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Entries in Iran (91)


The Latest from Iran (30 June): Assessing "Crisis"

2025 GMT: Revelations from Evin Prison. Norooz publishes an account from Hossein Nouraninejad, a senior member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, of a debate between political prisoners: "Many of us came to Evin with a strange illusion and a misguided sense of self confidence thinking our arrest was a misunderstanding that could be cleared thru debate with interrogators, only to realise later how wrong we were. [Journalist Emaduddin] Baghi used to tell us: 'Perhaps you did not expect to be treated this way because you did not know them, but I did."

NEW Iran Eyewitness: “Life Continues for People…With the Hope of Change” (Fatemeh)
NEW Iran Special: The Significance of the “Universities Crisis” (Verde)
Latest Iran Video: Harassment of Karroubi in Mosque (29 June)
Iran: Can the Green Movement Ally with Workers? (Maljoo)
Iran Snap Analysis: Waiting for the Crumbling?
The Latest from Iran (29 June): Grading the Supreme Leader

1745 GMT: Economy Watch. Iranian Labor News Agency, complementing witness accounts on EA, reports on concerns over rising food prices --- especially for chicken, other meat, and fruit --- as Iran approaches the holy month of Ramadan.

1545 GMT: Nuclear Discussions (cont.). EA contacts follow up on the item below, pointing us to a Wall Street Journal article, "Turkey Asks Iran to Return to Negotiating Table":

"If they do not sit down and talk, we will be in a worse situation this time next year," Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Burak Ozugergin told a press conference in Ankara, according to Turkish state news agency Anadolu Ajansi. "President Ahmadinejad mentioned August. We wish [the talks] would take place sooner."

Our contact gets to the point, "Seems someone's been talking to the Turks, getting them to put some pressure back on Iran."

1500 GMT: Resuming Nuclear Discussions? Two pieces of information pointing to a possible resumption of talks --- despite Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's declaration that he would "punish" the West with an embargo until late August --- on Iran's uranium enrichment.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that Russia, France, and the US have proposed a UN-brokered meeting with experts from all three countries and Iran, provided Tehran stops enriching uranium to 20 percent.

Lavrov's declaration, made during a trip in Israel, follows indications that the Brazil, Turkish, and Iranian Foreign Ministers are meeting this week to consider their joint declaration on uranium enrichment.

1410 GMT: The Kahrizak Verdicts. Of 12 defendants in the closed-door trial over the post-election abuses and killings in Kahrizak Prison, two have been sentenced to death and nine have been given prison sentences.

1350 GMT: Message to Foreigners --- You May Be Bad, but Give Us Your Money (unless You're Israeli). A bit of posturing from the President, who has ordered the implementation of a bill mandating the identification of Israeli companies and institutions to impose a ban on Israeli products. The Iranian Foreign Ministry is required to put forward a proposal for the boycott of Israeli commodities at international meetings, including the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Non-Aligned Movement.

More substantive is today's announcement, in Fars News, that the Government has eased restrictions on foreign banks seeking to do business in Iran.

1340 GMT: Satire of Day. Ebrahim Nabavi considers "Ten Paradoxes of a Revolution". An example?  "Our people, who wished no foreign intervention during the Shah's time; now, after 30 years without foreigners, they urge all foreign institutions, the European Union, US, and UN to help them to get rid of this regime."

1250 GMT: Today's All-is-Well Alerts (cont.). Hamid Hosseini of Iran's Chamber of Commerce, Industries, and Mines has insisted that the Iranian bank accounts frozen by the United Arab Emirates do not belong to key traders.

The UAE's central bank has ordered that transactions of 41 bank accounts and the holdings of those individuals targeted by the new UN sanctions against Iran be suspended.

1245 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch (Revolving Door Edition). One leading teachers' union activist, Ali Akbar Baghani, has been released from jail; another two, Mokhtar Asadi and Mahmoud Bagheri, have been detained.

1142 GMT: The War Within. Rooz Online claims that the move to exclude Motalefeh, a key party in the Islamic Republic since 1979, has started because of its lack of support for the Government. The website also asserts that internal Revolutionary Guard bulletins are warning of the "menace of war".

