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Entries in Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi (5)


The Latest from Iran (16 March): Fire and Politics

2100 GMT: Chahrshanbeh Suri. An activist reports a conversation with a relative in Gisha in Tehranm, who said basiji were roaming the streets on their bikes and tried to stop people celebrating. Told of a report that said nothing political had happened tonight, the relative answered, "In Iran everything is political."

2010 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. More temporary releases --- Behzad Nabavi, a leader of the Mojahedin of Islamic Revolution Party serving a five-year term for "crimes against national security", and journalist and economist Saeed Laylaz have been freed until 4 April. Laylaz posted $500,000 bail.

NEW Iran Document: Mousavi Speech on “Patience and Resistance” (15 March)
NEW Latest Iran Video: The Attack on Karroubi’s House (14 March)
Iran Breaking: Ban on Reformist Political Party
Your Super-Special Iran Caption Contest
Iran: The Opposition’s Campaign in the US — Sequel With Revelations and A Lesson
The Latest from Iran (15 March): Breaking Human Rights

2000 GMT: Chahrshanbeh Suri Reza Sayah of CNN reports, via a Tehran witness, that police are spray painting passing cars that toss firecrackers out of windows. Basiji used tasers and batons to chase away 300 partiers near Mehr Park in Farmanieh.

1840 GMT: Justice. We had asked a couple of days what Tehran Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi was doing in Qom with marjas (senior clerics).

Here's one answer: Grand Ayatollah Safi Golpayegani told Doulatabadi to try the culprits of Kahrizak Prison's abuses as soon as possible, "so that the people feel the judiciary can act freely". Criticising advisors such as Presidential Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, Safi Golpayegani advised Doulatabadi to "treat the people kindly and fairly... [for] if Islamic principle is shattered, the whole system is gone".

1830 GMT: Larijani Pushing for Nuclear Deal? Looks like Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani is putting out a signal that he wants the "West" to come back to the table on uranium enrichment talks:

Iran's parliament (Majlis) speaker Ali Larijani advises the West to pursue a diplomatic approach in resolving their differences with Tehran on the issue of its nuclear program.

Speaking at a press conference in Tehran Tuesday, Larijani reiterated that the US, France, Britain and Germany have sought to delay the supplying of fuel to Iran for Tehran's research reactor through "mischievous" acts.

"They eventually came to the understanding that Iran is only willing to act according to the [International Atomic] agency's framework; so they abandoned the 'carrot and stick' approach, only to resort to sanctions," he added.em>

1825 GMT: There is a lot of chatter about clashes in Tehran. We are holding off on reports pending confirmation. A rumour spread of a fire at the house of Mehdi Karroubi's son Hossein is false.

1819 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Saeed Jalalifar, a member of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, has been released on $100,000 bail. Jalalifar, a student at Zanjan University, was arrested on 30 November.

Azar Mansouri of the Islamic Iran Participation Front has been released from prison for a period of twenty days.

1815 GMT: Unconfirmed reports of clashes in Karaj.

1800 GMT: Back from an extended academic break. Thanks to readers for updating on the events of Chahrshanbeh Suri.

CNN's Reza Sayah is reporting, from a witness, "Light traffic on major roads. Parties in side streets with music and dancing. Police patrol major roads and squares but allowing parties along side streets. No reports of clashes."

Another activist reports, "Aryashahr (in Tehran) is just like a war zone, sound of fireworks is constant and security forces have pulled out of the area for now."

1345 GMT: We have posted, courtesy of the Los Angeles Times, the English text of Mir Hossein Mousavi's speech to the Islamic Iran Participation Front on "a year of patience and resistance".

1325 GMT: An Arrest Within the Regime. The son of senior Revolutionary Guards commander Esmail Gha’ani has been arrested, according to Green Voices of Freedom. Ali Gha’ani is an electrical engineering student at the Islamic Azad University of Mashhad. GVF speculates that, as the younger Gha'ani has no experience of political activity, the arrest is due to his father’s criticism of Government action after the June election.

1310 GMT: Today's Cyber-Propaganda. Press TV offers the platform:
After a 30-member US-backed cyber network was dismantled in Iran, members of the Parliament (Majlis) have praised efforts to bust one of the main gangs and cyber networks in the country.

[Editor's note: Is it my imagination or did Press TV just rename the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps?]

