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Entries in Los Angeles Times (7)


The Latest from Iran (13 November): Accusations

NEW Iran Text: Khatami on Legitimate Protest and Illegitimate Government (13 November)
Iran: Is This an “Unravelling” Protest Beyond Mousavi and Karroubi?
Iran: Why is Washington Belittling the Green Movement?
The Latest from Iran (12 November): Ahmadinejad Moves for Nuclear Deal

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IRAN FOOTBALL MATCH1805 GMT: Another Move for the Nuke Deal. Looks like the Ahmadinejad-military axis has put down another marker with the statement of the head of Iran’s armed forces, Major-General Hassan Firouzabadi, supporting the uranium enrichment agreement: “We will not suffer a loss from the exchange of fuel. Rather, in obtaining fuel enriched to 20 percent as needed by the reactors, nearly one million of our people would take advantage of its medical possibilities annually....The quantity of 3.5 percent enriched uranium [to be shipped out] is not so large as to cause damage to Iran’s supply."

1605 GMT: What's Happening at the Revolutionary Guard? Radio Fardi summarises the changes in higher commander at the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps, including the head of the Tehran command. I'll have to leave it to others to assess whether these are "normal" changes in the organisation or whether there is a political story behind them.

1515 GMT: Confidence or Concern? Reuters has now picked up the statement of Mojtaba Zolnour, a representative of the Supreme Leader in the Revolutionary Guard, that the Assembly of Experts cannot remove him from office.

Zolnour told a gathering of Khamenei's representatives in Iranian universities, "The members of the not appoint the Supreme Leader, rather they discover him and it is not that they would be able to remove him any time they wish so."

Now is Zolnour saying this because he is feeling good that the Supreme Leader is secure in his seat of power or is his warning prompted by fears that members of the Assembly, who raised the possibility of removal in August/September, may not be pacified?

1500 GMT: Football Story of Day. Or maybe, thanks to the Green movement, a non-story because there was a non-crowd. Persian2English writes about a disappointing turnout for the Iran v. Iceland match in Azadi stadium on Tuesday, citing state media: “In spite of have spectators show up in the stadium, only 100 attended to watch the match between the two countries' national teams." ( say "only a few hundred" turned up to watch a "low-key friendly".)

1400 GMT: We've posted a long statement, adapted from the website linked to Mir Hossein Mousavi, made by former President Mohammad Khatami to academics. Khatami appears to be going to great lengths to set out "legitimate" protest (as opposed to "radical" activity) criticising the failure of the Government to serve the Iranian people and uphold the Constitution.

1315 GMT: Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi has announced that Shapour Kazemi, the brother of Mir Hossein Mousavi's wife Zahra Rahnavard, will be tried in Revolutionary Court.

1200 GMT: Your Tehran Friday Prayer Report.

Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, the former head of the Guardian Council, used his speech to put 13 Aban in the "right" context. The presence of students has demonstrated the Revolution's resolve against the "enemy flag" of the United States. Washington also gave Jannati the opportunity to attack the Iranian opposition --- despite the fact that he did not see them on 13 Aban --- "$55 million" authorised by the US for subversive activities.

1100 GMT: Persian2English reports on the Revolutionary Court's sentencing of Hassan Salamat, a master’s student at Tehran University, to four years in prison. Salamat was arrested in post-election protests on charges of "propagating aganist the regime and conspiracy to disrupt national security". He spent two months in Evin Prison before being released on $200,000 bail.

1010 GMT: An intriguing interview with Tehran Chief Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi on the Islamic Republic News Agency website. It's intriguing in part because Doulatabadi is clearly on the defensive about allegations of abuses by the regime. He admits that the Constitution in principle puts forth open trials but gives a convoluted explanation as to why this is not possible. He also expresses the hope that some trials can be completed in the next month.

Even more interesting, however, is the politics in the interview. Pointing to the regime's ongoing manoeuvres against former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, Doulatabadi says Rafsanjani's son Mehdi Hashemi --- accused in the first Tehran trial of corruption and intrigue in the Preisdential election --- should return from Britain to Iran if he believes the charges are false.

0825 GMT: Just catching up with news this morning.

Both The New York Times and Press TV share an interest in the seizure by US Federal prosecutors of properties, including the land where four mosques sit, of the Alavi Foundation. The prosecutors claim that the Foundation, whose 36-story office tower is also being taken, is illegally providing money and other services to Iran.

The Los Angeles Times goes instead for The Bomb, with a survey considering the reactions of Arab states and people to Iran's nuclear programme.

As for us, we're starting the day with two features outlining our concern over "Western" images of the Green Wave, which may point to a US Government policy shifting against the Iranian opposition: "Why is Washington Belittling the Green Movement?" and "Is This an 'Unravelling' Protest Beyond Mousavi and Karroubi?"

Iran: Why is Washington Belittling the Green Movement?

Iran: Is This an “Unravelling” Protest Beyond Mousavi and Karroubi?
The Latest from Iran (12 November): Ahmadinejad Moves for Nuclear Deal

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GREEN MOVEMENTRecently I had sharp words for an article by Borzou Daragahi of The Los Angeles Times because it was "so partial, so distorting, so wrong that it verged on sabotage of the demands, aspirations, and ideas of the Green movement". Daragahi cited a few "analysts" who, more from their personal interests than from knowledge of the opposition, denounced Mir Hossein Mousavi and called on the US Government to recognise the outcome of June's Presidential election.

