Sister of slain blogger tells opposition website how security forces beat her mother

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Sahar Beheshti, the sister of Sattar Beheshti, a blogger who died in captivity at the now infamous Kahrizak detention center, has told the Green movement-affiliated website Kaleme that her elderly mother was beaten by security forces while attending a mourning ceremony marking the 40th day since her son’s death. According to Sahar Beheshti, her mother was beaten “in such a way that her foot has been severely injured.”

Video: Sattar Beheshti’s mother shouts: “I am proud of my son.”

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Presidential Election Law Reform Continues to Face Opposition Despite Amendments

The Reformist daily Etemaad reports the Majles’ plan for the reform of the presidential election laws and the progressive erosion of its stipulations on the necessary prerequisites for potential candidates in the face of vocal opposition. The Guardian Council will continue to exercise approval of who qualifies for membership of the “religious and political elite” and thus continue to wield the most influential say on who is fit to run in future presidential elections. The Majles had originally sought to arrogate such powers for itself, which was in turn vocally protested by the Guardian Council, which is currently headed by Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati. The Guardian Council made it abundantly clear that the power to vet the religious and political elite will remain its exclusive prerogative. The Expediency Discernment Council to the surprise of many, also stated its agreement with the Guardian Council on this issue.

Moreover, the proposed age restrictions have been scratched, as has the necessary possession of a graduate degree or above. Most importantly the prerequisite for signed approval by 100 members of “the religious and political elite” has also been removed.

The electoral reform law as a whole has also been protested by parliamentarians supportive of the Ahmadinejad government, the Endurance Front, and Principalists under the wing of Gholam Ali Haddad Adel. Because of continued opposition to the reform law a number of well-known MPs, such as Hojjat al-Islam Hamid Rasai, have contended that it is unlikely it will be approved in time to impact the June 2013 presidential race.

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Supreme Leader Denies Iran’s Culpability for Syrian Bloodshed

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei told participants at an event titled “Professors of the Universities of the Islamic World and the Islamic Awakening” that, “We don’t agree with a human being’s nose being bloodied and it pains us, [but] that person who has dragged Syria into civil war and fratricide is culpable.”

Khamenei added, “In the case of Bahrain, we are faced with the silence of the Islamic world.”

Deputy Foreign Minister for Consulate Affairs Hassan Ghashghavi has denied that Iran’s consulate in Herat, Afghanistan, has been closed. The consulate had been attacked by some 200 Afghan citizens as a result of the alleged killing of 13 Afghan nationals by Iranian security forces while they were attempting to cross the border into Iran.

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Keyhan article indicates discontent with Supreme Leader’s course across the political spectrum

Keyhan, which is generally regarded at the Supreme Leader’s quasi-official mouthpiece in the Iranian media, on Saturday published an article titled “Worn-out Revolutionaries and the Conspiracy of the Poisoned Chalice.” The so-called “poisoned chalice” is an allusion to the Islamic Republic’s first Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and his famous statement at the end of the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988) in which he compared the acceptance of the UN-brokered cease-fire to drinking a poisoned chalice.

Similarly, many analyses both inside and outside of Iran have claimed that the West’s strategy has been to force Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to drink the figurative “poisoned chalice” by means of pressure brought on by energy and economic sanctions, and thereby compel him to curb the Islamic Republic’s nuclear ambitions and thus concede to Western demands.

The article by Ruholamin Saeidi claims that “the regretful, worn-out revolutionary” in recent years has “always adopted a pragmatic, tolerant strategy and mild-mannered approach which is in pursuit of amicable relations with the enemies of the revolution.”

Below are translated a number of excerpts from the article, which is interesting insofar as it admits that there are “distinguished politicians” across the political spectrum, not merely the regularly vilified Reformists, who are “worn-out revolutionaries” and desire the Supreme Leader to finally concede to Western diplomatic and economic pressure over Iran’s controversial nuclear program.

“According to the well-worn revolutionaries, because the Western countries control the largest measure of global power and wealth, resistance against them is ineffective and perhaps for progress and for earning international prestige and remaining immune from the threats of the superpowers, there is no remedy except prostration and retreat. These kind of individuals in particular in the eight years during which the Reformist current ruled the country politically, many efforts were made with the aim of normalizing Iran’s relations with the West, in particular with America.”

