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Entries in Khabar Online (4)


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.

The Latest from Iran (7 September): The Real Stories

2140 GMT: Is It Really OK to Criticise the President Now? We noted last evening that the chairman of the Supreme Audit Court, Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, had "taken apart the Ahmadinejad Government over its development plans, privatisation, imports, and subsidy reform".

Iran's Press TV either A) forgot to read EA or B) thought long and hard about whether it would be wise and appropriate to publicise Fazli's criticism. Finally, this afternoon it decided it was OK to let Ahmadinejad have it: "The Iranian government's plans to scrap state subsidies should not lead to 'political disputes' in the country, says the head of Iran's Supreme Audit Court."

Press also noted Fazli's comments on the suspect nature of the Government's privatisation but left out the chairman's scathing remarks on cheap imports pushing out Iranian goods and costing Iranian jobs.

NEW Iran Exclusive: Rafsanjani Declares “I Won’t Bear This Situation”
NEW Iran Exclusive: FM Mottaki Attempted to Resign over Ahmadinejad Foreign Policy
Iran Witness: Political Prisoner Arjang Davoudi From Evin on Human Rights (2008)
Iran Feature: Inside Rajai Shahr Prison (Bijnen)
The Latest from Iran (6 September): Stresses on Authority

2120 GMT: Ahmadinejad's Foreign Policy Problem. You know it's been a bad day for the President when even the Foreign Ministry spokesman is slapping him around.

At his press briefing today, Ramin Mehmanparast was asked if foreign policy had been hindered by the President's appointment of special representatives for international affairs.

Mehmanparast replied, "We believe the Foreign Ministry should not be undermined....The Foreign Ministry is the only body that makes final decision and implement foreign policy."

1540 GMT: School Days. "Free teachers", with between four and eight years of experience, from 5 provinces have protested in front of Parliament over discrimination in professional examinations and lack of jobs.

1535 GMT: Economy Watch. Khabar Online reports that about 800,000 jobs have been lost in agriculture since 2005.

1530 GMT: Sedition Alerts. The head of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, Mohammad Ali Jafari, says fitna (sedition) is much more dangerous than the 1980s war with Iraq. Commander Ali Fazli has asserted that tens of thousands were arrested during the past year's fitna. Of these, 5000 have "repented".

1525 GMT: A New Political Contender? The supporters of the new "Front for Justice and Welfare", linked to Ahmadinejad's Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, met yesterday. They defended the and his Government and sharply attacked the hardline newspaper Keyhan, which has been critical of Rahim-Mashai.

1510 GMT: Parliament v. President. Challenges to Ahmadinejad on a number of fronts....

122 of the 290 MPs in the Majlis have issued a warning to the President about "parallel actions" in foreign policy, reminding him to follow the command of the Supreme Leader.

The Article 90 Commission has threatened to send its file on the National Iranian Oil Company, whose statutes since 2007 are supposedly missing, to the judiciary.

On Wednesday the Parliament will officially present letters of impeachment of Minister of Energy Majid Namjoo and Minister of Agriculture minister Sadegh Khalilian.

Reformist MPs have demanded the pursuit and punishment of the perpetrators, and those who led them, of last week's attacks on the home of Mehdi Karroubi and Qoba Mosque in Shiraz.

1500 GMT: The Battle Within. Mohammad Nabi-Habibi, the Secretary-General of the Motalefeh party, has issued a stinging criticism of the President in Khabar Online.

Nabi Habibi rebuked Ahmadnejad for his "parallel actions" in foreign policy and said he should stop them immediately to please the Supreme Leader. While noting the "good performance" of the Ahmadinejad Governments, he added that they should also accept criticism, end quarrels, and create a better life for the people by establishing justice. He urged concentration on the creation of jobs and economic growth.

Nabi Habibi called for a Government commission with Parliament and the Expediency Council to resolve problems.

