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Entries in Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (48)


The Latest from Iran (8 May): Back to the Politics

2045 GMT: One to Watch. Khabar Online reports that Seyed Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of Ayatollah Khomeini and a cleric with uneasy relations with the current Government, will speak before Tehran Friday Prayers this week.

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."

NEW Iran: The Green Movement and “Moral Capital” (Jahanbegloo)
Iran: Ahmadinejad’s Chief Aide “Not Too Many People in the Prisons”
The Latest from Iran (7 May): The Original Post-Election Muddle

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.

The Latest from Iran (6 May): Rattling the Cage

1500 GMT: Posturing. Michael Theodoulou of The National posts a concise article summarising the possible Brazilian mediation effort on Iran's nuclear programme and Tehran's naval exercises in the Persian Gulf.

1400 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. Another statement from Hashemi Rafsanjani to decode. Meeting with a group of journalists and young political activists, he said:
Promoting awareness in people is the main and fundamental element of any progressive movement....Today all the people in any corner of the country have become more aware, cautious and knowledgable. Don’t doubt it, the growth of awareness among the different classes of the people will reform the society....

Wrong management of the resources and wealth of the country will cause under-development for future generations....Giving space for criticism and review at all levels should not be abandoned in the country....Be sure that honest efforts for the high principles of the revolution won’t be in vain and will have effective outcomes.

NEW Mahmoud’s Iran Wonderland: Ahmadinejad Says “I’m in Favour of Protestors”
NEW Iran Snap Analysis: Ahmadinejad’s Nuclear Roadtrip
Iran Follow-Up: Ahmadinejad “Bin Laden Lives in Washington DC!”
A Female Detainee in Iran: “Stripped by the Basiji”
The Latest from Iran (5 May): “Protest is Not Provocation”

0915 GMT: The Reformist Front. Speaking with the family of student activist Milan Asadi, detained since 1 December, Mehdi Karroubi claimed that the pressure on Iranian people had arisen because of the lack of independence of Iran's judiciary.

Former President Mohammad Khatami has written an open letter to Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, the "hard-line" leader of Tehran Friday Prayers, suggesting that he should not sacrifice his salvation for the well-being of others.

Reformist member of Parliament Mohammad Reza Tabesh has complained to Speaker of Parlaiment Ali Larijani over attacks on reformists' offices in several cities, alleging that Iranian authorities have not guaranteed security.

0910 GMT: Watch Your Back, Mahmoud. While President Ahmadinejad has been away, conservative member of Parliament Ali Motahari has been making big noises about the need for major reforms in the Iranian system (see yesterday's updates).

Motahari has now restated his case in Khabar Online, calling on First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi --- who, far from coincidentally, has been pressed by MPs over corruption allegations --- to answer the claims of Government mismanagement of the post-election crisis.

0855 GMT: Brazil Denies Role in Uranium Talks. It may be just for public show --- a mediator doesn't necessarily want to be known as a mediator --- but Brazilian officials have popped Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's declaration that Brasilia is acting as a broker for a possible deal on Iran's uranium enrichment:
A Brazilian foreign ministry spokesman told AFP [Agence France Presse] that no such plan had been proposed during a visit to Tehran last month by Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim.

"We were informed that an official Iranian government website mentioned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad supported a Brazilian 'program'. But there was no presentation of a formal program during the foreign minister's visit," the spokesman said.

Even more interesting, however, is the confusion demonstrated by the denial from Ahmadinejad's Chief of Staff, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai that Brazil was acting as a go-between. Since the original report of Brazil's involvement came from the President's office, one has the sense that Ahmadinejad's advisors aren't quite sure what they are supposed to be saying.

0840 GMT: Fantastic Interviews. Proof that, if you put the President and his advisors under pressure, you get answers that verge on fantasy.

In a separate entry, we've posted Ahmadinejad's declaration to The Boston Globe, "I'm in Favour of Protestors". Then there is the commentfrom Ahmadinejad's Chief of Staff, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, in conversation with Laura Secor of The New Yorker that "there are actually not too many people in the prisons" before he proceeds to tie himself up in illogical knots.

0630 GMT: We've started the morning by dealing in a separate feature with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's US Nuclear Roadshow: "Will it get him enough political space to bolster Iran’s position abroad and his authority at home?"

Now to the important matters:

Head of Judiciary is Not Happy

If the regime is feeling secure about its suppression of post-election opposition, Sadegh Larijani, the head of Iran's judiciary, sure isn't showing it.

Speaking to clergy in Hamadan, Larijani declared that some of the confidants of Ayatollah Khomeini have acted even worse than the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, the political wing of the "terrorist" Mojahedin-e-Khalq.