"The joyful news about the arrest and dismantling of one of the biggest and main groups of cyber networks backed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which worked to gather information, once again disclosed another conspiracy against the Islamic Republic," said 220 parliamentarians in a letter to the Islamic Republic Guards Corps (IRGC).
1210 GMT: Iran's Threat to Britain (and Its Students). The Foreign Ministry has issued a warning this morning that it will be reducing its links with Britain, specifically by restricting the movement of Iranian students to the United Kingdom.

1200 GMT: The Mousavi Message. Two notes about Mir Hossein Mousavi's speech (see 0655 GMT), made to the Islamic Iran Participation Front, calling for "a year of patience and resistance".

First, note our revised translation, based on an EA correspondent, with "resistance" replacing "endurance". That is a much stronger message of opposition,

Second, Mousavi's timing and language is a blatant attempt to pre-empt the Supreme Leader, whose Nowruz (Iranian New Year) message will call for "a year of...."

Although it is the Karroubi statement that is getting more attention outside Iran today, Mousavi's message --- in connection with the banning of the IIPF --- may have more resonance inside the country.

1045 GMT: Karroubi Watch. Maybe it's the definition of "irony" or just a crafty campaign: only days after an opposition PR move by "a senior aide" to Mehdi Karroubi fell flat in the US, the Western media are rushing to feature the cleric. First it was Sunday's attack on his house, now it is Karroubi's statement (see 0645 GMT) denouncing the despotism of the Iranian Government.

0945 GMT: The IRGC Gets A Contact --- Correction. Yesterday we reported that the engineering firm connected with the Revolutionary Guards just received an $850,000 oil pipeline contract. A reader noted, "The Revolutionary Guard would never settle for such a paltry amount!"

He's right. It's $850 million.

0725 GMT: Winning the Compromise. The Parliament and President Ahmadinejad may have reached an immediate resolution of next year's budget, with Ahmadinejad getting $20 billion of the $40 billion he wanted from subsidy reductions, but the political battle continues. The pro-Larijani Khabar Online pronounces, "The Government Discreetly Withdraws from Executing Subsidy Plan".

0723 GMT: Production assistant Mehdi Pourmousavi, who was arrested in the raid of director Jafar Panahi's house, has been released. Panahi is still detained.

0720 GMT: Watching the Crackdown. Satirist Ebrahim Nabavi's latest --- "I arrest, therefore I am!"

0710 GMT: Endure (cont.). Ahmad Batebi's website posts a statement from Human Rights Activists in Iran on the regime's crackdown and accusations of "cyber-war".

0655 GMT: Endure. Rah-e-Sabz has a lengthy report of Mir Hossein Mousavi's speech to members of the banned Islamic Iran Participation Front. The takeaway line: "1389 (the forthcoming Iranian year) is the year of our patience and endurance".

0645 GMT: Karroubi Watch. We've posted the video of the attack on Mehdi Karroubi's house on Sunday.

The cleric is undaunted, however. In a meeting with students of his party, Etemade Melli, he emphasised that the elections were "unnatural" and that they confirmed "there will be no more real elections in Iran." Karroubi asserted, "This government doesn't rely on people's votes....The Islamic Republic has been struck by dictatorship, only her name remains.

0620 GMT: Today is Chahrshanbeh Suri, the Fire Festival on the eve of the Iranian New Year. It will be an occasion for street celebrations, though it is unclear whether these will take on a political tone. While there has been a great deal of chatter outside Iran about use of the occasion, there have been few signs that the movement within will seek a mass protest.

Perhaps more pertinent is whether the regime politicises the event through ill-considered attempts to condemn the festival. The Supreme Leader has already risked po-faced overreaction with his denunciation of a ceremony without religious roots or value.

Meanwhile, the big political event may be the banning of Iran's largest reformist political party, the Islamic Iran Participation Front. We began tracking the development yesterday afternoon and have posted a separate entry. Given the regime has declared that it has already overcome the post-election crisis, this seems a curious move. Why risk a provocation that further exposes the lack of political freedom in Iran and could bring open conflict?

More arrests to balance the regime's strategy of releasing detainees on bail if they keep their silence. Only Democracy For Iran has a summary of political prisoners in Babol in northern Iran. The head of Mir-Hossein Mousavi’s election campaign, Alireza Shahiri, and Ali Akbar Soroush, a university professor and member of the Islamic Iran participation Front, have been arrested.  Student activists Mohsen Barzegar, Iman Sadighi, and Mohammad Esmailzadeh have been moved to solitary confinement.