1440 GMT: Labour Front. Textile workers in Amol in northern Iran have rallied in front of the governor's office.

1435 GMT: Execution (Sakineh) Watch. The Parliament's Human Rights Commission has condemned the intervention of the French and Italian Governments in the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, condemned to death for adultery.

1430 GMT: Putting Away the Rumour of the Day. The Majlis has denied the story, which we noticed this morning, that Speaker of the Parliament Ali Larijani suffered a heart attack last week.

1315 GMT: MediaWatch. A quick answer to our enquiry earlier today (see 0650 GMT) about whether Thomas Erdbrink of The Washington Post, one of the few front-line "Western" correspondents in Tehran, would be returning to Iran after a break in The Netherlands.

Turns out Erdbrink's story on the Iranian opposition in Delft, published today, was developed last month, and he is already back in post in the Iranian capital.

1250 GMT: Sanctions Watch. On Monday, the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates froze four Iranian bank accounts, in accordance with the recent sanctions on 41 firms and individuals adopted by the United Nations Security Council.

A source at the CBE said the other 37 accounts on the UN list were outside the country and the amounts frozen in the UAE were "very limited".

1245 GMT: Power Squeeze. Peyke Iran reports that electricity bills for some people in Tehran have risen five times. Khabar Online is also carrying the story.

1120 GMT: Transport News. Claims are circulating that, with a shortage of gasoline in Tehran, private bus drivers are waiting hours at stations.

1025 GMT: Execution (Sakineh) Watch. For the second time in two weeks, the Iranian Foreign Ministry has warned other countries not to interfere in Iran's legal system over Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, sentenced to death for adultery.

"Unfortunately, (they are) defending a person who is being tried for murder and adultery, which are two major crimes of this lady and should not become a human rights issue," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast. "If releasing all those who have committed murder is to be perceived as a human rights issue, then all European countries should release all the murderers in their countries."

Not sure that the latest Iranian protest will check the pressure, however: the Parliament of the European Union will pass a resolution on Wednesday in support of Ashtiani. On Monday, the introduction of the resolution brought more than 30 minutes of denunciation of Tehran:

1020 GMT: The Foreign Policy Battle. Key MP Ahmad Tavakoli has issued a harsh warning to President Ahmadinejad over his naming and retention of special envoys for foreign policy, amidst the growing dispute with the Foreign Ministry. Tavakoli said that ignoring the commands of Ayatollah Khamenei to cease "parallel actions" would have "grave consequences".

1015 GMT: Stopping the Lawyers. Reporters Without Borders has condemned the detention of defense attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh, whose office was raided on 28 August and who was summoned to the prosecutor's office inside Evin Prison on Sunday over charges of anti-government propaganda and conspiring against the regime

Reporters Without Borders said. “Detained journalists and other political prisoners are denied their most basic rights. Lawyers cannot visit their detained clients or see their case files. Now the repression is being stepped up a notch. By arresting lawyers, the regime is trying to gag the last dissenting voices. Lawyers’ organisations throughout the world must demand this courageous lawyer’s immediate release.”

0755 GMT: Nothing to See Here, Move Along (Nuclear Edition). And now the other side of the headline hype (see 0525 GMT). Press TV quotes Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, on the IAEA's latest statement: "After seven years of constant inspections, the report once again confirms the non-diversion of Iran's nuclear activities towards military and banned objectives

Ali Abkar Salehi, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, chimes in, "Like the previous reports, the new report reiterates the non-diversion of declared nuclear material ….Therefore, we believe that the other issues mentioned in the report are minor."

It is useful to note Salehi's response to the most challenging remarks in the IAEA reports, criticising Iran's denial of inspections of its heavy water plant: "The IAEA should tell us that by which clause of the mutual agreement can it inspect the heavy water facilities. We have not found such a clause…if they prove it, I will immediately allow inspectors to visit [the plant]."

0700 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. We have posted an exclusive, based on sources in Iran, "Rafsanjani Declares, 'I Won't Bear This Situation'".

