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Friday
Sep102010

The Latest from Iran (10 September): Khamenei Takes the Pulpit

1945 GMT: The Detained Americans. We have urgently updated the news and offered a snap anlaysis of the postponement of the release of detained US citizen Sarah Shourd. She was supposed to be freed ina ceremony in Tehran tomorrow morning.

1720 GMT: Eid al-Fitr Round-Up (cont. --- 1519 GMT). Rah-e-Sabz claims that in Najafabad the ceremony of followers of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, who died last December, was much better attended than the Government's gathering.

Green Movement followers also attended Ayatollah Sane'i's ceremony in his office in Qom. The cerlic declared, "Our committment to Eid al-Fitr should be that we should divert from yesterday's wrong path, which dishonoured Islam or its principles, and do everything to compensate. Everyone who took the problematic way yesterday, causing injustice for people, should know that he will be punished on Doomsday."

NEW Iran Urgent Analysis: Judiciary Overrules Ahmadinejad — Release of US Detainee Shourd Delayed
NEW Iran Interview: Fatemeh Hashemi “Every Iranian Seeking Rights is Green”
Iran Exclusive: The Escalating Battle With Ahmadinejad
Iran Special: Abdollah Momeni Writes Supreme Leader About His Detention & Torture
Iran Document: Karroubi on the Siege of His Home and of the Iranian People (8 September)
The Latest from Iran (9 September): US Hiker Shourd to Be Released


Khodnevis, under the headline, "Siege, prohibitions, and Threats", claims that all Sunni ceremonies were forbidden in Tehran. Security forces allegedly hung banners declaring, "The unifying Eid al-Fitr ceremonies will be held at Tehran University, led by Supreme Leader, leader of all Muslims of the world."

1710 GMT: Sanctions Watch. Another major European company --- the Linde Group of Germany, an engineering firm and one of the world’s biggest industrial gas suppliers --- has decided to cut ties. Spokesman Uwe Wolfinger said the company recently decided “to stop our activities in Iran and with Iran completely”.

Dutch-based plastics and chemical firm LyondellBasell said just over two weeks ago that it was ending business in Iran.

1535 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. More on the latest court hearing for journalist and activist Heshmatollah Tabarzadi....

Tabarzadi, whose lawyer Nasrine Sotoudeh was detained last Saturday, told the court, "We did not topple the Shah to recreate the same situation. This court has no legal authority to judge accusations against me."

1519 GMT: Eid al-Fitr Round-Up. At the start of today, we wondered if today's Eid al-Fitr ceremonies, marking the end of Ramadan, would be a sign of support for the regime and Government. The results appear to be inconclusive.

Iranian media features photographs of crowds in Tehran. Khabar Online adds details: more than 40,000 security forces and police were mobilised, 700 taxis and 6000 buses and vans  were organised for free fares to the ceremony. Two tons of dates were distributed. About 100 ambulances with 1000 personnel
were on hand.

In Bandar Abbas in southern Iran, the authorities appear to have chosen a dusty dockyard outside town, possibly to avoid Green "interference". probably most of the praying people are poor rustabouts and their wives. Photos show Mashhad's Imam Reza shrine was crowded, but Isfahan's Naghshe Jahan square was half-empty.

Rah-e-Sabz claims that security forces prevented the ceremony in the house of Habibollah Peyman, the leader of an Islamic Socialist party.

Ayatollah Sane'i said in his sermon that  "the evil-doer will be punished on earth as well" and warned, "Whoever took the wrong road yesterday by doing injustice to people, should take a better road today." In what one EA correspondents sees as a tacit apology for acts of the past 31 years, he continued, "If we did injustice yesterday, believing it would help us to stay in power, know that no one will stay with the help of injustice."

In Shiraz, Ayatollah Dastgheyb --- prevented from speaking last Friday by a pro-regime crowd ---  told his audience to "beware of doomsday and the devil" and commanded, "Don't allow anything in the name of Basij [militia] and upholding clerical rule."

