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Entries in Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (29)


The Latest from Iran (30 March): Strategies

2000 GMT: Politics, Religion, and Culture. Reihaneh Mazaheri in Mianeh offers a detailed article setting out how President Ahmadinejad has tried to use financial support of religious and cultural centres, often supervised by his close allies, to reinforce his political base. An extract:
The administration of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is using state funds to spread its political and religious ideology and at the same time maintain powerful allies during times of turmoil, critics say.

The authorities have set aside 4.5 billion of the 347 billion US dollar, 2010-11 budget, which took effect on March 21, for cultural matters - but much of it is spent on religious and culturally hardline institutions sympathetic to the administration.

Ever since first becoming president in 2005, Ahmadinejad has made a clear effort to defend religious groups and organisations to a degree previously unknown in the country.

He set out his thinking in a speech to clergy in southern Fars province in 2007, saying, “In the budget of previous administrations, no room was found for religious centres and religious matters. However, we have taken them into consideration in the budget.”

The budget for “mosque centres”, one of the government’s main sources of popular support, has increased to 25 million dollars from 1.6 million in 2005 at the end of the term of reformist president Mohammad Khatami, according to Mohammad Hosseini, the minister of culture and Islamic guidance.

NEW Iran: Preventing Tehran from “Going Nuclear” (Ramazani)
NEW Iran Politics and Music: Sasi Mankan’s “Karroubi”
NEW Iran: The Green Movement’s Next Steps (Shahryar)
Iran: A View from the Labour Front (Rahnema)
Iran’s Nukes: False Alarm Journalism (Sick)
The Latest from Iran (29 March): Questionable Authority

1545 GMT: A Media Note. To the Charlie Rose Show on the US Public Broadcasting Service: I've now viewed what amounted to a half-hour propaganda special for the Iranian regime, aired in the US last night. Given the substitution of polemic, distortions, and misrepresentations posing as "analysis", I'm not even posting a link.

I'm hoping that this unfortunate interview disappears quickly. However, if it receives any attention as supposed "insight" into post-election Iran, I will be back with a fury.

In the meantime, this should suffice: this programme is a disservice and, indeed, a disgrace given the thousands detained, abused, and denied rights and freedoms. Speak to them, not the two "experts" to whom you turned over airtime last evening.

1540 GMT: Today's Propaganda Drama. After the reported rescue of Iranian diplomat Heshmatollah Attarzadeh Niaki from abductors in Pakistan, the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence has declared, “The Islamic Republic did not capitulate to any of this armed group’s demands which is supported by the US and Mossad.”

1535 GMT: Grounding Iran's Airliine. The European Commission has imposed a ban on flights by Iran Air within Europe.

1530 GMT: The "Other" Khamenei Visits Freed Reformist. Hadi Khamenei, the brother of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, joined others in visiting Mostafa Tajzadeh, the former Deputy Minister of Interior who is on temporary release for Nowruz, at his house last night.

1520 GMT: Revival of the Photograph. Pedestrian reports that Amir Sadeqi of the photo blog Tehran Live is out of prison and again taking and posting his photographs.

1500 GMT: Another Death Sentence. Back from an academic break and an appearance on Al Jazeera English's Inside Story (airing 1730 GMT) about the latest in Iraq's power politics, I find confirmation on websites of the news --- reported yesterday --- that 42-year-old schoolteacher Abdolreza Ghanbari has been sentenced to death for  "Mohareb (war against God) through contacts with dissident groups". This broad charge covers "suspicious emails and having contacts with television media outside the country".

1110 GMT: Joke of the Day. An EA correspondent has pointed out the feature from the blog Persian Letters on post-election humour in Iran but, in my opinion, the best joke came from a reader in the comments:

Q. How Many Basijis Does It Take To Change A Lightbulb?
A. None. The Basijis will sit in the dark and blame Israel and the USA.

0810 GMT: Latest on the battle over subsidy reform comes from "principlist" member of Parliament Mohammad Hossein Farhangi, who says the Government is obliged to act according to the vote of the Majlis.

0800 GMT: Rule of Law. Rah-e-Sabz tries to interpret what a meeting between the Supreme Leader and the head of Iran's judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, means for Iran's judicial procedure and sentencing.

