Many of the women’s groups decided after the election not to communicate with the government because it has lost its legitimacy. For example, they collected all these signatures for the One Million Signatures campaign to give to the parliament, but now people no longer want to sign anything because they believe that no demands should be sent to a government that has no legitimacy. The situation has changed – people want gender equality but they don’t think the approach is to go to this government to get it. So currently even the groups that did have contact with the government, no longer do
1900 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. Former President Hashemi Rafsanjani has met with reformist students of Tehran University for the second time in recent months.
1850 GMT: We've posted the video message of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Iranian women on International Women's Day.
1845 GMT: Political Prisoner News. An Iranian activist reports that Committee of Human Rights Reporters member Mehrad Rahimi was released on bail this evening. Five other CHRR members are still imprisoned.
NEW Latest Iran Video: Hillary Clinton’s Message to Iranian Women (8 March)
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Video: General Petraeus on Iran and Iraq (7 March)
Iran: Senior Reformist Amani “We Have Not Decided to Remain Silent”
The Latest from Iran (7 March): The Elections Next Door
1800 GMT: How Does Iran Celebrate International Women's Day? Building on the news that poet Simin Behbahani was barred from leaving Iran for ceremonies in Paris (see 0835 GMT), Golnaz Esfandiari notes other cases of restrictions of women's rights in the country.
1755 GMT: War on Terror News. Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani has announced that Iran has asked Germany to extradite the leader of the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) to stand trial.
1745 GMT: Denial of Day:Tehran Province Governor Morteza Tamaddon claimed today that security and police forces did not enter the campus of Tehran University on the night of 14/15 June.
Responding to an 18-minute video, widely circulated last month, that showed men attacking university dormiitories, Tamaddon warned, “If anyone claims [security and police were present], we are ready to follow up on the matter.” He insisted a small group of students had started a protest in the University residences and were dealt with by the “appropriate authorities.”
1735 GMT: All is Well Press Release of Day. I have to preface this, while trying to keep a straight face, with the note that throughout Sunday, Iranian state media were announcing loudly that President Ahmadinejad would be in Kabul today (see 1055 GMT):
An Iranian diplomat in Kabul said Monday President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would head a high-ranking delegation to Afghanistan on Wednesday, rejecting reports of delays in his visit.
Afghan sources in the presidential office had earlier claimed that Ahmadinejad had postponed his visit, which, they said, had been originally scheduled for Monday.
The Iranian source, however, told Press TV that Tehran had announced that the visit would take place during the week, without specifying that a day had been picked by the president.
The diplomat also rejected reports that the visit's itinerary had been influenced by US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' visit to Kabul.
1730 GMT: Communicating with Iran. The US Treasury Department has approved an exemption to American sanctions on Iran, Sudan, and Cuba to allow the export of Internet communications software. Deputy U.S. Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin said that the change is intended to help people "exercise their most basic rights."
1715 GMT: Economy Watch. Looks like the Ahmadinejad Government may have scored a big victory, with the approval of a $347 billion budget for the Iranian year to March 2011.
This is less than the Government's $368.4 billion request. It also appears that the $40 billion sought from subsidy cuts has been reduced to $20 billion. Still, given the criticism of the Government over the proposal, the passage is a significant advance.
The vote for the budget was 151-62 with 12 abstentions.
1420 GMT: An Unwelcome Coincidence. Within 30 seconds of posting the update below, I read the news from the Kalemeh website:
An Iranian appeals court handed a five-year jail term to a reformist journalist...while...authorities freed five other critics on hefty sureties.
The journalist, Bahman Ahmadi Amoui, a prominent critic of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's economic policies, was previously sentenced to seven years in jail and 74 lashes, after a government crackdown on opposition supporters.
But the appeals court reduced that sentence to five years in jail and waived the lashes.
1415 GMT: A Special Letter. A bit limited with updates today because of academic duties; please keep sending in your latest news.
Meanwhile, we've posted a letter from journalist Zhila Baniyaghoub to her husband, Bahman Ahmadi Amoui. Both were detained after the June election, but Baniyaghoub was released while Amoui remains in Evin Prison. The letter, posted on Sunday, is one of the most moving expressions of feeling and thought I have read in this crisis.
1100 GMT: Adding Insult to Injury. Here's US Secretary of State Robert Gates, on his way to meet Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai after Karzai told President Ahmadinejad to stay in Iran: "[Tehran] also understand that our reaction, should they get too aggressive in this, is not one they would want to think about."