1435 GMT: Diplomatic Move? Georges Malbrunot claims at Le Figaro that Hussein Ali Zadeh, a counselor at the Iranian Embassy in Finland, is leaving his post to support the Green Movement. The decision will supposedly be announced in the next few hours.

Earlier this year Iranian diplomats in Norway and Japan resigned their positions in sympathy with the demands of the opposition.

1425 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Protester Nezam Hassanpour has been sentenced to six years in prison.

1350 GMT: Kiss and Make Up? It appears that the imminent release of detained US hiker Sarah Shourd might be the occasion for a reconciliation between President Ahmadinejad and the Foreign Ministry.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said that the freeing of Shourd was made possible by the President's efforts.

Tension between Ahmadinejad and his diplomats had risen because of the President's appointment of four special envoys, with Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki only withdrawing hisresignation after the intervention of the Supreme Leader's office..

1300 GMT: Execution Watch. Lecturer and author Ahmad Ghabel has been summoned to answer questions in Revolutionary Guard. Ghabel claims this was prompted by his revelation, upon release from Mashhad Prison, of mass executions in that facility.

1120 GMT: Economy Watch. In a jab at the Government, Grand Ayatollah Makarem-Shirazi has said that the official statistics for inflation do not match up with what Iran's people are experiencing.

1115 GMT: Today's All-Is-Not-Well Alert. Iran's Minister of Oil Masoud Mirkazemi has been proclaming this week that the country is now self-sufficient in gasoline production.

He may want to have a word with Iran's statisticians. Latest figures indicate that gasoline imports rose 135% in the first five months of the Iranian year (March-August).

0903 GMT: Converting the US message. This was the statement from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Council on Foreign Relations on Wednesday: "It is definitely our policy to support freedom and human rights inside Iran, and we have done so by speaking out. We have done so by trying to equip Iranians with the tools, particularly the technology tools that they need, to be able to communicate with each other to make their views known."

And here is how it is presented in Fars News: "US Confession of Efforts to Support the Insurrection in Iran".

0900 GMT: Unity? Before his sermon, the Supreme Leader met with Iranian officials. An EA correspondent reports two notable absentees: the head of the Guardian Council, Ahmad Jannati, and former President Hashemi Rafsanjani.

0830 GMT: Authority Re-Asserted? The official outlet Islamic Republic News Agency does have wall-to-wall coverage of the Eid al-Fitr ceremonies, but much of the message seems tangential or diversionary.

IRNA carries the official statement from President Ahmadinejad's website to the heads of Islamic countries, calling for the strengthening of unity and friendship amongst all nations based on monotheism.

But any reference to Iran's own affairs has to come indirectly through "All Have Come", a short item and photo noting the attendance of "all authorities", such as Ahmadinejad, Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, Guardian Council head Ahmad Jannati, 1st Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi, and the head of Iran's armed forces, General Hassan Firouzabadi.

0815 GMT: Authority Re-Asserted? The Supreme Leader has led prayers for Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, at Tehran University.

A week ago, the regime tried to establish its leadership of the people through the commemoration of Qods (Palestine) Day. That effort quickly receded into disappointment, with little evidence of a mass response. On that occasion, however, the lead speaker was President Ahmadinejad. So could Ayatollah Khamenei's camp be hoping that the claim of velayat-e-faqih (clerical authority) had a greater influence than that of the current Government's legitimacy?

Press TV's report on the Khamenei sermon focuses on the Supreme Leader's denunciation of  direct Israel-Palestine talks as "a cover-up for Israeli crimes against the Palestinian nation". Khamenei said:
The United States and the West just sit back and watch the suppression of the Palestinian nation, and yet they arrange talks for peace, what peace? Between which people?...Tyrants wish to push the Palestinian issue to a corner however a strong turnout at the annual International Quds Day rallies indicates motivation and hope among Muslims worldwide.

