Monday June 22 – the daily story

— The  Guardian Council has found no evidence of major irregularities in the election and has ruled out the possibility of nullifying the result, PressTV reports. Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei, the council’s spokesman said late on Monday that most of the complaints the council had received referred to irregularities before the election which were not part of the council’s remit. “Fortunately, in the recent presidential election we found no witness of major fraud or breach in the election. Therefore, there is no possibility of an annulment taking place.” PressTV also reported that the Interior Ministry had decided to publish “box by box” results for the election.  The deputy head of the Interior Ministry’s election headquarters, Ali-Asghar Sharifi-Rad, says the decision had been taken to resolve ambiguities. “During previous elections in the Islamic Republic, statistics concerning individual ballot boxes were considered confidential information … this kind of information was only available to certain

— The official media have lost no time in picking up the earlier report from Pakistan (see below) about the CIA pouring $400m into Iraq to foment the rebellion. It is the front page lead story in the top evening paper Kayhan over a picture of one of the buses destroyed in the rioting.

kayhan

But the Moussavi camp is starting to keep up withe the game. According to Stephen Kinzer in the Guardian, Their “propaganda” is now starting to feature Moussavi’s head alongside that of Mossadeq, who was famously ousted thanks to CIA dollars.

— The normally reliable Twitter @persiankiwi has posted what one supposes to be the latest declaration by Mehdi Karroubi, the beaten presidential candidate. I have slightly rejigged it:

It is regretable that the highest authority in Iran chose to ignore the peaceful demands of the people. Instead the government has chosen to respond with oppression and violence. The actions of this government insult all free peoples of the world.

Paragraph 29 of the Constitution allows unarmed public gatherings without permit if they do not insult Islam . The right of the nation to challenge this unfair and corrupt election is the right of all Muslims.  In Iran the minority are ruling the majority with violence and oppression.

I invite the nation to participate on Thursday in remembrance of those killed by this government. In addition:

I demand the release of all political prisoners immediately

I demand the government provide medical treatment for those who are injured;

I demand that the bodies of the martyrs be released to the families for burial immediately ;

I demand an immediate end to censorship by the government.

— The main flashpoint in Tehran today was 7 Tir square where about 1,000 demonstrators clashed with riot police bussed in ready for the confrontation. The best eyewitness report of the battle comes from  CBS journalist Elizabeth Palmer. “Basij militia, uniformed and in plain clothes, buzzed through pedestrian traffic threatening anyone who stopped too long,” she reported. This video clip grimly shows the riot police being bussed in to a compound at the square, then emerging on their motorbikes and firing guns into the air to scatter the demonstrators, who by earlier accounts had been trying to hold a mourning protest with candles.

— In general, however, the near silence from Tehran is deafening. What is coming out suggests a city under the tight grip of guards and basij. The Revolutionary Guards issued a warning  today that they will crush any further protests and warned demonstrators to prepare for a “revolutionary confrontation” if they hit the streets again. The reliable website tehranbureau.com says: “Today is quiet. There are police everywhere patrolling the streets with batons. We all have lumps in our throats.”  The crackdown appears to be succeeding for now in cowingmost of  the population and preventing the opposition from getting together in any great numbers. Nor is any firm guidance emerging  as to what the opposition is going to do next, apart from Tuesday’s planned general strike, either because there is no one left free to give it or they don’t want to tip their hand to the authorities.  However, there are a number of tweets suggesting candles are appearing on streets and alleyways in mourning for the dead and as a reminder that the anger has  of the protestors has not gone away.

— The screws are really beginning to be applied now, according to the Twittersphere. Plainclothes police are reportedly surrounding the offices of the pro-Moussavi Kalameh newspaper, trapping many staff inside. Websites such as this meanwhile are publishing photographs of demonstreators the authorities would like to talk to, while the state broadcaster is said to be urging people to report anyone they know took part in demonstrations. Even Ahmad Tavakoli, the conservative head of the parliament research centre and a former minister in Moussavi’s government, who has criticised Ahmadinejad’s handling of the crisis, now urges Moussavi to stop going down a suicidal path.

— Israel’s former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy has warned that with the ascendancy of the Revolutionary Guards in Iran “he worst could be ahead of us”, the Jerusalem Post reports.