The Latest from Iran (15 March): Breaking Human Rights

2133 GMT: More Death Penalties or Old News? There's chatter tonight about a supposed announcement of "six death sentences" for protesters on Ashura (27 December), featured on The New York Times website.

We're being careful about this. Our perception is that the announcement is merely the restatement of death sentences which have already been announced by the Tehran Prosecutor General's office, rather than --- as the NYT piece indicates --- a new set of capital punishments.

2130 GMT: We've posted a separate entry on the developing story of the ban on the Islamic Iran Participation Front.

1945 GMT: Resisting the Empire of Lies. Responding to the Government's assertion that it has been banned (see 1650 GMT), the reformist party Islamic Iran Participation Front calls on all political and social activists to continue their social struggles and not to “give in to the empire of lies”. The IIPF claimed that the attempted ban reveals the “weakness of the government” and that civil institutions and activists will “grow and expand" their activities.

NEW Iran Breaking: Ban on Reformist Political Party
NEW Your Super-Special Iran Caption Contest
Iran: The Opposition’s Campaign in the US — Sequel With Revelations and A Lesson
Iran: Connecting the Dots — 5 Signs of Regime Trouble
Iran Letter: “I Am Still Alive to Tell the Story” (Shams)
The Latest from Iran (14 March): False Strategies, Real Conflicts

1940 GMT: Power, Money, and Oil. The engineering firm owned by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps has been awarded an $850 million oil pipeline contract.

1935 GMT: Denying the Propaganda. The Center for Defense of Human Rights, connected with Nobel Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, has rejected the allegation of Fars that it receives financial aid from the US Government. CDHR announced that it intends to sue the news agency for libel.

1930 GMT: Have a Happy Great Satan, Off-the-Streets Fire Festival. An activist reports that Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting is showing 11 movies on Tuesday, including District 9 andUP on Charshanbeh Suri. I'm sure this has nothing to do with a wish to keep people inside their homes and off the streets during the Fire Festival.

1650 GMT: Barring the Reformists? Deputy Interior Minister Solat Mortazavi says the Islamic Iran Participation Front, Iran's largest reformist party, has been stripped by the judiciary of its authorization to conduct political activity.

The judiciary has not confirmed the ban, and the IIPF said it was only barred from holding its annual meeting, scheduled for 11 March.

1545 GMT: Compromise Resolution? Iran's Parliament, after a skirmish with President Ahmadinejad, has given final approval to a $368 billion budget for the year to March 2011.

The Majlis originally passed a $347 billion plan, but Ahmadinejad wanted an extra $40 billion from anticipated subsidy reductions. The Parliament agreed to grant $20 billion but held out against the President's full request, despite an unusual appearance by Ahmadinejad to deliver a speech during voting.

1430 GMT: You asked for it, you've got it --- our readers have found the perfect photo for an Iran caption contest. Let the fun begin....

1245 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Prominent human rights lawyer Mohammad Oliyaifard has been released from detention.

1240 GMT: Showing Support. Mir Hossein Mousavi has met with members of the reformist Islamic Iran Participation Front.

1145 GMT: Ahmadinejad Embraces Non-Violence? Iran's latest get-tough pose loses something in translation. From Press TV:
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has named the country's team tasked with minimizing the effects of damage on the country should it be attacked by foreign forces.

The occupant of the presidential palace in downtown Tehran on Monday appointed Chief-of-Staff of Iran's Joint Armed Forces Major General Hassan Firouzabadi as the head of the Permanent Passive Defense Committee.

A statement from the President's office also identified Davud Ahmadinejad as the President's special representative and the country's ministers of interior, defense and science as members of the committee.

0940 GMT: Gender and the Green Movement. Speaking to BBC Persian, Shadi Sadr has declared that the women's movement has managed to gather forces from different camps, from the religious (Azam Taleghani) to the secular (publisher Shahla Lahiji) to press its demands and influence politics at all levels. She complained that the women's movement has no political representative in the Green Movement. [A reader comments: Could Sadr fill that role?]

0930 GMT: Question of Day. Why was Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi meeting marjas (senior clerics) in Qom?

0640 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Iran Gender Equality is maintaining two important lists: one on the status of women political prisoners and one on the status of detained journalists.

