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Entries in Ali Larijani (10)


The Latest from Iran (25 March): Lying Low

2200 GMT: A Very Quiet Day. Little to report, with only ripples coming from references backs to earlier stories. Human Rights Watch, for example, has issued a statement declaring that "Iran's state-owned media, judiciary, and security forces have opened a coordinated attack on human rights groups in recent weeks".

NEW Iran: “We are Going to Make the Future Better”
UPDATED Iran Appeal: Japan’s Deportation of Jamal Saberi
UPDATED Iran: The Controversy over Neda’s “Fiance”
Iran: An Internet Strategy to Support the Greens? (Memarian)
The Latest from Iran (24 March): Regime Confidence, Regime Fear?

1730 GMT: Khabar Online is now also running the report on the supposed  Mousavi-Rafsanjani meeting.

1630 GMT: Rumour of the Day. According to Green Voice of Freedom, Farda News reports that Mir Hossein Mousavi met with Hashemi Rafsanjani on Sunday afternoon. The story comes from “news sources close to the government....This source, which is known for its support for [Ahmadinejad advisor Esfandair Rahim] Mashai, has spoken of the presence of Mousavi’s wife Zahra Rahnavard and a group of reformist leaders in this meeting.”

Hmm.... Neither the Mousavi nor Rafsanjani camps have released any word of such a meeting, nor have websites linked to the men offered any clue of this. The source is close to Rahim-Mashai, who is no friend of Mousavi and no fan of Rafsanjani.

I'll put my money on this as another arrow in the volley being fired at Rafsanjani by groups within the regime. Anyone --- including Mr Rahim-Mashai --- care to enlighten me?

1310 GMT: Meanwhile, in Local Government.... Outside Tehran, there's a claim of major fraud by city council in Mahabad in northwestern Iran, amounting to billion of tomans (millions of dollars), which has supposedly been reported to Ali Larijani. Peyke Iran claims a boycott of the last city council elections by the people, with the current council being backed by the Iranian Government.

1135 GMT: Mahmoud Says "Quit Your Fussing". And here is the latest on that Ahmadinejad nuclear policy, courtesy of a televised speech announcing the construction of a new dam in southwest Iran:
[Western powers] are saying we are worried that Iran may be building a bomb. But we are saying you have built it and even used it. So who should be worried? We or you? They are just making a fuss. They have ended up humiliating themselves.

Let me tell you, the era when they could hurt the Iranian nation is over. The Iranian nation is at such a height that their evil hands can't touch it. They want to stop, even for an hour, the fast speeding train of Iranian progress. But they will be unable to do it.

1125 GMT: Challenging Ahmadinejad on Nukes. Khabar Online offers space to Elaheh Koulaei, professor of political science at Tehran University and a member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, to denounce the President for his failure to protect national interests in his nuclear policy.

1120 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. RAHANA updates on Mousavi campaigner Mansour Miri-Kalanaki, who has been held incommunicado since 17 July.

1100 GMT: Mousavi Watch. So what has Mir Hossein Mousavi been up to? Well, he and his wife, Zahra Rahnavard, visited journalist Azar Mansouri, who was recently released from detention after receiving a three-year suspended sentence from the Revolutionary Court. Rah-e-Sabz has the story and photographs.

Mousavi and Rahnavard also saw the family of Seyed Alireza Beheshti-Shirazi, a senior advisor of Mousavi who has been detained for more than three months.

Former President Mohammad Khatami has been doing his own visiting, spending time with released economist and journalist Saeed Laylaz.

0755 GMT: Parliament v. President. Khabar Online's English-language site headlines, "Ahmadinejad calls for referendum on subsidy plan execution".

It's a strange article, as there is nothing new beyond the President's appeal last Friday and the subsequent hostility from some members of Parliament, including Speaker Ali Larijani. The purpose seems to be to fire a warning shot: "It would be risky measurement [measure] taken by the head of the government since the first referendum led to the early retirement of...the head of the Iran Statistics Center who cooperated with the government on the plan."

Khabar is also featuring more criticisms from individual MPs, such as Sattar Hedayatkhah's declaration that the Government should forward its ideas about subsidy reductions "within legal boundaries".

