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Entries in Mehr (4)


The Latest from Iran (8 September): Sakineh Execution Suspended?

2055 GMT: Karroubi Watch. Mehdi Karroubi has posted an open letter to the Iranian nation, declaring, "Our leaders have no control over their disturbed nerves and minds."

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?

Rahnavard continues:
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?

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 (3 September): Qods Day and the Karroubi Siege

2250 GMT: Before shutting down, we have posted the claimed video of Thursday night/Friday morning's attack on Mehdi Karroubi's house.

2220 GMT: Ending with Gratitude. EA took the night off for a music festival (yes, an EA Music Corner special may be coming in the morning).

Thanks to all for contributing information and ideas on an interesting day.

We'll be back early in the morning with the latest news and a series of special analyses on what this Qods Day meant for the Iranian regime and the opposition.

NEW Latest Iran Video: The Claimed Attack on Karroubi’s House (2/3 September)
NEW Iran Video and English Summary: Mehdi Karroubi after 5th Night of Pro-Regime Siege (3 September)
NEW Iran Urgent: Breaking News with Video on Day 5 of Karroubi “Siege”
Latest Iran Video: The Rooftop “Allahu Akbars” (2 September)
Pro-Regime Media Asks, “Which is Worse: Stoning or Prostitution?”
NEW Iran Document: Karroubi-Mousavi Meeting on Eve of Qods Day (31 August)
The Latest from Iran (2 September): Karroubi, Mousavi, and Qods Day

1930 GMT: Larijani Talks Tough on US. Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, speaking to a Qods Day audience, has maintained his public line that it is not possible to hold direct talks with U.S. officials.

“Negotiation with the US is not possible and no one has the right to make compromise with the Great Satan,” said Larijani.

However, on the wider (and relevant) issue of whether Tehran would discuss uranium enrichment with the 5+1 Powers, which include the US, Larijani was ambiguous. He said that, according to the Supreme Leader’s guidelines, Iran’s policy is negotiation but not with the US.

1900 GMT: Checking in from a music festival in the centre of Britain, I find Press TV giving me the truth on the Karroubi siege.

It is largely a straightforward report of "groups of people...preventing (Karroubi) from leaving his residence in Tehran" to attend the Qods Day rally, although the casualties --- a Karroubi bodyguard is reportedly in a coma --- are reduced to "four people were reported wounded".

Then the blame sets in: "Mehdi Karroubi was one of the controversial figures following the 2009 presidential election in Iran and the frenzy that followed the vote in the wake of baseless fraud allegations against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election.

Public anger against Karroubi were intensified after his and other opposition supporters attempted to obstruct last year's Day of Quds rallies by invoking purely nationalistic slogans.

He also created controversy and public rage by airing rumors of jail-rape by unidentified individuals that had claimed to have been detained during the post-election riots."

1620 GMT: How Big Was That Rally? Fars News' lead story is that the Associated Press has reported on Iran's anti-Israel protests today, with "millions" on the streets. Earlier today, Iranian media were concerned that outlets of the "West" were minimising the crowd.

So it would seem the regime is getting very concerned that the world know that today proves it has a lot of support from its people. I'm looking for the proof: so far I can't track down the Associated Press report.

1615 GMT: Karroubi Watch. Mehdi Karroubi's Saham News, down for a few hours this afternoon (see 1445 GMT), is back on-line.

1600 GMT: How Big was the Regime Rally? Iranian Students News Agency posts a set of photographs of today's march in Tehran for Qods Day. This is the largest crowd shot in the set:

1555 GMT: Attacking the Clerics. Aftab News offers a pro-Government version of the clash today in which a pro-regime crowd --- reported by Rah-e-Sabz as "200 to 300 Basij" (see 1400 GMT) --- entered and shut down the Qoba Mosque in Shiraz, the base of Government critic Ayatollah Dastgheib.

The Facebook site supporting Mir Hossein Mousavi posts photos of those injured in the attack.

