Monday June 29 – the daily story

EU threat to withdraw envoys — European Union member states are considering withdrawing their ambassadors to Iran until it frees the remaining four Iranian staff of the British embassy who were arrested at the weekend. The threat came after British Prime Minister Gordon Brown demanded that Iran release the four.  “Iran’s actions, first the expulsion of two diplomats, and now the arrest of a number of our locally engaged staff, is unacceptable, unjustified, and without foundation,” he said. Earlier it was confirmed that five of the nine staff now reported to have been arrested had been freed. Iranian Foreign Minister spokesman Hassan Qashqavi said the rest were undergoing further interrogation. He also revealed that the country’s two foreign ministers, Manuchehr Mottaki and David Miliband, had discussed the situation Sunday night, and emphasised that Iran had no intention of downgrading relations with Britain or any European country. Britain denies the men were doing anything wrong but Gholam Hossein Mohseini Ejehi, the Intelligence Minister, said the Iranian authorities had videotape evidence proving the embassy staff  “were distinctly present at the scene of clashes” and mingled with demonstrators to encourage unrest.
Key talks in Qom today — Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee appears to be holding a  key meeting with top clerical figures in Qom today to seek a way out of the current crisis. PressTV says committee members were due to meet Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem-Shirazi, who has voiced his concern over the crackdown,  and Ayatollah Morteza Moqtadayi “to address the issue of turmoil in the country over the election results”. Alaeddin Borujerdi, who heads the committee, said its governing board had also held a meeting with former president Mohammad Khatami, a strong Moussavi ally,  on Sunday to express “grave concern about the political damage brought about on a domestic and international scale” by the unrest. “The lawmakers asked Mr  Khatami to help resolve the current issues and he vowed support.” According to PressTV Borujerdi said every effort should be made to regain the trust of  “a certain segment of the society”. The governing board has already had talks with Ayatollah Rafsanjani and Moussavi and  is also due to meet President Ahmadinejad.

No change votes count — The Guardian Council has reported that its partial recount of election votes  confirmed the original figures. “The Guardian Council after studying the issues in numerous sessions, dismisses all the complaints received, and approves the accuracy of the tenth presidential election,” a letter to the Interior Ministry said. The result puts something of a question mark over a Reuters report at the start of the day that Mir-Hossein Moussavi on Sunday night met members of the special election  committee set up by the Guardian Council and submitted a new proposal about the way the votes should be recounted. The committee was charged with organising a recount of a random 10% of the ballot boxes from the election.  Quoting the Mehr news agency, the report said the committee had agreed to the proposal and Moussavi’s method would be used in today’s recount. There was no indication of what suggestion Moussavi might have made.A later report by PressTV said the council had also given Moussavi five more days to come up with proposals to “rebuild public trust”. “In order to build further confidence, the Guardian Council has given another opportunity to Moussavi,” said council spokesman Abbas-Ali Kadkhodai. An entry on Moussavi’s Facebook site, however, suggested it was a representative of Moussavi that took part in the discussions, but insisting that he had given nothing away. The entry said: “No results in meeting between Moussavi’s representative and the Guardian Council, he didn’t give up to them: Mir Hossein Mousavi is not under house arrest, he is not about to leave the country, he is under strong pressure to end this. but he always said he will stand for the people’s will to the end ! He is from and with the people …”

Strong rumours had been circulating overnight that Moussavi had been arrested. However this PressTV report suggests he may have come under pressure from his fellow beaten candidates Rezai and Karroubi. “The special commission can present a suitable way out of the present situation if the representatives of all candidates take part and a comprehensive examination of all complaints is conducted,” Rezai said in a letter to the council’s secretary Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati. In the letter Rezai indicates that he withdrew his complaints only because the other two candidates had not filed theirs. “Although following the matter individually could possibly lead to the restoration of [my] personal rights, it is not comprehensive enough to secure the rights of the whole nation.”

Basij, police ‘imposters’ arrested — The state news media reports the arrest of a number of  “armed imposters” posing as security officials who were responsible for the recent violence . Hossein Taeb, the Basij commander, said the imposters, wearing police and Basij uniforms, infiltrated the rallies to “create havoc”. “Basij forces are not authorized to carry weapons,” said Taeb, blaming “armed groups” for the trouble. Tehran’s police chief Azizallah Rajabzadeh also insisted his department had no role in “the recent shoot-out that has become the focus of most media outlets in the West”.  “Policemen are not authorized to use weapons against people,” said Rajabzadeh. “They are trained to only use anti-riot tools to keep the people out of harms way.” The reports would suggest at the very least increasing official sensitivity over recent events and who was behind them. But who has actually been arrested: people fitted up for the charges or the actual perpetrators who are now being hung out to dry? If nothing else the report is an admission that people supposedly part of the security apparatus did shoot at the protesters and that what they did was a crime.