1139 GMT: Make of This What You Will. According to Peyke Iran, 30% of those living in Tehran are depressed.

1135 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Interrogations of Mohsen Armin, former Deputy Speaker of Parliament and leading member of the Mojahedin of Islamic Revolution, continue after 41 days in detention.

1120 GMT: Today's All is Well Alerts. Press TV recycles the assurance, which we reported yesterday, by the head of the National Iranian Oil Distribution Company (NIODC), Farid Ameri, that "Iran is capable of meeting its gasoline needs under any circumstances without facing any difficulty".

The insistence comes amid news of more cut-offs of supplies by foreign oil companies.
And the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, says the country's first nuclear power plant will be inaugurated in the southern Iranian port city of Bushehr by late September: "Issuing resolutions against Iran will not have any effect as we are determined to continue with our plans," Salehi said.

Salehi said that a total of 3,000 Russian nuclear experts were working on the power plant and that the final tests for the inauguration of the facility were being conducted with only a two-week delay.

1115 GMT: The Hijab Pretext? RAHANA runs an analysis claiming that the increased enforcement of "proper" clothing is merely a pretext to put more security forces on the streets.

0855 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Yesterday we noted that the trial of Mahboubeh Karimi of the One Million Signatures Campaign had been scheduled for 29 June. It has now been put back to 9 July because of the absence of the judge.

Karimi's request for bail  continues to be denied.

RAHANA reports increasing concern over the health of detained student leader Majid Tavakoli, who is "suffering from abdominal bleeding".
0850 GMT: Transmitting. The new "Green TV" has posted its provisional schedule.

0840 GMT: The Universities Crisis. Complementing the analysis of EA's Mr Verde, Deutsche Welle posts an article claiming that President Ahmadinejad is seeking to organise a "board meeting" of Islamic Azad University with his own representatives.

Iran's Prosecutor General Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejei is continuing to press the case for Presidential control, declaring that a judge's rulling supporting Parliament authority is invalid.

0835 GMT: Karroubi Follow-Up. Yesterday we posted the video of the Basiji harassment of Mehdi Karroubi in the mosque of Sharif University in Tehran.

Karroubi has issued a statement on his website, Saham News, concluding with the regret: "If we had one Shaaban Bimokh [a reference to Shaban Jafari, a particularly despised "enforcer" for the regime] during the Shah's times, this regime has brought up hundreds."

0825 GMT: Cyber-Warfare. Roshannews, a site for Iranian intellectuals, has been hacked shortly after its relaunch.

0820 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Ali Bikas, a member of the Student Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners, has been released from prison.

Bikas, detained since 14 June 2009, had been given a seven-year prison sentence by the Revolutionary Court.

0803 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. The Revolutionary Court of Mashhad has sentenced student Yasser Ghanei to five years' suspended imprisonment for "propaganda against the regime". One of the charges against Ghanei, who spent more than two weeks in solitary confinement, is that he recorded the results of the 2009 Presidential election and made them available online.

Ghanei still faces charges of insulting President Ahmadinejad.

Human rights activist Saied Kalanaki has also been sentenced to one year of imprisonment for propaganda against the regime and two years in prison for insulting the Supreme Leader.

0800 GMT: Rumour of Day. Aftab claims that Ahmadinejad's chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai said in a private meeting that he would accept the presidency of the Islamic Azad Universities.

0750 GMT: Corruption Watch. Member of Parliament Elyas Naderan, pressing his charges of corruption amongst President Ahmadinejad's advisors, has said that 1st Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi --- accused of involvement in an insurance fraud -- should be "sentenced like a common citizen".

0715 GMT: We begin this morning with two features. Mr Verde analyses the wider significance --- for the President, Parliament, and the Supreme Leader --- of the current battle over control of Islamic Azad University. A new correspondent, Ms Fatemeh, writes for EA about her recent, extended visit to Iran.


Execution Watch

Writing in The New York Times, Nazila Fathi features the growing campaign against the possible execution of a female Kurdish activist, Zeinab Jalalian, who is accused of membership in the separatist PKK>. Fathi includes the recent statement of Zahra Rahnavard and the activity of Jalalian's lawyer, Khalil Bahramian, who has never been allowed to meet with his client.