1055 GMT: Rejected. OK, now the news from Kabul makes sense....
I noticed a few hours ago that US Secretary of State Defense Robert Gates is also in Afghanistan today, paying a visit to President Hamid Karzai. This conjured up wild visions of US and Iranian delegations huddling somewhere in Kabul while Karzai manoeuvred between meetings with Gates and President Ahmadinejad.
But, of course, the simpler outcome is that the Afghan leadership --- whether because of pressure from the Amerians or of their own accord --- would choose their Washington visitors and tell Ahmadinejad to stay home. From Press TV:
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has postponed a trip to Afghanistan devoted to providing "solutions for settling the problems" in Iran's eastern neighbor.
The one-day visit, originally scheduled for Monday, would be the President's first visit to Afghanistan since both he and his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai were re-elected last year.
"President Ahmadinejad won't be coming to Kabul," an informed source at the Karzai's office told Press TV on condition of anonymity.
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the source added, has, however, arrived in Afghanistan on Monday morning on an unannounced visit.
The source did not pinpoint a next date for the meeting between the two presidents.
1030 GMT: Breaking News. It is being reported that President Ahmadinejad has cancelled his trip to Afghanistan, giving no reason.
0905 GMT: In Their Honour. For International Women's Day, Setareh Sabety has posted an essay, "Working Class and Female in Iran": "For whatever it is worth, I thought that I should expose the lives of three very ordinary Iranian women from different backgrounds and different sensibilities. This is for them."
0835 GMT: Stifling the Artists. Iranian authorities have barred one of Iran's most famous poets, Simin Behbahani, from leaving the country. Behbahani had been invited to read her work at International Women's Day ceremonies in Paris.
0730 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. The authorities continue to release the relatives of prominent blogger Agh Bahman: his sisters Banafsheh and Jamileh Darolshafaei. His cousin Yashar Darolshafaei has had bail set at $70,000. However, Abolhasan Darolshafaei, Bahman's father, is still detained.
0715 GMT: The Israel Front. Meanwhile, the US continues to send the Very, Very Concerned message to western Jerusalem, not to encourage an Israeli attack on Iran but to dissuade the Israelis.
The latest high-profile signal comes from Vice President Joe Biden's visit today. Before meeting Israeli officials, he declared:
Though I cannot answer the hypothetical questions you raised about Iran, I can promise the Israeli people that we will confront, as allies, any security challenge it will face. A nuclear-armed Iran would constitute a threat not only to Israel -- it would also constitute a threat to the United States.
0705 GMT: China and Iran. The International Crisis Group offers an incisive analysis on China's position on the Iranian nuclear issue:
Beijing is unconvinced that Iran has the ability to develop nuclear weapons in the short term and does not share the West’s sense of urgency about the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran, despite the risks that this would present to China’s long-term interests. Moreover, it does not believe the sanctions proposed by the West will bring about a solution to the issue, particularly given the failure of this approach so far. And while Beijing has stated that it supports a “nuclear-free” Middle East, it does not want to sacrifice its own energy interests in Iran. However, if China finds itself facing unanimous support for sanctions from other Security Council members, it will delay but not block a resolution, while seeking to weaken its punitive terms.
0635 GMT: Look for Iranian state media to spend Monday playing up Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's trip to Kabul to chat with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai. After several months of being ostracised by the international community, Ahmadinejad has become one of the big boys again. This visit, following the Iranian President's diiscussions in Damascus, points to the Iranian Government's play for recognition and influence in both the Middle East and Central Asia.
But is Ahmadinejad a central figure or just a figurehead? We're still watching the Japan front on the uranium enrichment story, with yet another sign from Tehran yesterday that a deal may soon be on the table for Tokyo to carry out third-party enrichment.
And, while posting the video, we're trying to read General David Petraeus's appearance on the stage yesterday. His reference to Iran's regime as a "thugocracy" seems a crude attempt, both in rhetoric and conception, to match Hillary Clinton's recent pronouncement of an Iranian "military dictatorship".
However, the most significant part of Petraeus' statement may be his assurance that Tehran is too preoccupied with internal matters to mess around abroad, including in Iraq. That reads as a declaration of the containment of Iran, which indicates that Petraeus will not be pushing for more confrontational measures against Tehran, including military action.