The report follows news that Ahmadinejad has ordered a judicial investigation into the “suspicious” killing of Neda, the young female student whose death has become one of the icons of the current protest movement. According to the authorities suspicions about her death first surfaced when it was revealed that she was shot with a small calibre pistol not used by the security services.

Ahmadinejad banking move reversed — Iran’s Central Bank has revived the Money and Credit Council dissolved two years by  President Ahmadinejad. Press TV said the decision was made “in collaboration with the president”, adding that the closure of 19 “high-ranking governmental boards” such as the council and the Budget and Planning Organisation had been criticised by “many economists”.  A bank statement said the council, the highest banking policy-making body, would hold its first session on July 7 to consider “developments on last year’s money and credit policies”.  The report comes in the wake of growing signs that Iran might be heading for a budgetary crisis – yesterday the regime abruptly ended  the subsidy on petrol for private cars (see yesterday’s daily report)

Government legitimacy ‘not critical’ for US — The legitimacy of the Iranian government is not the “critical issue” in Washington’s dealings with Tehran and Washington is still open to discussion s on Iran’s nuclear programme, according to reports out of the American capital. Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations, told CBS News: “We are concerned for our own national interests to ensure that Iran doesn’t pursue its nuclear program. It is in the United States’ national interest to make sure that we have employed all elements at our disposal, including diplomacy, to prevent Iran from achieving that nuclear capacity.” Rice added that it was up to Iran to decide whether to end their alleged nuclear weapons program and rejoin the international community or “face increased isolation and pressure.”

Upset at Peres trip — If Israel is trying to rattle Iran’s cage with President Shimon Peres’s current visits to Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, it appears to be working. Iran has recalled its ambassador to its northern Muslim neighbour Azerbaijan “for consultations” after Peres’s visit to Baku. Iran had wanred Baku last month that it woiuold regard such a visit as, in the words of military chief of staff Hasan Firudabadi, an “incorrect step”. Iranian media reports today spoke of  unspecified “threats”  the Israeli ambassador in Baku had voiced against Iran. The Georgian Daily quoted the ambassador, Arthur Lenk, as saying the Peres visit was none of Iran’s business.  He added: “Iran doesn’t like anything Israel does. Their president has called for the destruction of my country. Where does such a thing happen? No other leader calls for the destruction of another member of the United Nations. ” Upon leaving, Peres himself said: “I am happy that, despite the grave threats from Iran aimed at cancelling and sabotaging my visit, Azerbaijan did not succumb to the pressure and decided to enhance its strategic relations with Israel.” The Georgian paper described the first trip by an Israeli head ot state to Azrebaijan as “part of a strategy by Israel to improve relations with moderate, secular countries of the Islamic world”.  Israel, the paper suggested, would be looking to tap into Baku’s energy resources while the Azerbaijanis are interested in Israel’s medical, technology and agriculture fields. But the newspaper says Azerbaijan may also have its eyes on more Israeli arms, noting that the Azeris have dramatically upped military spending in the last five years.

Analyst ‘arrested’ — There are reports on Twitter that Bijan Khajehpur, an analyst and Chairman of the Atieh Group, which provides business consultancy, was arrested on Saturday at Tehran airport as he returned from a trip to Britain. Khajehpur is often quoted by the western media and sometimes writes himself,  such as this offering in the Guardian last month about the frustrations of Iran’s young population.  According to the reliable Tehran Bureau, it is feared he has been taken to Evin prison. “We’re concerned about his health given that Bijan is a diabetic. He has a wife and two small children,” says one of the tweets.

The revolt as cartoon — And now Uprising 2009, the graphic novel. This offering, entitled Persepolis 2.0, has been posted on the web.  It is a follow-up to Persepolis, the graphical autobiography published by Marjane Satrapi, more detail about which you can find here.

Out of sight This video of yesterday’s protest in Tehran illustrates another trick the demonstrators have adopted, of tearing down any security cameras they can get their hands on (and when they’ve finished there they’re welcome in London any time!).

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