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The Latest from Iran (9 March): Political Acts

1500 GMT: But Mahmoud, What If No One's Home? Here's a better story than the Khatami rumour....

On Monday President Ahmadinejad was totally disrespected when Afghan President Hamid Karzai who told Mahmoud to stay home (US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was suddenly in town, and Americans and Iranians at the same time in Kabul just wouldn't do). So Iranian state media carried the story that Ahmadinejad's office had not said "Monday" but "this week". The meeting with Karzai would now be on Wednesday.

Which would be fine except Karzai's people are reportedly saying that the Afghan President will be in Pakistan on Wednesday.

So what's up? Is it a three-way get-together in Islamabad or will Ahmadinejad's office have to clarify "not this week, next week".

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1445 GMT: Khatami Watch. Yes, we have read the rumours that former President Mohammad Khatami has been barred from leaving Iran. The source is Fars News, so status remains at rumour or disinformation --- Khatami's camp have denied the report.

1430 GMT: Human Rights Front. Student activists Abdollah Momeni and Majid Tavakoli, are this year's recipients of the Homo Homini Award, awarded annually by the Czech-based People in Need "in recognition of a dedication to the promotion of human rights, democracy, and nonviolent solutions to political conflicts".

Momeni was released this week on $800,000 bail after more than six months in jail, including reportedly about 100 days in solitary confinement. Iranian He has received a six-year jail sentence, which is being appealed.

Tavakoli was arrested at the 7 December National Student Day demonstrations. The regime attempted to humiliate him by disseminating photographs of him dressed in hijab.

1230 GMT: Dangerous Papers (cont.). An Iranian activist reports the press board's warning was handed out to the reformist publication Bahar for carrying an article about the mysterious changing colours of the Iranian flag.

1210 GMT: Newsflash! Even Football Can Be Dangerous. Mehr News Agency reports that Iran's press supervisory board has warned 17 publications over alleged breaches of media regulations.

Mohammad Ali Ramin, the Deputy Minister of Culture who has been widely criticised for his hard line against the media, said the publications were "not committed to journalistic duties, breached media regulations, printed superficial materials, and propagated materialism".

The leading reformist daily, Bahar (Spring), is accused of having published "rumours and lies".

The other 16 journals warned were: Nasl Emrouz, Banu Shargi, Ayne Zendegi, Payamavar, Sepidar, Pishkhan, Zendegi Irani, Medad Rangi, Zendegi Edeal, Ruiesh, Kohenoor, Tohid, Rahe Zendegi, Sinamaye Emrouz, Chelcheragh, and Football.

1150 GMT: The Nuclear Deal. For the second day in a row, Iran's Foreign Ministry has signalled that the "third-party enrichment" option --- which resurfaced during Ali Larijani's recent trip to Japan --- is still alive. Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Tuesday that Iran's "priority is to obtain fuel" for a Tehran medical research reactor.

Mehmanparast assured, "If the [International Atomic Energy] Agency suggests a country in possession of the 20-percent enriched fuel, we are ready to buy [the fuel]. Besides, if there are countries ready for a swap which will fulfill our conditions, we are ready; otherwise, we will produce the fuel [ourselves]."

1135 GMT: Women's Day (cont.). The association of Iranian female journalists, RUZA, has issued a declaration stating that release of imprisoned women is its first goal.

Zahra Rahnavard, the wife of Mir Hossein Mousavi, met women's organisations yesterday, commemorating Neda and other victims of post-election conflict.

1130 GMT: One to Watch? There has been an increase in tensions between Azerbaijan and Iran, with protests in front of the Azeri Embassy in Tabriz and the burning of the Azeri flag. Good relations between Azerbaijan and Israel have been mentioned as a possible cause.

1120 GMT: Keeping the Universities in Line. Is the regime getting nervous about renewed public resistance at the universities? First, Minister of Higher Education Kamran Daneshjoo issued a warning to "deviant professors". Now Revolutionary Guard commander Rahim Savafi has declared that the universities are "empty" of elites faithful to the Supreme Leader and Constitution.

