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The Latest from Iran (20 November): Manoeuvres in Washington and Tabriz

NEW Iran: The Ahmadinejad Speech in Tabriz (19 November)
NEW Iran: Green Message to Obama "Back Us Instead of Dealing With Ahmadinejad"
Iran: What Happened on Election Night? The Ghalam News Editor’s Account
Iran Nuclear Special: What Tehran’s Latest Offer Means (and Why the West Should Consider It)
Iran’s 16 Azar Video: Greens Fight “The Pirates of the Persian Gulf”
Latest Iran Video: “A Death in Tehran” on Neda Agha Soltan (17 November)
The Latest in Iran (19 November): It’s the Nukes Today

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MAKHMALBAF2225 GMT: Today's UN Condemnation of Iran. The Third (Human Rights) Committee of the United Nations General Assembly has "expresse[d] its deep concern at serious ongoing and recurring human rights violations" in Iran. The non-binding resolution passed 74-48, with 59 abstentions.

The Committee voiced "particular concern at the response of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran following the Presidential election of 12 June 2009 and the concurrent rise in human rights violations", including "harassment, intimidation and persecution, including by arbitrary arrest, detention or disappearance, of opposition members, journalists and other media representatives, bloggers, lawyers, clerics, human rights defenders, academics, (and) students".

The outcome, the Committee asserted, had been "numerous deaths and injuries" Iwith "forced confessions and abuse of prisoners including ... rape and torture".

2115 GMT: The Brussels Non-Talks and Non-Sanctions. The New York Times has snippets of the statement issued by the delegations of the "5+1" powers after their review of the nuclear talks with Iran (see 1240 GMT):

We are disappointed by the lack of follow-up to the three understandings reached [at Geneva on 1 October]....[Iran has] not responded positively to the I.A.E.A. proposed agreement for the provision of nuclear fuel for its Tehran research reactor...[or] engaged in an intensified dialogue. ....[Iran should] reconsider the opportunity offered by this agreement to meet the humanitarian needs of its people and to engage seriously with us in dialogue and negotiations....[We will meet again soon] to complete our assessment of the situation and to decide on our next steps.

Read this carefully and you'll see that "the meeting...a sign of exasperation with Iran" is issuing a holding statement while the "West" tries to figure out a response to the Iran counter-offer, giving the appearance of stern action when nothing has been or will be decided.

It's good enough to take in The Times, which has seems to have no clue about the Mottaki counter-offer (1315 GMT), Iran's manoeuvres with Russia and Turkey (0945 and 1620 GMT), or even the manoeuvres of the International Atomic Energy Agency (1620 GMT). Thus, its simple depiction of the Iranian position as "rejection".

2020 GMT: Today's Media Stupidity Awards. First, the Gold Medal for Reasoned Argument for Mindless Violence. Step up, editorial writers of The Washington Times: "Get Ready to Bomb Iran: It's the last best chance for peace".

And now the Gold Medal for "Intellectual" Dismissal of The Other Side. It's Mamoun Fandy of the Christian Science Monitor:
Should the West trust Iranian promises? The short answer is "no." But the underlying question is "Why not?"

The answer lies in Iranian belief systems – notably the doctrine of taqiyya, a difficult concept for many non-Muslims to grasp. Taqiyya is the Shiite religious rationale for concealment or dissimulation in political or worldly affairs. At one level it means that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his regime can tell themselves that they are obliged by their faith not to tell the truth.

1955 GMT: More on Student Arrests (see 1410 GMT). Radio Zamaaneh have published summaries of the detentions of student leaders this week. Payvand also has information.

1945 GMT: You Better Watch Out. Back from a break for a debate on climate change and the Copenhagen summit to Iran’s Prosecutor General and former Minister of Intelligence, Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejeie, is getting tough with protesters. He warned yesterday on Iranian state television, "The Judiciary is determined to decisively and primitively confront any new unrest [caused] by those against the results of the Presidential Elections of Iran.”

