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The Latest from Iran (6 September): Stresses on Authority

2030 GMT: The Attacks on the Clerics. Rah-e-Sabz posts new details about the Qods Day attack on the Qoba Mosque in Shiraz (see 1655 GMT), claiming that parts were set on fire with gasoline and some Qur'ans were burnt

2005 GMT: Parliament v. President. Speaking of the economy, the Majlis may be drawing the line with Ahmadinejad in the battle over the 5th Development Plan.

Hossein Sobhani-Nia the Deputy Head of the National Security Commission, said that if the administration insisted on its request to withdraw the 5th Plan --- made because of dissatisfaction with Majlis amendments --- the Parliament will extend the 4th Plan of 2005-2010.

NEW Iran Exclusive: FM Mottaki Attempted to Resign over Ahmadinejad Foreign Policy
NEW Iran Witness: Political Prisoner Arjang Davoudi From Evin on Human Rights (2008)
NEW Iran Feature: Inside Rajai Shahr Prison (Bijnen)
Iran Feature: An Open Letter to Detained Activist Shiva Nazar Ahari (Vahidmanesh)

Iran Breaking: Uncertainty if Lawyer Nasrine Sotoudeh Arrested
Iran Special: How Do You Analyse a Non-Event? (Lucas)
The Latest from Iran (5 September): Cracking Down after the Disappointment

1955 GMT: Economy Watch. And in the non-nuclear world, the chairman of the Supreme Audit Court, Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, has taken apart the Ahmadinejad Government over its development plans, privatisation, imports, and subsidy reform.

Fazli said in areas such as economic growth and control of inflation the administration had failed to achieve the goals set in its Fourth Plan (2005-2010), and the Fifth Plan (2010-15) is not completely based on the goals set out in plans and major policies endorsed by the Supreme Leader.

Fazli said the handover of the state companies to the private sector has not been carried out according to the requirements set in the Article 44 of the Constitution and that most of the firms have been handed over to semi-official companies, coding for entities such as the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps. “The private sector has been involved in at most 15% of the transactions and handovers,” he stated.

The SAC chairman said that Iranian companies could not compete with foreign rivals even in the production of simple products, and he warned that the Ahmadinejad subsidy reform plan "will lead to a rise in prices”.

1939 GMT: Non-Story, Real Story. Prediction: tomorrow's press in the "West" will be full of over-the-top headlines on Iran's nuclear programme, pegged on today's report by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Even though the IAEA's latest findings are pretty much the status quo --- there is no verifiable diversion of nuclear material by Iran to a military programme, but the Agency would like wider access to Tehran's facilities --- the nature of the game over Iran's uranium means there will be ominous headlines restating Nothing New as Very Dangerous.

(Five minutes after I typed the above paragraph, this in from David Sanger and William Broad of The New York Times: "Three months after the United Nations Security Council enacted its harshest sanctions yet against Iran, global nuclear inspectors reported Monday that the country has dug in its heels, refusing to provide inspectors with information and access they need to determine whether the real purpose of Tehran’s program is to produce weapons."

Eight minutes after I typed the paragraph, The Daily Telegraph headlines, "Iran on Brink of Nuclear Weapon, Warns Watchdog".)

Meanwhile, we think we have a far more important story. Through sources in Iran, EA has learned that Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki tried to resign over the President's appointment of four special envoys for international affairs. We put that within the context of new tensions between the Foreign Ministry and Presidency today.

1750 GMT: The Supreme Leader Takes the Podium. The head of the Friday Prayers Committee has said that Ayatollah Khamenei will lead prayers in Tehran this week on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr celebrating the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

1740 GMT: Karroubi Watch. A group of prominent political prisoners have reportedly written Mehdi Karroubi to praise his defense of rights and his courage in the face of pressure such as last week's siege of his home.

Those signing the letter included Mehdi Mahmoudian, Isa Saharkhiz, David Soleimani, Ahmad Zeidabadi, Masoud Bastani, and Majid Tavakoli.

The reformist Mojahedin of Islamic Revolution have also written Karroubi to condemn the attack on his home.

1719 GMT: Execution (Sakineh) Watch. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has said he is willing to "do anything" to save Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, condemned to execution for adultery conviction.

Kouchner said the initial sentence for death by stoning was "the height of barbarism": "I'm ready to do anything to save her. If I must go to Tehran to save her, I'll go to Tehran."

1715 GMT: Political Prisoner Special. Alongside our feature today on conditions in Rajai Shahr Prison, we have posted a 2008 video message, filmed secretly and smuggled out of jail, from political prisoner Arjang Davoudi.

1710 GMT: Academic Corner. We noted on Sunday that it appeared students were amongst the primary targets of the regime's post-Qods Day crackdown. Advar News, noting the context of threats by Minister of Higher Education Kamran Daneshjoo against universities, offers more on the story.