0930 GMT: Still Protesting. While university demonstrations have been muted since December, that does not mean that dissent has been quelled. A group of Tehran University students has put out the message: "If 'their' power relies on their guns, ours is that we are countless."

0920 GMT: Today's Media Head-for-the-Hills Moment. The New York Times is back to its red alert over Iran's nuclear programme, this time with a lengthy piece on the country's uranium enrichment process.

To be fair to reporter William Broad, his article is mainly an overview of both the possibilities and the limitations of Iran's nuclear programme. However, whoever wrote the headline missed the subtleties and/or preferred Panic Mode, "For Iran, Enriching Uranium Only Gets Easier".

0915 GMT: Here's some political theatre for you. The head of Iran's judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, has made a dramatic intervention with his claim of high-level embezzlement and corruption within the Government. Mr Verde has an analysis.

0820 GMT: Catching Up With the Political Poses and Other News.

Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani has hurled the label of "thugocracy", used by US General David Petraeus in a Sunday interview, back at the "goons" of the American Government: "It is understandable that they hate people with the knowledge of the region joining us today, so they use offensive words."

Juan Cole has an interesting analysis of President Ahmadinejad's declaration that the US Government created the "lie" of 9-11 to support its international plans, going farther into Ahmadinejad's religious beliefs:
Not only is Ahmadinejad the Iranian equivalent of a truther, he is also the mirror image of the Christian Zionists. That brand of evangelicals in the US believes that the establishment of Israel throughout geographical Palestine, i.e. the complete annexation of the West Bank and perhaps the expulsion of its Palestinian residents, will hasten the return of Christ.

Ahmadinejad holds the opposite. It is in his view the collapse of what he calls the Zionist regime and the emergence of a state for all Palestinians, whether Jewish, Christian or Muslim, that will provoke the Promised One to come. In Shiite Islam, the promised one is the return of the 12th Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi, the lineal descendant of the Prophet Muhammad.

Reader Comments (7)

[...] Steve Benen wrote a very interesting post today.   Here’s a quick excerpt:1135 GMT: Women’s Day (cont.). The association of Iranian female journalists, RUZA has issued a declaration, stating that release of imprisoned women is its. [...]

RE 1210 GMT: Newsflash! Even Football Can Be Dangerous.

I saw that item a while ago and have been wondering what got the FOOTBALL magazine into trouble - maybe another salacious story about a top football star's temporary wife who is accused of stabbing his real one to death that occupies the tabloids for months and ends up in what can for once truly be called a "show"trial? :-)

(I'm referring to the infamous case of footballer Nasser Khani and his mistress Shahla Jahed. A riverting documentary was made about it:;jsessionid=DAD93DFF4FE03F6EF906074A3E1CEAC9)

March 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

War Watch: Mullen Wary of Israeli Attack on Iran
Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, came home with sweaty palms from his mid-February visit to Israel. Ever since, he has been worrying aloud that Israel might mousetrap the U.S. into war with Iran.

March 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

Norouz national festival held in Tehran

March 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

RE 1135 GMT: Women’s Day (cont.).
Persianbanoo has a poignant tweet about the gathering of the Mourning Mother's at Neda's mother's house last night:
"Mourning mothers wondered why stones in the hands of Palestinian youth is considered a symbol of...freedom by the government of Iran but the same stone in the hands of an Iranian youth draws a death sentence"

March 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

Iran tries 12 policemen in Kahrizak case

look at this:
"Judge Mohammad Mosaddegh said the details of the court sessions would not be revealed as the publication of some information might harm order in society".

heh, I wonder what does those information could be, perhaps something Quentin Tarantino could use in one of his gory movies.

March 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterdanial

Cyber Watch: As a BBC poll shows, 80% of the people around the world believe that access to the internet is a fundamental right:
The remaining 20% live probably in China, Sudan, Cuba and our Holy Republic ;-)

March 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterArshama

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