Political Prisoner Watch

Azeri student activist Yunis Sulaimani has been seized and taken to Tabriz, where a two-month detention order has been issued.

Parliament v. President

The fight over the Ahmadinejad budget is not over, it appears. Yesterday, we noted the expected approval by a Parliament commssion of the President's 5th Plan. However, Rah-e-Sabz, quoting reformist MP Nasrullah Torabi, reports that Government officials suddenly left the meeting of the commission.

Reformist Backing of Mousavi

The Mojahedin of Islamic Revolution has issued a statement supporting the "Green Charter" of Mir Hossein Mousavi and declaring that the message of the Green Movement is an answer to the unfulfilled goals of the Islamic Revolution.

Iran Special: The Significance of the "Universities Crisis" (Verde)

UPDATE 0600 GMT: Nooshabeh Amiri, writing in Rooz English, offers a powerful opinion piece on last week's demonstrations, "Shut the Majlis, oh Brother!"


Mr Verde writes for EA:

"Crisis" in a country is not usually associated with a debate over higher education. The military, the police, radio and TV, the courts, elections: these are the battlegrounds that come to mind.

Make no mistake, however. The current dispute in Iran over Islamic Azad University is important. It is significant not just because Ahmadinejad and Co. want to oust former President Hashemi Rafsanjani and his allies from the university's management. It is an indicator of other possible trouble within the regime.

First, the beginner's guide to the current dispute:

- The Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution, headed by Ahmadinejad in his capacity as President, decides to overturn last summer's decision of the Azad University Board to make itself into a trust. The SCCR also said it would appoint new trustees.

- Azad University takes legal measures, and a court issues an injunction against the SCCR decision.

- The following day, the Parliament votes for legislation that will in effect block attempts by the SCCR to hand over the management of Azad University to the Government.

- There is a demonstration by a small number of regime-organized "students" outside the Majlis. The demonstrators shout slogans against the Parliament, the MPs, and the Speaker Ali Larijani. Some of the signs they are carrying are regarded as so rude that the Iranian Students News Agency blurs out the slogans. It is reported that one of the speakers at the gathering threatened that they would bombard the Majlis (as the Russian Colonel Liakhov had done on behalf of Mohammad Ali Shah in 1908).

- The following day the Parliament votes to annul its previous decision, even though the original bill is still in the process of being vetted by the Guardian Council. During the debate MPs insult each other and Ali Motahari claims that the pro-Ahmadinejad Koochakzadeh (who is close to Ahmadinejad) is of Russian descent and has changed his name from Koochakov. Motahari later claims that, during the debate, Koochatzadeh/Koochakov physically attacked him.

- After a request from Iran's Prosecutor General Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, the head of judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, orders another court to review the injunction against the Council.

A bit of background:

The Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution was created by the Islamic Republic in the early 1980s, as part of the Cultural Revolution that shut universities for a few years. Since then, both Ayatollahs Khomeini and Khamenei have said that the the decisions of the SCCR should be considered as the law of the land and that the other state organs, including the Majlis, should not contradict these decisions.

The Supreme Leaders' declarations stand against the Constitution, under which the Majlis has the authority to pass laws on all matters. The Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution is not even mentioned in the Constitution.

Conclusion? The judge who ordered the injunction, in his interpretation of the Constitution, defied Ayatollah Khamenei’s standing orders regarding the decisions of the SCCR.

On the day the Parlaiment was debating the original law, one MP, citing the Supreme Leader’s views about the SCCR’s powers, tabled a motion to stop debate. MPs voted against the proposal.

Some more background:

When legislation is passed by the Majles, it has to be vetted by the Guardian Council. The Council will return legislation that it deems to be against the Constitution and/or Sharia law. At this stage the legislation is returned to Parliament.

If the Majlis tries to accommodate the views of the Council, the legislation is vetted again. If Parliament refuses to accommodate the Council, the legislation goes to the Expediency Council. In such a case, the Expediency Council’s decision will become law.

