Larijani’s Uranium ‘Surplus’ Comment Denied

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Speaker of Iran’s parliament Ali Larijani’s comments in an Associated Press interview regarding a “surplus” of enriched uranium has been denied by parliament’s public-affairs department.

In the interview, conducted through an interpreter, Larijani, who was in Geneva participating in the Assembly for Inter-Parliamentary Union, was quoted as saying about Iran’s enriched uranium, “We have some surplus — you know, the amount that we don’t need. But over that, we can have some discussions.”

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Khamenei: US Interference in Syria Will Be Disaster For Region

untitled Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expressed his views for the first time on Syria since accusations of chemical weapons led to the possibility of military strikes by the West on Syria. President Hassan Rouhani also warned of another war in the region and parliament speaker Ali Larijani addressed the possibility of an attack on Syria on the parliament floor today, issuing perhaps the harshest and most direct warning to Israel and countries supporting the military strike. Continue reading

Ahmadinejad’s Court Summons Ignites Backlash

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Yesterday afternoon, Mehr News reported that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had been summoned to branch 76 of the criminal court in Tehran. According to Mehr, the complaint was filed by parliament speaker Ali Larijani, the head of parliament’s Article 90 committee, and Yaghoub Khalil Nejad.

The relationship between Ahmadinejad and Larijani is perhaps the most acrimonious among the top positions of power in the Islamic Republic. In February, on the parliament floor, Ahmadinejad played an audio recording which reportedly implicated Larijani’s brother in financial corruption. Parliament immediately then voted to sack Ahmadinejad’s labor minister. Only with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s public warning did tensions subside.

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High ranking Reformists have first meeting with Supreme Leader since 2009

The Reformist daily Etemaad has reported that three well-known Reformist politicians have met with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The politicians were former MP and vice president for Legal affairs and Parliamentary Affairs, Hojjat al-Islam Majid Ansari, Hojjat al-Islam Abdol Vahed Mousavi Lari, a former Interior Minister and Eshaq Jahangiri, a former Minister of the Industry. It has also been speculated that Jahangiri could be a potential presidential candidate put forward by the Reformists.

According to Etemaad the last official meeting between members of the Reformist camp and the Supreme Leader was 16 June 2009 when representatives of the presidential candidates attended a meeting in order to convey the latter’s views on key issues. Moreover, it is claimed that since that day there have been no reports of meetings between the Supreme Leader and the Reformists.

Ansari, who is also a member of the Reformist Assembly of Combatant Clergy, described the meeting as “very good” and added that a number of the major issues facing the country were discussed. Details however, were not forthcoming. But apparently the upcoming presidential election was not addressed in the course of the meeting.

The meeting is significant insofar as since Iran’s controversial 2009 presidential election which saw the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a considerable swathe of Reformist politicians have been jailed and pushed to the side lines of Iranian political life. Two of the major Reformist political organizations, the Organization of the Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution and the Islamic Iran Participation Front, were also dissolved.

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Online Activism Further Targeted Ahead of Controversial Election

Digarban, quoting Fars News, has reported that online activism calling for the boycott or decreased participation in this year’s presidential election, or protests, sit ins and strikes has been announced illegal.

The announcement was made by the Working Group for the Determination of Criminal Content, which is responsible for internet censorship inside Iran.

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Former Head of the Revolutionary Guards: We will enter the area if we sense a threat

Commander Yahya Rahim Safavi, former Revolutionary Guards chief and advisor to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Iran’s joint chiefs of staff, in the course of a meeting of ex-servicemen in Tehran has warned of the prospect of a “new sedition from some inside [the country]” and also ominously stated that if “we sense a danger to the regime, we will enter the arena.”

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Former IRGC chief says US working to turn Turkey into Iran’s strategic rival

Commander Yahya Rahim Safavi, advisor to the Supreme Leader and the Joint Chiefs of Staff has stated, “the Americans think they must have a presence in West Asia and North Africa to ensure the survival and security of the Zionist regime and to create a strategic rival in confrontation with Iran, this rival is Turkey”.

Referring to a 2012 United States’ National Security Report approved by President Barack Obama, Safavi said, “in this document of the Americans they introduced this as the biggest economic and security threat to America and in this same document Iran is mentioned as a regional threat and they have strengthened the Fifth naval fleet in the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman and Indian Ocean, so they can preserve their dominance in the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans and control the global economy and energy”.

Safavi emphasized further, “in regional issues and matters, the Americans don’t want Iran to be the first power of the region, and because of this they created the issues in Syria and with the money of some Arab countries and the politicking of America and deputyship of Turkey, they pursue Syria’s destabilization”.

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Infamous Tehran Prosecutor and Ahmadinejad Ally Arrested

Former Prosecutor of the Islamic Revolutionary Court, Saeed Mortazavi, has been arrested as he left work Fars News reports. Since his arrest Mortazavi was transferred to Evin jail.

Fars News then appeared to have removed the article first posted announcing Mortazvi’s arrest only to repost the news later with additional details.

The news of Mortazavi’s arrest was also posted on the website of the Tehran Prosecutor’s office, so there is little doubt as to its credibility.

The reason for Mortazavi’s arrest had still not been announced at the time when Fars posted the story, but the news agency close to the Revolutionary Guards speculated that the open case over the deaths of 3 young men in Kahrizak detention centre in 2009 during his tenure as Tehran Prosecutor is perhaps the reason for the arrest, but Shahr news agency has quoted a former member of the Supreme Court, alleging the reason for Mortazavi’s arrest was the secret recording of his conversation with Fazel Larijani, brother to the Majles Speaker allegedly implicating the latter in financial corruption. The inaudible tape was played by Ahmadinejad in the course of the parliamentary session, which if accurate is very damning (a transcript of the secretly recorded conversation has been published in the Reformist daily Bahar here), which in turn led to a forceful rebuke by the Majles Speaker, Ali Larijani, and his telling the president that he longer is permitted to speak due to his violation of Majles protocol.

