Khuzestan parliament members resign over Rouhani’s budget

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All 18 of the parliamentary representatives from Iran’s southwest province of Khuzestan have resigned in protest over the reduction in their budget, while nine representatives from Lorestan province have threatened to join them.

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Parliament Deputy Speaker: US-Iran Friendship Not Red Line

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Days after members of Iran’s parliament welcomed a “parliamentary friendship” between the United States and Iran, deputy speaker of parliament and conservative politician Mohammad Reza Bahonar agreed that the formation of such a group is a positive step.

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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

Iran’s Green Movement Looms Large Over Cabinet Hearing

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Today, Iran’s parliament began debating President Hassan Rouhani’s cabinet nominations. Although opposition websites had stated that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had twice reviewed Rouhani’s cabinet nominations before they were presented to parliament, today’s session was an opportunity for some hard-line parliament members to publicly air grievances, especially in regard to the 2009 election protests and the Green Movement.

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Complaint Filed Against Ahmadinejad’s Chief of Staff

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The spokesman for Iran’s parliament’s Article 90 committee has notified parliament that a “complaint case against the statements of Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei has been sent to the Ministry of Intelligence and the inspector-general of the country.”

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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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Khatami Receives Blueprint for Reform Agenda

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The contents of the first of a series of strategy sessions were presented to former Reformist president Mohammad Khatami yesterday to address the problems Iran is currently facing.

The contents of the session, which was signed by 46 former Khatami advisers, experts, analysts, economists and political and cultural activists, was presented under the name “Fears and Hopes, Dos and Don’ts.” The purpose of the session was “to find a path to free people from the various economic, social, political and cultural problems” they are facing. The various problems were described in various categories such as “social and cultural, economic,” and “political” sections. A list of 11 conditions, such as “freedom, justice,” and “civil rights” were also presented.

In response to the plan presented to him, Khatami wrote a short letter in appreciation. He wrote that he has “hope that the next steps […] to solve the problems” will be taken. Khatami’s positive response is seen by some as an indication he may be getting ready to announce his candidacy for the presidential elections this summer.

On Sunday Hojat Al-Islam Jaffar Shojouni, a member of the Society of Militant Clergy, predicted that Reformists would not be approved by the Guardian Council to participate in the presidential elections this summer. He also called Reformists either “stupid, ignorant or culpable” for the events surrounding the 2009 elections.

On Saturday, an opposition website reported that former Reformist politician Hossein Loghmanian was arrested in Hamedan on his way to visit Khatami in Tehran. Hamedan is just over 200 miles southwest of Tehran. Loghmanian was Hamedan’s representative in Iran’s 6th parliament. He was arrested alongside four companions described as “Reformist activists.” No reason for their arrested was given.

In Other News

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An employee from the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Tehran was involved in a car accident that left an Iranian citizen dead yesterday in north Tehran. The Saudi employee was reportedly drunk and speeding, and bottles of alcohol were found in his car. Alcohol is banned in Iran; however, a variety of alcoholic drinks are smuggled inside the country. The position of the Saudi employee was not given, and only his initials were provided by the Iranian media.

Ramin Mehmanparast, spokesperson for the Minister of Foreign Affairs, said today that “a strong protest was sent to the [Saudi] embassy for this event from an individual that did not abide by domestic laws and exceeded speed limits […] that resulted in the death of an Iranian citizen.” Mehmanparast said that Iran would pursue “a diplomatic and legal” path in regards to this case.

Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jaffari Dowlatabadi announced on Sunday that 18 individuals have been indicted in relation the assassination of nuclear scientists. Jaffar Dowlatabadi said that “the following year, important work will be done, which I will announce now, and that is a number of people involved in the assassination of martyrs of the nuclear program.”

Jaffar Dowlatabadi added that the 18 people indicted “had designed many plans; they were considered our elites in the nuclear program,” adding that these indictments were a joint operation with the prosecutor’s office and the ministry of intelligence.