1620 GMT: You Read It Here --- The Iran-Turkey Deal. Mr Smith checks in, and we think he may have an exclusive on the nuclear discussions:
It's interesting to spot smoke signals on the nuclear issue. The meeting of Ahmadinejad and Turkish Foreign Davutoglu meeting in Tabriz makes no sense unless Davutoglu was called in to discuss the nuclear issue, given the frequency of Iranian-Turkish encounters in the past weeks.

And I find El-Baradei's statements in Berlin to be subtly quite important. He said, according to AFP, "We have not received any written response from Iran. What I an oral response, which basically said, 'We need to keep all the material in Iran until we get the fuel.' That to me is a case of extreme mistrust."

This is the gist of what I wrote in my own analysis the other day: mistrust by Iran, low-enriched uranium remaining inside Iran UNTIL fuel arrives. El Baradei's statement cannot be underestimated, as it gives hope to Turkey to be able to broker the deal. Needless to say, this would be the diplomatic coup of the century by Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan. It would raise his stature incommensurably and allow him to press on with the politics of the Nabucco energy pipeline.

1500 GMT: Not much fuss about Friday Prayers today, but there's a short clip up on YouTube.

1455 GMT: Ahmadinejad's Move for Legitimacy. We've posted a copy of the President's Thursday speech in Tabriz.

1410 GMT: Cracking Down on the Students. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty summarises a story we've been following for days: "arrests [as] a move by the authorities to prevent students from protesting against the government on December 7".

1315 GMT: The Mottaki Counter-Offer. Just picking up, after prompting from an EA reader, on an important signal from Iran's Foreign Minister. Most of the Western coverage of Iran's "rejection" of the deal on uranium enrichment (rather than consideration of Iran as taking the next step in negotiations) is based on a weak translation of Mottaki's interview with the Iranian Students News Agency. Almost unnoticed was the Foreign Minister's words to the Hindu newspaper:
We believe that with the continuation of the diplomacy going on now, it is possible to reach an agreement and compromise.... The truth of the matter is [the] interaction [of the "5+1" with the Iran proposal] could somehow build confidence among the Iranians.

1255 GMT: Nuke Discussions Still On. Can't be clearer than this. The US position, as outlined in Kabul yesterday:
The U.S. doesn’t consider the Iranian foreign minister’s rejection of a United Nations- brokered proposal to enrich Iran’s uranium overseas to be “the final word,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

While disappointing, she said, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki’s Nov. 18 statement won’t yet trigger the “consequences” that the U.S. and other nations on the UN Security Council have threatened.

1240 GMT: The Brussels "5+1" Talks. First (non)-news out of Brussels on discussions amongst representatives of the US, UK, France, Germany, Russia, and China after Wednesday's counter-offer by Iran for a "swap" of uranium. The meeting was of Foreign Ministry/State Department officials below ministerial level --- the US was represented by Undersecretary of State William Burns and Russia by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. The delegates reviewed the situation but made no decisions.

This is unsurprising. Contrary to the partial and inaccurate reports in Western media this morning (see 0725 GMT), Washington has not closed the door on discussions and is not moving aggressively for more sanctions. This meeting most likely considered a response to the Iranian counter-offer --- expect to see signals at the start of next week.

1155 GMT: Mahmoud is Proud of His Election. In his tour of Tabriz, President Ahmadinejad is emphasising that while elections in other countries are "entirely predetermined", the 85 percent participation in Iran's Presidential election in June shows the endpoint of the Islamic Republic's development.

Ahmadinejad also spoke about his economic plans, including subsidy and tax proposals, but it is notable that he --- or at least the Islamic Republic News Agency --- relegate this to a secondary position behind the President's words about an election hed more than five months ago.

0945 GMT: Two Smoke Signals on the Nuclear Deal. Turkish Foreign Ahmet Davutoglu will meet President Ahmadinejad in Tabriz today "to discuss the latest developments in Iran's nuclear case" with a view "to solv[ing] tensions between Iran and the West".