The video below is of Larijani’s effective dismissal of Ahmadinejad and his telling him to leave the Majles floor.

The timing of Mortazavi’s arrest is indeed fortuitous given that it has occurred a day after a fiery exchange of words and threats by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Majles Speaker, Ali Larijani. It seems Mortazavi’s arrest is more likely the result of political infighting rather than any specific charge.

In particular, and as indicated by the comments and official complaint made by Fazel Larijani, it seems Mortazavi’s arrest might well be connected to the implicit threat of further revelations vis-à-vis the Larijani family. Sadeq Larijani, another brother of the Majles Speaker, currently heads the judiciary undoubtedly was at the forefront in issuing Mortazavi’s arrest warrant.

Mortazavi became infamous in the era of President Mohammad Khatami for playing a leading role as a district judge in the closure of a slew of prominent Reformist newspapers, and was allegedly involved in the death of Canadian Iranian journalist Zahra Kazemi.

Mortazavi was also found culpable by a parliamentary inquiry for 3 deaths in 2009 which had occurred in Kahrizak detention centre while he was Tehran’s prosecutor.

Ahmadinejad had been in conflict with a significant constituency of the Majles, who had repeatedly objected to the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare’s appointment of Mortazavi as caretaker to the powerful Social Security Organization. Eventually the Minister of Labour, Abdolreza Sheikholeslami, was impeached over the refusal to fire Mortazavi.

In other news

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in an interview with the Arabic language news channel Al Mayadin, has said regarding this year’s approaching presidential election, “The nation of Iran are more knowledgeable than for me to want to introduce someone for them as a candidate [in the election]”.

Many Iran watchers and commentators are still waiting to see whether the Ahmadinejad government will put forward or explicitly back a candidate for Iran’s June presidential election.

Ahmadinejad supporter, Abdolreza Davari, and a member of the scientific committee for jihad in the university, has told  Arya news agency that President Ahmadinejad “has revealed only one card of thousands”.

He added, “the president’s words in the Majles had two points. The first was the president’s determination of the pathology of the country’s legal frameworks. Mr. Ahmadinejad’s arguments showed the processes of legislation have gone in a direction whereby normal laws have come to take precedence over the constitution”.

Mohammad Javad Larijani, brother to Majles Speaker, Ali Larijani, has attempted to downplay Sunday’s controversial entanglement between Ali Larijani and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over the impeachment of the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare and much else besides.

Mohammad Javad Larijani, who is the head of the human rights council of Iran’s Judiciary claimed that the heated exchanges between the Majles Speaker and the President were “a sign of the exuberance of the political system of the country”.

 

 

Website identifies 7 Revolutionary Guard commanders among freed captives in Syria

The foreign-based Persian language site, Digarban, claims to have identified seven of the Iranians who were held captive in Syria as Revolutionary Guard commanders.

It is also claimed that 2,000 imprisoned Syrians who oppose Bashar al-Assad’s government were released in return.

“Abedin Khorram, the guard commander of Urumieh, and Mohammad Taqi Safari, the guard commander of Bushehr, are two members of the provincial [Revolutionary] Guards who accompanied the 46 other persons. Three days ago, they were freed and returned to Iran.

“Karim Hossein Khani, the previous representative of the Guardian Jurist [i.e. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] in the Guards of Urumieh, is another freed member who returned from Syria in this group.

“The site of the Urumieh Guards and some other local sites on Friday, without pointing out the first names of these clerics and Guard commanders, gave news of their return to this city and participation in Friday Prayers.

“From Western Azerbaijan province, 14 people were from this group who Thursday evening entered Urumieh.

“Mohammad Taqi Safari, commander of the Guards of Bushehr, another one of the commanders of the Guards; news agencies announced he had returned to Bushehr  without reference to his position.

“The governor of Bushehr as the highest executive office in the province was present at the airport for the welcoming ceremony of this authority in the Guards.

“The local Jahrom News also announced the complete identity of the freed Guard, ‘Ali Javadian.’

“Mr. Javadian who is stated by Jahrom to be the chief medic of the 33rd ‘Al-Mahdi’ special brigade.

“ISNA and one local site also announced the identity of another three people, Adibi, Elahi and Hemmati, who are said to be members of the Revolutionary Guards.

“In some reports, Sadegh Adibi is stated by Jahrom as a commander and support for the 33 ‘Al-Mahdi’ special brigade.

“The same reports mention Mohammad Elahi and Amrollah Hemmati as the commander of intelligence operations of the ‘Al-Mahdi’ special forces and the deputy chief for human resources.

“From Fars province, seven individuals in this group were present. Information for the identity of another three individuals is not available.

“The authorities of the Islamic Republic have refrained from announcing the names of these 48 individuals, of which only some are retired [Revolutionary] Guards.”

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Minister of Trade and Industry acknowledges sanctions “crippling” Iranian economy

Mehdi Ghazanfari, the Minister of Trade and Industry, has stated in a meeting of the Supreme Provincial Councils that the current sanctions against Iran are different from those of the past and described them as “crippling”.

Ghazanfari also said, “sanctions have pressured the economy of the country and have been an obstacle for our securing its needs, because we haven’t had currency, nor could the Central Bank transfer currency  and nor transport for importing the goods needed by the country”.

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