A photograph showing demonstrators putting sand on a street, which apparently helps to slow down the basij motorbikes.

— Britain has confirmed reports that first appeared on Twitter that it is pulling diplomatic families ut of the country. Relations between Britain and Iran have soured considerably over the past few days as  the Tehran regime accuses the British of helping to foment the violence. The Foreign Office has also advised Britons against any “non-essential” travel to Iran.

The NIAC website, using what it calls a reliable  Twitter source, indicates that a legal case is being prepared to prosecute Moussavi. It says this has been instigated by the head  of parliament’s judiciary committee, who ruled that Moussavi is legally accountable for the protest violence.

— A website called sign4change carries what it says is a ‘Statement in Protest Against Recent Events, Signed by Nearly 250 Members of the Women’s Movement’. It says more were unable to sign for fairly obvious reasons, including arrest!

— The BBC has more on the methods Iran is emplying to monitor digital communications, including the system put in by a Nokia-Siemens joint venture that was reported yesterday in the Washington Times. Nokia Siemens Networks has in  turn issued a statement defending itself, saying the technology is no more or less than is supplied to a host of other countries.

— On the Anonymous Iran website a blogger identiiying himself as Josh Shahryar aka NiteOwl paints a stark picture of current conditions in Tehran, suggesting that continuing arrests of reformist leaders and demonstrators may well have topped the 5,000 mark and that the arrest of most of Moussavi’s aides has left him under effective house arrest surrounded by  a few assistants. His websites have also been hacked and taken over.  Nevertheless Nite Owl says Moussavi is still calling for an “indefinite” general strike Tuesday. “Business owners in Tehran and shopkeepers in Tehran are said to have already put their support behind Mousavi for the protests. Our sources have urged everyone in Iran to get food, fuel and other resources as soon as possible and prepare for a few days of shortage of supplies.” There’s also a warning to anyone travelling to Iran that anything that might suggest they sympathise with the opposition cause risks instant arrest.  Much of what is written is pretty well already known; as for the rest, as usual you take it on trust or you don’t.  Here is the full post.

— Obama indicated Monday that he will continue with his cautious approach. He told  CBS he didn’t want to let the Iranian authorities use him as a scapegoat for the turmoil in Iran. “The last thing that I want to do is to have the United States be a foil for those forces inside Iran who would love nothing better than to make this an argument about the United States.” AP’s full report here.

The Huffington Post highlights what purports to be a report in Persian that Rafsanjani has a letter signed by 40 members of the 86-member Assembly of Experts calling for the annulment of the election results. The figure is clearly no stunning majority and signifies if anything the problems the Ayatollah may be having getting the clergy full square behind him. The letter seems timed to counter claims yesterday by his oppononts on the assembly that it had in fact endorsed Khamenei’s line on the issue. Intriguingly, the post goes on  quote speculation in the report that Khamenei is suffering from cancer and conspired in altering the election results to ensure the path was left open for his son to succeed him as supreme leader rather than the other logical candidate – the M oussavi-backing Rafsanjani.

— Bahrain has closed down its oldest daily newspaper for violating the press code, according to Al Arabiya, because it carried an article suggesting Ahmadinejad is descended from Jews (not in itself a new notion).  You can read all about it here.

— It is worth highlighting this article posted today on the rift within  the Khamenei family itself between the supreme leader and his younger brother, a reformer and member of the Association of Combatant Clerics. The impressively informative Views from the Occident site says Hojatoleslam Sayed Hadi Khamenei met Moussavi representatives in Qom last Tuesday and has called for a body representing all sides to review the election results. According to the website, being the supreme leader’s brother has not protected him from physical assault and serious injury at the hands of “pro-regime elements”, and two newspapers he tried to open were both banned.

— A statement issued by Iran’s police says the number detained in Saturday’s disturbances was at least 457.  Azizallah Rajabzadeh, the Tehran police chief,  also said his department had no role in any shooting that took place.  “Policemen are not authorised to use weapons against people. They are trained to only use anti-riot tools to keep the people out of harms way.”