1445 GMT: Attacks on Karroubi. Mehdi Karroubi's website Saham News (see 1420 GMT) has been taken down by an apparent attack diverting readers to a "dummy" site on financial matters.

1435 GMT: Today's Alice-in-Wonderland Statement. Tabnak accuses foreign media --- who operate, if they can report at all, under strict Government oversight --- of "censoring" reports on the turnout for the Qods Day rally. Mehr levels a similar charge at CNN.

Am I sensing regime worry that the rally may not have been the grand success it wanted? Fars attacks the BBC and al-Arabiya for minimising the turnout.

1430 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. Aftab News reports that former President Hashemi Rafsanjani joined today's march for Qods Day.

1425 GMT: Sanctions Watch. Japan has imposed new sanctions on Iran over Tehran's nuclear programme, banning transactions with some Iranian banks and targeting energy-related investments.

Japan approved sanctions against Iran last month, but US officials have been pressing Tokyo to adopt tougher measures.

Despite the pressure, Japan --- a major importer of Iranian crude oil --- but did not impose any restrictions on its oil imports.

1420 GMT: Karroubi Watch. Mehdi Karroubi's Saham News, a primary source of information about the siege of the Karroubi house, has been off-line for the past hour, first with a blank screen and now with a "403 Forbidden" error.

1405 GMT: Perspective. An EA source from Iran offers the following, "The deaths are going on all the time; recently two people from my town were killed by the regime. The families are forced to say they died of natural causes, but everyone knows that the regime killed them. And that is going on in every city, town, and village of the country. People are just disappearing. And those who are being killed are the people no one hears of, and those who do have a voice are being silenced.'

1400 GMT: Shutting Down the Clerics --- Clash in Shiraz. Rah-e-Sabz provides more information on the closure of the Qoba Mosque in Shiraz, the base of Government critic Grand Ayatollah Dastgheib (see 1050 GMT), this morning. The website claims that 200-300 Basij entered the mosque and proceeded to attack the cleric’s students.

1355 GMT: Academic Corner. Iran’s Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Bagher Khorramshad, has cancelled his trip to the Netherlands after protests by the Dutch-Iranian community.

The visit, organized by Clingendael (the Netherlands Institute of International Relations) and the Iran's Embassy was scheduled for 17 September.

1340 GMT: The Karroubi Siege. It looks like this story may take over from the Government's Qods Day showpiece. The latest is that Grand Ayatollah Bayat Zanjani has called Mehdi Karroubi to express his support and praise his resilience, according to reliable sources. Bayat Zanjani denounced the attacks on the Karroubi house and hoped that the pro-regime crowd would cease their activities.

One of Imam Khomeini’s grandsons, Seyed Yasser Khomeini, also visited Mehdi Karroubi to express his condolences and denounce the assailants.

1215 GMT: The Karroubi Siege. The Assembly of Teachers and Researchers of Qom Seminary School has issued a statement strongly condemned the attacks by a pro-regime crowd on Mehdi Karroubi's home.

Karroubi's Etemade Melli party have also put out a statement of condemnation.

1210 GMT: More Tough Talk (see 1040 GMT). General Mohammad Reza Naqdi, the commander of the Basij military, has complained that "our hands are closed due to treaties" when it comes to actions of Zionists. Naqdi continues, "We are waiting for a foolish move by Israel to erase it."

1050 GMT: Controlling the Clerics. The Qoba Mosque, the base of Grand Ayatollah Dastgheib, is closed for prayers, even though it is a Friday.

Dastgheib, far from coincidentally, is a prominent critic of the Government.

1040 GMT: Today's Tough Talk. Let's hand over to the head of Iran's armed forces, General Hassan Firouzabadi: ""Our developed weapons can hit any part of the Zionist regime....We hope not to be forced to attack their nuclear facility [at Dimona]."

0950 GMT: Karroubi Watch. More information from Saham News on last night's violence by the pro-regime crowd surrounding Mehdi Karroubi's house: the website claims a husband and wife were beaten. The incident allegedly began when the woman, who had her headscarf removed, was spotted using a mobile phone.