That reads as an effort by Iran to get Turkey's support for the "swap" of uranium inside Iran, rather than sending Tehran's uranium stocks outside the country for enrichment. It should be considered alongside Iran's manoeuvres with Russia: it is being reported that Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko has told the Iranian Ambassador that "Russia will continue its cooperation with Iran".

0900 GMT: We've now posted an analysis of the significance of the mission by Mohsen Makhmalbaf, the campaign spokesman for Mir Hossein Mousavi, to Washington.

0725 GMT: On the surface, a quiet morning and a day that --- for the "Western" media --- will again be dominated by coverage of developments in the nuclear talks.

If last night's advance copies of articles are an indication, expect a distorted piece in The Washington Post claiming an Iranian rejection of the "5+1" proposals, highlighting a tough US response, and ignoring the significance of Wednesday's Iranian counter-offer. (That's distorted on two important counts: Tehran, or at least the Ahmadinejad Government is pushing for a deal and may have gotten some movement from the Supreme Leader to make the counter-offer, and the Obama Administration is far from concluding that the talks are over.)

That means a development which is just as important, if not more so, will be missed. The Wall Street Journal breaks the news of an "unofficial" visit by filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf (pictured left) to Washington. Makhmalbaf, the spokesman for Mir Hossein Mousavi's Presidential campaign, "called for President Barack Obama to increase his public support for Iranian democrats and significantly intensify financial pressure on Tehran's elite military unit, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps".

A disturbing piece of news. Sources are claiming that Iranian security services are sending ominous SMS texts warning against further demonstrations.


Reader Comments (11)

Is there any other way than to support this amazing, growing, grassroots movement that will engulf all of Iran? Can any of the western leaders whose governments are firmly based on democratic principles and the rule of law ignore the legitimate cry of Iranian people for freedom? This is the dawn of a new age and it promises much needed change for the good and it heralds the transformation of totalitarian regimes to democratic states. This is inevitable. We need vigilance of course and we must recognize the needs of growth, and we must unite. The U.S. must not overlook the legitimate aspirations of now a clear majority of Iranians who demand things that are basic to societies in the West. Support? Of course. Morality and moral responsibility is not a mere jingle. This is real, and yes it will benefit all. Let me say it in simple terms. It is in the interest of the U.S. and other western democracies to support the growth of this anti totalitarian, anti obscurantist, anti fundamentalist, and anti violence movement in Iran. This movement manifests the collective will and collective aspirations of the majority of Iranians, who want to join the nations of the world in peace and work to establish activities of mutual benefit. We no longer want the dark culture of death to dominate us. We want freedom. I keep on saying this and will, and I will say again and again that it is in Wet's interests, economic, cultural, political, etc. to lend support. It is that simple. We know that no one acts out of altruism. Take a good look. Does the world want a future with A.N. glaring at of us from the pulpit of power controlling the ME? Or do you as we do desire the truthful pleasant face of a smiling, truthful, principled democrat, secular democrat, who believes, truly believes, in peace and in cooperation and such, to show her face in broadcasts talking about unity in tranquil terms rejecting this disgusting anti Semitic belief of A.N. and the other despots who have brought death and violence and destruction and lies and deceit and have pilfered our wealth for 30years, to smile at us all. It is that simple. We must come together and desire it together. Change will come when we think it and when we recognize this new born amazing anti darkness birth in Iran. This new born is growing, it is not going away as some ill informed journalists in the West are reporting. "Dwindling numbers" as reported is such a false cliche, or is it an agenda, which is then really awful and we will remember your morality and moral support. Forever and together, we shall overcome.

November 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHossein


Unfortunately, we need to put ourselves in the shoes of the Americans. The 180 degree opposite of Dictatorship is not necessarily Democracy -- there is a 120 degree equilateral triangle , with Dictatorship at one point, Democracy at another and ANARCHY at the third point.

I can imagine that the last thing the Americans need or want is an Anarchical situation in Iran following an overthrow of the current regime- unfortunate, but I believe true.