Rah-e-Sabz also claims information on a strategy by the Revolutionary Guards to avoid exposure of human rights violations, including the effort to crack down on human rights organisations in Iran.

0655 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Children's rights activist Maryam Zia Mohaved has reportedly been released from Evin Prison after a 13-day hunger strike.

0645 GMT: We begin today with three Iran specials. Josh Shahryar thinks about the next steps for the Green Movement. R.K. Ramazani evaluates the best US strategy to deal with Iran's nuclear programme. And, after the arrest of underground rap artist Sasi Mankan, we post his April 2009 single "Karroubi".

The Latest from Iran (28 March): Dealing with Exaggerations

2150 GMT: The website of the late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri claims that 30 people were arrested at the funeral of his wife, MahSoltan Rabani (see 1730 GMT).

1815 GMT: Sanctions Division. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has again rejected new sanctions on Iran. In an interview with Spiegel, ahead of a visit to Turkey by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Erdogan maintained, "We must first try to find a diplomatic solution. "What we need here is diplomacy, and then more diplomacy....Everything else threatens world peace."

NEW Iran’s Nukes: The Dangerous News of The New York Times
The Latest from Iran (27 March): Rumours

1745 GMT: Denial of a Rumour. Yesterday we reported the story racing around the Internet that the Revolutionary Guard was laundering money through Dubai and Bahrain, using Ali Jannati, the son of Guardian Council leader Ahmad Jannati, and putting the funds in a Swiss bank.

We would have left it at that, but Press TV now reports:

Iran has denied reports that the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) was involved in the money-laundering operation allegedly run by a Bahraini minister.

"We strongly deny all claims about an alleged involvement of the Guards in the operations," said Iranian Ambassador to Doha Hossein Amir Abdollahian....

The allegation came to light after Bahraini State Minister Mansour Bin Rajab was sacked for his supposed involvement in a money-laundering operation.

1730 GMT: A Restricted Funeral for Montazeri's Wife. MahSoltan Rabani, the wife of the late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, was laid to rest today under strict security measures in Qom. Rabani's son Saeed Montazeri said:
Security forces and forces in plain clothes created such a security atmosphere that we were basically unable to carry out the special prayers and mourning ceremony. Tens of government vehicles brought the body without allowing any access to it even by her family. They made a small stop at the [Masoumeh] shrine and quickly removed her form the premises....

They not only did not allow us to hold the ceremony, they did not even let us bury her in the location that we had in mind.

Saeed Montazeri's conclusion? "They are even scared of a corpse and its burial.”

1530 GMT: We have updated our analysis on Obama Administration policy and this morning's New York Times claim of a search for undisclosed Iranian nuclear sites.

0950 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Green Voice of Freedom claims that Tehran University medical student Shirin Gharachedaghi was abducted by plainclothes forces on Friday; her whereabouts are unknown.

Peyke Iran reports that Reza Khandan, a member of the Iranian Writers Association, remains in prison after more than six weeks, even though bail has been paid.

Parleman News writes that Dr. Ali Akbar Soroush of Mazandaran University, a member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, has been in prison since 13 March.

Rah-e-Sabz claims 181 human rights violations in Kurdistan over the last three months, leading tothe deaths of at least 25 people.

0945 GMT: We've published an analysis of what I see as poor, even dangerous, journalism from The New York Times on Iran's nuclear programme.

0930 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. The reformist Parleman News publishes a barbed "historical" analysis on Hashemi Rafsanjani as a mediator between "right" and "left" positions. The analysis contends that the right stopped supporting Rafsanjani when the "left" had been sufficiently weakened, leaving Rafsanjani without a role. It adds that the former Preisdent should have established a party; if so, Iran would not necessarily be in its current predicament.

0720 GMT: An International Nowruz Exaggeration? Khabar Online claims that the First International Nowruz Celebrations (see 0620 GMT), scheduled for two days, only lasted one and never made it to Shiraz, which was supposed to co-host the ceremonies with Tehran.

0710 GMT: Arab Engagement. The Secretary-General of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, has told the League's summit in Libya, "We have to open a dialogue with Iran. I know there is a worry among Arabs regarding Iran but this situation confirms the necessity of a dialogue with Iran."

