The Latest from Iran (9 February): The 25 Bahman Beat Goes On

February 9, 2011 in Journals / Articles

2120 GMT: Not Worried at All (cont. — 0925 GMT). Revolutionary Guards commander Hossein Hamedani has commented on the proposed march for 25 Bahman (11 February), “The seditionists (opposition leaders) are nothing but a dead corpse and we will strongly confront any of their movements. We definitely consider them as anti-revolutionary and spies, and we will strongly confront them.”


The Facebook page supporting Monday’s rally now has more than 25,000 supporters.


2050 GMT: Partners. China has signed a $13 billion contract to develop Iran’s railway system.


2020 GMT: Sympathy in Cairo. This is the photo causing a stir amongst Iranian activists who are watching developments in Egypt: freed detainee Wael Ghonim, whose release and emotional interview helped energise the protests yesterday, is pictured wearing a Green wristband as he speaks in Tahrir Square in Cairo yesterday.


2010 GMT: Another Larijani Makes A Move. A high-profile statement by Sadegh Larijani, the head of Iran’s judiciary today: he put forth the tough line that intellectuals who do not accept clergy support the leaders of sedition. At the same time, he sent out a signal to President Ahmadinejad in the manoeuvres for greater powers: confrontation of the leaders of sedition is in the hands of the Supreme Leader.


2000 GMT: Well, That Didn’t Go As Planned. The office Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, a dedicated foe of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, had the great idea of putting a poll on Yazdi’s website asking if Rafsanjani should be removed as the head of the Assembly of Experts.


Only glitch? 67% of those responding said Rafsanjani was a fine choice to retain the position.


And it doesn’t look like the scheme to remove Rafsanjani in reality as well as in an on-line ballot is working, either. Hashemzadeh Herissi, a member of the Assembly, offers his understanding that Ayatollah Mahdavi Kani, put forth by some to take over as head, has rejected the proposal.


1955 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Tabnak reports that Taghi Rahmani, an advisor to Mehdi Karroubi, has been arrested.


Rahmani, a journalist, was in jail for a total of 5000 days between 1981 and 2005.


1930 GMT: Budget Watch. More huffing and puffing over the yet-to-be-seen 2011 Budget.


Mohammad Nabi Habibi, the head of the Motalefeh Party, said the Government’s delay in presentation of the Budget is normal because the Parliament is still yet to approve the 5th Budget Plan covering 2010-2015. Habibi urged Parliament to hurry before declaring, “Egypt proves the victory of our Revolution.”


1920 GMT: At the Movies. Der Spiegel offers a summary of the support of organisers of the Berlin International Film Festival, which begins Thursday for Iranian director Jafar Panahi.


Panahi has been given a six-year prison sentence for activities against the regime. The Berlin organisers invited him on the Festival’s jury, even though Panahi is banned from foreign travel.


1915 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Mehdi Motamedi-Mehr, a member of the Freedom Movement of Iran, has been sentenced to five years in prison.


1910 GMT: 25 Bahman. Want to know what to bring and how to act on next Monday’s march? An Iranian blogger offers advice.


1820 GMT: At the Clinic. The Medical Council of Iran estimates that the cost of health care will rise 40% next year.


1800 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch.HRANA reports that there is no information about the fate of Professor Reza Molavi, Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at Britain’s Durham University, who was arrested at Imam Khomeini Airport in Tehran last April.


Molavi is the author of Oil and Gas Privatisation in Iran. No information has been released about the charges against him.


1030 GMT: Karroubi Presses Ahead. Mehdi Karroubi has spoken to The New York Times about the march planned for 25 Bahman, “Any kind of event that involves the rise of the people and the fight against dictatorship in the Muslim world and in the Arab world is in our benefit. Next Monday will be a test for the Green movement — if the government issues a permit, there will be a huge demonstration and it will show how alive the Green movement is.”


1025 GMT: Sanctions Watch. Turkish State Minister Zafer Çağlayan has said Ankara will not apply sanctions against three business entities blacklisted by the US for allegedly providing materials and support to Iran’s development of ballistic missiles.


Çağlayan said, “The U.S. decision only binds the US. It’s out of the question for us to impose penalties or disqualify these companies from trade.”


1015 GMT: 25 Bahman. The route for the march in Shiraz has been posted:


0945 GMT: Execution Watch. A spokesman for the Dutch Foreign Ministry has said that Tehran had given assurances that Dutch-Iranian national Zahra Bahrami, put to death on 29 January, would not be executed until the end of criminal investigations.