The Supreme Leader also referred to the need to help those suffering from Pakistan's floods.

Hmm, we'll keep reading but the re-assertion of last Friday's message and the denunciation of the US and Zionist does not seem to address the internal issues or even bolster the Government. There is no follow-up coverage of note on Press TV's broadcast.

Meanwhile, there is a shot across the Supreme Leader's bow. Ayatollah Sane'i, a prominent critic of the Government and even Khamenei, has declared that the Iranian people can properly commemorate Eid al-Fitr by remaining at home rather than coming out to hear clerics.

0710 GMT: The US Detainees. We're looking for further developments on yesterday's news that Tehran will release Sarah Shourd, one of three US hikers detained in July 2009 along the Iraq-Iran border, on Saturday.

Meanwhile, James Miller of Dissected News assesses the possible Iranian motives behind the move: "[This] may be the perfect excuse to save face during Iran’s ongoing political limbo."

0605 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Arjang Davoudi, nearing the 60th day of his hunger strike in Rajai Shahr Prison, has vowed to continue it after a meeting with his wife.

Davoudi demanded that phone calls and visits to the prison return to normal, that the position of the prison's head be addressed, andthat his house confiscated by the judiciary be returned to his wife.

Ali Jamali, a member of the alumni organisation Advar-e Tahkim Vahdat, is reported to be in solitary confinement, three weeks after his detention.

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Reader Comments (14)

RE: James Miller of Dissected News assesses the possible Iranian motives behind the freeing of Sarah Shourd, one of three US hikers detained.

Sara is a huge liability for Iran right now. She has precancerous cells in her cervix, whose development since her captivity has not been monitored by her doctor, obviously, and she now a lump in one of her breasts. The Iranian authorities will window-dress her release as they like, but they have known they need to get rid of her fast for several months now. I just hope they didn't seriously endanger her health by waiting for the end of Ramadan to suit their own spin purposes.

As for the other two hostages, the SL (he's the one who decides in the matter, right?) may want to hold on to them for a little while more just to prove to the US that Iran decides what it does and when, not any other country. That would be in line with his general position in other areas of conflict: Iran cannot be dictated to. When the two men *are* released (and probably not too long after she is), I think it will be because of the recent surge in anti-Iran sentiment, statements and campaigns on many different fronts, not just the nuclear dossier. I also think the fact that the Obama administration basically left the Iranians "holding the bag" on this, (ie they didn't try to do a deal) has made the exercise rather pointless for quite some time now.

September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

RE: James Miller of Dissected News assesses the possible Iranian motives behind the freeing of Sarah Shourd, one of three US hikers detained.

Sara is a huge liability for Iran right now. She has precancerous cells in her cervix, whose development since her captivity has not been monitored by her doctor, obviously, and she now a lump in one of her breasts. The Iranian authorities will window-dress her release as they like, but they have known they need to get rid of her fast for several months now. I just hope they didn't seriously endanger her health by waiting for the end of Ramadan to suit their own spin purposes.

As for the other two hostages, the SL (he's the one who decides in the matter, right?) may want to hold on to them for a little while more just to prove to the US that Iran decides what it does and when, not any other country. That would be in line with his general position in other areas of conflict: Iran cannot be dictated to. When the two men *are* released (and probably not too long after she is), I think it will be because of the recent surge in anti-Iran sentiment, statements and campaigns on many different fronts, not just the nuclear dossier. I also think the fact that the Obama administration basically left the Iranians "holding the bag" on this, (ie they didn't try to do a deal) has made the exercise rather pointless for quite some time now.

September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

Iranian security forces surround Karroubi's home - again
Reported on 9 September

Iranian security forces have stationed themselves around Mehdi Karroubi’s home today after rumours circulated that Karroubi intends to lead a mass prayer to mark end of Ramadan.