0650 GMT: Opposition Abroad. Here's a story I suspect some EA readers already knew, brought out by Thomas Erdbrink of The Washington Post:
A dreamy university town in the Netherlands known as the birthplace of 17th-century painter Johannes Vermeer has become a major center for Iranian activists abroad.

Over 1,000 Iranian students, the majority fresh arrivals from Iran's best universities, are studying courses such as applied physics and aerospace engineering at the Delft University of Technology, and meeting during evenings in cafes that line the city's canals.

The university hosts one of the largest communities of visiting Iranian scholars in Europe, and many are involved with the Iranian opposition movement.

Now a question: Erdbrink, one of the few front-line "Western" correspondents who remained in Iran during the post-election conflict, by-lines the story from Delft. Is the Dutch national now outside Iran and, if so, will he be able to get back in?
0535 GMT: We're going to leave the nuclear chatter to others, unless there is a significant development. We've got more important matters to consider....

Our exclusive on the tension between the President and the Foreign Ministry, including Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki's attempted resignation, was posted last night. This morning, we'll be putting up an equally important story involving former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, and tomorrow or Thursday we should have an analysis --- based on new information from inside Iran --- of the battle within the regime.

0525 GMT: As we noted at the end of last night, there will be a lot of "Western"media brushfires to put out today,  with the coverage of the International Atomic Energy Agency's latest report on the Iranian nuclear programme. Even though there is almost nothing new of substance in the IAEA summary, most newspapers will be looking for --- actually, they have already seized upon --- a morsel of information to turn into a dramatic statement of conflict and threat.

So far, however, the Obama Administration has put out a relatively muted statement of "disappointment" in Iran over its failure to co-operate fully with the IAEA inspectors. That indicates the US Government is putting more emphasis on the possible resumption of talks with Tehran via the 5+1 Powers rather on a public conflict with Iran.

There is the slighter possibility that another rogue story may be whipped up into a cause for showdown. Reza Aslan, who normally is a good reporter and analyst of Iran affairs, is pushing the speculative and over-hyped claims of the agency STRATFOR that Iran "may have orchestrated last week's brutal attacks by Hamas militants against Israeli settlers in the West Bank in an attempt to derail the Middle East peace talks".

UPDATED Iran Special: How Do You Analyse a Non-Event? (Lucas)

UPDATE 5 September: The Iranian media is still on the theme that the Western media has mis-reported the grand and glorious events of Qods Day (even though the same Iranian media is no longer asserting a figure for the number who attended the grand and glorious events). The Islamic Republic News Agency complains that the Western media used themes such as "the presence of security forces in the streets", "the attack on Mehdi Karroubi's home" and the "lack of grassroots people in the protests" to divert attention.

My favourite account, however, is on my new favourite website, Its report, "What Mainstream Media Didn't Say About Iran Quds Day Rallies", wanders about for a bit --- "International Quds Day was really unique this year...[as] it coincided with the Israel-Palestine peace conference" --- without mentioning incidential details like crowd numbers, significant gatherings, or statements.

Finally, it seizes on this explanation from a university student named Nasser: ""Ramadan is the month of fasting in which Muslims refrain from eating as well as drinking from dawn until sunset according to their religious training. Considering the temperature of 37 degrees Centigrade (99 degrees Fahrenheit) in the sunny weather of Tehran, it may be surprising when we see how decisive Iranians are for demonstrating in support of other Muslims."

I have to tell you that watching the events of Qods (Palestine) Day became a very disconcerting experience. That's not because of a rush of news --- as with other red-letter days in Iran after the 2009 Presidential election --- but because I couldn't make out any development of significance.

How do you analyse a non-event?

Almost no one expected a show of opposition yesterday. The regime's battering of the Green Movement, activist groups, reformist politicians, journalists, and other proven or potential dissidents --- reinforced by a heavy security presence in Tehran before and on Qods Day --- ensured there would not be a mass gathering.