Fortunately, in my opinion, Daragahi quickly walked away from that piece, recognising that the 13 Aban protests would be "significant". However, he has now posted an interview with Karim Sadjadpour, one of the most prominent US-based analysts of Iran, which revives my concerns: "Is Obama administration dissing the 'green' opposition movement?"

Sadjadpour claims, in support of the headline, "There are certainly analysts in Washington, including within some branches of the U.S. government, who believe that Iran’s opposition movement is either dead or does not deserve to be taken seriously," then adding --- in an apparent contradiction --- "[But] I’ve never found them to be dismissive or unsympathetic towards the green movement". However, whether Obama's officials love, loathe, or have no time for the Green Wave, "They feel they can’t put all their eggs in the basket of the opposition."

My concerns are not over Sadjadpour, whose analysis I appreciate. Instead, it is with the "they" who he is invoking. I do not know their names. I do not know on what basis they are making their judgements. And I certainly do not know their motives for proclaiming the Death of the Opposition.

Sadjadpour throws out clues. Part of Washington's distance could be benevolent: "The Obama administration worries that if it is seen as too vocally supportive of the could end up sabotaging the movement." On the other hand, it could be the calculation that a nuclear deal with Tehran trumps all other considerations: "The prospect of political reform in Tehran appears to be at best a medium-term process, while the prospect of Iran reaching a nuclear weapons capability is an immediate concern.

The point remains, however: We Just Don't Know. And my concern remains and now grows with each article --- the original Daragahi piece, the snide comments of Jackson Diehl on "Iran's Unlovable Opposition" in the Washington Post, and the distortions of David Ignatius in the same paper  --- that claims to "know" the Iranian opposition. Are the ignorance that poses as knowledge and the insults that pose as analysis not only representative of the authors but of Government officials who stand as unnamed sources behind them?

Is Obama administration dissing the 'green' opposition movement?
Borzou Daragahi

As the United States attempts to grapple with Iran over its nuclear program, some worry that it will sacrifice the Islamic Republic's grass-roots opposition movement.

Karim Sadjadpour is an Iran analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. He's regularly hobnobbing with Beltway policymakers and advisors as well as those within the kaleidoscope of think tanks issuing reams of recommendations for them.

He says that opinion in Washington is mixed. Though he himself believes that Iran's opposition movement remains a force to be reckoned with, some disagree.

"There are certainly analysts in Washington, including within some branches of the U.S. government, who believe that Iran’s opposition movement is either dead or does not deserve to be taken seriously," he said.

But, he said, "in numerous conversations with the key formulators of Iran policy in the Obama administration I’ve never found them to be dismissive or unsympathetic towards the green movement."

Still, for a whole bunch of reasons, the administration is also hedging its bets.

"They feel they can’t put all their eggs in the basket of the opposition," he said.

or one thing, they worry that Iran's drive to master nuclear technology is moving faster than its move toward democracy. "The prospect of political reform in Tehran appears to be at best a medium-term process, while the prospect of Iran reaching a nuclear weapons capability is an immediate concern," said Sadjadpour, who was last in Iran in 2005.

But there's another matter, says Sadjadpour. The Obama administration worries that if it is seen as too vocally supportive of the opposition, as has been demanded by some commentators, it could end up sabotaging the movement.

"They’re concerned that enthusiastic U.S. patronage of the opposition movement could prove more hurtful than helpful to their cause," he said.

The administration's uncertainty stems in part from mixed messages it's getting from Iran and supporters of the opposition.

"Some think the U.S. could and should be doing much more, others argue that this is an internal Iranian drama and further American support would be counterproductive," he said.

Following the beatings, mass imprisonments and televised trials of opposition members, Sadjadpour said he thinks the administration could get away with being more outspoken in criticizing Iran for failure to measure up to globally accepted standards of human rights and justice.

"I have no illusions that raising the issue of human rights will compel the regime to have second thoughts about employing repression and brutality," he said. "But if we continue engagement while neglecting to talk about human rights, the United States sends the signal to the Iranian people that America is a cynical superpower willing to 'do a deal' at their expense."

While dialog with Iran is important, diplomatic engagement is not an end in itself, but a way to curb Iran's nuclear program and moderate its foreign policy, he said.

Sadjadpour, for one, said he very much doubts that the current ruling establishment in Tehran seeks an accommodation with the U.S.

"As long as Ahmadinejad remains president and [Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei remains leader, I am skeptical about Iran’s willingness to make and adhere to meaningful compromises on issues like the nuclear issue and Israeli-Palestinian conflict," he said.

That doesn't mean the U.S. should revert back to the "regime change" policies and rhetoric of the Bush administration. In fact, Sadjadpour said he was convinced that that Khamenei and Ahmadinejad would actually welcome a military strike.

"It may be their only hope to silence popular dissent and heal internal political rifts," he said.

But ruling out war doesn't mean the U.S. should get all lovey-dovey with Tehran's current establishment.