Saham News website reports that security forces have taken control of Mehid Karroubi’s house after circulation of a report that the opposition leader intends to lead a mass prayer marking Eid Fetre.
http://www.zamaaneh.com/enzam/2010/09/iranian-security-forces-s.html

September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

Q&A with Saba Vasefi: Iran Tries to Push Through Family Bill to Set the Clock Back on Women’s Rights

Professor Saba Vasefi recently fled Iran and lives in exile in Australia. She was an activist in Iran who fought for women’s rights and against the inhumane treatment of children. She suffered an attack by basij forces this summer and was critically injured. InsideIran.org interviewed her from Sidney
http://www.insideiran.org/news/qa-with-saba-vasefi-iran-tries-to-push-through-family-bill-to-set-the-clock-back-on-women%E2%80%99s-rights/

September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

Nobel winner urges end to death by stoning for all Iranians
In Brussels to meet EU officials, Ebadi says she has little faith that Tehran would spare Mohammadi-Ashtiani despite a suspension of her death by lapidation sentence last July.

"I have no trust in what the government says," she said at a news conference.

"But I say that apart from Sakineh there are several others awaiting death by stoning. Let us save them all."
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/09/10/3007762.htm?section=world

September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

This is going test the limits of irony.

Cyrus the Great artifact to be displayed in Iran
The Cyrus Cylinder is a sixth century B.C. clay object inscribed with an account in cuneiform of the conquest of Babylon by the Persian King Cyrus the Great. It arrived in Iran on Friday and will go on display in the coming days at Iran's National Museum for four months, state TV reported.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100910/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_iran_babylonian_artifact

September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

This is going test the limits of irony.

Cyrus the Great artifact to be displayed in Iran
The Cyrus Cylinder is a sixth century B.C. clay object inscribed with an account in cuneiform of the conquest of Babylon by the Persian King Cyrus the Great. It arrived in Iran on Friday and will go on display in the coming days at Iran's National Museum for four months, state TV reported.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100910/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_iran_babylonian_artifact

September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

The story that won't go away:

More allegations of mass executions in Iran prison
http://www.zamaaneh.com/enzam/2010/09/more-allegations-of-mass.html

September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

The story that won't go away:

More allegations of mass executions in Iran prison
http://www.zamaaneh.com/enzam/2010/09/more-allegations-of-mass.html

September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

I agree, Cathrine. Kicking myself because I forgot to mention Sarah's cancer (late night blogging is great) but I think that it was a major factor. It was easier for them to release her for selfish reasons in order to look benevolent.

From what I've seen, the Obama administration is not too willing to directly negotiate with Iran at this juncture, but it does seem that Russia is willing to do so. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are a lot different from Bush, they care more about getting results than looking good for the press. If Russia can get a civilian nuclear reactor online, the U.S. seems willing to let it happen. I wouldn't be surprised, however, if Clinton and Obama are leaning hard on Russia to keep the pressure on Iran.

And it does seem to be working. Russia did cancel its shipment of air-to-ground missiles to Iran, even while continuing to work on the reactor. I wouldn't be surprised to see Russia, and even Turkey, heavily leaning on the regime over the other hikers as well.

September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDissected News

[...] The Latest from Iran (10 September): Khamenei Takes the Pulpit … [...]

Apparently, Iran has cancelled the release of Sarah Shourd... I guess my paragraph about how divided the government of Iran is right now seems even more relevant. http://www.dissectednews.com/2010/09/why-iran-may-release-u-s-hiker.html

September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDissected News

Mortazawi not fallen from grace... "As widely reported late last month, Saeed Mortazavi and two other judges were suspended for their roles in the in torture deaths of three students at Kahrizak detention center. However, it does not appear that the notorious former prosecutor has fallen from grace. As seen in these photos, he attended Friday's Eid ul-Fitr Prayers, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, and photographed in the second row, standing behind an IRGC general."
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/tehranbureau/2010/09/mortazavi-still-standing.html

September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWitteKr

[...] The Latest from Iran (10 September): Khamenei Takes the Pulpit … [...]

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