0655 GMT: President v. Parliament. The Ahmadinejad fightback for his subsidy cuts and spending plans continues, with three members of Parliament --- Hamid Rassai, Hossein Sobhaninia, and Esmail Kowsari --- pressing in Iranian state media for approval of the President's full request for $40 billion from his subsidy reductions. The Majlis has only approved $20 billion, and Speaker Ali Larijani and allies have taken a strong line against any revision of the decision.

Another MP, Mohammad Kousari, has suggested that Parliament approve $30 billion.

0645 GMT: Repent! Mahdi Kalhor, President Ahmadinejad's media advisor, raises both eyebrows and a smile with his forthright declarations in Khabar Online.

Kalhor started with a move for conciliation, saying that if all who made mistakes during the post-election turmoil adopted modesty and accepted their faults, people would forgive them.

But the advisor then complained that Iran's state media do not suppport Ahmadinejad, claiming this was in contrast to the period of Mohammad Khatami, "Everything was represented as fair enough and it caused damage to Mr. Khatami more than the others."

According to Kalhor, there have been no Ahmadinejad mistakes and "when the rivals constantly accuse you of lying, you may not tolerate or control such a climate."

0620 GMT: We begin Sunday dealing with inflated "news" inside and outside Iran. Iranian state media is hammering away at the two days of the First International Nowruz Celebrations to show the regional legitimacy of the regime. First, there was President Ahmadinejad's declaration alongside compatriots from compatriots from Tajikistan , Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Then there was the Supreme Leader's statement: "This event and its continuity can serve as an appropriate ground for bringing governments and nations in the region closer together....[This can be a] cultural gift and conveyance from nations that mark Nowruz to other nations, particularly the West."

(I leave it to readers to decode the photograph of the Supreme Leader and the regional Presidents, with Ahmadinejad relegated to the back of the group. Surely just an error of positioning?)

Meanwhile in the US, another type of distracting exaggeration. After weeks of silence, the Iran Nuclear Beat of The New York Times (reporters David Sanger and William Broad) are back with two pieces of fear posing as news and analysis. The two, fed by dissenting voices in the International Atomic Energy Agency and by operatives in "Western intelligence agencies", declare, "Agencies Suspect Iran Is Planning New Atomic Sites".

The leap from their sketchy evidence to unsupported conclusion --- Iran is not just pursuing an expansion of uranium enrichment but The Bomb, bringing a climactic showdown --- is propped up by Sanger's "Imagining an Israeli Strike on Iran".

The Latest from Iran (27 March): Rumours

2330 GMT: A Quick Note. We've taken the evening off to spend time with friends and unwind. We'll be back bright and early on Sunday.

Meanwhile, here's a new analysis for you: "Israel, Iran, and 'Existential Threat'".

1800 GMT: Public Funeral for Montazeri's Wife Blocked? Iranian officials have objected to a funeral procession for the wife of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, who passed away today (see 1125 GMT), from the family house to the shrine of Masoumeh (the sister of Imam Reza, the eighth Imam of Shia) in Qom.

Ahmad Montazeri, the son of the Ayatollah, told BBC Persian that the officials limited the funeral ceremony to 150 metres from the burial site . The family objected, so the compromise is that the public can gather in the Masoumeh shrine where Grand Ayatollah Shobeyri-Zanjani will say the prayer.

The Latest from Iran (26 March): Break Time

1730 GMT: Temporarily Freed, Politically Active. Mostafa Tajzadeh, senior member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front and former Deputy Minister of Interior, continues to use his temporary release from prison to visit families of detainees and others who have been bailed but face long prison sentences. The last meeting is with key reformist thinker Saeed Hajarian, who was jailed for more than three months and put on trial after the June election.

1515 GMT: Academics and Political Prisoners. Students have sent an open letter to the head of Iran's judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, to protest the arrest of Abdollah Yousefzadegan, a law student at Allameh Tabatabai University and winner of the nationwide Olympiad of Literature. Yousefzadegan was detained on 15 March in Mashhad and has not yet been charged.

The letter condemns the harsh treatment of the academic elite and maintains that the arrest of Yousefzadegan “destroys the credibility of the judiciary and trust in the security institutions of the Islamic Republic".

1310 GMT: Rumour Denied. Mir Hossein Mousavi's website Kalemeh is denying the report, first circulated by Farda News, that Mousavi met Hashemi Rafsanjani on the first day of Nowruz.