0615 GMT: The National Iranian American Council has published its summary of the US-Iran panel at last week's hearings in the US Senate. It's a fair reflection of a "realism" amongst American experts which is focused on nukes, nukes, nukes.

As NIAC notes, that issue was set within a call for a "broader strategic outlook" to deal with US-Iran tensions, bringing in discussion of Afghanistan, Iraq, the Middle East, and Iranian security. Questions of rights and justice in Iran, however, were barely mentioned by the panel, in contrast to the first session at the hearings.

0550 GMT: Ripples from the regime's latest strategy --- we've broken the journalists, now let's get the human rights activists --- continue. Among those named as agents for terrorist/US-backed cyber-war is Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, the man behind the Babak Khoramdin blog, who was arrested two months ago on accusations of spying for the CIA.

The attention to human rights campaigners does not mean that others have escaped attention. Among weekend arrests, that of Emad Bahavar of the Freedom Movement of Iran was notable. He was arrested and released recently but broke the condition of his freedom by continuing to publish incisive articles and protests against intrusions by Iranian security services.

Then there are claims that Basiji militia harassed Mehdi Karroubi's family on Sunday, surrounding and vandalising his house.

Understandably, in the face of the intense regime pressure, overt opposition moves are limited at the moment. Chatter continues about demonstrations tomorrow during the Chahrshanbeh Suri (Fire Festival) celebrations, but no substantial plans are being put forward.

The Latest from Iran (14 March): False Strategies, Real Conflicts

1910 GMT: More on the Universities Purge (see 1145 GMT). The Revolutionary Guards get in on the act, with Yahya Rahim-Safavi, the former commander and current advisor to the Supreme Leader, declaring, "The universities aren't in good shape today, missing from them are revolutionary forces and experts who are beholden to the Imam, the Supreme Leader, and the Constitution."

Rahim-Safavi, speaking at a conference organized for the "cultural experts" of the IRGC, said, "The goal of soft war is to change the culture, values and beliefs of the youth....Our weakness is in this very issue of culture, which our enemies have identified before we did. Therefore we must battle against and overcome the attacking culture with our soft and cultural power."

NEW Iran: The Opposition’s Campaign in the US — Sequel With Revelations and A Lesson
NEW Iran: Connecting the Dots — 5 Signs of Regime Trouble
NEW Iran Letter: “I Am Still Alive to Tell the Story” (Shams)
Iran Special: Zahra Rahnavard on Women’s Rights and The Green Movement
Iran: The Opposition’s New PR Campaign in the US
Iran Analysis: Rafsanjani’s “Finger in the Dike” Strategy
The Latest from Iran (13 March): Settling In

1830 GMT: Let's Make Up a Cyber-War. More regime propaganda --- the Revolutionary Guard has briefed the Parliament on the nefarious cyber-plot of the opposition around Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, bringing in names like the filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf and human rights activist Ahmad Batebi. (There's a video as well.)

After the briefing, the head of Parliament's National Security Committee said Human Rights Activists in Iran had fabricated a list of killed protesters and passed it to Mir Hossein Mousavi.

1725 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch --- One Who Did Not Remain Silent. Emad Bahavar, head of the youth branch of the Freedom Movement of Iran, has been re-arrested.

Bahavar was arrested earlier this year and released after a short period. However, instead of refraining from criticism of the regime, he wrote a long, incisive analysis of "The Hardliners' Project".

On Wednesday, after Bahavar had appeared in court to defend his case, security forces raided his house without a warrant, threatened his family, and confiscated personal possessions. Bahavar was re-arrested when he went to court to protest the illegal behaviour.

1705 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. The former Chief Executive Officer and founder of Persian Blog, Mehdi Boutorabi has been arrested.

1700 GMT: We've posted an update and an analysis of this weekend's "opposition campaign", which proved to be far less than a campaign, in the US.

1530 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi has confirmed that Iranian-American academic Kian Tajbakhsh has been released for 15 days on $800,000 bail.

1525 GMT: Really, They Are All US-Sponsored "Cyber-Terrorists". Fars continues the propaganda overload attacking human rights activists with an "analysis" claiming that the Bush Administration and the CIA launched a $400 million campaign in 2006 for a cyber-battle against Iran.