Saham News also claims the couple were detained.

Mir Hossein Mousavi and his wife Zahra Rahnavard, in a phone call to Karroubi, offered their full support "and strongly condemned the hideous and foolish actions of a group of thugs pretending to be Muslims".
0920 GMT: Rah-e-Sabz reports that security forces have flooded 7 Tir and Enghelab Squares and lined roads leading to 7 Tir from the north. Several people have been detained, one allegedly for wearing a Green bandana.

The website also claims security forces with batons are boarding metro cars in Tehran to seek out any Greens. Forces at checkpoints in Tehran and are stopping and searching people.

Mehdi Karroubi's son Hossein says his family home is still surrounded, preventing his father from getting to the Qods Day rally.

0833 GMT: Ahmadinejad's speech ends. Nothing new in a statement which was meant to whip up crowd sentiment against Israel, and certainly no references to the internal situation (apart from the President's repeated, unintended ironies on allowing the people to choose and the media to speak and on the flaws of the West in supporting "sham elections").

The far more important issue, I suppose, will be the reaction that the President's speech gets from others in the Iranian establishment as well as from the population.
0825 GMT: I'm sorry, but I can't keep a straight face when Ahmadinejad enjoins the "West" to "listen to your people" and "let the media speak": "Do not silence them. Let them raise their voice."

0820 GMT: Ahmadinejad, addressing "the US and the West", challenges them --- as the authors of the United Nations Human Rights Charter --- to support a referendum in Palestine and to hold referenda amongst their peoples over Palestine policy.

0815 GMT: Ahmadinejad now appealing to Arab leaders to "let your people be free" to "bring down the Zionist regime". He says, "Instead of relying on American and the West, you should rely on God."

0810 GMT: Ahmadinejad says, "Israel-Palestine direct talks have already failed."

0808 GMT: Ahmadinejad now criticising sham elections in Iraq. (No, he showed no sense of irony or self-reflection with that statement.)

0803 GMT: Now Ahmadinejad gets confident saying that, with the rise of Qods Day, the Zionists are under pressure and "are on the verge of collapse".
0800 GMT: More of the same from Ahmadinejad, as crowd breaks in with "Death to Israel".

0755 GMT: Karroubi Watch. Saham News reports that more than 20 motorcyclists have surrounded Mehdi Karroubi's residential complex.

0748 GMT: More from Ahmadinejad on "moral corruption" and "cultural devastation" of the "Zionist regime": "No culture is immune".

Ahmadinejad says the Zionists have "manipulated history of World War II" with the symbols of the Holocaust", which he calls a "likely crime". He adds that politicians in Europe or North America are "selected by the Zionists".

0740 GMT: President Ahmadinejad is now speaking at Tehran Friday Prayers, commenting on the repression of the Palestinian people and the "occupation" of the area over the past 60 years.

0710 GMT: Press TV is now featuring crowd shots from Kerman in central Iran and Oroumiyeh in northwestern Iran as well as Tehran.

No significant action, so Press TV is playing up the presence of Lauren Booth (the half-sister of Cherie Blair, wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair) as their correspondent in the centre of Tehran. She is enthusiastic, opening, "Well, I've never seen so many people take to the streets of a capital city in my life. Here we are...on Al-Qods Day 2010 with a million people expected....The message coming from Tehran today, not just to Palestine but to the world, is one of steadfastness, a message of solidarity."

0645 GMT: MediaWatch. No real movement yet, so we settle for the unintended irony of analyst Seyed Mohammad Marandi in Press TV's studio: "After the Revolution, people power is more important."

The host and Marandi continue to talk about "people power, a factor, a big factor". At no point do they reflect, as they speak in post-election Iran, that the term might hold significance in a context different from that of Palestine.

0635 GMT: The Karroubi story continues to hold centre stage as we wait for the Qods Day rallies for the regime. We have posted the video and English summary of the cleric's TV interviews after the violence on the fifth night of the siege of his house by a pro-regime crowd.

