2035 GMT: The Battle Within. Interesting to see that another website has picked up on MP Ali Motahari's declaration, which we reported earlier (see 1544 GMT), that the Parliament must prevent an emergence of “dictatorship” in the Ahmadinejad Government and that, if it failed to do so, it had betrayed the nation.
Even more interesting to note the the website is the English-language version of Mehr, which is not known as a prominent critic of the President and his allies.
NEW Iran Feature: Re-visiting the 2009 Election (Keshavarz)
NEW Iran Snap Analysis: Who is Running Foreign Policy?
Iran Exclusive: Rafsanjani Declares “I Won’t Bear This Situation”
Iran Exclusive: FM Mottaki Attempted to Resign over Ahmadinejad Foreign Policy
The Latest from Iran (7 September): The Real Stories
2025 GMT: US "Iran is a Dictatorship" Alert. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, responding to a question after her speech today at the Council on Foreign Relations, declared, "I don''t think there''s any doubt that Iran is morphing into a military dictatorship with a sort of religious ideological veneer. It is becoming the province of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and in concert with some of the clerical and political leadership."
While those sentences are seizing headlines tonight, they are far from new. Clinton used similar language in Qatar in February, as the US tried to forge an alliance of Arab countries against Tehran. At that time, the dictatorship line appeared to be another arrow in Washington's quiver of measures to bring pressure on Iran over the nuclear issue and regional contests.
Initially, it might not be clear if the declaration on this occasion was anything more than a rhetorical flourish. In her speech --- a grand tour of why US leadership is necessary around the world --- the Secretary of State devoted some time to Iran's nuclear programme but not a single word to the internal political and legal situation. She focused on the theme of Iran as the international enemy to be repelled with the assertion, "Early returns from implementation of the sanctions are that they''re feeling the economic effects. We would hope that that would lead them to reconsider their positions, not only with respect to nuclear weapons but, frankly, the export of terrorism."
Yet these paragraphs, immediatedly following the "military dictatorship", point to a somewhat different US strategy, "I don't think that's what the Iranian Revolution for a republic of Iran, an Islamic republic of Iran, was ever meant to become. So I know there is a great deal of ferment and activities inside that we do try to support.
"At the same time, we don't want to either endanger or undermine those very same people so that it becomes, you know, once again, the U.S. doing something instead of the U.S. being supportive of what indigenous efforts are taking place."
So is there a US strategy not only to acknowledge the justice and rights issues but to bolster the activists pursuing them? It is here the vision becomes muddled because of an apparent uncertainty as to where Iranian events may head. Clinton could only offer a vague notion, "I think that there is a very sad confluence of events occurring inside Iran that I think eventually --- but I can''t put a time frame on it -- the Iranian people themselves will respond to."
1710 GMT: Power (Price) Surge. Deputy Minister of Energy Mohammad Behzad, commenting on the rise in electricity prices (reportedly five times for some Tehran residents), says subsidies have been cut for people who use too much energy.
Behzad offered the consolation that consumers can pay bills by installments.
1705 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Two Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane factory workers, Alireza Saeedi and Behrouz Mollazadeh, have each received one-year jail sentences.
The two labor activists were arrested last December and released on $70,000 bail. Their "crime" was satirical clips of the Supreme Leader on their cell phones.
1555 GMT: The Rahnavard Challenge. More on the letter from Zahra Rahnavard to the head of judiciary, Sadegh Larijani (see 1210 GMT), "Don't Erase the Freedom and Rights of Citizens".
We are all responsible for the people's future....What misery has come to our country, in which opposition people and families' houses get raided, in which people get arrested and kept as hostages, while their relatives get thretened? Which of these actions is Islamic or human?
How do you expect society to remain sane, when thugs attack women and youngsters...?
What has happened? Is this a war between Iran and Saddam or against helpless families, detained by thugs, which were certainly armed and equipped by a part of the rulers?
Before God enters and burns all together, I expect from you as the head of judges to restore justice to the people. I expect you to appear at least once in public and boldly condemn all officials and sentence them.
1544 GMT: Parliament v. President. Leading MP Ali Motahari is speaking up again, claiming that silence on government deviance paves the way for dictatorship. Motahari criticised the Majlis for bowing to government threats on subsidy cuts, hijab and chastity issues, the 5th Budget Plan, and foreign policy.