0730 GMT: The Makan Controversy. As the concern and confusion over Caspian Makan, the purported "fiancé" of Neda Agha Soltan, increases (see separate entry), Josh Shahryar intervenes:
No one speaks for [Neda]....[So] does Caspian Makan speak for the Green Movement? The answer is again, no....

Let’s get over this.

0715 GMT: We begin the morning with an update on a human rights case, with a new protest at the Japanese Embassy in Washington over the attempted deportation to Iran of activist Jamal Saberi. And, with news slowing down from inside Iran on the state of the opposition, we counter pessimism with a note from a reader, "We Are Going to Make the Future Better".

On the international front, "5+1" talks (US, UK, France, Germany, Russia, China) resumed Wednesday on how to deal with Iran's nuclear programme. The Wall Street Journal offers evidence to back up our evaluation that the Obama Administration is downplaying tougher international sanctions against Tehran while pursuing bilateral discussions with countries and companies for withdrawal of investment:
The U.S. has backed away from pursuing a number of tough measures against Iran in order to win support from Russia and China for a new United Nations Security Council resolution on sanctions....Among provisions removed from the original draft resolution the U.S. sent to key allies last month were sanctions aimed at choking off Tehran's access to international banking services and capital markets, and closing international airspace and waters to Iran's national air cargo and shipping lines.

The Latest from Iran (22 March): The Economic Clash

2100 GMT: Connection of Day --- Baghi's Detention and the "Killing" of Khomeini's Son. Fatemeh Kamali, the wife of the detained journalist Emadeddin Baghi, in an interview with Iranian Students News Agency, said: "The main charge held against him is that he believed that the death of Seyed Ahmad Khomeini was suspicious." (Ahmad Khomeini, the son of Imam Khomeini, died in 1995,allegedly from a heart attack. There have always been rumours of foul play,however; Khomeini had criticised the regime a month before his demise.)

Kamali produced a letter from Seyed Hassan Khomeini, Ahmad’s son, to Baghi which mentions that a Mr. Niazi, the head of judiciary for Iran's armed force, has confirmed the existence of some evidence of the murder of Ahmad Khomeini.

2045 GMT: Yes, This Parliament v. President Thing is Real. Mehr News Agency's English-language site puts out a summary, but the news is clear: Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani (see 1450 GMT) and his Parliamentary allies are not going to give way on President Ahmadinejad's demand for a reconsideration of their decision on his subsidy reform and spending plans.

NEW Iran Analysis: Politics and Subsidy Reform (Harris)

NEW Iran: View from Tehran “Changes within the System are Impossible”

Latest Iran Election Video: Nowruz and the Green Movement

Iran Snap Analysis: A Rights-First Approach in Washington?

Iran Video and Summary: Karroubi’s New Year Message

The Latest from Iran (21 March): Happy New Year, Mr Ahmadinejad

2030 GMT: Back from a long academic break to post the full video and transcript of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Included are remarks on Iran's threat to the Middle East and its nuclear programme.

1450 GMT: Larijani Stands Firm. Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani has pointedly rejected President Ahmadinejad's call for a national referendum on the proposed subsidies reductions and spending. Larijani said that Ahmadinejad had been authorised to spend $20 billion extra from the savings from the reductions, and he would not get any more. The Parliament's decision was not up for revision.

1440 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. A reliable EA source confirms that Hasan Lahouti, the grandson of Hashemi Rafsanjani and son of Faezeh Hashemi, was arrested by Iranian authorities at Imam Khomeini airport this morning. While the story broke in Fars, which has been known to post disinformation, it is also being carried in Tabnak and Alef.

Lahouti, who is studying at a British university, was returning to Iran for the Nowruz holidays when he was detained. There has been no comment from Rafsanjani or Faezeh Hashemi.

A few weeks ago, Lahouti was interviewed by BBC Persian, and he criticised the Government's harassment of his mother and grandfather. There is also speculation that Lahouti may have been arrested to put pressure on Mehdi Hashemi, Rafsanjani's son, to return to Iran. Mehdi Hashemi, who was named by Government prosecutors in the Tehran trials as culpable for election manipulation and misuse of funds, remains in Britain --- he has not been to Iran since last summer.