0535 GMT: Today is Qods (Palestine) Day in Iran. Established by Ayatollah Khomeini on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan, the occasion traditionally shows solidarity with the Palestinian people as they seek independence. Last year, however, the day took on a different tone, as those protesting the 2009 Presidential election and the Government's actions demonstrated on the streets.

A year later, after the regime's suppression of dissent and amidst the continuing turmoil within the system, there is unlikely to be a significant show of opposition. Instead, the question is: can the regime and Government offer an enthusiastic demonstration of support for their legitimacy? The showpiece will be Friday Prayers in Tehran, where President Ahmadinejad will take the podium before Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami offers the Friday Prayer speech.

Already, however, the Government's effort has been complicated, if not overshadowed, by the events of Thursday night outside the residence of Mehdi Karroubi. The fifth night of the siege by a pro-regime crowd escalated into violence that caused damage and injures, as assailants tried to get into the Karroubi house.

An EA correspondent gets to the heart of the issue and thus the possible difficulties for the regime, even as it tries to parade its authority today:
Either Ayatollah Khamenei knews and approved the attack, or he is unable to stop it. Ahmadinejad on the other hand probably knev and secretly approves.This whole sordid affair casts a sorry light over the government's insecurity and its reliance on intimidation and threats in order to cow the opposition into silence.

We have continuing coverage of the Karroubi siege in a separate entry.

The Latest from Iran (2 September): Karroubi, Mousavi, and Qods Day

2030 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Kalemeh reports that leading reformist politician Mohsen Safaei Farahani, one of seven detainees who recently filed a complaint alleging military interference and manipulation in the 2009 Presidential election, suffered a heart attack three days ago and is in the Evin Prison medical facility.

2025 GMT: We are updating urgently in our separate entry on the siege of Mehdi Karroubi's house. Latest reported developments: a bodyguard in a coma, shots fired at assailants, electricity, water, and phones cut off. Fatemeh Karroubi, Mehdi Karroubi's wife, says the pro-regime crowd is "trying to kill her husband".

1905 GMT: Karroubi (and Qods Day) Alert. A fifth night of the "siege" of Mehdi Karroubi's house has begun, with Molotov cocktails fired and Karroubi's bodyguard firing into the air.

Meanwhile, we have posted the first video of tonight's rooftop "Allahu Akbars" (God is Great) . The chants have been a sign of protest throughout the post-election period.

NEW Latest Iran Video: The Rooftop “Allahu Akbars” (2 September)
NEW Pro-Regime Media Asks, “Which is Worse: Stoning or Prostitution?”
NEW Iran Document: Karroubi-Mousavi Meeting on Eve of Qods Day (31 August)
UPDATED Iran: The Latest on the Karroubi “Siege” and the Qods Day Rally
Iran Special: Thoughts on Protest, Stoning, and Human Rights (Shahryar)
The Latest from Iran (1 September): The Threat of Stoning

1900 GMT: Sports! (and Stoning). Football's Francesco Totti, striker and captain of Roma and star of the Italian national side, has signed the petition for clemency for Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, sentenced to death for adultery.

1415 GMT: All is Well Update (cont. --- see 1045 GMT). Video of today's "Control in Tehran" operation, taken "discreetly" by observers, has emerged.

Two pictures from a set in Mehr, via Peyke Iran, of today's "Control in Tehran" operation....

1315 GMT: Video of Day. Human rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei, forced to leave Iran this summer because of threat of arrest, has been re-united with his wife and daughter in Norway.

Mostafaei's clients include Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, sentenced to death for adultery. His wife was detained when Iranian authorities could not find Mostafaei to arrest him.

1310 GMT: Economy Watch. Trade union activist Mehdi Kouhestani-Nejad tells Deutsche Welle that the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps is now the biggest employer in Iran's petrochemical, communications, and services sectors. Kouhestani-Nejad also claims the IRGC has taken over "bankrupt" companies, arresting managers, in areas such as steel.