Bahrami was condemned to death for drugs possession, but her case of “mohareb” (war against God) was still not concluded when she was killed.


Dutch Foreign Ministry spokesman Bengt Van Loosdrecht said, “Bahrami was executed, and that came as a surprise to the Netherlands because the day before her execution the ambassador of Iran in the Netherlands assured us that not all legal means had been exhausted.”


0925 GMT: Not Worried at All. Iran Prosecutor General Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei is not happy this morning about the opposition call for a rally on 25 Bahman: “This is a political act. These people have separated their path from that of the people and they want to divide the people of Iran.”


Mohseni-Ejei then tried to restore the correct position: “If anybody wants to side with the wishes of people of Egypt and Tunisia, they should come along with the establishment and people on 22 Bahman (11 February) and take part in the rally.”


0920 GMT: Smacking Down Khamenei. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood’s English-language site has made its position on the support of the Iranian regime, offered by the Supreme Leader last Friday, crystal-clear through publication of an article from The Eurasia Review:


[The editor of] Ikhwanweb, the Muslim Brotherhood’s official English website,…Khaled Hamza has stated that the current uprising in Egypt is a revolution of the Egyptian people and is by no means linked to any Islamic tendencies, despite allegations nor can it be described as Islamic.


Hamza stressed that the revolution is peaceful and calls solely for reform and a democratic civil state initiated by the youth through the social networking service Facebook and is far removed from any Islamist groups.




He criticized allegations and reiterations by some countries that the uprising was Islamic and denounced claims by the Iranian Supreme Leader Mr. Khamenei that the protests are a sign of an Islamic Awakening inspired by the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran.


(cross-posted from Egypt LiveBlog)


0900 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Sharif University student Sina Mokhtari has been sentenced to one year in prison.


0850 GMT: Khomeini Joins the Opposition? Khabar Online is very interested that the new official website of Seyed Hassan Khomeini, grandson of the late Ayatollah, has a Green background.


0845 GMT: We Stand Together. The big theme in Iranian media this morning has been the Supreme Leader’s call for unity before Air Force officers, but IRNA is now preferring President Ahmadinejad’s opening of a big dam.


And the message from the President is not completely upbeat: while he declares that the right to use water is now established in Iran, he says the cost to the Government of provision must be reconciled with private consumption.


0835 GMT: The US Hikers. No real surprise here, as Iranian officials say they will confiscate the $500,000 “guarantee” given when Tehran released Sarah Shourd, one of three US hikers detained in July 2009 on the Iran-Iraq border.


Shourd’s finance Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal finally had the first hearing in their trial for illegal entry on Sunday, but Shourd, who was freed in September, did not return to Tehran.


0830 GMT: And While We’re on the Theme. The Supreme Leader may be leading a campaign in support of Egyptian protest, but President Ahmadinejad’s right-hand man, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai — now Number 1 amongst “special envoys” — has been visiting President Assad in Syria.


Rahim-Mashai praised the independence, dignity, and pride of the Syrian nation. He made no reference to recent calls for protest against Assad and his Government.


0825 GMT: No Inconsistency Here. Just a quick observation on Iranian media’s cheerleading of the visit of Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi to Algeria, whose President Abdulaziz Bouteflika “has emphasised the expansion of relations with Iran, citing the significance of plans drawn up to bolster Tehran-Algiers ties”.


So the Supreme Leader is leading a wall-to-wall propaganda effort in which the Iranian regime is supporting the Egyptian uprising against the repression and corruption of President Mubarak, but the Iranian regime is praising President Bouteflika, who faces growing protest — with a large march called for Algiers this Saturday — against repression and corruption….


Answers on a postcard.


0800 GMT: It is only two days until the regime’s celebrations of the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, but all the chatter — at least outside Iran — is about the proposed opposition march for next Monday, 25 Bahman.


While President Ahmadinejad’s office brings the breaking news that he inaugurated a dam in southern Tehran this morning, the statement of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi on the Revolution, “Living is Not Only Staying Alive” (see separate entry), is circulating.


And while Press TV is headlining the visit of Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi to Algeria, the reformist Islamic Iran Participation Front — technically banned by the regime — calls on Iranians to join the rally pf “unity and solidarity of the Iranian people with the people of Tunisia and Egypt” if the government issues a permit.


The IIPF continues that denying Iranian people their protest would “completely invalidate all of the Iranian government claims of support for the uprising of the people of Tunisia and Egypt”.