Wednesday June 24 – the daily story

Russian backing — Russia has given its full support to the actions taken by the authorities in the wake of the election, the Focus news agency reports quoting Itar-Tass. Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov said Moscow considered the actions Iran took in the “complicated situation” after the presidential elections “right”. “We are convinced that all matters related to the elections have to be dealt with on the grounds of Iranian legislation and in accordance with the procedures envisaged there. As far as I know, it is exactly what is happening.”

US mulls crisis — Several experts who atended a roundtable discussion on Iran held by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today agreed that  the opposition movement is far from over despiteb the crackdown, the Voice of America website reports. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry said Obama has delivered a well-calibrated official US response. “But if we truly hope to empower moderates rather than merely score rhetorical points, we have to recognize how our words are heard half a world away,” he added.  “America has a long and troubled history with Iran.”

You’re disinvited — The United States has rolled back on its policy of inviting Iranian diplomats to its July 4 Independence Day celebrations  in embassies around  the world as part of Obama’s bid to improve relations. “Given the events of the past many days, those invitations will no longer be extended,” said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs. That will help to make room for Syrian diplomats to join in the parties instead, now that the US has decided to re-establish formal links with the one-time member of the “Axis of Evil”.

Balloon challenge — Moussavi’s Facebook site has issued a challenge in English to the world to launch green balloons on Friday “to show their support to Iranians. We are all going to send green balloons to the sky to show that now all people of the world are Iranian”.

Larijani under pressure — Ali Larijani, the Majlis speaker, has come under attack from an MP for “acting as Rafsanjani’s agent” and assisting Moussavi, according to the NIAC site, quoting the Persian newspaper Sarmayeh. It says Hamid Rasaee, an Ahmadinejad supporter, accused Larijani of adopting “hypocritical positions that are supportive of the crooks”.  “God willing, in another time we will speak and write about your positions.”

Khamenei stands firm — As rioting continued in the centre of Tehran Wednesday (see Khamenei’s Jaleh Square?), Ayatollah Khamenei repeated his vow never to give way to pressure, PressTV reports. He told a group of parliamentarians that violation of the rule of law would lead to dictatorship. “On the current situation regarding the presidential election, I insist on the implementation of the law. That means we will not take a single step beyond the law. For sure, neither the system nor the people will give in to pressure at any price.”

Fifa intervenes — The international football body Fifa is seeking an explanation from Iran of reports that the players who wore green wrist bands during the World Cup qualifier in Seoul have been permanently dropped from the national team, according to an AFP report carried in the Straits Times. ‘We wrote a letter to the Iranian Federation to ask for some answers and clarification regarding the press reports,” a spokesman said.

Sins of the son — Mojtaba Khamenei, second son of the Iranian leader, is one of the driving forces behind the crackdown, the Guardian reports. It says Khamenei junior is very close to Ahmadinejad and was instrumental in his originally standing for the presidency. The report repeated the suggestion that Mojtaba is being groomed to replace his father as supreme leader, something that Ayatollah Rafsanjani finds deeply upsetting by all acounts.

Human rights move — Payam Akhavan, a prominent international human rights lawyer, and a founder of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Centre, says he is working on a petition to send to the UN Security Council and the International Court of Justice in The Hague urging an investigation into Iran’s post-election violence, Inside of Iran reports. He told Al Jazeera from New York: “The Iranian regime can’t continue to suppress people unless they resort to mass murder.” Professor Akhavan was the first legal advisor to the Prosecutor’s Office of the International Criminal Tribunals for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

Rezai withdraws complaint — In what is seen as a blow to the opposition cause, one of the beaten presidential candidates, Mohsen Rezai, is reported to have withdrawn his complaints about the conduct of the elec tion. “The political, social and security situation has entered a sensitive and decisive phase, which is more important than the election,” the former head of the Revolutionary Guard is said to have written  in a letter to the Guardian Council. Rezai came third in the election with 678,240 votes (1.73%).

Neda death ‘a mistake’CNN said the Iranian state news agency had reported that  the gunman who killed Neda Agha-Soltan may have mistaken her for the sister of an Iranian “terrorist”. It said her death was still being investigated “but according to the evidence so far, it could be said that she was killed by mistake. The marksmen had mistaken her for the sister of one of the [Mujahedin Khalq] who had been executed in the province of Mazandaran some time ago.” According to the Guardian, Neda’s family has been ordered out of their Tehran home.  Neighbours added that Iranian police did not return her body to the family and buried her without telling the family where. According to the Guardian, Javan, a pro-government newspaper, even blamed the recently expelled BBC correspondent, Jon Leyne, of hiring “thugs” to shoot her so he could make a documentary film.

Terror plot ‘smashed’ — Iran’s Intelligence Ministry said it has uncovered a “terrorist plot” to destabilise the country with bomb attacks and other means during the election. Intelligence Minister Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei said Zionist and non-zionist regimes outside the country, including the US and some western countries, were aiming to achieve unrest during the elections, but almost all those involved had been arrested. Apart from Tehran, he said terrorist groups had been seized in “the east of the country”, the south “especially Ahvaz”, and Tabriz in the west. The minister added that among those arrested in connection with the unrest were several foreign nationals, some carrying British passports. “England is among the countries that fan the flames with their heavy propaganda, which is against all diplomatic norms,”  he said. “And the BBC Farsi has also played a major role.”

In  a separate report, the English-language site of the state broadcaster said Tehran police had raided Moussavi’s campaign headquarters “which has been used as a ‘headquarters’ to promote post-election unrest. A warrant was issued for the search by intelligence officers on Monday. The plotters had been arrested, the report said.
“After scrutinizing the building, which was the campaign office of a presidential candidate, it was discovered that the organization of illegal gatherings, the promotion of unrest, and efforts to undermine the country’s security were carried out from the building.”

Obama’s letter to Khamenei — Somebody was paying more attention than others to Khamenei’s speech last Friday. Towards the end of his long diatribe he let slip that he had received a letter from Obama shortly before Iran’s election calling for improved relations between the two countries. Barbara Slavin of  The Washington Times picked up on it and reported it exclusively today. Although the US administration stayed silent on the letter her report quoted “an Iranian with knowledge of the overture” as saying the letter was sent between May 4 and May 10 and laid out the prospect of “cooperation in regional and bilateral relations” and a resolution of the dispute over Iran’s nuclear programme. There was no indication of whether there had been a response.


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