Instead, the question was what the Government would produce. The setpieces were obvious: a Presidential speech before Tehran Friday Prayers and rallies in Iran's cities, trumpeted by all broadcasting and press outlets. Some of the script was already written: with 1500 special buses and free travel on the metro in the capital, a crowd was ensured. Denunciation of Israel and support for the Palestinian people would be the platform for the condemnation of foreign enemies.

But how much of a crowd? How spontaneous and enthusiastic for their leaders, as opposed to angered against the Zionists?

Early on, the build-up went to plan. Press TV added a nice touch, flying in Lauren Booth --- sister-in-law of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair --- to see events first-hand on the Tehran streets. She chattered enthusiastically about "the biggest protest" she had ever seen in any capital city, a line backed up by state media proclamations of a million Iranians who would be turning out.

Under the giant marquee at Tehran University for Friday Prayers, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivered his lines as a seasoned performer. The felony of the Palestinian occupation was detailed but converted to a promise of victory with the downfall of the Zionists. The perfidy of Israel's Western supporters was set out and knocked back with the assurance of Iran's superiority. The audience put in its chants at checkpoints throughout the speech.

And then....

Well, that became the tricky part for an observer. Clearly Ahmadinejad was not going to refer to Iran's internal situation --- for months, he has used the international as a shiny object to hold attention, given the political and economic tensions within his country. But with no Supreme Leader on hand --- Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, who led Friday Prayers, was a non-person on the day; I struggled to find any reference to his words --- and with no other regime show-stopper planned, how could one judge any supposed public acclamation of the regime?

The most obvious marker was the size of the crowd for Qods Day marches. But, at least when I scanned Press TV, Lauren Booth had disappeared. There had been early-morning shots of rallies in Kerman in central Iran and Oroumiyeh in the northwest, but those were not repeated and there were no other cities added to the list. And in Tehran, all I had were generic overhead shots which appeared to be of 3 September 2010. There was no correspondent amongst the supposed masses, no first-hand account of the Great Rally.

Late in the day, photographs from the Iranian Student News Agency gave some ground-level confirmation of a march filling a Tehran avenue, but even these were swallowed up by a curious theme in some of the Iranian media. The story in Tabnak, Mehr, and Fars was no longer the proud declaration of millions who had turned out; instead, it was a bitter denunciation of foreign media for "censoring" reports which could have shown that millions had turned out. And then a further twist: Fars put out a happier article that the Associated Press of "the West" had reported the million-person figure.

That could have been my salvation for an analysis. The only problem is that I could not find any AP article on the rally, let alone one that was putting up seven figures for the crowd.

And this morning, returning to my search, even the mention of Qods Day has disappeared. Some of the Iranian media has shuffled to other possibilities to show the regime's legitimacy; some --- notably the conservative Khabar Online --- have returned to their pre-Friday stance of implied or even direct criticism of Ahmadinejad.

How do you analyse a non-event?

This past week, a new theme for backers of the Government -- supported by a speculative piece by Hooman Majd, who is now based in the US --- has been that the President is quite secure in his position. Iranian politics, the argument goes, will have its quarrels, but the Supreme Leader will oversee a stable system that moves securely towards the next Presidential elections in 2013. Nothing to see here, those of you who are pressing for "regime change", move along.

Maybe. Maybe a Government doesn't need an overwhelming show of support at a regime rally. Maybe it can make it through another week or month or year with the assurance that, while there are worries within the system over economic, political, and legal issues, no one wants to push the conflict to a dramatic showdown. Maybe legitimacy does not have to be through the eager endorsement of the people but through a resignation to events.

Maybe. But then again, Friday was not just an issue of a non-event. There was also an event which clearly did happen, a different kind of rally outside the residence of an opposition cleric named Mehdi Karroubi.

The Green Movement is allegedly dead. The reformist opposition is broken. The Supreme Leader has re-asserted his authority overseeing the Iranian system. The President is confident and secure with his backing of 25 million votes from 2009. Iran is united behind its leaders....