Larijani added that the “seditious movement” has not ended, and it has caused confusion amongst the “pious”.

The Resurgence of the Labour Movement

Iran Labor Report has a powerful analysis/polemic of the state of the labour movement --- past, present, and future. The article concludes:
Fortunately, some in the labor movement have belatedly come to change their anti-Green approach somewhat, and this is welcome. Clearly, only with Green-labor unity can we stand up to the tyranny of the regime and free the country of its despotic rule. The popular struggle in Iran isn’t going away. The street demonstrations may have dwindled – for now – but a luta continua. Which side are you on?

Shutting Away Ayatollah Beheshti

Rah-e-Sabz claims that the organisers of the Tehran Book Fair removed the booth devoted to the works of the late Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti.

Beheshti is one of the heroes of the Islamic Revolution. leading the new Iranian judicial system until he was killed in the mass 7 Tir assassination by the Mojahedin-e-Khalq in June 1981. However, his son, Alireza Beheshti, was Mir Hossein Mousavi's chief advisor during and after the Presidential election, possibly putting the Beheshti name beyond the acceptable for the regime.

Another UK Deportation Case

The deportation of Bita Ghaedi from Britain was postponed by British and European courts on Tuesday, but another case reaches a critical point today.

Nadia Arzane and Bashir Foris, a married couple in their early 20s, are scheduled for forced removal on a Thursday afternoon flight from London Gatwick. Arzane is a Christian human rights activist who participated in protests in Iran in July; her father was allegedly detained and tortured for two months by Iranian authorities.

Mahmoud's Iran Wonderland: Ahmadinejad "I'm in Favour of Protestors" 

Oh, if only this exchange with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had been televised, instead of the President's dismissals of Charlie Rose and ABC's George Stephanopoulos. The Boston Globe, after going over the nuclear question and US-Iran relations, dared to bring up and to persist with questions on the domestic situation. Under pressure, Ahmadinejad gave answers which verged from the disingenuous --- "Nothing to do with me" --- to the fantastic, "Everyone is free; everyone is happily protesting in my country":

Iran Snap Analysis: Ahmadinejad’s Nuclear Roadtrip
Iran Follow-Up: Ahmadinejad “Bin Laden Lives in Washington DC!”
The Latest from Iran (6 May): Rattling the Cage

Q: You say you the people who protested your election are very unpopular... if so then what is the harm in allowing them to gather? Why put them in prison?

A: All the leaders of the opposition are free. All my competitors in the elections are free. They actually hold positions in Iran. They head organizations, institutions. They have a life. I ask you, if someone goes out into the street, sets a car on fire, breaks windows, what would you do?

Q. How about people like Saeed Laylaz? He is a prominent economist, but he has been sentenced to nine years in jail. Is he violent?

A: These are affairs of the judiciary... The law applies to everyone and it has nothing to do with the political circumstances of the country. Whoever commits a crime...

Q: Can you guarantee the safety of peaceful protesters?

A: Iran is the land of protest. In Iran, there is a protest of some sort every day.Millions of people pour on the streets here and there. On the anniversary of the Iranian revolution 40 million people were on the streets. In all cities, everywhere, everybody pours on the streets. Really, the bottom line is that there is not much to be concerned about in Iran. There are larger world issues at stake here. Iran is still standing strong, despite it all. Still strong. And at the end of the day, people accept the government they have, the government is around, they are friends and that's it. We also are friends with those who oppose us. We live together. There is a law. The judiciary will deal with it. I don't really see a problem.

UPDATED Iran Follow-Up: Ahmadinejad "Bin Laden Lives in Washington DC!"

UPDATE, 6 MAY: State Department Looks Around, Doesn't Find Bin Laden, Does Find Sense of Humour. I feel better now about my fellow Americans.

P.J. Crowley must have thought about his po'-faced, huffy comment on Twitter, as he decided that light-hearted was a better approach in a Washington press conference: "We've done an intensive search here at the Department of State -- every nook and cranny, every rock -- and we can safely report that Osama bin Laden is not here."

Iran: Bin Laden Lives in Tehran Shocker!

UPDATE 1900 GMT: Oh, dear, I think the US State Department has had a satire failure. Spokesman P.J. Crowley has just sniffed on Twitter, "Ahmadinejad says bin Laden is in DC. We don’t have him; what we do have is another wild Iranian accusation and no accountability."

P.J., you do know that Iranians have been known to pull the leg and tweak the nose of an obtuse interviewer, right?


From the ridiculous to the even more ridiculous....

Yesterday we had a bit of fun with Fox News' puffed-up, straight-faced "report" that Osama Bin Laden might be living the high life in Tehran. We thought this might be a one-day diversion, since this is not a real news story, but little did we know that George Stephanopoulos, former aide to Bill Clinton and host of ABC Television's Good Morning America, would take it to new levels of absurdity.

