Monday August 24 – the daily story

The main headlines:

A middle-aged man shot dead his wife and two children, before going to the roof of his home in Quds, 12 miles west of Tehran, and killing four neighbours and passers-by, according to Tabnak news. In all he fired 800 rounds from a Kalashnikov rifle and was only arrested when he ran out of ammunition. link

Less than a month after being sacked by the President as Intelligence Minister, Ayatollah Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei has been appointed Iran’s Prosecutor-General, which would seem to confirm that the judiciary is going to play a key role in reining Ahmadinejad in. The fact that he was appointed by a majority vote of the Supreme Court judges suggests there might have been some spirited discussion before he was confirmed. He replaces Ayatollah Qorban-Ali Dori-Najafabadi, who presided over the imprisonment and prosecution of post-election protesters. Today’s appointment leaves open the question of the fate of Said Mortazavi, the notorious Prosecutor-General of Tehran. There had been reports that the new Head of the Judiciary, Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, wanted to replace him, but there has been no confirmation. link

– Whatever else has changed, it seems the mass “show trials” go on, with the next session scheduled for Tuesday. link

– Mahmoud Rezayan, the manager of Behesht Zahra cemetery south of Tehran, has denied reports that victims of the post-election unrest have been secretly buried at the graveyard. link

– Mohammad Maleki, the former chancellor of Tehran University,  has been arrested at his home, where he was reportedly recovering from prostate cancer.  His wife said the arresting officers, who also took about 80 books and personal documents, said he was being held for alleged ties to the outlawed  Mujahedin Khalq organisation.  Maleki who has been arrested by the regime – and the Shah – several times before,  is 76. link

Mehdi Karoubi has told the Majlis committee investigating prison abuse that he can produce four victims of torture and rape to speak to them, but they are clearly frightened for their safety if they testify.  Committee member Kazem Jalali, who met Karoubi today along with five other members, said: “Karoubi told us these four persons are ready to provide testimony that they were sexually abused, but they do not feel  secure.” Later the Mehr website said the committee agreed to  consult the Majlis speaker and the Head of the Judiciary about how to proceed. link

– Earlier Karoubi  threw down the gauntlet to his detractors by publishing a statement by one of the alleged prison rape victims on his official website. He says it is but a small portion of the documentation he has,  and he has threatened to publish more. A Los Angeles Times report of the statement says the victim was raped at the now closed Kahrizak detention centre. After counselling from Karoubi, he made a complaint about his treatment. But this only resulted in an unpleasant grilling from a judge and two interrogators who said it was his own fault for defying Iran’s Supreme Leader. They seemed more interested in why he went to Karoubi. link

– Karoubi’s own Persian-language website said he had responded to mounting threats from hardliners of dire consequences for his actions by stating that ”it is not right to sacrifice our religion, dignity and bravery for the benefit of ourselves. The regime that today is being silent is against everyone’s benefit.”

The Green Path of Hope front has published a new message explaining its necessity and the need to establish its own “official” media inside Iran to get its ideas across. The message suggests going as far as a newspaper and television and radio network, but gives no clue as to how this might be set up in the current climate, when virtually every reformist news outlet has been closed. link

– Moussavi’s Facebook site has published an interview with Alireza Beheshti, the reformist leader’s chief adviser, describing the events at Moussavi’s campaign headquarters in the immediate aftermath of the election. link

– Beheshti separately appears to have clarified the relationship of Mehdi  Karoubi and Mohammad Khatami to the Green Path of Hope.  He said in an interview with ILNA that the two reformist leaders are “involved in the activities and orientation this organisation will take” and will be consulted through advisory committees. Karoubi said in an interview last week that he was not joining the new front as he wanted to develop his own political party. This would seem to confirm that he and Khatami will be allied but not integral to the Green Path of Hope.