And yet for five nights in a row the pro-regime crowd gathered to box in a 73-year-old cleric, who allegedly receiving only several hundred thousand votes in that same 2009 election, and his family. As the nights passed, they shouted slogans, declaring that they were denouncing Mehdi Karroubi as fervent loyalists to Ayatollah Khamenei. They daubed graffiti, damaged walls and the entrance to the apartment complex.

Then on Thursday night they threw Molotov cocktails. They shot the streetlights. They damaged the water pipes, cut off the electricity and, at least temporarily, the phone lines. They tried to enter Karroubi's apartment. All the time, as they had for the four previous nights, security forces stood by until Special Guards arrived a few hours later.

(One might also note the less-reported incident in Shiraz yesterday, when another pro-regime crowd --- described as 200 to 300 Basij militia by Rah-e-Sabz --- allegedly entered and shut down the Qoba Mosque of Grand Ayatollah Dastgheib, a critic of the Government. Worshipers were said to have been beaten.)

These are the forces of a regime that no longer fears a challenge?

There may be those who will write off the five-day siege as the work of rogue elements --- nothing to do with the leadership. Let's assume that is true. Then where is the Supreme Leader's supposed authority over his country and his people?

An EA correspondent nailed the conundrum: either Ayatollah Khamenei knew about these attacks, allowing them to escalate, or he did not have the power to halt the momentum. And President Ahmadinejad? You probably can stick with "knew about these attacks".

Have another look at our piece, via Pedestrian, on the "Green Sedition Festival" that the regime hosted this week. Here are the posters, not only public but given a prominent gallery, that tie Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi to a devious Barack Obama, the evil Zionists, the "terrorist" Mujahedin-e-Khalq. This is not just a political response to an opposition. This is a declaration of war against the enemies, the enemies who have supposedly already been vanquished.

Because the opposition is not vanquished. They are not mounting a frontal attack --- they can't match the heavy forces that the Government can mobilise with the Revolutionary Guard, the security services, the Ministry of Intelligence, the judiciary. Instead, they are sniping from the flanks. Prominent reformists are thrown back into prison but return to the charge of "election fraud" with a complaint, supposed by a leaked audio, of military interference in the 2009 election. Political parties which supposedly have been banned still put out statements; Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mohammad Khatami continue to disseminate the message, "We are the media." Activists assume a lower profile but find ways to keep the issues of rights alive. Mehdi Karroubi will not shut up about injustices and abuses, even when his house is surrounded and his family is threatened for five days.

I'm not sure I would go as far as Khodnevis, which proclaimed, "This Qods Day goes to Karroubi." I don't think this Qods Day went to anyone as a prize --- not to the Supreme Leader, not to Ahmadinejad, not to the Revolutionary Guard. It just came and went, all the Iranian media's cheerleading efforts trailing away into a whimper of, "Why did no one notice?"

There was much condemnation of Zionists, but no sign of legitimacy. There was a full sketch of the "West", but the picture of "Iran" was still blurred.

There were lots of security forces, but this is not a secure regime.

The Latest from Iran (4 September): A Qods Day Failure?

2045 GMT: Academic Corner. The Deputy Treasurer of Tehran University, Mohammad Hossein Moqimi, has announced that about 40 faculty members have "retired" since March.

Moqimi that all the academics had retired according to regulations and legal provisions and that this must not be seen as a political issue.

In recent months, Iranian authorities have replaced the heads of more than 20 universities and education centres.

NEW Iran Breaking: Uncertainty if Lawyer Nasrine Sotoudeh Arrested
NEW Iran Special: How Do You Analyse a Non-Event? (Lucas)
NEW Iran Overview: “A Small Rally to Make More Enemies” (Shahryar)
NEW Iran Propaganda Special: The Green Sedition Festival
UPDATED Iran Video: The Claimed Attack on Karroubi’s House (2/3 September)
Iran Video and English Summary: Mehdi Karroubi after 5th Night of Pro-Regime Siege (3 September)
Iran Urgent: Breaking News with Video on Day 5 of Karroubi “Siege”
The Latest from Iran (3 September): Qods Day and the Karroubi Siege

2010 GMT: The Karroubi Siege. The reformist Islamic Iran Participation Front has written to Mehdi Karroubi, regretting the poor performance of the police in protecting the Karroubi home from pro-regime attackers.