"We should certainly refrain from employing policies that dampen the momentum of the green movement, or alter its trajectory," he said. "This means treading carefully on 'engagement,' broadening the conversation beyond just nukes and avoiding military confrontation."


The Latest from Iran (7 November): Regrouping

NEW Iran: Question for the Regime "What's Your Next Punch?"
NEW Latest Iran Video: More from 13 Aban
Iran’s New 13 Aban: An Eyewitness Account “I Have Never Seen as Much Violence”
Iran: Josh Shahryar on the Significance of 13 Aban
Iran Video: The Tribute to 13 Aban’s Protesters
The Latest from Iran (6 November): The Day After The Day After

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IRAN DEMOS 132240 GMT: Confirmation that Ebrahim Amini, of the Etemade Melli party and a close relative of Mehdi Karroubi, has also been released from detention.

2150 GMT: Dr. Ali Tajernia, former MP and senior member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, has been released after 140 days in detention.

2145 GMT: Human Rights Activists in Iran has a Farsi-language update on detainees, including the transfer of 95 people arrested on 13 Aban from detention centres to Evin Prison.

2140 GMT: After the arrest of two students of Khaje Nasir University in Tehran, classmates went on hunger strike in front of the cafeteria and chanted, “Allahu Akhbar [God is Great]".

2130 GMT: Confirming indications we had received from EA sources in recent weeks, the Supreme Leader has reinstated Ezatullah Zarghami as head of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting for five years.

Zarghami had been considered vulnerable because of regime dissatisfaction with IRIB's output before and after the Presidential election, but a suitable replacement could not be arranged. Khamenei indicated this with a call for Zarghami to "take advantage of successful or unsuccessful experiences of the past five years to help this medium reach a better quality".

2125 GMT: Iran's Internal Nuclear Dispute. Press TV's website is now featuring the anti-talks line taken by high-profile MP Alaeddin Boroujerdi (see 0845 GMT).

1648 GMT: Back-Channel US-Iran Talks? An EA reader has picked up what may be a significant unnoticed story in the nuclear negotiations. Peykeiran claims that President Ahmadinejad's close advisor and chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, has secretly met Hooshang Amirahmadi, a US-based academic and the President of the American Iranian Council, in a villa in Gilan Province in northern Iran.

It is unclear why Amirahmadi is representing the Obama Administration and, if so, what message he could be conveying about the discussions on uranium enrichment. If true, however, the meeting would be a clear sign of a split between Ahmadinejad and high-profile conservatives/principlists calling for the deal to be abandoned.

1640 GMT: On the Los Angeles Times' blog "Babylon & Beyond", Borzou Daragahi has highlighted, "Defying supreme leader, reformist Khatami continues to question election" (see 1200, 1400, & 1418 GMT). It will be interesting to see if the Times prints this in Sunday's newspaper, maintaining a focus on Iran after 13 Aban.

One interesting note: Jamaran, where Khatami's remarks first appeared, is owned by the family of the late Ayatollah Khomeini.

1620 GMT: Farhad Pouladi, the Iranian reporter for Agence France Presse detained on 13 Aban, has been freed.

1418 GMT: More on Khatami's Statement (see 1200 GMT). The former President has declared, “Senior authorities should accept that there is a crisis in the country" and allow all views to be expressed freely. He added, "We should find out who are ignoring the law for their own benefit, and those are the ones that should not be at centre of power."

Khatami continued his challenge to the Government as a defence of the true nature of the Islamic Republic:
If we truly return to the rule of law and those who are the guardians of the law don’t interpret the law based on their own personal views and don’t ignore the constitution,...[then the constitution will be the most important reference point. that can create unity in our society despite all the different views

We are still standing firm on our positions....In the Islamic Republic just as we defend Islam we are also defending people’s rights and votes. Those who are ignoring people’s votes and are willing to change them, are strangers to the Revolution and the Islamic Republic.

1408 GMT: And Now the Big News. We wrote earlier this morning that the regime seemed adrift and uncertain in how to respond to 13 Aban, but "tonight the President could try to change all the calculations above with an address to the nation".

Well, he won't because Ahmadinejad's speech tonight is postponed. This may be explained by the sudden announcement that the President is going to Turkey tomorrow (to discuss a re-arranged enrichment deal? --- see 0935 GMT), but pending a major breakthrough on that front, I'm going to read this as confirmation that the Government is a bit more than lost at the moment. This is the second postponement of the speech since Thursday's rallies.

1400 GMT: Regrouping Indeed. Former President Khatami is not just reasserting himself with statements questioning the election and the legitimacy of the Government (see 1200 GMT). He also met Mehdi Karroubi last night in his home.

Nominally, Khatami expressed sorrow and comforted Karroubi about the violence during the 13 Aban rallies, as did Abdollah Nouri, the interior minister in Khatami’s administration, and Bagher Golpaygani , son of the late Grand Ayatollah Golpaygani. But who is to say that other topics were not discussed?

1350 GMT: This is Important, but Why? I'm not sure what to make of this news yet, but Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani has traveled to Najaf in Iraq to meet Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani and other Shi'a clerics.