1430 GMT: Economy Watch. We've just posted a new analysis by Kevan Harris of "Politics and Subsidy Reform".

1250 GMT: Communications Battles. Fulfilling an initiative that we noted last week, European Union foreign ministers have declared, "The European Union expresses its grave concern over measures taken by the Iranian authorities to prevent its citizens from freely communicating and receiving information through TV, radio satellite broadcasting and the Internet. The EU is determined to pursue these issues and to act with a view to put an end to this unacceptable situation."

What that action might be was left undefined.

1140 GMT: Holding the Line. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's office is briefing the press that she will tell the American Israel Public Affairs Committee that the US "is taking time to produce these sanctions [against Iran]... but we will not compromise our commitment to preventing Iran from acquiring these weapons".

The surprise here is not Clinton's insistence on "sanctions that will bite" as "the United States is determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons". She has to say this, given the tightrope the US is walking in trying to get the Israeli Government to make a commitment to talks over Palestine.

The surprise is that she is not offering the prospects of tougher sanctions in the near-future: is that because of difficulties in getting international acceptance or because the Obama Administration does not think sanctions --- at least the sweeping version proposed in the US Congress --- are an optimal way of dealing with Tehran?

1120 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. Fars News is claiming that Iranian authorities have detained the grandson of Hashemi Rafsanjani. Hasan Lahouti was allegedly arrested in Tehran airport upon arrival from London late Sunday.

0750 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Student Mehdi Kalari has been released from Evin Prison, reportedly after a protest by 2000 candidates at Sharif University last week against the detention of three classmates.

0720 GMT: In Case You're Still Wondering. Continued coverage in media of Ayatollah Khamenei's blasting of the US in his Nowruz speech in Mashhad. Press TV gives the state line: "Sometimes the US government appears as a wolf or a fox and looks violent and arrogant, and sometimes they look different."

For a different perspective, see the video we have just posted of chanting during Khamenei's speech.

0700 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. It is reported that Mohammad Davari, the imprisoned editor-in-chief of Mehdi Karroubi’s website Saham News, has gone on hunger strike.

Davari was arrested at Karroubi’s office on 8 September. Recently he was moved to solitary confinement, allegedly after complaining about harsh prison conditions during a visit by a Deputy Minister of Intelligence. He went on hunger strike a week ago.

0500 GMT: We begin the morning with a special from inside Iran. The friend of a top EA source has written from the Iranian capital to report on the latest political situation: resistance is alive, the Supreme Leader's "honour is broken", and sanctions are necessary.

Elsewhere, we are watching the ongoing Parliament-President battle over the budget, subsidy reform, and revenues. After three leading members of Parliament --- Tavakkoli, Naderan and Mesbahi Moghaddam --- declared Ahmadinejad's suggestion of a referendum is a defiance of the Majlis' authority and the Constitution. Mohammad-Nabi Habibi, the head of the Motalefeh Party, insisted that Ahmadinejad should obey the Majlis and there was no need for a referendum, while another observer noted that if the President wanted a public vote on the budget, there should also be one on his Government.

Economist Fereydoun Khavand, who is based in Paris, assesses that there is an unprecedented turmoil in economic policies, with the fight over the subsidies and possible 50-60% inflation.


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 (13 March): Settling In

2250 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Rah-e-Sabz has published a list of 192 detainees in Section 240 of Evin Prison. Activists have noted that the list is incomplete.

2240 GMT: Human Rights --- The Regime's Breakdown Strategy. But if the Iranian Government on the one hand is offering release from prison if detainees (including a number of prominent journalists and political activists) are silenced, it is also moving aggressively to break apart the human rights movement.

NEW Iran Special: Zahra Rahnavard on Women’s Rights and The Green Movement
NEW Iran: The Opposition’s New PR Campaign in the US
NEW Iran Analysis: Rafsanjani’s “Finger in the Dike” Strategy
UPDATED Iran Document: The Hardliners’ Project — Full Text (Bahavar)
Iran: An Opening Thought on the Disconnection in Washington
Video: “Iran at a Crossroads” Conference (10 March)
The Latest from Iran (12 March): Assessments

The propaganda strategy of tarnishing human rights activists has been re-doubled tonight with Kayhan joining Fars in declaring that 25-30 activists have been arrested because they serve as "cover" for the Mujahedin-e-Khalq and US-sponsored cyber-warfare.