This is a convenient pretext for Fars to lump together all the "bad guys" --- the Mujahedin-e-Khalq, monarchists, Baha'is, and human rights activists --- as traitors. Named groups includes Human Rights Activists in Iran, Nobel Prize winner Shirin Ebadi's Center for Defense of Human Rights, and the Human Rights Committee and the One Million Signatures campaign for women's equality.

1515 GMT: Stopping the Fire Festival. As our readers have noted, the Supreme Leader has turned on one of Iran's national ceremonies, Chaharshanbeh Souri, as an event “void of religious roots and cause of great harm and corruption".

Chaharshanbeh Souri, which takes place on the eve of Iranian New Year, is an ancient Iranian pagan festival with the building of bonfires and symbolic gestures and chants. These summon the fire to burn all sickness and lend its energy to a healthy new year.

1500 GMT: Back from a family break (Happy Mother's Day to all those celebrating in Britain) to go on Rafsanjani Watch.

Looks like the former President Hashemi Rafsanjani has continued his careful prodding of the Government, this time with attention to state media. He urged Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (Seda va Sima) not to operate as “a gang”, warning that it would lose the trust of the public if it did so. He added that IRIB needs to assume a more “national” approach and pay more attention to people.

1145 GMT: Purge the Universities!

Press TV, from Islamic Republic News Agency, reports that up to 130 Iranian members of Parliament have written the Minister responsible for higher education, Kamran Daneshjoo, calling for strict action to be taken against proponents of secularism in universities throughout Iran.

The legislators warned Daneshjou of the activities that were carried out in universities by "certain individuals who are hostile toward the Islamic system". They insisted, "The cultural message of the [1979] Islamic Revolution is the most important topic that university professors and the elite must seek to promote....Activities of individuals, who feel enmity toward the Islamic establishment, are unacceptable. What is more, nowhere in the world are resources and opportunities generously handed out to those who seek to bring down the establishment and the principles that society is governed by."

Of course, the demand of the MPs for "serious and decisive" action against "the enemies of the Islamic establishment," "proponents of secularism," and "those who work to weaken the government" is a political set-up for the regime to get rid of unacceptable professors and limit scholarships and overseas education to only "proper" students. Last week Daneshjoo used a speech to denounce "deviant" academics.

0920 GMT:~Khomeini in the Cold. Looks like the regime is going to continue treating the family of the late Ayatollah Khomeini as too dangerous to acknowledge, given their criticisms of the Government. The memorial service for Khomeini's son Ahmad has been cancelled due to "mausoleum repairs". Most ceremonies at the Khomeini site since June 2009 have been postponed.

0915 GMT: Two Sunday Specials for You. We feature a defiant weblog from released detainee Foad Shams, "I Am Still Alive to Tell the Story", and Mr Verde has an analysis of 5 Signs of Regime Trouble.

0910 GMT: A Lament for the Election. Eshagh Jahangiri, the Minister of Industries and Mines in the Khatami Government, has declared that, after the Presidential vote on June 12, the chances of progress were lost for Iran.

OK, he would say that as he's a reformist, right? Yes, but the location of the criticism...the not-so-reformist Khabar Online.

0900 GMT: No More Satire --- Iran's Changing Flag. Remember a couple of months ago that we posted a comedy story about the apparent changing of the colours in Iran's flag, removing Green for Blue?

Well, look likes we might have to replace our satire warning for a label that this is Very Serious. From Khabar Online:
At the last session of Iran's Guardian Council in the current Iranian year (ends on March 20) held today, the speaker of the entity, Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei, answered the questions raised by the journalists.
He said that if a trustable evidence is provided on the national flag color change at the recent state ceremonies, the council will probe the issue."

"The rules are transparent on this case and must be abided by all executive bodies. If it's true, those organizations which have committed such act should be questioned," he maintained.

Recently at some ceremonies held by the government, the green stripe on the Iranian flag had changed to blue or black, including one attended by the President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad staged a in Tehran for the head of the state-funded Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA). At the ceremony in a graphic design behind Ahmadinejad, the green stripe of the country's national flag had turned to blue.

0650 GMT: I thought at one point on Saturday that the main story might be an opposition initiative to sway American opinion, with a purported spokesman for Mehdi Karroubi holding forth to US journalists in a press conference and private talks.

That proved a fizzle, however, as the "former senior aide" primarily offered a distracting thesis of an Ahmadinejad-Khamenei split and got little coverage from a nuclear-focused (obsessed?) US media. The New York Times, for example, prefers a tangential thinkpiece by David Sanger, and The Washington Post is also off on a Tehran and the Bomb story.

