2025 GMT: More Rahim-Mashai. President Ahmadinejad's Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, having declared that his boss is "the teacher of all Presidents of the world", is now insisting that he has no additional posts. Unfortunately for him, Khabar Online accompanies the denial with the list of 16 offices that Rahim-Mashai heads.
2020 GMT: Setting Limits? Mohammad Javad Larijani, a high-level official in Iran's judiciary, has responded to talk of a prolongation of the Ahmadinejad presidency: "It is against the nezam , and I strongly object."
2010 GMT: Maintaining Hope. Grand Ayatollah Sane'i, meeting with academics, said: “One should not lose hope; because the Almighty’s will is for eliminating oppression. The day will come that those standing against people’s rights and all those hurt people will be fed up with their own actions, and I am hopeful that their moral and spiritual conscience will wake up and they will stop these actions. It is your responsibility to spread awareness among people and expand this awareness so that the deceivers and violators of people’s rights realize that people are aware of their deceptions and also are opposed to their deceptions, but you should spread awareness based on Islamic and religious teachings.”
1650 GMT: Not-Sycophantic-At All Remark of the Day. The President's Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai commenting on his boss: "He is a teacher to the Presidents of the world".
1610 GMT: The Oil Ultimatum. Minister of Oil Masoud Mirkazemi has repeated the threat that Iran will expel foreign firms for delaying development of the South Pars gas field, replacing them with domestic companies: "We have recently told some foreign firms which have delayed some phases for several years that we would not negotiate with them and domestic firms will be given these projects to implement."
Mirkazemi did not name any foreign company, but South Pars officials have recently insisted that Royal Dutch Shell and the Spanish company Repsol commit by the end of May to development of sections of the field. Shell, citing the prospect of Western sanctions, has suspended any operations in South Pars.
1555 GMT: Trouble for the Rafsanjani Family? An appeals court has upheld the prison sentence of Hamzeh Karami, accused of propaganda and embezzlement.
The decision prompts speculation that pressure, including the prospect of criminal prosecution, will increase upon Mehdi Hashemi, the son of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani. In the mass Tehran trial last August, Karami's "confession" accused Hashemi of misusing funds to carry out inappropriate activity during the Presidential campaign.
1545 GMT: Karroubi Watch. In a discussion on another website, an EA reader frets that we are "especially enthralled with [Mehdi] Karroubi, who is treated with saint like reverence".
Heaven forbid that we should appear biased, so here's Karroubi's latest acts of deviousness, duplicity, and devilishness.
The cleric, visiting the family of Alireza Beheshti Shirazi, the detained journalist and senior adviser of Mir Hossein Mousavi, has criticised Iran's authorities for continued arrests of dissidents and urged them to show greater tolerance. He said, “The Revolution and the Islamic Republic is not what these gentlemen are carrying out and it is our duty to return the Islamic Republic to its right path.”
Karroubi also carried out the despicable act of visiting Ahmad Motamedi, the Minister of Communications in the Khatami Government, in hospital. Motamedi was stabbed early this week in his office at Amir Kabir University.
Motamedi's wife, Fatemeh Azhdari, threatened to reveal “the truth” if "wrongful" reports regarding the attack on his husband’s life continue. Se claimed that authorities are trying to reduce the “assassination attempt” against her husband to a crime with “personal motivations”.
1400 GMT: War on Culture (cont.). It's not just the regime favourite Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami getting tough on cultural infiltration (see 0730 GMT). Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem-Shirazi has urged the formation of a Ministry of Virtue: "A ministry to call upon virtue and ban vice must be formed to deal with moral issues in schools, universities and media."
Makarem-Shirazi said the root cause of society's ills was a lack of supervision on moral issues: "When importance is not attached to moral issues, political and economical problems arise and decadence spreads in the form of lack of hejab and an increase in drug abuse."
1355 GMT: Getting the News. EA colleagues have pointed out the portal for Iran news (in case EA is on a break, of course), Kodoom.
1150 GMT: Nuclear Chatter. Iranian officials continue to put out signals that Turkey and/or Brazil could broker a deal on uranium enrichment. Following Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki's visit to Ankara, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said, "New formulas have been raised about the exchange of fuel....I think we can arrive at practical agreements on these formulas."
1145 GMT: And the Imprisoned Students. Radio Zamaneh follows up on the published list of 32 detained students, which we noted earlier this week. According to the site, 24 of the detained students have been handed a total of 71 years in prison, one has been sentenced to execution, and the situation of the rest is unknown.
Mahmoud Molabashi, the Deputy Minister of Science, told reporters last week that only a “very limited number of students” are currently in prison.
1130 GMT: The Detained Filmmakers. A Street Journalist features Amnesty International's call for the release of the detained film directors Mohammad Ali Shirzadi and Jafar Panahi.
1000 GMT: Stirring Discontent. Parleman News reports that Hojatoleslam Ravanbakhsh, a supporter of Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, "insulted" Grand Ayatollah Yusuf Sane'i during a talk at Kerman University, angering professors and students.
0940 GMT: More Pressure. Seyed Reza Akrami of the Combatant Clergy Association has called for all budgets of the Iranian system (nezam) to be transparent and published.
0803 GMT: Reformist Economics. Reviewing the approach to privatisation of the Iranian economy, member of Parliament Mostafa Kavakebian declared that the Government has "fattened itself" rather than becoming lean. Mohammad Reza Khabbaz said that the regime's slogan of "shares of justice" (equal distribution) should be "shares of injustice".
0800 GMT: Morning Analysis. We've posted a special feature with the views of Professor Ramin Jahanbegloo on the Green Movement and "moral capital".
0730 GMT: A quiet Friday weekend in Iran, after both the Ahmadinejad show in New York and the internal politics earlier in the week....
Ahmad Khatami Fights Culture
Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami did liven up the day a bit with his Tehran Friday Prayer. We noted yesterday his religious lesson of "a punch in the mouth" for other countries who troubled Iran. Rah-e-Sabz has a different snapshot, with Khatami claiming that the regime has defeated the opposition but warning of "the effects of [an] invasion in the areas of film, theater, sports, and some media".
The website also summarises other Friday Prayers throughout Iran.
International Front: Opening the Door to the US?
An interesting analysis in Rah-e-Sabz, which suggests that the Ahmadinejad trip to New York was designed to maintain the possibility of discussions with the US Government over the nuclear issue. The website concludes, however, that the final decision on the strategy is up to the Supreme Leader.
Of course, Rah-e-Sabz is an opposition website, but this reading matches up with our interpretation from last autumn, when Ahmadinejad was backing the effort for a deal on "third party enrichment" of uranium. That effort stalled in late October, in part because of internal divisions in Iran, and our analysis was that Ayatollah Khamenei had balked at an agreement.
Getting It Wrong on the Economy
Aftab News reports that the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Abdolreza Sheikholeslami, made "confused statements" at a national workers' meeting in Mashhad. Sheikholeslami alllegedly claimed that unemployment was due to the vagaries of science and did not bother to consider the workers' problems.