One issue that stands out:

At the present time, two laws have been pass by the Majles within two days, with the second negating the first. This does not look like confidence. It looks like chaos and crisis.

The demonstration in front of the Majlis:

Was Ayatollah Khamenei behind the demonstration, its slogans, and speeches, or at least supportive of it? He certainly did not condemn it, as he has the post-election demonstrations including millions of Iranians.

Why resort to the embarrassing, costly, chaotic, and illegal tactic of organizing the demonstration outside the Majlis? Why not ensure that the Council of Guardians rejects the legislation, returns it to Parliament, and then ensure that the Majlis votes in the way the Government wants?

Surely the regime should be able to rely on the trusted Council of Guardians. And the current Parliament has been filtered through two elections, with the Guardian Council weeding out the candidacy of almost all reformist “troublemakers”. (Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani said that this is Khamenei’s Majlis. Note that he forgot to mention that the Majlis is supposed to belong to the people.)

Yet it appears that, despite this supposed control of the legislative process, even a heavily-sanitized Majlis is no longer reliable, so rent-a-thugs have to be paraded in front of the Majlis and insult their own MPs.


We are witnessing the use of regime demonstrators against an increasing number of people and institutions. That indicates, that for some reason, the regime’s internal structures are failing. Amidst what appears to be a serious crisis within the Islamic Republic,its institutions are unable to resolve it; at times they seem to be making it worse.

We are seeing increasingly angry speeches by Khamenei, directed at regime insiders, and comical announcements such as:

- It was announced aid ships were being sent to Gaza and escorted by the Revolutionary Guards. Then it was announced that no escort would be provided. Then it was announced that no aid ship would be sent, ostensibly to avoid war with Israel. Then it was announced that the ships did not go because Egypt had refused them permission to pass through the Suez Canal, only for Cairo to deny Tehran's claim.

- We have wildly varying timescales about self sufficiency in production of petrol: from 24 hours to more than two years. (The list is long and tiresome)

If all of this does not indicate a crisis, what would?

Turkey Inside Line: Israel's Unmanned Planes, Iran's Uranium, Trouble with the EU, and More

Turkish-Made Drones to Take Over from Israeli Herons?: Turkish sources stated that the design, detail production, and assembly of the Turkish MALE (Medium Altitude Long Endurance) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle have been completed and first test flights will be carried out done in the second half of 2010.


Turkey Video Special: Prime Minister Erdogan’s 50 Minutes on US Television (29 June)

Director-General Muharrem Dortkasli said, "We can sell this vehicle for use by many friends and allies. That is our project."

Turkey's Call for Implementation of Iran's Nuclear Swap Deal: Turkey has called on Iran and Western powers to implement the nuclear fuel swap agreement, starting talks as soon as possible.

On Monday, responding to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s remarks that Iran would not join discussions until late August, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Burak Özügergin said:
If they do not sit down and talk, we will be in a worse-off situation this time next year. Time is working against a solution.

We would like this swap deal to be implemented and for negotiations to be held to resolve outstanding issues to secure a peaceful settlement to the dispute over Tehran's nuclear program.

Visa Requirements Lifted with Indonesia: On Tuesday, following a meeting between Turkish President Abdullah Gül and Indonesian President Susilo Bambangu Yudhoyono, agreement was reached to lift mutual visa requirements.

The approach on visas has been a major foreign policy strategy for the Erdogan Government. Requirements have been lifted with Syria, Pakistan, Albania, Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar, Russia, Iran, and other countries.

Turkey and Indonesia also signed eight agreements including cooperation between defense industries, cultural exchange programmes, and sea transportation . The two presidents agreed to increase the trade volume from the current $1.5 billion to $10 billion in the medium-term.

Turkey-EU Relations: Diplomatic sources expect the next chapter of European Union negotiations, focusing on food safety, veterinary safety, and phytosanitation, to be opened at an intergovernmental conference in Brussels on Wednesday.

There are 35 chapters that Turkey needs to fulfill to attain EU membership. Twelve have been opened, but 18 of the other 23 have been blocked, including eight relating to Ankara'ss failure to open its borders to EU member Cyprus.