“Perhaps not too long ago it could be thought that the “worn-out revolutionaries” could only be found in the base of the Reformists, but the events of recent years and in particular recent months show that the ailment of fatigue and the loss of motivation for struggle, is not exclusive to a special political group or current and all politicians of the regime from every spectrum and wing, are always exposed to this affliction. Today the worn-out revolutionaries present in the circles of power in the Islamic Republic persistently pursue the dissemination of this deviant view. In the present circumstances, two adversarial movements in the country are lining up against one another: One is a moderate, peace-seeking and modernist movement supporting relations with the West and the solving of mutual problems for the removal of pressure and sanctions; and is backed by a group in the government, the Reformists, the elite, the technocrats and many of the distinguished politicians. The other current is a hardened, uncompromising, combatter of Arrogance [i.e., Western/US hegemony] that is demanding perpetual resistance against the West and endurance against the pressure of sanctions. This is the current backed by the Supreme Leader.”

“Sanctions” are the subterfuge of the worn out revolutionaries to prevail on society and the Supreme Leader to accept their beliefs. By exaggerating the effects of American and European Union financial and economic sanctions, they constantly emphasize this point that the pressure of the superpowers has reached intolerable levels and they can’t be resisted any longer.”

“It seems that the worn out revolutionaries at this sensitive point have the intention with their engineered targeting of the conditions of country and application of pressure from all directions to the Supreme Leader, to force him of his own volition to drink the poisoned chalice and retreat; withdrawing from revolutionary positions and [thus initiate] negotiations with America.”

“They want to inflame and make insecure the political atmosphere by offering incorrect analyses and relating all the problems to foreign sanctions and thereby provoke public emotions, so that the Leader has no other choice but to submit to their demands for the preservation of the interests of the country and the revolution.”

“Today our enemies, whether they be the American government or some European governments, have related sanctions to the issue of nuclear energy. They lie. The day they established sanctions, nuclear energy wasn’t in the country. What angers them with respect to the Iranian nation and compels them to make these kinds of decisions, is the spirit of unwillingness to submit that blessed Islam and the Koran brought into existence in the nation of Iran. It is this that angers them. They pretend that if the nation of Iran abandons nuclear energy the sanctions will be lifted. They lie.”

Gholam Reza Asadollahi, a member of the Majles’ Planning and Budget Commission has told ISNA news agency that 40% of the oil revenues factored in for this year’s budget have not been obtained. The Majles commission’s report claims that the primary reason for the shortfall are Western-imposed sanctions against the Islamic Republic which have by all accounts severely hampered its ability to sell its chief export, namely oil.

Majles Speaker Ali Larijani has today criticized the merger of two ministries, the Ministry for Roads and Urban Planning and the Ministry of Information Technology, calling it “inexpedient.” Larijani claimed that it will weaken the country’s “passive defense” against cyberthreats.

Last week President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the course of a cabinet reshuffle had cast aside the former Minister of Information Technology and appointed Ali Nikzad, the Minister for Roads and Urban Planning, the head of the former Ministry for which he now bears responsibility in addition to his own ministerial portfolio.

Since his appointment, Nikzad announced that the two ministries will be combined to form a new super-ministry called the Ministry for Infrastructural Affairs, a motion that would require Majles approval if it is to go ahead.

Brigadier General Gholam Reza Jalali, who heads Iran’s Organization for the Passive Defense of Iran, which oversees the country’s cyberdefenses, also criticized the merger. Jalali named cyberthreats to the Islamic Republic as only only third in critical importance to the threat posed by “military attack” and “economic warfare.”

Is Mashaei’s presidential campaign targeting social-networking sites?

Javan Online says that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s former chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, has begun his presidential campaign. Javan Online, which is close to the Revolutionary Guards, has made the claim on the basis of an online Facebook campaign in support of Mashaei called “The Campaign to invite Engineer Mashaei for the presidential election.” This page as well as several others in support of the president’s controversial ally have been taken as proof that the latter’s presidential campaign is under way.

“These pages can point to the patrons of Engineer Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei in the presidential election of 2013, and the school Mashaeism, Mashaists, etc., …”

“Things being heard indicate that the electoral team of Mashaei have the aim of entering the propaganda arena of the 2013 presidential election by concentrating on social networks and for realising this goal they have begun their programme with online social networks like Facebook.”