2005 GMT: Economy Watch. Several hundred people have protested at Sari in Mazandaran province in northern Iran over alleged discrimination in allocation of jobs.

The demonstrators claimed that, rather than employing based on ability, authorities show favouritism towards under-qualified candidates. Some protesters claimed that those who were supporters of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were given preference.

1935 GMT: We have posted a separate feature on emerging news about the possibility that lawyer and women's right activist Nasrine Sotoudeh, summoned to court today, has been arrested.

1925 GMT: The Attack on the Clerics. Radio Zamaneh reports that Grand Ayatollah Dastgheib returned to Qoba Mosque in Shiraz, a day after it was attacked and closed by a pro-regime crowd.

After iron fences set up after the assault were taken down, Ayatollah Dastgheib gave a speech condemning the assault, insisting that even the Supreme Leader could not have supported the attack.

The website adds more details about Friday's events. They followed announcement signed by “the pious followers of the Supreme Leader in Fars Province and the holy city of Shiraz”, distributed in mosques on Thursday night, calling for the prosecution of Ayatollah Dastgheib. The statement accused the cleric of being the “perpetrator of satanic plans” and “speaking the language of the enemy” as well as “threatening the religious beliefs of the people” by sitting at the head of Qoba Mosque.

The statement demanded that Ayatollah Dastgheib be removed and warned the provincial and city authorities that if they do not comply with their demands, they would have to take matters into their own hands.

The Governor of Shiraz, Hossein Ghasemi, reportedly appeared at Qoba Mosque on Friday, but he was forced to leave when the crowd hurled rocks at his car.

1915 GMT: The Karroubi Siege. A group from the Association of Combatant Clerics visited Mehdi Karroubi at his house today.

1910 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Kalameh claims that officials at Evin Prison have told the political detainees of Ward 350 that they have to write letters of repentance if they want phone lines restored. The telephone privileges were reportedly revoked more than seven weeks ago.

1825 GMT: The Karroubi Siege. Mehdi Karroubi's son Hossein has talked to Deutsche Welle about the attacks on his family's house and messages of support from politicians, clerics, and activists.

Hossein Karroubi said some of the attackers were from a local detention centre, indicating regime complicity in the siege.

An Iranian activist adds to our report yesterday that a man and woman were beaten, with the woman's headscarf removed, by the pro-regime crowd. They were Karroubi supporters Hadi Shirpour and his wife, who were watching the attack. The activist claims that police, rather than stopping the assault, joined in.

Shirpour and his wife were then put into a police van and taken away.

1815 GMT: Execution (Ashtiani) Watch. Sajad Ghaderzadeh, the son of condemned detainee Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, says his mother has been sentenced to 99 lashes for a photograph published of a woman --- falsely claimed to be Ashtiani --- without a headscarf.

Ghaderzadeh said he learned of the punishment from released inmates. Ashtiani has been given the death penalty for adultery.

On 28 August, The Times of London published a photograph that it said was Ashtiani without hijab. Six days later, it said the attribution of the photo was incorrect.

The Guardian of London adds more details about the episode, including the confusion over the mistaken photograph.

1655 GMT: All the President's Men. Omid Memarian writes about the ruthless rise and possible fall of former Tehran Prosecutor General and Presidential aide Saeed Mortazavi, who was recently suspended by the judiciary from his post because of complicity in the post-election abuses and killings at Kahrizak Prison.

In 2004, as one of 20 journalists, bloggers, and website managers detained in a regime crackdown, Memarian had first-hand experience of Mortazavi:
In my case, he warned me what would happen if I ever talked about what had gone on in the prison. “Anyone can be in a car accident, from members of parliament to taxi drivers to plumbers. You journalists are no exception,” he said.