Turkish Foreign Minister Spokesman Burak Özügergin said:
We expect consistency from the EU. You don’t open negotiation chapters but then say, [The] axis is shifted." The EU should be coherent.

There are 18 chapters which are blocked and we expect Belgium's rotating EU presidency to remove defects caused by the EU in the following period. The EU should consider where it wants to go with Turkey. Turkey recognizes EU membership as a strategic target.

Turkey-Russia Competition: Following the G20 summit in Toronto over the weekend, Turkey and Russia have opened a competition to host the bloc’s 2013 meeting.

Arkady Dvorkovich, a consultant to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, said :
As all we know, the next summit in 2011 will be held in South Korea. The 2012 summit will be held in Mexico. Russia wants to host the 2013 gathering. On Sunday, the Russian government made its application. We know that Turkey has also already applied.


Latest Iran Video: Harassment of Karroubi in Mosque (29 June)

Claimed video of Basij harassing Mehdi Karroubi in the mosque of Sharif University in Tehran today. Karroubi reportedly said, "It saddens me that the Basij force that once defended this country is now reduced to beating people inside the mosques, cheating in the election and killing people on the streets."


The Latest from Iran (29 June): Grading the Supreme Leader

2000 GMT: The Burning of Baha'i Houses. Radio Farda and BBC Persian Service report that the houses of dozens of Bahais were demolished and/or set ablaze in Mazandaran Province in northern Iran.

Radio Farda has an interview with an eyewitness, and the Baha'i spokeswoman in Geneva, Diane Allai, confirmed the story in a live interview with BBC Persian.

NEW Latest Iran Video: Harassment of Karroubi in Mosque (29 June)
NEW Iran: Can the Green Movement Ally with Workers? (Maljoo)
NEW Iran Snap Analysis: Waiting for the Crumbling?
Thinking Human Rights: Citizens, Technology, and the “Right to Protect” (Mazzucelli)
The Latest from Iran (28 June): Remembering 7 Tir?

1945 GMT: Threat of the Day. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki says Britain has a “thick file of biased action” against Iran, so the Foreign Ministry is in agreement with complete severing of all cultural and educational relations with Britain.

Surprisingly, the news has not caused a mass outbreak of fainting and gnashing of teeth in the United Kingdom.

1930 GMT: Today's All is Well Alert. It comes from the head of the National Iranian Oil Products Distribution Company, Farid Ameri, who says Iran sees no risks to its gasoline imports.

Up to 10 foreign oil companies have cut shipments to Iran, but Ameri insisted, "Under any conditions we are able to supply the country's gasoline needs and there is no problem in producing or importing gasoline."

1900 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Amir Kabir University student activist Behzad Heydari, detained on 22 Khordaad (12 June), has been freed after 15 days in solitary confinement.

Mahboubeh Karami, a member of the One Million Signatures Campaign, will appear in Revolutionary Court on 28 June , 120 days after her arrest. Association for Women's Rights in Development has further information.

1800 GMT: The Battle over "Neda". The Los Angeles Times picks up on last week's story, noted on EA, of the "official" Iranian state media documentary on the death of Neda Agha-Soltan. The Times summary of Tehran's approach is complemented by Green Correspondents' dissection, in Persian, of the claims (Neda killed by mystery woman, Neda killed by "terrorist" Mujahedin-e-Khalq, Neda killed as part of "Western" plot, and so on).

1730 GMT: We have posted claimed video of Basiji harassment of Mehdi Karroubi --- and Karroubi's reaction --- at a mosque in Tehran today.

1400 GMT: Ahmadinejad  to Rafsanjani "Go". Curious story of the day comes out of the President's latest news conference: he allegedly said, when asked his reaction to Hashemi Rafsanjani's declaration that he was ready to retire, Ahmadinejad replied, "Very grateful".

1210 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. RAHANA reports that journalist Mahboubeh Khansari has been released on bail after four weeks in detention.

Mokhtar Asadi, a teacher’s union activist, was detained yesterday in Karaj.