Human Rights Activists in Iran's websites are still hacked and redirected to (a website reportedly run by the Revolutionary Guard) this evening.

2230 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch --- The Regime's Release Strategy.

One of the two big stories this evening is of a flurry of releases from Evin Prison. According to BBC Persian, prominent journalists Lili Farhadpour, Vahid Pourostad and Somayyeh Momeni have been released, all on personal bail (someone else is ready to go to jail if the terms of bail are broken) or small monetary bails. However, other prominent reporters such as Akbar Montajabi, Ehsan Mehrabi and Emad Baghi, are still behind bars.

An EA source also reports that Iranian-American academic Kian Tajbakhsh, who had been imprisoned for 15 years, has been released. The terms are unknown.

1810 GMT: Cyber-War on Human Rights. Ahmad Batebi, a spokesman for Human Rights in Iran, confirms that all HRA websites have been hacked and visitors redirected to the regime's "cyber-war" site

1800 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. While his ally Hassan Rohani attacks the Government (see 1340 GMT), Hashemi Rafsanjani continues his political balancing act with a statement that students should not remain silent in political matters but should communicate their demands in a “logical” manner in order to achieve reform.

Rafsanjani advised students to evaluate the current situation so they did not create excuses for people who are trying to use "security" as pretext to take control of society. He expalined added, “The atmosphere needs to remain logical and wise...[so those who] are expressing good ideas will ultimately triumph.” Students should speak in a manner so their enemies could not “take advantage” of them.

1755 GMT: The Attack on Human Rights Activists. The website of Human Rights Activists News Agency, on the same day that HRA was accused of being a cover group for terrorism and cyber-warfare (see 1735 GMT), has been hacked by Iranian authorities. The site re-directs to, which activists claim is a location which tracks its visitors.

1750 GMT: Football and Politics. The latest YouTube video claiming that football has been used as a vehicle for protest comes from a match in Tabriz. Confirmation of the slogan being chanted by the crowd would be appreciated.


1735 GMT: Propaganda (or Worse) Item of Day. Fars News has claimed that Human Rights Activists in Iran is a cover group for the "terrorist" Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MKO) with links to the US Government in a cyber-war against Iran. Naming (in other words, targeting) some of the members, Fars claims that 30 people who provided anti-filtering software have been arrested. It adds that Iranian authorities have asked Interpol to arrest HRA members outside Iran.

1730 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Azar Mansouri, a senior member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, has been sentenced to three years in prison. She was convicted of "disturbing public order while participating in gatherings, issuing propaganda against the regime, spreading lies and plotting to harm national security".

1340 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch (and This is Definitely Worth Watching). Tehran Times have now posted an English version of Rafsanjani ally Hassan Rohani's attack on the Government (0940 GMT) and, even in translation, it is striking:

*Speaking at a ceremony to mark the first death anniversary of the late Imam Khomeini’s wife, Rohani...said, “We should not allow a group to make attempts to eliminate another group.”

Interpretation: The Government should back off attempts to "break" or contain Rafsanjani through pressure on his family. Could Rohani be also be warning against an attempt to break reformist leaders?

*It should not be allowed that some elements dare to make every improper and derogatory remarks against Imam’s household and companions, he emphasized.

Interpretation: Stop attacking Seyed Hassan Khomeini, the Imam's grandson, who has been critical of the Government and supportive of the opposition.

*The cleric added some figures believe that the country can be governed by a particular group, but according to Imam’s teachings all people should be engaged.

Interpretation: If a Government is not legitimate, then....

*He also noted that Imam used to attach high importance to the people’s votes and even put the name of the Islamic Republic to the vote.

Interpretation: Well, in the context of June 2009 and "Where is My Vote?", what would you think?

If Rohani is speaking on behalf of Rafsanjani, this is a powerful signal that the former President is now going to let Ahmadinejad rest easy.