No clue yet as to topic of discussions. Earlier in the crisis, Sistani and his son had been in talks with former President Hashemi Rafsanjani and Iranian clerics who have been critical of the Ahmadinejad Government. So is Larijani seeking support from Sistani and Iraq-based Ayatollahs to bolster the Government? Or the Supreme Leader? Or the position of the Supreme Leader against Ahmadinejad?

1340 GMT: Iranian activist "PersianBanoo" is updating with latest news on arrests from the 13 Aban protests.

1200 GMT: Khatami Rises. We have noted this week that the former President Mohammad Khatami has been relatively quiet, limiting himself to a general statement yesterday when he visited Karroubi  advisor Morteza Alviri.

Well, Khatami is back with a flourish today, declaring that the biggest "crime" of the current regime is its detachment from the values of the Revolution. And, despite warnings from the Supreme Leader, Khatami has renewed his criticism of the Presidential election.

1150 GMT: The Effect of Subsidy Cuts. Borzou Daragahi reports, from a source in Tehran, that bread prices in the capital have more than doubled.

0950 GMT: We've split off our first update today as a separate analysis, "Question for the Regime: What's Your Next Punch?"

0935 GMT: Is the Nuclear Deal On? High-profile MP Alaeddin Boroujerdi may be declaring the enrichment deal dead (see 0845 GMT), but the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohammad El Baradei, is claiming that a compromise may have been found. He told Bloomberg News that Turkey could replace France as the third country involved, shaping the Iranium uranium enriched by Russia into metal plates.

So, is El Baradei just putting out desperate ideas to save the deal or, given that Press TV is featuring his comments, is there a section of the Iranian Government that is still committed to discussions?

0930 GMT: Really, Only 109? Azizollah Rajabzadeh, the head of Tehran police, has said, "Police arrested 109 people who created disorder and disturbed public order and security on the sideline of the rally on Wednesday. Some 62 of the detainees were jailed and the rest were released."

Of course, that number does not include those detained outside Tehran, but it's still a distance from the 400+ reported by Iranian human rights groups. So, presuming that Rajabzadeh has kept the number low, does that indicate: 1) the regime does not want to admit to the scale of the detentions, which would point to the real size of the rallies? 2) the regime is trying to show it was not that repressive, cutting against the image of the "velvet fist" it has been displaying? 3) nobody within the Government is in control of how to handle the outcome of 13 Aban?

0855 GMT: A "Correct" Press TV. We noted that, late on the night of 13 Aban and early the following day, someone at Press TV was putting out stories highlighting the opposition protests rather than those for the Government.

No more. This morning, Press TV's website has a story, "Iran Frees Three Detained Foreigners". We had that news yesterday; what is more significant is the framing of the article: "On Wednesday tens of thousands of Iranians took to the streets as part of an annual event to mark the storming of the American embassy in Tehran more than three decades ago."

So that's where the "foreigners" were arrested? Well, it must be, since Press TV --- in contrast to its earlier coverage --- dares not mention the Green rallies that were taking place elsewhere in the capital and throughout Iran.

0845 GMT: Is the Nuclear Deal Off? Iranian Students News Agency is featuring a comment by the head of Parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, “Iran is not to give any of its 1200 kilograms fuel to the other party to receive 20 percent (enriched) fuel and whether gradually or at once, this will not be done and is called off.” Boroujerdi insisted that Iran must and would find another way to get uranium, "Mr [Ali Asghar] Soltanieh [Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency] is in talks to find an approach for the issue.”

Boroujerdi's burying of the Vienna deal for Russia to enrich Iran's uranium follows his speech introducing Friday Prayers, in which he denounced protesters for mouthing the words of the Voice of America.

The Latest from Iran (6 November): The Day After The Day After

NEW Iran’s New 13 Aban: An Eyewitness Account “I Have Never Seen as Much Violence”
NEW Iran: Josh Shahryar on the Significance of 13 Aban
NEW Iran Video: The Tribute to 13 Aban’s Protesters
Iran Document: Ayatollah Montazeri’s Interview on Eve of 13 Aban
Iran’s New 13 Aban: “A Major Blow to Khamenei’s Authority”
Iran’s New 13 Aban: A First-Hand Account from the Streets
Iran’s New 13 Aban: “The Green Wave Has Bounced Back”
NEW Latest Iran Video: The 13 Aban Protests (4 November — 4th Set)
Latest Iran Video: The 13 Aban Protests (4 November — 3rd Set)
Latest Iran Video: The 13 Aban Protests (4 November — 2nd Set)
Latest Iran Video: The 13 Aban Protests (4 November — 1st Set)

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IRAN 4 NOV 71905 GMT: Tehran's Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi says two Germans and a Canadian, detained on 13 Aban, have been released. It is unclear if the Canadian is one of the four foreign journalists who were arrested (see 1155 GMT).

1845 GMT: From the Streets. We've posted an eyewitness account by Persian  Umpire, which can be compared with that of our correspondent Mr Azadi, of the 13 Aban demonstrations.

1820 GMT: MediaFail of the Day. Even by the standards set by the Islamic Republic News Agency for "information", this is Gold-Medal journalism. From Mehdi Karroubi's son, Hossein Karroubi:
On Thursday [5 November], IRNA released an interview said to be with me which was completely false and lies. In these comments IRNA claimed that I have said Mr. Mousavi was not brave enough to attend the November 4th protest and that I have accused him of lying.