1200 GMT: Labour Front. We've posted an assessment by Mohammad Maljoo of the relationship between the Green Movement and workers.

Rah-e-Sabz, via Peyke Iran, claims that about 10o oil refinery workers in Abadan held a protest; two were arrested.

0815 GMT: Watching the Diplomats. An important line buried in a Wall Street Journal article on former nuclear negotiator Hossein Mousavian, who is now a visiting scholar at Princeton University....

"Javad Zarif, a pro-engagement former ambassador to the U.N., is under virtual house arrest in Tehran, said Western officials."

Zarif was the key Iranian diplomat in talks, broken off by the Bush Administration in spring 2003, between Tehran and Washington. At one point, he was supposed to join the staff of Tehran University's Institute of North American and European Studies --- now headed by Dr Seyed Mohammad Marandi --- but the post never materialised.

0805 GMT: Regime Spinning. Iranian state media has used comments of Iran's Ambassador to Iraq, Hassan Kazemi Qomi, to declare that the "terrorist" Mujahedin-e-Khalq "is at the end of its line".

But the better entertainment value comes out of the Revolutionary Guard's Javan, which warns, "3000 corrupt tourists from East Asian states heading for Iran".

0745 GMT: The International Front. Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, has again drawn Washington's lines on Iran and its nuclear programme.

Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum, Mullen said he believes Iran will continue to pursue nuclear weapons, despite sanctions, and that its achievement of that goal would be "incredibly dangerous". However, he asserted that a military strike against Iran would be "incredibly destabilizing" to the region.

0740 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Ali Tabi, a member of Mir Hossein Mousavi's campaign, has been released from detention.

0730 GMT: Labour Front. Rah-e-Sabz reports on a rally of dismissed and unpaid workers of Tehran's Pars Metal in front of the President's office.

0710 GMT: The Oil Squeeze. Khabar Online takes note of the 10 foreign companies who have halted gasoline exports to Iran.

0655 GMT: Execution Watch. Zahra Rahnavard has issued a statement expressing her hope that reports of the imminent execution of Zeinab Jalalian, a Kurdish woman sentenced to death for membership of the separatist PKK, are just rumours.

0645 GMT: Budget Front. Reports indicate that a Parliamentary commission will finally approve the details of the President's 5th Budget Plan.

So will that stop the sniping against Ahmadinejad by a number of high-profile MPs?

0530 GMT: We start this morning with a quick analysis of signs of stagnation and even crumbling in the Iranian regime.

Meanwhile, more signs....

Secularism and the Supreme Leader

Two articles to note from the opposition Rah-e-Sabz. The website ventures into new ground with a commentary from Arash Naraghi, on the question, "Is it possible to be a secular Muslim?" The reply: "Yes, secularism is an appropriate condition for a good Muslim in a civil society."

And, in a rare English article, Rah-e-Sabz turns from secularism to Iran's top religious figure. It reports that a poll of readers shows 82% marked the Supreme Leader's performance as "very bad" (77.56%) or "bad" (4.52%) while only 4% thought he had been "good".

Keyhan and the CIA v. The Green Movement

Rah-e-Sabz also features a notable and "cheeky", as the British would call it, intervention by Ataollah Mohajerani, a minister in the Khatami Government and ally of Mehdi Karroubi.

Turning the regime's standard argument of foreign support for regime change,Mohajerani links the "hard-line" Keyhan to none other than the Central Intelligence Agency. He notes a provocative editorial by former CIA operative Reuel Marc Gerecht in The New York Times and claims, "Gerecht and those like him [including former Presidential candidate John McCain] support the Green Movement in order to hurt it."

Parliament v. President

The fallout from the dispute over control of Islamic Azad University, complete with demonstrations in front of Parliament, continues. MP Akbar Aalami asserts that the retreat of the Majlis retreat in front of uproars "is a novelty".

The Government Warns Its Own Officials

An advisor in the President's office has declared that officials who are challenging the Government, by creating blogs and not working enough, will be identified.

Earlier this spring, Government outlets said a special unit would be established to monitor officials for inappropriate behaviour.

Khabar Online adds that the main sites for Ahmadinejad supporters are and