1300 GMT: Iran Nuke Update --- Larijani Yes, Ahmadinejad No. You really can't get much more blatant than this from Khabar Online:
Iran's Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani paid his last foreign visit in the current Iranian year to Japan. As he earlier has made notable diplomatic achievements through his trips, many local analysts believe the diplomacy adopted by Parliament Speaker reveals the flops and drawbacks of governmental diplomacy.

Larijani's diplomacy consisted of putting forth the proposal for Japan to serve as the 3rd country in a deal to enrich Iran's uranium overseas.

1250 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Kurdish writer Susan Mohammadkhani Ghiasvand has been arrested at her home in Karaj.

1245 GMT: Student Protests. Students at Mazandaran University have carried out a two-day hunger strike to protest pressure from university officials. About 15 students had been summoned by the university's disciplinary committee.

1230 GMT: Economy Watch. Opponents of the Ahmadinejad economic strategy are warning that workers' "real wages" will drop 50% in this Iranian year. Labour organisations are demanding a guaranteed minimum wage.

1215 GMT: Women's Rights and the Green Movement. We have posted an extensive, illuminating interview with Zahra Rahnavard: "-It is impossible to expect that the general political movement — in this case, the Green Movement — will be able to successfully eliminate inequality and violence against women without help from an established and independent women’s movement."

1010 GMT: Qalibaf Attacks. An interesting intervention from Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, who has kept a low profile but has still been linked to an anti-Ahmadinejad group within the conservatives. In an interview, he has pronounced that Iran has "no time for errors" because "for 14 months no serious work has been done in this country". Qalibaf say dissidents should be invited to share revolutionary goals through hard work.

0940 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. Hassan Rohani, a member of the Expediency Council and an ally of Hashemi Rafsanjani, has  sharply attacked the Government. He said some people want to govern the country with a gang, but Iranians should not allow society to fall into superstition and petrification.

0930 GMT: Rafsanjani Blackout? Rah-e-Sabz has published what it claims is a memorandum from management of the Islamic Republic News Agency, ordering staff not to publish the image of Hashemi Rafsanjani.

0830 GMT: Parliament Slaps Down Ahmadinejad? Have to admit that I missed this while I was on the road....

The latest chapter on the battle over the President's budget has been written over Ahmadinejad's insistence on being able to spend $40 billion of the savings from his subsidy reform plan; Parliament had authorised only $20 billion.

The week began with a meeting between Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani and the Supreme Leader, a day after Ahmadinejad requested Khamenei's help. It ended yesterday when the President showed up at the Majlis to make a speech (he has done this before in the post-election crisis, even though it is a technical violation of Parliamentary rules). Ahmadinejad insisted, “I don’t believe in inflation, and inflation will decrease next year.”

The speech and the President's personal lobbying were not enough: the Parliament voted 111-105 against the $40 billion proposal.

0825 GMT: We've posted a separate entry on what appears to be a new push by Iranian opposition leaders, through representatives, to sway US political opinion.

0745 GMT: Rumour of Day - Khamenei and Ahmadinejad Split? Tehran Bureau reports the claim of "a senior aide to opposition cleric Mehdi Karroubi that Iran's supreme leader has cooled his support for president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad". The assertion was made to journalists at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on Friday.

Beyond the headline, it's not much of a story. The senior aide "who worked with [Karroubi] for more than 25 years" is not actually in Iran but living in exile (while he is anonymous in the TB story, skilled Iran-watchers will identify him easily). The claim --- at least as reported in the article --- has no specific evidence but echoes a number of points (such as the incident over Ahmadinejad's close ally Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai) that we have noted since last summer.

What is far more significant is that this is a renewed Green Movement push to get support in the US. Putting forth the vision of a Khamenei-Ahmadinejad rift tries to shift a US Government which is based solely on "engagement"; it may even accept that Washington can work with the Supreme Leader while boycotting the President.

Even more important, but tucked away in the TB story, is this assertion from the senior aide: "The end goal is to have transparent, free and fair elections....Once that happens, you can be certain the Iranian people will elect [a president] who will secure peaceful and friendly relations with the world."

Last October, when a senior aide to Karroubi appeared at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, US journalists criticised the Green Movement's speaker for refusing to declare acceptance of Israel and renunciation of Iran's nuclear programme. In this article, no mention of the Israelis or the Bomb and thus no cause for a dismissal of the Greens.