Still there's an important lesson for the Green Movement here in the diversion and possibly damage of those claiming to be "spokesmen" for the opposition, when they are in fact expressing primarily personal opinions, and how they could built up as Green representatives by a media started of significant information from inside Iran. We'll have an update later today.

So what were the real stories? Well, there is what appears to be a regime strategy to break the opposition through the "revolving door" of releasing some detainees --- with the threat that they go back to prison if they step out of line --- and taking new prisoners with declarations of terrorists front groups and agents for the US.

On Saturday, a number of high-profile prisoners, notably journalists and the Iranian-American academic Kian Tajbakhsh, were reportedly freed. At the same time, the campaign to break human rights organisations was declared with the propaganda of media like Fars and Kayhan, with their announcements of dozens of arrests of campaigners linked to the "terrorist" Mujahedin-e-Khalq and Washington, and the attack on the websites of Human Rights Activists in Iran.

The latest statement from the Revolutionary Court declares that those arrested belong to a group called “Iran Proxy,” which is accused of
“downloading national databases, infiltrating and sabotaging internet sites, resisting government filtering efforts, creating secure spaces for users of internet networks, creating secure telephone lines and data for interviews with Radio Farda, Radio Zamaneh and television networks of Voice of America”. The Court alleges, in a reference to a campaign to distribute anti-filtering software so Iranians can access the Internet, “Members of Iran Proxy in Iran were in receipt of significant salaries in Iran in order to distribute over 70 thousand proxies through the internet.”

Then, however, there is the news of pressure on the Government, not through manufactured rings of secret US-backed agents but through members of Parliament. The  story of the battle between the Majlis and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over the President's budget and subsidy reform plan seems to have attracted little notice. But, after the President appealed to the Supreme Leader and then gate-crashed the Parliament and still lost the vote on his proposal, it is a sign of Ahmadinejad's authority in jeopardy.

The Latest from Iran (7 March): The Elections Next Door

2225 GMT: Petraeus Pronounces. On a slowish political evening, General David Petraeus dishes out some rhetoric on Iran's "thugocracy". We'll have an analysis tomorrow (hint: it's actually a signal that US is backing off any immediate military pressure), but for now, we've posted the video.

1945 GMT: Larijani Watch. Nice move by the head of Iran's judiciary, Mohammad Sadegh Larijani. He has announced the discovery of a large group inside the Government carrying out fraud and economic corruption: one case alone was embezzlement of 6 bilionl Toman more than $6 million).

NEW Iran: Senior Reformist Amani “We Have Not Decided to Remain Silent”
UPDATED Death, Confusion, and Clerics in Iran: The Case of Mohammad Amin Valian
NEW An Open Letter to the Editors of Iran’s “Principled” Newspapers
The Latest from Iran (7 March): The Elections Next Door

Thus, Larijani takes a swipe at Ahmadinejad and poses as a a defender of justice for the Iranian people.

1930 GMT: Bypassing Sanctions. All the way back to our first update (0730 GMT) on "Western" firms who trade with Tehran: Welt Online has a lengthy article on German companies who use Dubai as a "back door" to get into Iran.

1900 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Madhi Forouzandehpour, who was in charge of Mir Hossein Mousavi’s office, has been released after more than two months in detention.

1750 GMT: The Uranium Enrichment Deal. Don't say EA didn't tell you....
A couple of weeks after the visit by Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani to Tokyo, this nugget from the Foreign Ministry:
Iran is ready to conduct its uranium exchange plan also with fresh countries, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Sunday, according to the Fars News Agency.

"As we have reached no results yet with France, Russia and the United States over the uranium exchange plan, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) head has asked other countries to get involved," Mehmanparast said.

"We will wait and see whether other countries would be capable to provide us with the required fuel," the spokesman added in a meeting with students at the Shahid Beheshti university in Tehran.

Japan is reportedly one of the countries interested to get engaged in the deal.

1730 GMT: Political Prisoner/Mohareb Watch. Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Doulatababi announced that 250 Ashura detainees have been indicted, but he said reports of a confirmed death sentence for Mohammad Amin Valian were false.

1710 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Leading student activist Abdollah Momeni has reportedly been released on $800,000 bail.