There has been discussion here about the greens leaders (or lack thereof). The Americans will have noted the statements from Rafsanjani over the past few days (eg regarding nuclear and Alavi seizure) . Who could/can they deal with ?


November 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBarry

RE: 0945 GMT: Two Smoke Signals on the Nuclear Deal.

Add a third one from la Clinton:
"Clinton Says Iran’s Refusal of Nuclear Deal Isn’t ‘Final Word’ "
The U.S. doesn’t consider the Iranian foreign minister’s rejection of a United Nations- brokered proposal to enrich Iran’s uranium overseas to be “the final word,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

November 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

There is no equilateral triangle ! only a straight line, at one point "democracy" and in the other "dictatorship"; the western countries are not afraid of anarchy and in a country like Irak where , each day, one, two or three bombs explode, foreigns compagnies are welcome as said Mr Jalal Talabani the irakian president, few days ago in france !! and as soon as , the more important french compagnies will go to invest there ; the smell of money is better than the one of danger !!
It's normal to have any anarchy and turmoil after the change of a regime in any country, but there is also freedom which is unvaluable, for the people inside the country and more , for the other countries in the world which could live peacefully without interferences of the "dictator" !!;
Anyway I am so surprised that the" exemples" of democraty , the "role models" of all the countries, the 5+1 and specially USA, have chosen ,the wrong point, "the dictatorship" to deal with !! very strange !!
There is neither a sense of "Honour ", nor the one of " respect", even in sport !! ( french team few days ago !) ; but unfortunately for them , everything is seen and watched , thanks to advanced technology !! without the latter nobody could know what has happened in Iran !
Money money money ...I feel sick

November 20, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterange paris

@Barry: The Persians had a code of civil rights when most Westerners' ancestors were still living in wandering forest tribes; don't try to teach your grandma how to suck eggs. They're not just going to dissolve into anarchy; they have ancient and time-tested traditions to fall back on, from long before anybody prophesied anything in any books. They'll figure out what works best and hammer home their successful strategies until they win, and that's that.

November 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRev Magdalen

A very funny video for all my friends ; it's weekend !!

November 20, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterange paris

Your site is so badly designed; I get a headache trying to read through it. Also, your biases are really strange and irrelevant to Iran. I wish you would respect the fact that most Iranians do not see things from your angle and that our culture differs from yours.

November 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBeli

One thing is very clear in fact, "most Iranians" desire the same fundamental things all humans desire, freedom, rule of law, equality in all aspects of a genuinely civil society, and do not want despots and rapists to rule over them. An integral component of our identity is the recognition that indeed all humans are of the same essence and it takes enlightened people to recognize this fact, and one of us 700 years ago stated this and it is still true. We must stress the points we have in common with those fortunate to live in free and democratic societies. We must now, however, fight for our right to life and liberty and we must say no to torture and rape by the state. Enough!

November 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHossein


Welcome back --- this is the second time that you have offered criticism. If you could be constructive with your third post, either about improvements for the site or the "real" perspective held by "most Iranians", I would be grateful.


November 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterScott Lucas


Regarding your point about "Taqiyya" I would beg to differ. Here is a wiki entry on it that adds some background: The concept is a Shia angle on the Sunni concept of dissembling to protect ones faith. Many Islamists, of which I include the leadership of Iran, clearly practice Taqiyya or dissembling. Examples are Islamists saying 'their is no compulsion in religion', 'killing one is like killing all of humanity', or 'we should have a moratorium on death for apostasy.' What they don't tell you for each statement is the no compulsion verse was largely abrograted by numerous 'sword verses', the killing all humanity verse is actually a message to the jews that ends with saying mischief makers will be crucified and have their opposite hand and foot cut off, and the moratorium claim obvisoulsy means it cannot be enforced in the west but when it can well then its death for apostates. To say the leadership of Iran does practice this is perfectly in line with Islamic theology.