Instead, the senior aide said that the Obama Administration's nuclear-first approach, at the expense of ignoring Iran's human rights violations, is "exactly what Ahmadinejad wants....If the U.S. reverses this approach and focuses on pressuring Iran for its human rights abuses...this is what the Iranian government fears most." he said.

And another point to notice:
Karroubi's aide recommended the use of "smart sanctions", targeted financial sanctions against members of the Revolutionary Guard. "For such sanctions to be truly 'smart', we need only to look at the multitude of companies set up in Dubai in the past 3-5 years," he said, hinting that much of import traffic to Iran from the UAE happened under the auspices of the Guards....

"As an Iranian, I'd hate to see our citizens suffer. But even if they are hurt in the short term, whatever shortens the life of this government is in the interests of the [Iranian] people."

0720 GMT: A US Rights-Based Strategy? While the panellists at Wednesday's NIAC conference were all focused on a nuclear-first approach to Iran (and I haven't forgotten that I owe you an analysis of the event), there are signs that the US Government is pursuing a more nuanced strategy.

On Friday, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley issued a statement of Washington's "increasing concern" about Iran's "ongoing persecution" of religious minorities, including Baha'is, and called on Tehran to protect human rights at home.

Crowley noted that at least 25 Baha'is have been detained recently and as many as 60 are now imprisoned in Iran "solely on the basis of their religious beliefs". He also asserted that Iranian authorities had detained more than a dozen Christians, "some of whom are being held in custody without substantiated charges".

Crowley's statement follows Thursday's State Department release ofits annual review of human rights conditions around the world, which including a sharply-worded section on Iran. The report claimed Iran is continuing to restrict freedom of expression and assembly, with 70 people killed and 4,000 more detained since June 2009.

0710 GMT: After five days on the road, a chance to catch breath and review the latest in Iran....

We begin with a separate analysis, as Masoud Shafaee considers the manoeuvres of Hashemi Rafsanjani: "While Rafsanjani’s current primary concern may be preventing Ahmadinejad from tearing Iran’s already-polarized political landscape asunder, that may in time prove to be lead to his grander scheme: he was the boy who saved the city from ruin."

A new website publishes (in Persian) details of 109 victims of post-election conflict.

An open letter by activists calls for immediate assistance for more than 5000 Iranian refugees displaced by the post-election crisis and living in Turkey.

The Latest from Iran (10 March): The View from Washington

2305 GMT: Back on the Road Again. Off for flight to UK and work in Liverpool so will be quiet for a while. Thanks to everyone for backing up EA on an eventful day.

2300 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Reports that student activist and weblog writer Fouad Shams has been released from prison after 96 days. Saeed Nourmohammadi, a member of the youth branch of the Islamic Iran Participation Front has been freed after 4 1/2 months in detention.

NEW Iran Interview: Habibollah Peyman “Change Through Social Awareness”
Iran Analysis: Corruption Within the Government?
The Latest from Iran (9 March): Political Acts

2255 GMT: Maintaining Control. Radio Zamaneh headlines, "Iran's Supreme Leader May Approve Changes to Electoral Policies", but the more you read, the more this is an assertion of Khamenei's authority rather than reform.

Meeting members of the Assembly of Experts, the Supreme Leader said that he will approve the changes in “general policies of the elections” under discussion in the Expediency Council, headed by Hashemi Rafsanjani.

However, Khamenei added that the opinion of the Expediency Council regarding election policies is “debatable”, and once he is informed of their decision, he will enforce what he deems necessary. Hardly a ringing endorsement of the Council's moves for change.....

2240 GMT: Economy Watch. It's not the headlines over the sanctions that should be garnering attention; instead, keep an eye on the companies ceasing business with Iran.

Royal Dutch Shell has announced that it has stopped selling gasoline/petrol to Iran which, despite its oil reserves, is dependent on imports to meet domestic demand. Shell still receives revenues from an oilfield deal completed in 2005. (The New York Times also reports that Shell "has a natural gas development in the works" but --- and here is where a Washington conference comes in useful --- informed insiders say there is little likelihood of the project moving ahead in the foreseeable future.)