1645 GMT: Karroubi Takes on Mohareb. It looks like Mehdi Karroubi may have another front in his battle against the regime over its conception of "justice". He told an audience today,
I have previously pointed out [the need for] changing the definition of Mohareb [warring against God] in the current situation and have asked judiciary officials for its abolition....Some officials, unpremeditatedly or premeditatedly and even intentionally, called the streets protests and movements Moharebeh, and this is unfortunate.

Karroubi referred to the case of Mohammad Amin Valian, the Ashura protester condemned to death, as a “negative point” since Valian was only “taking part in street protests.” Karroubi claimed that Iranian officials "don’t know that Iran’s reputation in the international community is tarnished with such acts”.

1640 GMT: On the Women's Front. The Iranian Labor News Agency dares to proclaim, on the eve of International Women's Day, that "statistics and recent events in Iran indicate Iranian women did not experience an enjoyable year".

1630 GMT: That Cyber-War Thing. Following the declaration of Iranian officials that the Green Movement will be "crushed" in the battle of the Internet, an Islamic Revolution Guard Corps commander has said that 18,000 IRGC troops will be deployed in the "cyber-war".

1615 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Amirhossein Kazemi, weblog writer and member of the Freedom Movement of Iran, was arrested last night after being summoned to the Intelligence Ministry and taken to an unknown location. Emad Behavar, the head of the youth branch and member of the political bureau of the FMI, has been arrested for the third time in the post-election crisis.

Many of the FMI's leaders have been detained.

1200 GMT: We've posted an interview with a senior reformist, Shahrbanou Amani, considering the state of the Green Movement: "We Have Not Decided to Remain Silent".

1000 GMT: Posture of the Day. The Iranian Government, represented by Minister of Defense Ahmad Vahidi, is boasting of a new domestically-manufactured short-range cruise missile that can "eliminate targets of up to 300 tons".

0800 GMT: Butterfly on a Wheel. Golshifteh Farahani, the first Iranian actress since 1979 to appear in a major Hollywood film, has spoken of the oppression of Iran's artists by the current regime.

After her appearance in Body of Lies with Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe, Farahani was harassed by Iranian intelligence services for months before she went into exile in Paris.

Reacting to the arrest of award-winning director Jafar Panahi last week, Farahani said, "We are so angry. Jafar is one, maybe the only one… still in Iran who is talking. Most artists [in Iran] don't talk because they would rather work somehow. I appreciate that, but Jafar is the one who had the courage to talk, and he talked for everyone."

0755 GMT: A Government's Satanic Aims. Former President Mohammad Khatami has delcared in a speech:
It is a catastrophe that satanic aims and inhuman methods are imposed on the people in the name of God and holiness. Peace is the most beautiful word that exists, but unfortunately we see rare examples in the historical reality (today).

0750 GMT: Here's Some Culture for You. Former Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Mohammad-Hossein Saffar-Harandi has declared at a conference that Iran's "cyber-army" will reach "greater achievements", crushing the Green Movement.

0730 GMT: Nine months after Iran's Presidential election, media attention --- including that of Iranian outlets --- will be focused on a vote next door, as Iraqis go to the polls. We'll be starting our Iran morning in a reflective mood, with a senior reformist politician, Shahrbanou Amani, considering the state of the movement: "We have not decided to remain silent."

Anticipating US legislating punishing firms who trade both with the American Government and with Iran, The New York Times has published a list of 74 companies who could have been affected. Heading the list is Halliburton, the oil and gas drilling services firm connected with former Vice President Dick Cheney, at $27.1 billion. (Like a number of others on the list, Halliburton has now officially withdrawn from Iran.)

The Latest from Iran (3 March): Love and Hate

2015 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch: The family of journalist Emaddedin Baghi have visited him in prison. Baghi's wife Fatemeh Kamali  said, "Although he became weak, his spirit is very strong."

1920 GMT: P.S. Fatemeh Karroubi has said that she will file a lawsuit against the Iranian Press Supervisory Board for shutting down Iran Dokht magazine.

NEW Iran: Today’s Rafsanjani Watch — Clarity or Confusion?
NEW Iran Interview: The State of Tehran’s Nuclear Programme (Cirincione)
Iran Document: Women Activists Write Mousavi & Karroubi

Iran Analysis: The Mousavi Strategy “We Are Still Standing”
The Latest from Iran (2 March): Can The Regime Defuse the Crisis?