1253 GMT: No Hysteria at All Statements of Day. Former Minister of Culture Mohammad -Hossein Saffar-Harandi explains that if security forces had not intervened last year, there would have been one million casualties. He added that Green media are "censoring" the good work of the government.

Pro-Ahmadinejad MP Hamid Rasaei declared that the recent remarks of former President Mohammad Khatami are designed to cover up $1 billion that he has received from foreign agencies for "regime change".

The reformist Islamic Iran Participation Front has responded to similar "$1 billion" accusations from Minister of Intelligence Heydar Moslehi with the claim that he is falsifying reality to avoid the truth about the political and security situation. The IIPF adds that the slander of reformists is a pretext for more persecution.

1245 GMT: Bringing Out a Crowd. The Iranian authorities lay out their plan: there will be special traffic restrictions with 1500 buses to carry people and free use of the metro in Tehran.

1150 GMT: All is Well Update (cont.). The completely secure Iranian regime has reportedly blocked the website of Grand Ayatollah Dastgheib.

1145 GMT: Siege. It isn't just Mehdi Karroubi who has been intimidated this week by regime supporters. Zahra Rahnavard, activist and wife of Mir Hossein Mousavi, was accosted by plainclothes forces on a Tehran street.

Kalemeh reports that the incident occurred a few nights ago in an alley close to Rahnavard's residence, as she was surrounded and interrogated about her activities during the Revolution and her commitment to religion. Rahnavard reportedly responded, “I will not respond to a street interrogation but I will be willing to respond to your questions at my office.”

1140 GMT: Picture of the Day. A photograph of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, sentenced to death for adultery, on the facade of a government building in Rome:

1135 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. The wife of activist Arjang Davoudi, who launched a hunger strike in jail 50 days ago, says that he is in grave condition.

1130 GMT: Stopping the Lawyers. Earlier this week we wrote about the raid on the office of defence attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh by Iranian authorities. Sotoudeh has now told Rooz Online that she was given a summons to appear in court within three days on charges of “assembly and conspiracy to disrupt national security and propaganda against the regime".

Sotoudeh's case is the latest in a string of arrests and intimidations. Abdolfatah Soltani and Mohammad Ali Dadkhah spent months in Evin Prison on national security charges. Mohammad Oliyayifard is still detained, while Mohammad Seifzadeh awaited his trial later this summer. Khalil Bahramian has been interrogated at Evin, and Saleh Nikbakht has an open case at the judiciary’s branch in the prison. Mohammad Mostafaei has fled Iran to avoid arrest.

Sotoudeh said, “The gentlemen [of the regime] plan to put so much pressure on lawyers to make legal defense, especially of political defendants, impossible.”

1120 GMT: The Battle Within. Hooman Majd offers an analysis in Foreign Policy which, despite his acknowledgement of "the public feuds between President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and seemingly everyone else in the entire country", turns into, "Move Along, Nothing to See Here":
Put simply, now is not the time for petty infighting. And even those conservatives who retain their distaste for Ahmadinejad won't want to jeopardize their good standing with Khamenei -- especially as the 2013 presidential election approaches -- by appeasing Iran's enemies, real or imagined.

1115 GMT: Academic Corner. Writing in Tehran Bureau, Ali Chenar reviews the regime's pressure on universities, considering the resignation of Sharif University head Saeed Sohrabpour and the removal of Zanjan University head Yousef Sobouti.

1045 GMT: All is Well Update. On the eve of Qods (Palestine) Day, the regime is already showing the levels of mass public support it is enjoying. Tehran police have launched the operation "Control in Tehran". Police commander Hossein Sajedi-Nia explained that the heavy presence of security forces on the streets was a regular "exercise" to contain "crimes", occupying all "critical points" of the city to guarantee the people's "safety" on Qods Day.

Saham News claims that disturbance of G-Mail services started hours ago to prevent people from forwarding routes for tomorrow's protests, and ADSL service is also disrupted.