Ingersoll-Rand, a manufactuer of air compressors and cooling systems, has also said that it will no longer allow its foreign subsidiaries to sell parts or products to Iran.

2230 GMT: More In-Fighting. Kayhan editor Hossein Shariatmadari, in an editorial “Outrageous Overstatement”, has gone after Presidential Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai for his recent “base,” “hyperbolic”, and “pompous” remarks. Shariatmadari accused Rahim-Mashai of seeking to undermine the presidency, distort the principle of velayat-e-faqih (clerical authority), and cause rifts among the principlists.

2225 GMT: Watch This Closely. Earlier this week Mr Verde picked up on the challenge of the head of Iran's judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, that he was going to root out corruption in the Government and punish those responsible, including a high-ranking official.

Well, Sadegh's got back-up from the Parliament that his brother Ali heads:
A majority of Iranian lawmakers have asked Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani to decisively deal with the case of a major ring of corrupt government employees.

Larijani announced on Sunday that the judicial system had arrested 11 members of a ring of corrupt employees who embezzled millions of dollars by forging government documents.

Ayatollah Larijani stated that 11 key members of the ring have been arrested and all of them have made confessions.

In a letter sent to the Judiciary chief on Wednesday, 216 MPs also thanked him for his efforts to ensure that the members of the gang were arrested.

But the MPs said that based on the available information, the embezzlement ring has been active in more than one state organization and therefore the rest of its members should be tracked down and arrested.

They said they have been informed that certain people with high-ranking positions played more active roles in the ring than those who have been arrested.

The lawmakers urged Larijani to deal with all the members of the ring, regardless of their positions.

"Certain people with high-ranking positions"? First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi, by chance?

2200 GMT: Back from a most interesting day of Iran panels. Hoping to collect thoughts for an analysis, but I'm very tired. So, for now, thanks a million to everyone for all the great support.

1300 GMT: March on Washington. I'm off to Capitol Hill to see some folks about Iran. We'll be on the road for awhile, so keep us up-to-date with developments by posting in our Comments section.

1220 GMT: We have posted the thoughts of Dr Habibollah Peyman, the head of the banned Movement of Combatant Muslims, on the strategy of the Green Movement.

1115 GMT: Kiarostami Speaks Out. The prominent Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami has published an open letter in a Tehran newspaper calling for the release of Jafar Panahi and Mahmoud Rasoulof, fellow directors who were detained last week.

Kiarostami has also sent an English translation thorough a friend to The New York Times, which prints the text.

1105 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Persian2English summarises news of a series of releases on bail:
Emad Bahavar, member of reformist group Nehzat-e Azadi [Freedom Movement of Iran] , and Yashar Darolshafa, a student activist, were released last night.

Political activist Mehrdad Rahimi was released last night after posting a $70,000 bail. Rahimi, who was arrested over two months ago, was under pressure to submit to confessions on live television.

Political activist Hamideh Ghasemi, journalist Ahmad Jalali Farahani, and Saleh Noghrekar were also released after a month in prison.

Saleh Noghrekar is the nephew of opposition leader, Zahra Rahnavard. He was released on a $50,000 bail.

Mehdi Amizesh, children’s rights activist, was also released on bail after two months in prison.

1055 GMT: Mahmoud Knocks, K arzai Not at Home. Here is the not-so-dramatic of the saga of President Ahmadinejad saying he would go to Afghanistan on Monday (Sunday), Ahmadinejad not going to Afghanistan (Monday), Ahmadinejad saying "oh, I meant Wednesday" (Tuesday).

Well, the good news is that the President finally got to see Kabul's sights, and Hamid Karzai is one of them. Initial reports indicated that the Afghanistan President was not at home, but the two men finally showed up at a press conference.

With US Secretary of Defense Gates still in Afghanistan --- his visit with Karzai on Monday was the likely reason for the postponement of Ahmadinejad's trip --- the Iranian President took a swipe at Washington, "I believe that they themselves are playing a double game. They themselves created terrorists and now they're saying that they are fighting terrorists." Gates had put out the "double game" charge against Tehran earlier in the week.

