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.