1125 GMT: Rah-e-Sabz reports that the wife of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri passed away in Qom this morning. Her funeral will take place tomorrow 10:00 am local time.

Montazeri, the one-time successor to Ayatollah Khomeini, died in December.

1100 GMT: Nowruz Visits. Mir Hossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard saw the family of Amir Aboutalebi, a Mousavi advisor who has been detained since January. Despite the efforts of Aboutalebi's family, he was not granted temporary release for Iranian New Year. Aboutalebi recently had his first phone call with his family after 45 days of detention.

A group of pro-Green Movement students of Elm-o-Sana’at University, where Aboutalebi's children study, also sent their sympathy to the family. Aboutalebi was a political prisoner of the Shah, losing an eye during his detention and was also pursued by the Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MKO) after the Revolution.

0950 GMT: Reformist Challenge. Rasoul Montakhab-nia, the deputy head of the Etemade Melli party, has declared that the Government "cannot speak with language of force to people." Montakhab-nia say that this new year should be a year of forgiveness(for protesters, and that responsible political figures should try to involve all Iranians in the "nezam" (system) and Revolution of the Islamic Republic.

0940 GMT: Subsidy Fightback. The President's supporters are hitting back at Parliament's criticism of his economic manoeuvres (see 0755 GMT). Former Minister of Health Alireza Marandi says that the duty of the Majlis is to support the Government, while Lotfollah Forouzandeh asks the Parliament to take the burden off the Government's shoulders and accept the subsidy cuts and spending proposals.

0935 GMT: Friday Prayer Round-Up. Rah-e-Sabz has the highlights of prayer addresses throughout the country. An EA correspondent gives the top prize to Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi in Tehran with "the keys  God offered to the Supreme Leader" to solve Iran's problems.  Runner-up is  Ali Hajizadeh from Tabriz, who has discovered a "Velvet Revolution" in Iraq.

0925 GMT: Rumour of Day (2). The Iranian blog Che Mishavad (What Happens) blog claims that the Revolutionary Guard is laundering money, including revenues from drug smuggling, in Bahrain and Kuwait. The money is then placed through Ali Jannati, the son of Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, the head of the Guardian Council, into a Swiss bank.

0915 GMT: Rumour of Day.  Rah-e-Sabz claims that the Supreme Leader promised Hashemi Rafsanjani that most political prisoners would be freed. However, when the head of Iran's judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, tried to do so, the move was blocked by the "hard-line" Judge Abolqasem Salavati.

0755 GMT: The Subsidy Battle. Khabar Online keeps up the pressure on the President, featuring the claim of member of Parliament Hasan Qafouri Fard that Ahmadinejad is not authorised to call for a national referendum on his subsidy reduction and spending plans.

The Parliament approved an extra $20 billion in the Iranian budget from the subsidy cuts but has refused Ahmadinejad's $40 billion request.

0740 GMT: The relative quiet in Iran continues, as global attention focuses on the elections next door in Iraq. Press TV's top domestic headline is "Iran wins 3rd Sitting Volleyball World Championships".

There is a bit of a show for the first International Nowruz Celebrations in Tehran and Shiraz, as President Ahmadinejad tries to boost the image of international legitimacy. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Tajikistan's President Emomali Rahmon, and Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov are in Tehran for the two-day event, and Iranian state media reports that they will be joined by Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek.

A useful story from the Carnegie Council, which gets behind all the sanctions huffing-and-puffing to identify the key development, "U.S. Pressures Oil Companies to Leave Iran". This passage deserves attention and repetition:

Since the start of 2010, oil giant Royal Dutch Shell stated it would no longer sell gasoline to Iran, along with Glencore (Switzerland), Vitol (Switzerland), and Trafigura (Amsterdam). British Petroleum and Reliance (India) stopped selling to Iran in 2009. With this series of departures, Iran now imports its oil from only five sources: Total (France), Lukoil (Russia), Petronas (Malaysia), Independent Oil Group (Kuwait), and Chinese companies. [Lukoil declared just this week that it, too, would divest.]


The Latest from Iran (23 March): Inside and Outside the Country

2030 GMT: For What It's Worth. Mojtaba Samareh Hashemi, a senior aide to President Ahmadinejad, has launched today's attack on the Obama Administration, claiming that its policies were sometimes worse than "the dark era of [former president] George W. Bush":
Today we witness that the US is increasing the number of its forces in Afghanistan and Iraq instead of withdrawing its troops from these countries and is behind the massacre of people and the expansion of poverty in these countries more than before.