There is no need to explain that because of Mr. Mousavi’s and Mr. Karoubi’s character and of course their bravery that we know about, they will continue to lead the Green movement of Iran with unity in their actions and they will not give up until we reach the goals of the movement and eliminate the power of liars.These kinds of lies will only make the strong determination of Mr. Mousavi in fight against lies even stronger and will further prove that he has chosen his mission in this fight justly.

1725 GMT: What does "Obama, You're With Them or You're With Us" Mean? Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has an interesting article, "What Does Iran's Green Movement Want from Obama?".  Assuming those interviewed are representative of the movement, the message is: 1) of course, no US interference but 2) no eagerness for a nuclear deal with the Ahmadinejad Government and 3) condemnation of Iran's human rights abuses with inclusion of the issue in any US talks with Tehran.

1550 GMT: More on Friday Prayers (see 1145 GMT). The Los Angeles Times has a lengthy summary of today's service in Tehran, from which a couple of interesting twists emerge.

The first is an apparent "concession" in the hard line normally set out by Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami. He began with his portrayal of a small, foreign-backed group trying to disrupt the pro-Government rallies on 13 Aban: "Out of the hundreds and thousands of people who take to the streets, only one or two thousand shouted [for the Greens]...."Americans must not be happy, as there is no red carpet waiting for them." And he pressed the evil sponsor theme: "My brothers and sisters who have fallen in the wrong and incorrect track, look who is supporting you, those who were named by the late imam [Ayatollah Khomeini] as 'blasphemous' and [whose] Islam was called 'Americanized Islam'. The miserable monarchists are supporting you."

Yet Khatami then offered a way back to the fold, "What is wrong if you follow the mainstream of the nation? Come back to the embrace of the nation and the nation will accept your repenting and remorse....Of course the criminals’ cases are different and they should be punished."

That apparent sign of reconcilation was not matched by an opening for the US. To the contrary, Khatami was so loud in his denunciation of Washington that it heightens suspicions that Iran --- possibly against the line set out by President Ahmadinejad --- is walking out on the nuclear talks. Khatami declared, "Since the 1953 coup against [Mohammad] Mosaddegh, the U.S. has done nothing except treason against our nation, and since the beginning of our revolution, as [Khomeini] said, we can compile a book about the crimes committed by the US", and he brought the story to the present, with the Obama Administration instigating ethnic groups and releasing $50 million for "toppling our system". Khatami concluded, "As long as the U.S. will not give up its arrogant character, our nation is not going to be engaged in satanic negotiations."

Khatami's line was introduced by Alaedin Boroujerdi, the head of Parliament's National Security and Foreign Affairs Committee, who denounced protesters for following the line of the Voice of America: "The leaders [of the opposition] used to be high-ranking officials. Now, they repeat the same slogans."

So, if Khatami is speaking for others higher up in the regime, is this an attempt to ease the internal conflict by offering an olive branch to the "less serious" offenders? And will this be matched by a linking of the "more serious" offenders --- say, the leaders of the opposition movement --- to the US, even if that means a suspension of engagement with the "West"?

Most importantly, is this shift in strategy a sign of weakness or strength? I'm voting for the former.

1430 GMT: Will The Regime Break The Opposition? Following our previous entry, Mr Smith checks in, "We may have underestimated the police resolve: Iranian human rights groups are now reporting that no less than 400 people have been picked up in the streets on 13 Aban and are now in Evin Prison."

I do not think we missed this. Rather, we may be seeing an important juncture in the post-election crisis. As we have noted over the last 48 hours, the Ahmadinejad Government may be lost for a political strategy, but it can still try to use blunt force to survive by pounding the opposition into submission.

1255 GMT: The Government Acts. Tehran's Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi has confirmed that reformists Ali Tajernia, Saeed Shariati, and Ebrahim Amini will be tried on Saturday. Ahmad Zeidabadi and Behzad Nabavi will be in court on Sunday, and Mohammad Atrianfar will appear on Monday.

An Iranian activist is offering running updates on the latest developments with detentions and forthcoming court hearings.

1245 GMT: What Has Mohammad Khatami Been Doing? The former President, who has kept a low profile in recent days including 13 Aban, has resurfaced with a visit to Morteza Alviri, the former mayor of Tehran and Mehdi Karoubi’s representative on the committee to investigate detainee abuses, in his home. Alviri was arrested in a raid on Karroubi's offices in September and released on bail last week.

Khatami offered general remarks, praising Alviri's courage and long service to Iran.

1200 GMT: I can't help thinking that the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps has been seriously distracted by last month's bombing in southeastern Iran.

Brigadier General Hussein Salami, the IRGC's Deputy Commander, has given a lengthy interview to Fars News about the threat from Jundallah. He goes on at length about foreign support of the Baluch insurgents but this is the headline claim: Jundallah leader Abdolmalek Rigi was arrested in September but was released after interference from Pakistani intelligence services.

It's not a question of the attention that the Revolutionary Guard is now paying to the southeastern situation rather than to the internal challenge. Allegations like these are bound to complicate the Government's relations with neighbours such as Pakistan.