1655 GMT: The Attack on the Clerics. RAHANA reports that, following last Friday's attack by a pro-regime crowd on the Qoba Mosque of Grand Ayatollah Dastgheib in Shiraz, there have been widespread arrests of those connected with the mosque.

1415 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. The wife of Mohammad Nourizad, detained journalist and filmmaker, claims she is being kept in a complete blackout regarding over news on her husband.

Fatemeh Maleki said, "It is 20 days since my husband has retuned to Evin Prison but we have not been even told where he is being kept.”

1410 GMT: Academic Corner. Alireza Salimi, a member of Parliament's Committee of Education and Research, has expressed concern over the rush of "retirements" of heads of Universities and professors.

About 20 University heads have been replaced by the Government in recent months.

1400 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. The death sentence on teacher Abdolreza Ghanbari has reportedly been commuted to a prison term.

Reformist politician Mohsen Safaei Farahani, who suffered a heart attack last week, has been returned to Evin Prison from Tehran's Cardiac Clinic.

1355 GMT: Transport News. Peyke Iran reports that bus ticket prices from Azadi Square to Tehran Pars have quadrupled, resulting in protests and clashes.

1350 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. President Ahmadinejad has told a Dutch television station that while dual nationality is recognised by Tehran, it has little significance in the case of Zahra Bahrami, a Dutch-Iranian woman detained since last December. "If the person is originally from the Netherlands, the Dutch Embassy obviously represent his or her interests, but an Iranian-born person is excluded."

Dutch officials have not been able to visit Bahrami.

1345 GMT: Propaganda of the Day. Keyhan reveals the truth: the person who masterminded the siege and attack on Mehdi Karroubi's home last week was...

Mehdi Karroubi.

1340 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Azeri civil activist Hassan Balaei was arrested by Ministry of Intelligence agents at his place of business on Saturday.

0945 GMT: We have posted a guest feature from Loes Bijnen, "Inside Rajai Shahr Prison".

0840 GMT: Execution (Sakineh) Watch. Houtan Kian, a lawyer for Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, has said that his client is receiving 99 lashes for a photograph of a woman without a headscarf --- mistakenly identified as Ashtiani --- published in The Times of London.

Ashtiani's son, Sajad Ghaderzadeh, has said that he learned from other detainees that his mother --- who is sentenced to death for adultery --- had received the sentence. The claim, however, was disputed by a former lawyer for Ashtiani, Mohammadi Mostafaei, who is now in Norway.

Kian has not seen Ashtiani since 11 August but said a woman who had been held with her brought out the news that Ashtiani was being punished for "indecency".
0650 GMT: What Happened to Mousavi on Qods Day? Regular EA readers know why Mehdi Karroubi could not join Qods Day rallies on Friday, but there was silence on why Mir Hossein Mousavi did not make an appearance.

Tahavole Sabz offers an answer: all the roads around the residence of Mousavi and his wife, Zahra Rahnavard, were blocked.

0615 GMT: The Jannati Rumour (see 0510 GMT). The spokesman of the Guardian Council, Abbasali Kadkhodai, denied that the Council's head, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, has suffered a stroke, blaming the rumour on "counter-revolutionary elements".

0605 GMT: The Regime Line. In this video, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting criticises five detainees, including student activist Majid Tavakoli, journalist Heshmat Tabarzadi, and labour activist Mansur Osanloo, for writing to Carla Bruni, the wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

In the letter, the political prisoners expressed gratitude for Bruni's words on behalf of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the Iranian woman sentenced to death for adultery.

0524 GMT: My Favourite Website. Good news that, with its special news and analysis, is catching on: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty posts a profile.

A bit more respect would be nice, however. The article snaps, "Dig a little deeper and the new website, which says it attracted some 100,000 visitors in its first week, begins to sound more like the news parody site than it does a serious forum for discussion."

After all, we like The Onion, too.

0520 GMT: Reviewing the Crackdown. Deutsche Welle features an interview with student activist Said Razavi Faqih on matters from the Karroubi siege to to the attack on Qoba Mosque in Shirzaz to the failure of Ahmadinejad Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai to appear on Qods Day.

Headline-grabbing claim? "Plainclothes thugs are Khamenei's private army."

0510 GMT: Sunday's Top Rumour. Late Sunday, the website of former President Abolhassan Banisadr claimed that the head of the Guardian Council and long-time mainstay of the regime, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, had had a stroke and was in a coma.

We'll be looking for any confirmation or refutation of the claim.

0455 GMT: Amidst Sunday's continuing and sometimes accelerating intimidations by the regime, there were two interesting signs of a Government struggling for authority.

