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".
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."