Motahari's take-away line: Ahmadinejad has to decide if he wants velayat-e-faqih (clerical authority) or velayat-e-Mashai (the authority of Presidential Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai).
Former Presidential candidate Nategh Nouri has said that the President's refusal to implement laws is dictatorship. Reformist MP Ali Akbar Oulia adds that Ahmadinejad's withdrawal of the 5th Budget Plan, because of Parliamentary amendments, "ridicules everyone". (The Majlis Research Center concludes that, during 2008-2009, the Government has applied only six of 112 Majlis laws in due time; 58 were implemented late and 48 not at all.)
MP Javad Jahangirzadeh claims that 45 MPs have already signed for the impeachment of energy minister Majid Namjoo and that many others support the move.
1540 GMT: Claim of Day. The Supreme Leader's representative to the Revolutionary Guard has said that the 12th "hidden" Imam will appear when the people support Ayatollah Khamenei.
1530 GMT: The Post-Election Dead. Peyke Iran has posted a list of 150 people whom it says have been killed in the conflict since the June 2009 election.
1525 GMT: Sanctions Watch. Lebanon's Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh has said that Lebanese banks will have to comply with stricter sanctions by the UN, the US, and the European Union on Iran: “It is up to the Lebanese banks to act in accordance with their interests and be sure, if they have to make an operation, that it’s an operation that can’t be contested internationally.”
Salameh said that the latest UN resolution “is very clear and we will respect it and make sure it is respected".
1520 GMT: Execution (Sakineh) Watch. The European Parliament has condemned the death sentence on Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani by 658-1, with 22 abstentions.
1320 GMT: Execution (Sakineh) Watch. An EA correspondent adds more reason for caution:
Mehmanparast had said this [that the sentence for stoning was suspended during the summer] yesterday during his usual press briefing together with the ongoing case for murder, but for some reason world media decided to ignore it yesterday and pick up the identical Press TV quote today.
The alarming thing in all this is that Mehmanparast is the Foreign Ministry spokesman and is making statements on a case which has absolutely nothing to do with his ministry. The Justice ministry and the judicial authority, both of which have people capable of reading out statements, have kept near-absolute silence on the matter.
If Sakineh is indeed hanged, Mehmanparast can wash his hands off it by saying that his ministry does not hang people and the judicial authorities can say that we have not given any assurances all along.
1310 GMT: Neither the Islamic Republic News Agency nor Fars News are carrying the Mehmanparast statement about the sentencing of Sakineh Mohammad Ashtiani.
1250 GMT: Execution (Ashtiani) Watch. The Western media is buzzing over "a suspension of the death sentence" of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, convicted of adultery and later complicity in the murder of her husband.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast has said, "The sentencing of Ms. Ashtiani for adultery has been stopped and [her case] is being reviewed again, and her sentencing for complicity in murder is in process."
That somewhat confusing statement does appears to be a limited change in the Iranian position: earlier this summer, Tehran suspended the sentence of execution by stoning, the original penalty imposed on Ashtiani, but left open execution by a means such as hanging. (Most of the Western media have overlooked or misunderstood this, as they report that it is Mehmanparast's statement today that suspends stoning.)
However, I am being cautious. Mehmanparast may be saying that the execution on the adultery charge is only being held up while the "complicity in murder" moves to the conclusion of sentencing, which of course could be the death penalty.
Yesterday Mehmanparast warned European countries such as France and Italy not to interfere in the country and he repeated that line today: "Defending a person on trial for murder should not be turned into a human rights matter." He repeated that, if this was such a matter, European countries could free all incarcerated murderers in the name of human rights.
Mehmanparast then attempted to justify the death punishment for adultery: "even "Western countries, which are not sensitive about family values, take offence at betrayal".
1240 GMT: Lawyer Watch. A further note on yesterday's court appearance of journalist and activist Heshmatollah Tabarzadi (see 0720 GMT): he was represented by Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, as his lawyer Nasrine Sotoudeh was detained on Saturday.
1210 GMT: Justice. In the wake of the siege of Mehdi Karroubi's house, Zahra Rahnavard has written the head of Iran's judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, to demand justice for the Iranian people.
Wondering if intimidations, detentions, and abuses were "Islamic" and "human", Rahnavard asked Larijani how he expects society to remain "healthy" when homes and student dormitories are attacked.