Closing his two-dimensional interview with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Stephanopoulos decided to spring an interrogator's surprise (since, presumably, Mahmoud does not watch Fox News):

STEPHANOPOULOS: One final question. There's a new documentary out that says that Osama Bin Laden is living in Tehran. And the subject of the documentary, a man named Alan Parrot, one of the world's foremost falconers living in Iran, says he's spoken to Osama bin Laden several times since 2003. Is Osama bin Laden in Tehran?

AHMADINEJAD: Your question is laughable.


AHMADINEJAD: The U.S. government has invaded Afghanistan in order to arrest Bin Laden. They probably know where Bin Laden is. If they don't know he is, why did they invade? Could we know the intelligence?

STEPHANOPOULOS: I think if they knew, they would find him. They would get him.

AHMADINEJAD: First they should have tried to find his location, then invade, those who did not know about his location first they invaded and then they tried to find out where he is, is that logical? Do you think this is logical?

STEPHANOPOULOS: What I think is that you didn't answer my question. Is he in Tehran or not?

AHMADINEJAD: Our position is quite clear. Some journalists have said Bin Laden is in Iran. These words don't have legal value. Our position towards Afghanistan and against terrorism is quite clear.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is it true or not?

AHMADINEJAD: Maybe you know, but I don't know.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm asking you. You're the President of Iran.

AHMADINEJAD: I don't know such a thing, you are giving news which is very strange.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, let me ask it a different way. If you did know that Osama bin Laden was in Tehran, would you show him hospitality? Would you expel him? Would you arrest him?

AHMADINEJAD: I heard that Osama bin Laden is in the Washington, D.C.

STEPHANOPOULOS: No, you didn't.

AHMADINEJAD: Yes, I did. He's there. Because he was a previous partner of Mr. Bush. They were colleagues in fact in the old days. You know that. They were in the oil business together. They worked together. Mr. Bin Laden never cooperated with Iran but he cooperated with Mr. Bush--

STEPHANOPOULOS: I'll ask one more time and then I'll let you go. If you knew that Osama bin Laden was in Tehran, which you say you don't. If you knew, would you expel him? Would you arrest him? Would you show him hospitality?

AHMADINEJAD: Our borders, our borders are closed to the illegal entry of anyone. Anyone who that may be. Whether it's the three American mountaineers, Mr. Bin Laden or anyone else. The borders are closed. Our position is clear.

I'm quite surprised, to see that you adjust your daily lives based on the news that is being broadcast. I'm concerned that the government of the United States takes positions based on such news. If it is so, it is too bad. The news must be accurate and accountable, otherwise it will disrupt the relations between the nations. Just like this, did the government of the United States knew about the location of Mr. Bin Laden? And you said, "No, they went to find out." Well, first you locate--

STEPHANOPOULOS: They lost the trail.

AHMADINEJAD: --to find out they have invaded Afghanistan. First they have to find out his location and then invade. It's like for a judge to arrest someone and then go after the evidence.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you deny categorically that he's in Tehran today? He is not-- Osama bin Laden is not in Tehran today?

AHMADINEJAD: Rest assured that he's in Washington. I think there's a high chance he's there.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I don't agree.

Thank you for your time, Mr. President.

Iran Snap Analysis: Ahmadinejad's Nuclear Roadtrip

The Ahmadinedjad roadshow in the US has finally closed. Given that it was a last-minute decision for the Iranian President to go to New York for the nuclear non-proliferation conference, this was a major public-relations campaign. There were at least three significant television appearances  --- one of them on a national morning programme --- and several newspaper interviews in addition to the United Nations speech.

I think Ahmadinejad, on the ground he has chosen, was successful in the tour. Of course he is unlikely to swing the opinions of many in the US, but he was able to put down his American interviewers. More importantly, he had a platform to play to opinion beyond the US, trying to persuade other countries --- especially "non-aligned", non-nuclear states --- that Iran has the high moral and political position on the atomic question.

The question is whether those states will support Iran's case against the "established" order. Both the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon criticised Tehran's stance even before Ahmadinejad took the podium on Monday. The Iranian President's speech, beyond the 11-point proposal for global disarmament, carried this message: "In the end, 'we' will stand against you and the 'nuclear' states like the US and Israel."

Will that get Ahmadinejad enough political space to bolster Iran's position abroad and his authority at home? And, on the specific nuclear question: is he trying to use that space to get a deal on enrichment --- the latest flutter is that Brazil will broker the talks --- or is he trying to avoid any commitment altogether?
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