If you have not already read the Quran and Hadith source(recommed Buhkari) I would encourage you to. What you will note is over 50% of the text focuses on you and I the non believer and the bulk of it is negative. Essentially we are viewed as a threat to Islam. Taking that into account the predisposition Islam puts on the non believer I don't think it is a stretch to lay a claim of Taqiyya. As I noted in other posts Iran is cleary following a path almost identical to Pakistan and we all know the results of that. I don't think Taqiyya is universally employed by the regime but their efforts to cover up the killings, beatings, and rapes indicate they have no adversion to doing it to protect their system. After all they believe the system is annoited by God and to them all means legit to protect it. It is important to note Islamists, like the Iranian regime, are quite famous for calling other Muslims infidels if they belive they are not sufficiently Muslim. Iran basically calls them enemies of God. Thus one can surmize that they believe they are at war with their own people and the west. Mohammed did say "War is deception", and in war Taqiyya is obligatory because it is viewed as a threat to their life.


November 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBill Davit

Taqiyyeh (Arabic version, taqiyya) is practiced all the time by Shiite clergy without any moral qualms about it. Since the revolution and the IRI, taqiyyeh is used by members of the government all the time, we think the foreign affairs personnel and members of embassies, negotiating teams, and such are all told that taqiyyeh is religiously accepted. So, the IRI lies, and blatantly so, without any problem, and the West has still to fully understand this important element in dealing with the IRI. Take the nuclear "negotiations," apart from the fact that Albaradei has seriously watered down all Iranian conduct and has even, some of us believe, practiced taqiyyeh in reporting to the West, every time the team goes to Vienna and "negotiates" it is practicing taqiyyeh. When the Leader says that 'O in the religion WMDs are forbidden', he is practicing taqiyyeh. We know otherwise, and you should learn the same. The game is too dangerous to take Albaradei's word on the surface, or to give in to the IRI team and believe they have no intention of making a bomb and other WMDs. This is something the West must learn and must bear in mind every time it "negotiates" with the IRI. There are several texts in fiqh where taqiyyeh is discussed at length. The biref point is that the Shiite state, shiite individuals, etc. can practice taqiyyeh in order to get to the end result of Shiite domination over the land of the infidels. The end is clear, the end is what has been stated in several Shiite texts, it is total domination of the world by the "legitimate", the divinely appointed, jurist-ruler, who is almost "innocent" (by God-given, Imam upheld decrees and because if his role as representative and as appointee of the hidden Imam), and MUST rule over all of Islam and MUST conquer all of belad al-kofr, land of the infidels. Now, in order to achieve this thousand year old objective any thing goes, so taqiyyeh MUST be practiced to get to the end result. Moreover, not only WMDs or any other kind of devious warfare is is justified it is ordered. Many sayings decree that the Muslim should obtain the best means to achieve this noble end. So do you still think they don't want WMDs and so on? Now, let me tellyou that there are, however, Iranians, and many many of us, who are fed up with this sort of devious conduct of life, and we do not adhere to this universalist ideology. We want what you have, simple. Life and law and freedom and happiness. We are, as I have said now many times, fed up with this barbaric ideology and this way of violence and this deceitful existence they have jammed down our throats. You have no idea how difficult and how dangerous it is to get out and to say down with the dictator, these people have no mercy and they are strong and they control many many apparatuses of control. Still, and you must see this, we are getting out and we are doing things in face of this real danger and this awful violence. Stop for a moment and really think about how difficult it is to brave it all in face of torture and rape and widespread if not systematic rape and torture. THhis should tell you that we are serious, that we are not finished as some western pundits and journalist for I don't truly know what reason, are saying. We do not practice taqiyyeh, we despise it. We despise this culture of lies and of deceit. We want a better life. We want what you have in the West. Freedom and law and equal opportunity, and no religion in the affairs of state. We don't want the religion of violence and of rape, no. We have been born. We are growing and we are spreading. Iran is not the same. Already people on the street are becoming kind to one another and are once more learning to be truthful. This is an amazing event, set of events. A new beginning. We need acknowledgement, moral support, and people to listen. We are telling the truth, we are fed up with lies. No taqiyyeh.

November 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHossein

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