1030 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Mahmoud Bagheri, a member of the Iranian Teachers Trade Union, has been released after two months detention.
0910 GMT: Sanctions Watch. South Korea has announced new sanctions, including review of most financial transactions, against Iran. An expanded blacklist will affect more than 100 Iranian firms and individuals, inspections of suspicious cargo will be expanded, and investments in Iran's energy sector will be limited.
Seoul also said Iran's Bank Mellat faces "a heavy penalty" for moving hundreds of millions of dollars in transactions for Iranian nuclear, missile and defense agencies.
0905 GMT: Can't Be Clearer Than This. Back to our main story today....
Press TV headlines on the letter signed by 122 MPs over the President's appointment of special envoys for foreign policy, "Iran Lawmakers Criticize Ahmadinejad".
0858 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch (Election Fraud Edition). Detained reformist politician Mostafa Tajzadeh has re-asserted, in a visit with his wife, his conviction that the 2009 Presidential election was a "fraud", involving officials such as Guardian Council head Ayatollah Jannati and the Revolutionary Guard. He asked why the Iranian judiciary has not addressed the complaint that he and six other prominent detainees have filed over alleged manipulation of the vote.
Tajzadeh also said that officials have yet to answer his question, "On what charge am I detained?"
The politician's defiance comes after sustained attempts by the regime --- through intimidation, threats, and propaganda --- for a Tajzadeh "confession" that the reformists knew they had lost the Presidential ballot.
0855 GMT: We have posted an analysis by Fatemeh Keshavarz, "Revisiting the 2009 Election".
0750 GMT: Sanctions Watch. The US Treasury has added Iranian-owned, German-based European-Iranian Trade Bank AG to its sanctions blacklist, claiming the bank has provided a financial lifeline to Iranian companies involved in weapons proliferation.
The Hamburg-based bank, known as EIH Bank, has been banned from the US financial system. Tehran has reportedly increased its reliance on EIH, amidst sanctions, to conduct business on behalf of blacklisted companies.
0720 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Kurdish writer, poet, and translator Aziz Naseri has reportedly been arrested.Another session in the trial of journalist and activist Heshmatollah Tabarzadi was held yesterday. Tabarzadi reportedly used the appearance to talk about the conditions in Rajai Shahr Prison (see 0705 GMT).
0715 GMT: Gasoline Magic. For the sake of balance, given the apparent reference by the Supreme Leader to Iran's "poor economic performance" (see 0655 GMT), we must issue an All-is-Well Alert:
Iran’s oil minister, Massoud Mirkazemi, announced that Iran has now become self-sufficient in its petrol production and is no longer dependent on foreign imports in this regard.
Iranian media report that Massoud Mirkazemi told reporters at a press conference today that Iran is now producing 66 million litres of petrol per day.
He said that Iran was formerly producing 44 million litres a day and in order to supply the domestic demand 20 million litres were imported from abroad....
Mirkazemi said: "Since 20 days ago we started increasing production in the production units and finally managed to bring our daily production up to 66.5 million litres per day in the past week."
0705 GMT: Torture Watch. HRANA is claiming that the death of prisoner Mohsen Beikvand in Rajai Shahr Prison on 31 August was a killing organised by officials: "Prisoners confined in Rajai Shahr prison believe prison authorities directly issued an order [to other prisoners] to murder Beikvand."
In May, HRANA released a video of alleged abuse of Beikvand, with the breaking of both legs and burns on his body. He was reportedly moved to solitary confinement days later.
Earlier this week, EA featured a report by Loes Bijnen on the "gruesome" conditions in Rajai Shahr.
0655 GMT: We begin this morning with a snap analysis, "Who Is Running Iran's Foreign Policy?"
Meanwhile, as we note the latest speech of the Supreme Leader, proclaiming that Iran will repel international sanctions, this summary is striking:
[The Leader] reiterated that the enemies seek to frustrate the Iranian people by exerting economic pressure on the country with the intent of turning the nation against the government by blaming it for poor economic performance.
Ayatollah Khamenei said their goal is to cut ties between the government and nation.
However, they have not known the Iranian nation and are mistaken in their calculations.
"Poor economic performance"? Is that an implicit admission of Iran's difficulties --- identified in a scathing statement by the head of the Supreme Audit Court this week --- with manufacturing, imports, unemployment, privatisation, and even its energy sector?