1900 GMT: Karroubi Watch. Fatemeh Karroubi, Mehdi Karroubi’s wife, has written an open letter to the Iranian nation after the closure of the magazine Iran Dokht and an attack on her home by plainclothesmen who threw eggs and tomatoes: "I should feel sorry for the country when its Government can’t even tolerate the only press that will critique it."

Karroubi declared, "It’s very disappointing that the Government pays a bunch of bullies to insult the family of the revolutionaries and the family of martyrs." She warned that the fundamentalist totalitarian movement, whose infiltration of the Government worried Imam Khomeini, was now trying to use any opportunity to slaughter the progressive principles of the Constitution.

Fatemeh Karroubi singled out Deputy Minister of Culture Mo-Amin Ramin, whom she claims called the Karroubi home and "threatened them with offensive language", including references to the execution of Mehdi Karroubi. She warned Ramin and his "like-minded allies" that they could never slaughter an idea and that their illegal and unusual behaviours are doomed.

1855 GMT: Defending the Journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists and other organisations have started "Our Society will be a Free Society" to campaign for detained reporters.

1820 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch (cont.). Journalist Noushin Jafari and student Sina Shokouhi have been released.

1640 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Green Voices of Freedom reports that journalist Morteza Kazemian has been released.

An Iranian activist writes that journalist Reza Nourbakh, arrested on 4 August, has also been released on bail.

1600 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. Today's statement of clarification from Hashemi Rafsanjani is so ambiguous that we had to give it a separate entry.

1150 GMT: Economy Watch. Hassan Rohani, a member of the Expediency Council and ally of Hashemi Rafsanjani, has warned that Iran could become an oil importer if its current policies and state of production continue.

1145 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Green Voices for Freedom reports that women’s rights activist Mahboubeh Karami was arrested at her home last night.

0935 GMT: MP Hajsheikh Alikhani has warned that, if necessary, the Iranian Parlaiment will impeach the Deputy Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Mo-Amin Ramin, to ensure his removal.

0930 GMT: Today's Top Tip. United Press International hands over space to Roger Gale, a British member of Parliament former vice chairman of the Conservative Party, to offer this suggestion:
Lifting the ban on the MeK (Mujahedin-e-Khalq, designated by the State Department as a "foreign terrorist organization") would allow the United States and its partners to negotiate with the regime from a position of strength if ever an opportunity did arise. And it would be a cost-free opportunity for the Obama administration to show some teeth to a pariah regime that understands only the language of force.

0915 GMT: Rah-e-Sabz posts that a French satellite provider is threatening to cut off Iranian state channels if Iran does not cease its "jamming" of broadcasts such as BBC Persian.

0825 GMT: RAHANA reports that Sharif University student Mehdi Kalari, detained on 7 December, has been sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison.

0800 GMT: In the 1955 film Night of the Hunter, there is an iconic moment where the villain, played by Robert Mitchum, displays the tattoos on his hands to the camera. On one, "Love". On the other, "Hate".

I am not sure if "Love" and "Hate" are the appropriate words for the regime's efforts, but it is definitely showing two sides to its people. On Tuesday, there was news of more releases of detainees, but there were also the continuing crackdown on the press and the arrest of other activists and public figures. Latest news is of the arrest of another member of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, Navid Khanjani.

The detention which attracted the most attention outside Iran was that of prominent film director Jafar Panahi after a Monday night raid on his house. It is unclear how many of the other 17 people in the house, including Panahi's daughter and wife and guests such as documentary maker Mohammad Rasoulof are also in custody.

Tehran chief prosecutor Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi was vague in explaining why Panahi, who was also briefly detained during 30 July demonstrations and has been barred from leaving Iran, is being held apart from declaring, "His arrest is neither related to his profession as an artist nor linked to political motivations." He did indicate,however, that this detention would not be brief, as the director's interrogation "has just begun".

Amongst Iranian activists, however, the display of regime force that is causing the most comment this morning is the alleged death sentence handed down on a post-election detainee, Mohammad Reza Valian. The 20-year-old university student appeared in court on 3 February, accused of crimes such as appearing at the 17 July Friday Prayer service led by Hashemi Rafsanjani, participating in Qods Day protests in September, and throwing stones on Ashura (27 December).

The report is still based on a single Green Movement source and the death sentence has not been announced by Iranian authorities.