1155 GMT: Agence France Presse reports that four journalists --- two Canadian, 1 Japanese, and 1 Iranian working for AFP --- were arrested on 13 Aban.

1145 GMT: Your Friday Prayer Summary. Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, known for his fierce denunciation of post-election opposition, led the prayers in Tehran, and he did not ease up on the evil of a Green movement led by the United States.

1. Observers should not mistake a "small group" of agitators backed by Washington as the message of 13 Aban, given the "flood surge" of people who came out for the Iranian nation, Government, and Supreme Leader.

2. Iran's great success in nuclear energy is being led by Ayatollah Khamenei. The West "says we should build confidence but we do not have confidence in you".

3. Give us the uranium for Iran's medical research reactor. Now.

4. The US is arrogant, but Iran will never negotiate with evil.

1120 GMT: Nuclear Face-Off. With news from inside Iran slow this morning, the Iranian Government has kept attention on the international talks. Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has maintained on IRIB television, "The Islamic Republic examines all the proposals. We have examined this proposal, we have some technical and economic considerations [which need to be addressed]." Mottaki's remarks were an indirect response to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's insistence that the draft arrangement on uranium enrichment would not be changed.

Mottaki has also used remarks to the Islamic Republic News Agency to poke at the "superficial" comments of the French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner.

0935 GMT: Really, I'm Going to Speak...but Football First. Fars News Agency reports:
President Ahmadinejad's speech to the nation has been postponed because of Thursday night's World Cup football match between Iran and Uruguay.

The President will speak after 9 p.m. on Saturday on the nuclear issue, the economy, and in particular information technology.

Postponed because of the football? Call me cynical, but postponed because of uncertainty and disarray is a less dramatic explanation. The original story was that the President would appear on Thursday, irrespective of any prospect that he might be overshadowed by a sporting event; the delay points to a Government that is trying to figure out how to respond to the show of opposition on 13 Aban.

0825 GMT: Following the assessments by Mr Smith and by Chris Emery of the outcomes of 13 Aban's marches, EA correspondent Josh Shahryar offers his assessment of the day's events and their political impact.

0735 GMT: Balancing our criticism of the rush by some back to the haven of Iran as Nuclear Threat, other newspapers do keep an eye on the opposition and internal developments. The Huffington Post has a feature on Mahmoud Vahidnia, the mathematics student who challenged the Supreme Leader during a speech last week. And The New York Times publishes a commentary by Nazenin Ansari and Jonathan Paris on "The Message from Tehran".

0700 GMT: An Enduring America reader wrote with concern a few hours ago, "Today was suspiciously quiet. No videos coming out and no statements....I’m not sure what to make of it." Josh Shahryar's excellent analysis, posted in a separate entry, offers an answer. I would add: 1) this lull happened after previous large demonstrations of opposition, as on 30 July and 18 September; 2) a pause was to be expected after the rush of energy and fortitude on 13 Aban; 3) the movement is already gathering itself for the next show of defiance, with planning beginning for Students Day on 16 Azar (7 December).

That's not to say that other folks are already leaving the party. The Washington Post exits with great haste to its priority of the nuclear issue. It features an article claiming, from the ever-present unnamed official, "Iran is demanding full delivery of reactor fuel before it gives up its stash of low-enriched uranium and has balked at further efforts to hold international talks on its nuclear program." That, however, is fair-and-balanced reporting next to the paper's editorial calling for an immediate cutoff of talks and twisting 13 Aban to fit that demand:
On Wednesday, the opposition protesters chanted: "Obama, Obama -- either you're with them, or with us." Sooner rather than later, Mr. Obama ought to respond to those messages.

The rush away from Iran to the nuclear front is likely to be accelerated by an "exclusive" in The Guardian this morning, "Iran tested advanced nuclear warhead design – secret report". Apparently "Iranian scientists have experimented with an advanced nuclear warhead design...known as a 'two-point implosion' device," and "nuclear experts" find this "breathtaking".

Translation: a "Western" official (US, European, or from the International Atomic Energy Agency) decided --- from genuine concern, a desire to wreck the enrichment talks, or both --- to leak another headline from the controversial 2008 IAEA report on Iran's nuclear programme. Without seeing the actual text, it is impossible to know the significance of the alleged warhead design. Indeed, two sentences deep in a side analysis in The Guardian tip off that this is far from an "imminent threat" story:
Most but not all of the material in the dossier relates back to the period before 2004. It does not necessarily conflict with the US National Intelligence Estimate two years ago, that found it likely that Iran suspended weaponisation work in 2003.

That, I suspect, will not deter media from racing to panic stations over the claim.

The Latest from Iran (3 November): 8 Hours to Go

NEW Latest Iran Video: Rooftop “Allahu Akhbar” Chants (3 November)
NEW Latest Iran Video: Protests at Iranian Universities (3 November)
NEW Iran: A Response to “What If the Green Movement Isn’t Ours?” (The Sequel)
Latest Iran Video: Protest & Hunger Strike at Sharif University
Iran: A Response to an American Who Asks, “What if the Green Movement Isn’t ‘Ours’?
Iran: More 13 Aban Videos
Latest from Iran (2 November): The World Takes Notice?