1045 GMT: I Don't Even Like the Guy. If Jahan News was trying to undermine Mehdi Karroubi with the claim that he was very nice to Saeed Mortazavi, the Ahmadinejad aide who has been blamed for the post-election abuses at Kahrizak, the effort does not appear to have worked. Karroubi hasn't reacted, but Mortazavi is more than a bit upset. His office put out this statement:
Mr. Mortazavi attended a memorial service held for the mother of his colleague in Nour Mosque on Saturday....Mr. Mehdi Karroubi was present at the beginning of the ceremony and left approximately half an hour before Mr. Mortazavi arrived. Therefore, Mr. Karroubi and Mortazavi never encountered each other.

It is not clear what the intentions of this website was in reporting the warm exchange of pleasantries and kisses between these two individuals [Karroubi, Mortazavi]. The intention to disseminate such false news reports is also a matter to reflect upon.

The son of Mr. Karroubi was one of the suspects the former Tehran prosecutor [Mortazavi] dealt with and the Etemade Melli newspaper owned by Mr. Karroubi was banned by him therefore such fabricated stories aimed at influencing public opinion will have no success.

0450 GMT: We're off for some downtime before the Wednesday conference. Back in a few hours.

0435 GMT: The War on Football. Yesterday we noted that Iranian authorities had issued a warning, for an unspecified reason, to a football publication.

Well, here's an even more serious football story from Iran Human Rights Voice:
Football journalist Abdollah Sadoughi was arrested in the city of Tabriz, north-west Iran, on 18 January, after publishing a poster supporting the city’s Traktor Sazi football team. He is held without charge at Tabriz prison, and is on hunger strike in protest at what he considers to be his baseless detention....

Abdollah Sadoughi, aged 33, a member of Iran’s Azerbaijani minority, writes for the Iranian publications Goal, Corner and Khosh Khabar (Good News). He supports Tabriz’s Traktor Sazi football team. The authorities have accused him of acts “against national security” including supporting “Pan-Turkism” for publishing posters, one of which says, in the Azerbaijani Turkic language, “All of Azerbaijan feels pride with you”, alongside an image of the football team. Abdollah Sadoughi maintains he had permission from the relevant authorities to print posters [but] Azerbaijani Turkic is not recognized as an official language in Iran....

In late February, Abdollah Sadoughi began a hunger strike. According to media reports, soon after starting his hunger strike he was transferred to solitary confinement and held in filthy conditions, and then moved to a cell with criminal convicts. On 2 March 2010, having lost considerable weight and suffering from various medical problems, he was transferred to the clinic within Tabriz prison. Abdollah Sadoughi has been able to meet his lawyer and his family, most recently on 6 March, when he said he would continue his hunger strike until he is released or brought before a court.

0430 GMT: Does the Movement Live? Mohammad Sadeghi offers a spirited response to those who claimed 22 Bahman (11 February) marked the end of the Green Movement:
Any measure of the movement's success must focus on the incredible changes brought about in Iran thus far, rather than the outcome of specific tactics. Conversations on the proper role of government, which would have been unthinkable less than a year ago, are now commonplace throughout the country. The government is constantly on the defensive on issues ranging from sexual abuse in prisons to its failed economic policies. Although the regime maintains tight control over all levers of power in society -- police and security forces, the media, the oil industry, etc. -- its popular support has been steadily slipping since June's presidential election. These changes have taken place because of the millions of Iranians who see it as their duty to peacefully protest in the streets, document the regime's brutality, and spread this documentation around the world. In other words, the movement owes its greatest successes to the horizontal organization and innovative use of technology that [critics are] so quick to dismiss.

0315 GMT: Now in place in Washington for Wednesday's open hearing on Iran and US-Iran relations. Will get an insider's look later today but already one point of note has emerged: the Ali Larijani mission to Japan for a possible uranium enrichment deal should be taken seriously.

That impression is accompanied by signals from Iranian state media of confidence that the push for tougher international sanctions on Tehran will fail. Under the headline, "Anti-Iran plot failing, Israeli envoy laments", Press TV carries Agence France Presse's quotation from Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev: "The chances now seem grim regarding sanctions that will be crippling." Shalev said Russia and China "are still looking to the diplomatic track" and appear reluctant to back a new round of sanctions.

Back in Iran, the trial of 12 police officers charged with post-election abuses in Kahrizak Prison has begun.