Hashemi said that Tehran expects Obama to "rectify the dark Bush-era policies toward the Iranian nuclear program and give up confronting the Iranian nation".

Iran Analysis: Politics and Subsidy Reform (Harris)
Iran: View from Tehran “Changes within the System are Impossible”
The Latest from Iran (22 March): The Economic Clash

1730 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. Iranian authorities have released Hassan Lahouti, the grandson of Hashemi Rafsanjani, after less than two days in detention. Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi said, "After some investigations and after he expressed regret over his actions, he was released from prison on bail." Lahouti's freedom is conditional: his bail was set at $70,000, and Doulatabadi said his completed file would be sent to a court for consideration of further action.

Lahouti, a student in Britain, was arrested early Monday morning as he flew into Iran for the Nowruz holidays. Rah-e-Sabz claims, from an "informed source", that Lahouti was detained for criticising the Supreme Leader in a phone call monitored by Iranian agencies.

Rah-e-Sabz also claims that Hashemi Rafsanjani has spoken with Sadegh Larijani about Lahouti’s arrest.
Larijani allegedly told Rafsanjani that the intelligence services have been tapping Lahouti’s telephone conversation.

1620 GMT: Hey, Let's Have an All-Out War! One problem with a slow news day is that it lets the inmates out of the asylum. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina decided his time addressing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee would be best spent advocating a full-on military assault: "All options must be on the table....You know exactly what I'm talking about." While war is a "terrible thing", "sometimes it is better to go to war than to allow the Holocaust to develop a second time....Time is not on our side."

What kind of war? A really big one:
If military force is ever employed, it should be done in a decisive fashion. The Iran government's ability to wage conventional war against its neighbors and our troops in the region should not exist. They should not have one plane that can fly or one ship that can float.

The call to arms is at the 2:20 mark:


1300 GMT: Will Sanctions Work? Suzanne Maloney of the Saban Center at The Brookings Institution offers a detailed paper, "The Economics of Influencing Iran". The take-away paragraph:
Sanctions must be narrowly construed, in order to offer any real prospect for obtaining Iranian compliance and for attracting sufficient international support. However, Washington’s interests in Iran transcend the nuclear issue, particularly at a moment when Iranian internal dynamics are more fluid than in recent history. For this reason, the Obama administration should make a concerted effort to couple the new efforts at using economic pressure to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions with an intensification of rhetoric and measures that call attention to Tehran’s human rights abuses.

0905 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Filmmakers have protested in front of Evin Prison on behalf of the detained director Jafar Panahi.

0850 GMT: Green Shoots in Zahedan? Rah-e-Sabz reports that a Green Movement has been formed in Zahedan in southeastern Iran. The statement of "Jonbesh-e sabz-e Zahedan" begins with a commitment to civil rights and equal rights, regardless of gender or belief and goes farther in its political declaration of objectives than figures such as Mir Hossein Mousavi statements. It denies adherence to any ideology.

0800 GMT: Subsidy Battle. The Supreme Leader may have his work cut out for him in the attempt to restore peace (see 0755 GMT). Khabar Online presses Parliament's case with a statement from MP Mohammad Reza Khabbaz: "Instead of [Ahmadinejad's proposed] referendum, the Government can test subsidy cuts in several provinces."

0755 GMT: Parliament v. Ahmadinejad Watch. With all the attention to the Supreme Leader's US-bashing in his Nowruz speech, this important passage has largely been ignored. Khamenei called on the Parliament and the President to reconcile their differences over the subsidy reform plan, declaring that any division into "winners and losers" is the plot of the foreigners.

0745 GMT: A quieter political start today. We've taken the time to update the report on Sunday's protest over Japan's imminent deportation of activist Jamal Saberi.

We're also reading an article by Roger Cohen of The New York Times on "two Iranians, two exiles, one truth of a people defrauded and denied". He uses the cases of Mohammad Reza Heydari, the Iranian diplomat in Norway who resigned his post in protest against his Government, and Negar Azizmoradi, a refugee in Turkey, to put his point: "Her own government stifled Negar’s voice. But the world must listen. It’s her country after all — and the ballot-counting Heydari’s."

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.