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IRAN 3 NOV DEMOS 32200 GMT: And So To Tomorrow. We're going to pull down the curtain for a few hours, but please keep bringing in news and comments. Back at 0600 GMT for what should be quite a big day, indeed.

2115 GMT: An Embassy Apology (see 1730 GMT). Grand Ayatollah Montazeri has said that, “considering the negative effects and heightened sensitivity” it produced amongst Americans, the takeover of the US Embassy in 1979 was a “mistaken” act.

Montazeri said the seizure, which led to the holding of 52 American hostages for 444 days, was akin to “declaring war on that country” and claimed that even “some of the revolutionary and committed youth, who were instrumental in that act at the time, now believe that it was a mistake".

2050 GMT: Did You Write This with a Straight Face? Mehr News' English-language site offers a classic one-eye-shut view of events: "Call for massive turnout on Aban 13 rallies".

Here are the groups calling for that turnout: Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Navy branch (“Iran’s great nation, especially students [should] commemorate the day and foil the plot of the enemies of the Islamic Revolution"), Moderation and Development Party, Islamic Association of Teachers, Ministry of Defense, Society of Seminary Teachers of Qom ("vigilance of nation against the enemies’ attempts to undermine this epical day"), Iran's judiciary (“national unity, solidarity, obedience of the Supreme Leader, and resistance against hegemonic powers’ plots [will mark] the beginning of the downfall of the US").

Gee, anyone missing from that list? You know, any other groups that may have been today, all day, throughout the day in these updates?

2040 GMT: Homy Lafayette has posted routes of the marches in Tehran, Tabriz, Isfahan, Shiraz, Ahvaz, and Bushehr.

2035 GMT: More videos from universities in Iran --- Ferdowsi and Sajad in Mashaad in the east, Mazandaran in the north.

1950 GMT: Getting Louder. We've got video of tonight's "Allahu Akhbar" chants from Tehran rooftops.

1830 GMT: An EA source sends us the news that Ali Pir-Hosseinloo, a translator and book editor, blogger, and member of the reformist Islamic Iran Participation Front, has been freed from jail after spending 50 days in solitary confinement.

1805 GMT: Yet another video of protest at another Iran university. This one is from Yasouj University in southwestern Iran.

1745 GMT: Did We Mention 13 Aban is Tomorrow? The Washington Post puts out a story on today's speech by the Supreme Leader (see 1030 and 1230 GMT), "Iran's Khamenei rejects U.S. outreach, warns against talks". The authors, Thomas Erdbrink and William Branigan, pays much attention to the "harshest comments against the Obama administration to date" but never once considers that they may have some connection to the internal situation as well as the discussions on the nuclear programme.

Number of words in article: 1135
Number of references to 13 Aban protests: 0

1730 GMT: Fact and Rumor. Having had a go at Borzou Daragahi poorly-timed misrepresentation of the Green movement in the Los Angeles Times (see separate entry), it's only fair that we cast a critical eye on a story trying to boost the opposition.

In The Daily Telegraph, Damien McElroy and Ahmad Vahdat proclaim, "Iran Opposition to Apologise to US for Embassy Siege". Now, as our readers' comments suggest, people may fervently wish that is true, but there is a bit difference between wishing and reality.

The story is based on a single source: "Mohsen Makhmalbaf, an exiled film-maker who spearheads the opposition campaign overseas, said Iranians should repudiate the events of 1979, when a group of pro-regime agitators took over the US embassy and held diplomats and other occupants."

Makhmalbaf has been a high-profile, vocal proponent of the Green movement throughout this crisis but in no way is he a spokesman for the policies and plans of Iranian opposition groups. His desire for an overturn of the 1979 actions is not equivalent to a Green manifesto.

I fear that, once more, the problem is that non-Iranian media reduce Iranian actions and ideas to "what have you done for the US lately?". While it may be desirable to find reconciliation over the past, there is a lot more to be considered in the present.

1645 GMT: And an Important Assurance. The reformist Mojahedin of Islamic Revolution, adding to its call for participation in 13 Aban protests (see 0630 GMT) has warned of rumours that there will be violent action against foreign embassies, with the Green movement then accused of the attacks. The MIR stressed that the Green Wave is a civil, peaceful, and anti-violence movement and and warned followers not to fall for these traps and disinformation.

1630 GMT: Another Declaration for 13 Aban (see 0630 GMT). Daftar-Tahkim-Vahdat, the main reformist Student Alumni Organisation, has announced, “We will participate in the celebration against the internal tyranny and dictatorship.” The organisation declares that students, as sons and daughters of Iran, have always been at the forefront of fight for democracy and against oppression, and 4 November will be another chapter in this historic effort (English summary).

1505 GMT: Rooz Online has further details on our earlier report (see 1025 GMT) that members of the One Million Signatures for Gender Equality campaign have been summoned to the Revolutionary Court.

1500 GMT: Tip of the Iceberg. We've posted a clip from today's protest at Kashan University, south of Tehran.

An EA source tells us, however, that our reports and videos are only a small part of what is occurring. In Isfahan, Shiraz, and Mashaad, university students are demonstrating.

1230 GMT: We've posted the first video footage we've received of today's university protests, coming from Azad University in Tehran.