1645 GMT: Sanctions Claim of the Day. This has to be one of the most creative economic analyses I have ever encountered....

First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi has declared that sanctions will bring 200,000 new jobs to Iran. His reasoning is that "the West" will lose 150,000 to 200,000 employees because of the downturn in trade with Tehran and Iran will naturally fill that gap.

1625 GMT: The Karroubi Siege. Former President Mohammad Khatami has called Mehdi Karroubi to condemn the attacks on the Karroubi home.

We have posted new claimed video of Thursday night's attack.

1620 GMT: Secure Regime? Tehran Police Chief Esmail Ahmadi-Moghaddam has criticised counterparts in Iran's security agencies for ordering the mobilisation of forces on Thursday, the day before Qods Day.

1229 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. An Iranian activist reports that, as expected (see 0855 GMT), journalist and activist Shiva Nazar Ahari has been brought to court to face charges including "mohareb" (war against God). She was brought to the courtroom in handcuffs.

It is also reported that Saeed Haeri, a member of Committee of Human Rights Reporters, went on trial today.

Leading reformist politician Mohsen Safaei Farahani, who suffered a heart attack this week in detention, has called home. He says he is better but he is not allowed to say in which hospital he is being treated.

1224 GMT: It's All in the Terminology. Today's post-Qods Day hot topic on the Iranian news portal Balatarin? Using the model of "occupied Palestine" to present an "occupied Iran".

1220 GMT: The US and the Battle Within. Writing in OpenDemocracy, Omid Memarian offers a useful overview of Iran's internal situation and this challenging conclusion:
By removing the threat of a military attack, Washington would make the job of Tehran’s hardliners more difficult, and encourage fragmentation among the top layers of the political elite. In the present circumstances, the end of the military option would create space for those in Iran seeking to hold the hardliners in check, and offer an opening to Iranian democracy and the Iranian people.

1215 GMT: Worried Regime? Daneshjoo News reviews the heavy security presence in Babol and Mashhad as well as Tehran on Qods Day.

0855 GMT: Kamran Asa, brother of the slain protester Kianoush Asa, and Bijan Rezaie are scheduled to appear in court tomorrow.

And if earlier reports are correct, activist Shiva Nazar Ahari, detained since last July and facing a charge of "mohareb" (war against God), will be in court today.

0655 GMT: We have three specials this morning: Scott Lucas tries to figure out the significance of the "non-event" of Qods Day, Josh Shahryar looks at a "small rally that made more enemies", and Pedestrian notes the regime's exhibition of the "Green Sedition Festival".

0600 GMT: The Karroubi Siege. Mir Hossein Mousavi has put out a message condemning the attacks on the home of Mehdi Karroubi: "These black and odious measures will not block the freedom of the people."

0530 GMT: Here's the curious thing: for some in the Iranian system, Qods (Palestine) Day is already gone. Hours after the President's speech, the Friday Prayer sermon by Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, the wall-to-wall declarations on Iranian media of Tehran's leadership of the movement against Israeli oppression, and the Government's rally, the occasion is nowhere to be found on Press TV's website this morning.

It has almost disappeared from the homepage of the Islamic Republic News Agency, which has moved to a rather dry statement by key Presidential advisor Mojtaba Hashemi Samareh on Iran as the "guiding harbinger of monotheism...and resistance against the oppressors and the hegemonic powers in the world".

Fars News does have the event as its Number 3 item on its pages, but the story seems a bit desperate to prove significance: "A United Arab Emirates newspaper...announced that a big march in Tehran and other Iranian cities, along with some other countries such as Turkey and India, and Indonesia was held."

And Khabar Online, leading site of the challenge within the establishment to the President, has already --- in its top feature --- returned to the issue of how to achieve "conservative unity", including reaching out to "reformers".

There's more, but I think you know where I'm going with this. Full analysis later today....