As the head of the Basij militia, Mohammad Reza Naqdi, was trying to pass off the siege of Mehdi Karroubi's home to Iran's enemies --- the US, Britain, and Zionists --- the Revolutionary Guard was effectively admitting that the criminals were home-grown. Of course, this was a "rogue element" not connected to the Guard or any other regime agency, but the admission still raised the question: given that the siege lasted five nights before culminating in gunfire, Molotov cocktails, injuries, and a direct assault on the Karroubi apartment, what exactly were the Guard and other security forces doing all that time?

On a more mundane but equally important front, the show of "unity" was exposed once more when President Ahmadinejad's representatives boycotted a Parliamentary commission discussing the 5th Budget Plan. The continuing dispute --- Ahmadinejad does not like Majlis amendments to the Plan and would rather withdraw the measures than implement them --- effectively means that, six months into the Iranian year, the Government does not have policies, let alone a strategy, for Iran's building economic problems.

One of the immediate issues is whether Ahmadinejad's subsidy cuts, an important feature of his economic stance, will be put into effect in October --- the latest declared timetable --- and, if so, whether they are related in any way to wider policies.

Reader Comments (19)

@ 0510 GMT: Sunday’s Top Rumour

According to Aftab News the news about Jannati's stroke was first published by Raja News, citing Mashreq. Meanwhile the Guardian Council speaker has strongly rejected it as a lie of "fraudulent media":
Last night it was the top news on Balatarin with 205 comments, speculating if Azrael would be able to catch him, offering cakes for this good news and many other not too friendly remarks ;-)

September 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterArshama

"speculating if Azrael would be able to catch him"

Why? Isn't Jannati a bit too old to outrun Azrael? :-)

September 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

Three MPs urge Ahmadinejad to remove his special envoys
At an open session of Majlis on Sunday, three lawmakers called on Ahmadinejad to annul the post of special presidential envoys in foreign policy areas to avoid parallel jobs.

In written notifications, MP Asadollah Badamchian from Tehran, Hossein Sobhani-Nia from Neishabour, and Mohammad Dehqan from Chenaran demanded an annulment of such posts based on the recommendations of the Supreme Leader.

September 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

A plea to free American hikers in Iran
By Akbar Ahmed,
Akbar Ahmed is professor and Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington and the former high commissioner from Pakistan to the United Kingdom. The following is based on a letter he delivered to the senior most Iranian diplomat in Washington to be sent to Iran's supreme leader:

September 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

Protests not music to the ears of Iranian regime
... while the streets of Tehran are quiet today, the protest movement is far from silent. Music has become a new form of dissent and fans, young and old, classical and modern, are taking inspiration from a growing underground music scene in which song lyrics mock the regime.

September 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

Religious minorities watch

Following the increasing pressure on the religious minorities in Iran, Abdolreza Ali Hagh Nejad( Mathews), a Christian Pastor who resides in Bandar Anzali, was detained by the Intelligence Ministry officials.

Bahá’í citizen’s shop front defaced with anti Bahá’í slogans in Tankabon

September 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

The Neo-Resistance blog has its own interpretation of the IRGC's statement condemning the attacks on Karroubi's home:

For once I am going to believe them! .......

September 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

No, Jannati isn't too old, but Azrael's teacher. This new Facebook campaign lists good advices to Azrael on how to evade him ;-)

September 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterArshama

Qods Day Watch

Who said there were no demonstrations on Qods day? "Millions" of empty buses in Tehran prove right the opposite:

September 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterArshama

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has offered to travel to the Iranian capital to plead Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani's case.;_ylt=ArN8C.poHbN0XryfalWqy.L5SpZ4
Let's hope he leaves Carla Bruni at home ;-)

September 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWitteKr

"Let's hope he leaves Carla Bruni at home ;-) "

Yes, that would probably be Catherine Deneuve's advice as well :-)

September 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

Iran parliament concerned over rise of retirements in universities

September 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

Wife of Mohammad Nourizad, the detained journalists and filmmaker, announced that she is being kept in complete blackout regarding news about her husband. Fatemeh Maleki, Nourizad’s wife has told Kaleme website: "It is 20 days since my husband has retuned to Evin Prison but we have not been even told where he is being kept.”

September 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

Iran arrests Baha'i for "illicit" relations - report. "An Iranian Baha'i missionary has been arrested in northern Iran for allegedly having an "illicit sexual relationship", the semi-official Fars news agency said on Monday without giving a source. The man, identified by Fars only as P.P., is accused of seducing women to have illicit sexual relationships with him, the agency said, a punishable offence in Iran which implements strict sharia, Islamic law."

September 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWitteKr

RE 1350 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch - and Iranian-Dutch Zahra Bahrami: (link in English)

September 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWitteKr

Ashtiani's son said Monday that he fears she will be executed shortly after this week's end to the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

September 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWitteKr

[...] The Latest from Iran (6 September): Stresses on Authority … [...]

September 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCameras num? America

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