1210 GMT: Khamenei Says, "Wouldn't You Rather Say Death to America?" The more I read about the Supreme Leader's speech to students today, the less it appears as an intervention in the nuclear talks and the more it feels like a rather clumsy attempt to channel protest against Washington, rather than having those students come out against the Government.

On the surface, Khamenei was acknowledging the "beautiful words" of President Obama to ask if they carried any meaning: “The Islamic Republic of Iran decided from the very beginning not to prejudge and to instead consider the slogan of 'change'. But what we have witnessed in practice during this period of time has been in contradiction with the remarks that have been made."

However, the warning that "Americans talk of negotiations" while "they continue to threaten and say the negotiations must have our desired results or we will take (punitive) measures" seems to carry a significance beyond the recent Vienna discussions and framework agreement: it's no coincidence that tomorrow's "official" 13 Aban rally is in front of the former US Embassy.

1200 GMT: So Much for a Quiet Day. I had thought that, with anticipation of tomorrow's events, all might be in a state of political suspense today.

Fat chance. In addition to the Khamenei speech (see 1030 GMT), which we still have to interpret, President Ahmadinejad has made an extraordinary intervention behind his Government's proposals to reduce subsidies, replacing them with cash handouts for poorest Iranians.

Ahmadinejad showed up at the Parliament, unannounced, to give a five-minute speech defending his proposals. The appearance brought loud protests, with members complained to the Speaker, Ali Larijani, about the "unconstitutional behavior". When Larijani declared the complaints valid, Ahmadinejad threatened to withdraw his economic reforms. This caused further chaos in the chamber.

1125 GMT: Laying Down The Line --- The "Proper" March. Tehran's police force has announced that the "proper" 13 Aban rally, markking the 30th anniversary of the US Embassy takeover, would be held in front of the building. It added that holding any other demonstrations in Tehran is “illegal": "The police will strongly confront people or groups intending to create unrest and unlawful behavior, based on its legal responsibilities."

1030 GMT: Khamenei --- Targeting Nuke Talks or Protesters? Agence France Presse, from Iran state media, reports on the Supreme Leader's speech on the eve of 13 Aban. It focuses on the nuclear talks, quoting Khamenei, "We do not want any negotiation, the result of which is pre-determined by the United States. A dialogue like this is like a sheep and wolf relation, which the late imam (Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini) has said that we 'do not want'."

Now is that a direct challenge to engagement or is a not-so-coded attempt to link internal opposition to the foreign enemy, less than 24 hours before mass rallies? You decide: Khamenei warned he would not allow people with "ill-intentions" towards Iran to "throw out a red carpet for the United States".

1025 GMT: An EA source informs us of a mass summons, by phone and in writing, of women activists to the Security Branch of the Revolutionary Courts. So far five activists --- Maryam Malek, Jelve Javaheri, Kave Mozzafari, Parisa Kakaee, and Khadijeh Moghaddam -- have reported that they have received written summons on 21 October to appear in court within three days. Six other members have reported that they have been contacted by telephone and are awaiting summons.

1015 GMT: The Public Prosecutor's Office in Tehran is calling for public "consciousness" of the significance of 13 Aban --- read a warning to protestors not to show up and an admonition to others to be on guard against trouble-makers --- as a "national day against global arrogance".

0930 GMT: Reuters has picked up on the call of Zahra Rahnavard, the wife of Mir Hossein Mousavi, for the release of women detained during the post-election crisis.

0925 GMT: For the second time in less than 24 hours, I have written about an article in a US newspaper which, in my  opinion, undermines the Green movement in the service of misplaced priorities. This time my concern has been provoked by a piece by Borzou Daragahi in the Los Angeles Times.

0810 GMT: Noticing Politics, Noticing Tomorrow. The international media will be in Afghanistan overload today, but Michael Slackman of The New York Times puts out a useful analysis, "Iran’s Politics Stand in the Way of a Nuclear Deal". Slackman's takeaway, based on interview with his US-based pool of analysts, is, "[Iran's eqivocation] may be as much a product of the nation’s smoldering political crisis as it is a negotiating tactic."

0630 GMT: At this time tomorrow, people will be gathering at various points in Tehran and other Iranian cities for the ceremonies of 13 Aban and for demonstrations. A day which the regime has marked as the anniversary of the takeover of the US Embassy in 1979 by students is likely to take on a very different political symbolism.

Initial news today is of preparations for the gathering. Campaign 88, the youth supporters of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mohammad Khatami, has invited the Green nation of Iran to participate in the rallies. The statement offers a nice transition from past struggles against foreign powers to current internal issues: 13 Azad has been the symbol of fighting against tyranny and oppression in the political history of our countrybut the campaign is now influenced by the movements against tyranny closer to home. The campaign declares that Mousavi will be participating and call on all members to make the tyrants and oppressors hear the cry for freedom of Iranians.

The Mojahedin of Islamic Revolution party, declaring it will be participating in the rallies alongside other Green reformists, said the history of the past 200 years of Iran chows this fact that domestic tyrants who are hopeless and do not have the support of the people inevitably seek backing from foreigners. If the principle in foreign relations is the national interest, a government that has legitimacy and the support of the people will fulfill this responsibility. Reformists will seek “comprehensive execution of the constitution and the institutionalisation of the rights and freedoms mentioned" in that document.