It neglects to mention the fact that just over 260 people have liked the main page in question thus far.

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General Prosecutor to File Charges Against US Officials for Terrorism

The website Iran-e Hastei, or Nuclear Iran, claims that Iran’s General Prosecutor has formed a committee to build a case to claim damages against 18 American individuals or authorities held to be responsible for alleged terrorism against Iran.

“The General Prosecutor for the entire country has ordered the formation of a special committee for the claim against some of these individuals [i.e., responsible for alleged terrorism against Iran] and building a case with the extant evidence. Now there is news that these individuals will very soon be tried in public court in Tehran.”

“The domestic laws of Iran give permission to the judiciary that individuals of non-Iranian nationality who have committed crimes against the Iranian nation somewhere other than Iran be tried.”

“Prior to this, Iran lodged a suit via Interpol against two American officials called Jack Keane, a former commander of American army ground forces and Reuel Marc Gerecht, an expert at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, because of their statements to members of Congress, based on the necessity of planning the assassination of Commanders of the Revolutionary Guards, such as Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani.”

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New deputy leader of Islamic Coalition Party compares Ahmadinejad’s team to MEK

Mohammad Ali Amani, the newly appointed deputy leader of the Islamic Coalition Party has compared the “team” of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which includes such figures as Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei & Hamid Baqai, to the arch-nemesis of the Islamic of Republic, the exiled People’s Mojahedin of Iran. In the first half of the 1980s the Mojahedin and Khomeini’s followers took up arms against one another in a battle for the state, and the latter having lost the battle inside the country eventually joined forces with Saddam Hussein in the course of the eight-year Iran-Iraq war.

In the article published in Shoma, the Coalition’s official publication, Amani argues that the two groups have numerous similarities. For example, he alleges that while the Mojahedin instrumentally used Imam Ali’s well-known collection of sermons, the “Peak of Eloquence,” the “deviant current” use the Hidden Imam to further their political agenda.

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Iran Protests US Drones, Conservative site warns of Greater Kurdistan

Fars News does a profile on the US Scan Eagle drone, which the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps naval forces claim to have intercepted in the east of the country. It also provides video of the drone under a banner quoting the revolutionary state’s founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, proclaiming “We will trample upon the US.”

Fars continues:

“This is the umpteenth time that American drones have entered the Islamic Republic of Iran’s borders to gather information, and every time they are confronted with the armed forces of our country.”

Furthermore, “a while ago the Islamic Republic of Iran sent an official letter to the United Nations, while condemning American drone violations of our country’s skies, and asked that these actions [by the US] be prevented.”

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Important changes made in the presidential electoral laws

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad  reacted critically yesterday to the Majles’ change of the election law by the Majles and has called it “unconstitutional” and argued that it contravenes articles 115 and 6 of the Constitution. Ahmadinejad insisted on the primacy of the presidential institution in the Iranian constitution, stating: “The representatives are a minority of the people and at the moment there is not a representative who has obtained more than 30% in his area, but the president alone is the person representing the whole of Iran.”

Many analysts inside Iran have taken this comment as yet another not so indirect swipe at the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, by means of which Ahmadinejad is claiming himself to be the sole democratic representative invested with a popular mandate.

Of particular note as regards the election law reform is that at least 100 members of the “political and religious elite” must confirm future presidential candidates and that the candidates cannot exceed 75 years of age. The latter change directly precludes former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani from running for the June 2013 election. These changes in the election law also look like they might well be used to further snuff out any prospect of Ahmadinejad’s favored candidate clinching the presidential office. This is especially so, since it is the Guardian Council, half of which is appointed by the Supreme Leader, who determine those considered amongst the “political and religious elite.”

Addressing the Majles Ahmadinejad also commented in his reaction, “you think it is the Qajar era (referring to the monarchical dynasty which ruled Iran in the 19th century) and despotism still rules.”

“The will of the people is above all the institutions and no institution can impose its own interpretation on the people. Of course it is possible that some say the people don’t understand, and that just what we say is implemented, but we must say that the Constitution became credible for implementation with the vote of the people.”

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