0830 GMT: Thought for the Day. Film director Jafar Panahi, detained earlier this year and barred from leaving Iran, in an interview with Middle East Online:

"There have always been restrictions, but over the past year it was the worst. I cannot be pessimistic though. Limitations have always existed, and this era will eventually come to an end too. It's important to have patience and resistance."

0825 GMT: Talk to Us. Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Wednesday that Tehran is still waiting for a response from the Vienna Group (US, France, Russia, International Atomic Energy Agency) on resumption of talks on uranium enrichment: "They have still not officially announced the date and venue for the new round of talks."

0740 GMT: We have posted a feature, "Pro-Regime Media Asks, 'Which is Worse: Stoning or Prostitution?'".

0710 GMT: Academic Corner --- The Counter-Attack. We have been reporting all week on new regime threats against universities. There is news from the other side, however....

An open letter from the "Islamic Association of Democracy", claiming to represent students of Tehran University, asks Minister of Higher Kamran Daneshjoo: "Wasn't it enough to attack the dormitories [after the June 2009 election] and dismiss students and professors? Do you have to u try to destroy free thinking and security at the universities?

A letter to Daneshjoo from 38 professors demands the restitutition of Professor Yousef Sobouti, recently replaced, as head of Zanjan University.

And students of Mehdi Karroubi's campaign committee have asked Green supporters to join Qods Day processions: "come to the streets for your lost rights".

0705 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Peyke Iran claims that the sister of detained journalist Abdolreza Tajik was interrogated for four hours and that Tajik's lawyer Mohammad Sharif has been blocked from meeting him.

0655 GMT: Karroubi Watch. Mehdi Karroubi met with the family of the political prisoner Mostafa Tajzadeh, a prominent reformist politician, yesterday.

0630 GMT: Sanctions Watch. Der Westen claims that up to 100 "front" companies in Germany are moving arms to Iran.

0605 GMT: Flu Alert! EA took great pride in its front-line coverage of the 2009 swine flu crisis. So we have to note the video, posted by Peyke Iran, in which Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami --- who is leading Friday Prayers in Tehran on Qods Day --- declares that swine flu is the outcome of the sins of the West.

0600 GMT: Sports! The US defeated Iran, 88-51, in the qualifying rounds of the World Basketball Championship on Wednesday. We wait to see if Max Fisher's pre-match prediction comes true:
After all the harsh rhetoric and low-level violence, three decades of Iran-U.S. tension will come to a close this afternoon. If the U.S. wins, Iran has agreed it will give up its nuclear program and cede power to the Green Movement. If Iran wins, President Obama says he will implement sharia law, although he was probably going to do that anyway.

0550 GMT: Execution (Ashtiani) Watch. Rooz Online publishes an open letter from the son of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, sentenced to death for adultery, to "human rights defenders across the universe". Sajad Ghaderzadeh writes:
Why do they extract false confessions from my mother by force and broadcast them? Why have they prevented my mother from seeing her attorney or us since then? Is it not because signs of torture are still visible on her body and they do not want any witnesses? Have they delayed visitations until the signs are healed? Why do they plant false evidence against my mother? Why do they open a case that was previously closed? Why have my father’s murder files gone missing? Why do they not allow my mother’s case to proceed normally like any another case? We are truly disappointed that we were born in the Islamic Republic; and that we were abandoned by our own family after the sham show on the Islamic Republic’s television; and that we are forced to tolerate this life of humiliation.

Life killed us. Death, where are you?

0540 GMT: We open this morning with two features. We have an English translation of Tuesday's meeting between Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi, discussing tomorrow's Qods (Palestine) Day and the general state of Iran. The discussion was primarily about economic, political, and legal problems; despite rumours, there was no call for an opposition rally on Friday.

We also post an update on the harassment of Karroubi by pro-regime groups, as his home was surrounded for a fourth consecutive night.

Despite the intimidation, Karroubi remains vocal. Rooz Online summarises his recent remarks on military interference and the "fraud" of the 2009 Presidential election.