vote when "everyone" in Tehran was claiming to vote for him. The only reference to the demonstrations was a brief anodyne shot of a couple of protestors with the follow-up that the police said "everything was under control".

Obama in Cairo: Press Reactions

obama-cairoWe're trying to guage some of the reaction in the Middle East and Iran to Obama's address in Cairo yesterday, and a quick look at the English websites of al-Jazeera and Press TV provides two sharply differing intrepretations of the Israeli reaction. Israel issued a short statement in response to the speech, and while al-Jazeera believes that it points to a 'welcoming' reaction from Israel, Press TV focuses on an apparent Israel 'snub' to Obama over settlements. One short statement, two very different responses. Both pieces are reproduced below.

Press TV is featuring Hezbollah's rejection of the Obama speech:
"We do not sense any real change regardless of the language of the speech because violence in the region is practiced first and foremost by Israel and by the US armies of occupation, and not by the people who resist," AFP quoted Hezbollah lawmaker Hassan Fadlallah as saying on Thursday.

Interestingly, a Hamas official is quoted "as saying that while the speech showed 'tangible change', it contained contradictions."

Al-Jazeera: Israel welcomes Obama speech

The Israeli government has welcomed Barack Obama's speech to the Muslim world, saying it hoped the speech would bring a "new period of reconciliation" in the Middle East.

The government statement made no mention of the issue of settlements, after the US president used his speech in Cairo to reiterate his call for an end to Israeli construction on Palestinian land.

"We share President Obama's hope that the American effort heralds the opening of a new era that will bring an end to the conflict and to general Arab recognition of Israel as the nation of the Jewish people that lives in security and peace in the Middle East," the statement said.

"Israel is committed to peace and will do all it can to expand the circle of peace while considering its national interests, first and foremost being security," it said on Thursday after Obama's address.

'Naivety can be dangerous'

Obama devoted a large portion of his speech to the issue of Israel and the Palestinian, and it comes amid reports of deepening differences between the US and Israel on the expansion of settlements.The US president restated Washington's strong ties with Israel, calling on Muslims to recognise the Holocaust.

But Obama also used the term "Palestine", as he reiterated his call for a Palestinian state.

Danny Seaman, the director of Israel's Government Press Office, said the government backed Obama's message.

"All in all, it's not bad. I don't think there's anything we disagree with here," he said.

"The state of Israel isn't against reconciliation," he added, but warned against any moves that could "be used by the extremists to endanger Israel and endanger the peace process".

But Aliza Herbst, a 56-year-old resident of the West Bank settlement of Ofra, said Obama's "naivety can be dangerous".

"You can have your speechwriters find every good thing a Muslim has ever done. But more modern history is that the Muslim world is at war with the Western world," she told the Associated Press news agency.

Press TV: Israel snubs Obama's settlements demand

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has appealed to the US government to rethink its demand to curb Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

Barak made the appeal while meeting with the US Defense Secretary Robert Gates at the Pentagon on Thursday, Reuters reported.

US President Barack Obama highlighted the issue in a speech to the Muslim world in Egypt on Thursday, saying, “There can be no progress towards peace without a halt to such construction”.

Israel, however, responded that its security interests remained paramount.

"We share President Obama's hope that the American effort heralds the opening of a new era that will bring an end to the conflict and to general Arab recognition of Israel as the nation of the Jewish people that lives in security and peace in the Middle East," an official statement said.

"Israel is committed to peace and will do all it can to expand the circle of peace while considering its national interests, first and foremost being security," the statement claimed.

Based on the US-backed Roadmap peace plan Israel must end settlement constructions in the lands occupied during the 1967 war.

The government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, has snubbed the international and Obama's demand to endorse the creation of a Palestinian state and end the settlement activities in the Palestinian territories.
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