— The Iranian foreign  ministry today continued its robust attack on Western governments for fomenting the trouble in Iran. Spokesman Hassan Qashqavi accused some European countries and the US of playing a key role  in the post-election violence. “With the main goal of sowing ethnic discord, Western powers have interfered in the election process by hyperbolizing the protests staged against the Iranian poll results,” he said at his weekly press conference. Singling out France’s call for the election to be annuled, he said the Iranian government would “respond” to the stepped-up “foreign interference” in due time. He also accused Western media of launching a cyber war against Iran which was “totally out of line”.

— I will be looking for more today on the digital chatter that Moussavi is working with labour leaders and bazaaris on a general strike for Tuesday. Perhaps mindful of this and general talk of industrial unrest, Iran’s Opec representative Mohammad Ali Khatabi has declared oil production to be at its normal levels.He said the recent unrest had had no impact on the country’s oil industry or crude exports. “The national oil industry is 100%  normal.”

— In the latest message on his Facebook site, Moussavi urges Iranians to continue reporting the Iranian story to keep it alive. “Today you are the media, it is your duty to report and keep the hope alive”, he says.

—  General Mirza Aslam Beg, the former Chief of Army Staff of the Pakistan Army, has accused the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of distributing $400 million  inside Iran to evoke a revolution. The Pak Alert Press blog says Beg, in a telephone interview with “Pushtu Radio”, claimed to have undisputed intelligence proving the US interference in Iran. “The documents prove that the CIA spent $400 million inside Iran to prop up a colorful-hollow revolution following the election.” He said the US wanted to disturb the situation in Iran and bring to power a pro-US government. He also congratulated President Ahmadinejad on his re- election, “a decisive point in regional policy and, if Pakistan and Afghanistan unite with Iran, the US has to leave the area, especially the occupied Afghanistan.” According to Wikipedia Beg was forced to stand down as Pakistan’s army chief in 1991 three months before retirement, after his political ambitions started to get the better of him. A controversial figure even after retirement,  he is regarded as a proponent of Iran obtaining the nuclear bomb. “According to Zahid Hussain, in his book Frontline Pakistan, Beg  … was  part of the January 9 2001 Islamic conference held near Peshawar which was also attended by 300 leaders representing various radical Islamic groups. In the meeting, they declared it a religious duty of Muslims all over the world to protect the Taliban government and Ossama bin Laden.” Will this context have any significance for the Iranian masses when they hear his claims?  They will probably be more familiar with the story of the CIA money that was flown into Tehran to help topple Mossadeq.

— tehranbureau.com has published the following list of politicians and journalists known to be under arrest by the authorities.

— The Guardian Council has admitted that the number of votes cast in 50 cities was more than the number of elligible voters, according to PressTV, the English language arm of the state broadcaster. It said the council’s spokesman Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaei, speaking on Channel 2 on Sunday, said the findings followed the complaints filed by the defeated candidate Mohsen Rezaei, the only one of the three candidates to pursue his complaints with the council. He said the council had rejected Rezai’s claim that turnout was more than 100% in 170 cities – “the incident has happened in only 50 cities.” But although the discrepancy could affect more than 3 million votes, it has “yet to be decided” if this would have decisively affected the outcome. Some of the discrepancy, he said, could be explained by the fact that many voters are legally vote in areas where they were not registered. You have to wonder sometimes what planet some of these people inhabit, for such a low-key announcement actually contains explosive information – the first admission by the authorities of widespread voter fraud. One senses the story might be starting to swing away from our dear president.

— I have just seen flagged upby this website what is said to be a message from Moussavi’s office to President Obama criticising his position that Moussavi is not that different to Ahmadinejad, and suggesting he feel free to take a slightly more robust attitude to the situation. The notion that the two Iranian presidential contenders were “two of a kind” was taken as a grave insult, the message said. “Your statement misled the people of the world.  It was no doubt inspired by your hope for dialogue with this regime, but you cannot possibly believe in promises from a regime that lies to its own people and then kills them when they demand the promises be kept.” However, the statement goes on to commend Obama for condeming the violence in Iran and adds: “We look forward to stronger support for the rightful struggle of the Iranian people against the actions of a regime that is your enemy as well as ours.” Over to you Barack.

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