– The Revolutionary Guards continue to make their threatening noises. This time it is the turn of   Rear Admiral Morteza Safari, commander of the IRGC navy, who reportedly “lashed out” at the US for hatching plots to stage a velvet revolution,  with the main aim of eliminating the Supreme Leader and Guardian Council.  link

– The theme is continued in a PressTV report which says that, months after Iran’s “controversial” election (a change from the “disputed” description it used last week), military and Revolutionary Guards officials say the security situation calls for prompt punitive action against “voices of dissent”. link

– Crisis? What crisis? The notorious Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, President Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff, has told Parliament News that his boss now enjoys such a historic level of popularity that the international community has realised it has no choice but to cooperate with him rather than topple him. link

Ali Larijani, the Majlis speaker, has told the President to reverse a decision reducing working hours for government employees during Ramadan to a maximum of five and a half hours, saying this made it impossible for people to work the 44 hours a week required by law.  link

Key Shia groups in Iraq have formed a new alliance that excludes the Dawa Party of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, raising fears of increasing Iranian influence. Al-Maliki’s effort  to portray himself as a champion of security in the wake of the American pull-back has been battered by a series of devastating bombings in Baghdad and northern Iraq. link

– The Foreign Ministry denied “reports of the country’s involvement” in recent terrorist attacks in Iraq that have left scores dead and condemned the attacks. link, link

The  Foreign Ministry said political solutions were needed to the problems in Yemen and that bloodshed was not an option. link

— The comments follow claims on the website of the Yemeni ruling party that Iranian-made weapons had been uncovered at six dumps created by Shia rebels. The Yemen army is currently involved in Operation Scorched Earth to put down the rebellion “once and for all”. link

– The Israeli DebkaFile website says the army operation against the Iranian armed and trained rebels has failed to make a breakthrough after two weeks in which it says thousands have been killed and tens of thousands left homeless. link

The Foreign Ministry summoned the Argentine Charge d’Affaires to protest the condemnation by Buenos Aires of the nomination of General Ahmad Vahidi as Defence Minister, link

Hassan Qashqavi, the Foreign Ministtry spokesman, said there were no plans to downgrade relations with Germany after Chancellor Angela Merkel’s threat of more sanctions. He said the policy of intensifying sanctions against Iran was a failure: “Nothing can stop Iran from pursuing its legitimate rights.” But he added that Iran had met all its obligations to the International Atomic Energy Agency and would “continue its cooperation”. link,  link, link

Baluchi websites are reporting that the border valley of Kulber and surrounding areas have been undergoing heavy bombardment in a joint operation by Iranian and Pakistani forces against Baluchi separatists, involving helicopter gunships, fighter jets and heavy artillery. In addition, the Intellibriefs blog site reports, Iranian forces fired more than 50 rockets into the border town of Mashkail, hitting a hospital and killing three women. The blog says thousands of people demonstrated after the attack, demanding an immediate inquiry. link

The Russian finance company involved in a deal to supply five new Tupolev TU-204SM planes to Iran Air Tours says a year-long delay in delivery has been caused by Iranian requests for modifications to adapt the jets to the Iranian climate. On Saturday the boss of the Iranian company said it was the fault of the Americans and French. link

A new oilfield discovered in Khuzestan province has estimated reserves of 8.8 billion barrels, the Oil Minister Gholam-Hossein Nozari said. It is the largest such discovery for five years. link

Alcohol, alcohol everywhere; not a drop to drink

Alcohol, alcohol everywhere; not a drop to drink

Three gangs illegally distributing alcohol in North Tehran have been rounded up by the police and the spoils of the raid put on display, presumably before destruction. link

Hana Makhmalbaf, the filmmaker daughter of Mohsen Makhmalbaf, himself a director who has acted as a mouthpiece abroad for Mir-Hossein Moussavi, is to premier her film Green Days about the protests that followed the election at the Venice Film Festival. link

Iran’s banks have $27 billion worth of unpaid loans which they cannot collect, while it has emerged that loans worth a total $8 billion had been extended to just 90 people, according to Musa al-Reza Sarvati, a member of the Majlis Planning and Budget Committee. He added that a major cause of corruption in the banks was that they were state owned. link

Two residents of the M ujahedin Khalq’s Camp Ashraf outside Baghdad have gone on hunger strike demanding the withdrawal of Iraqi forces from the camp and the return of 36 camp residents they sau are being held by “the Iranian regime’s mercenaries in Iraq”. link

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