Saturday July 18 – the daily story

‘No crisis, just conspiracy’ — In the first clear hardline reaction to Ayatollah Rafsanjani’s Friday prayers sermon, Kayhan newspaper has today accused him of suppporting law-breakers. Hossein Shariatmadari, the editor-in-chief, hit out at the ayatollah’s statement that the country was in crisis. “The most meaningful word to describe the current conditions is a conspiracy,” he said. “Mr Rafsanjani says a great number of people cast doubt on the election. But he doesn’t say why. If people have a suspicion, it is about… what’s behind the riots.” The latter is taken to be an oblique reference to the unseen foreign hands the hardliners see behind the current troubles.

Accusing Rafsanjani of repeating “illogical and baseless claims” of election fraud, the editorial also referred to his call for eveyone to observe the law, suggesting he had failed to follow  his own advice by not preventing a banned demonstration inside and outside the prayers arena by “the law-breakers”, ie Moussavi supporters.

Rafsanjani also came under attack from hardline cleric and Guardian Council member Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi. Rafsanjani criticised the council’s handling of the election complaints, saying it had contribued to the crisis. But Yazdi said  Rafsanjani was seeking to prolong the situation by encouraging further street protests.  “The leader removed the threat of riots, but Mr Rafsanjani is again seeking to provoke danger,” Yazdi declared. He said Rafsanjani’s emphasis on the need for the support of the people was incorrect. “The legitimacy of the government is given by God. Acceptance by the people doesn’t bring legitimacy to (an Islamic) government. Mr Hashemi Rafsanjani ignored this important Islamic point and talked in both parts of his sermon yesterday as if governments are assigned only by the people.” Yazdi accused the reformists of  sowing discord in society with their complaints about electoral irregularities. “Those who planted doubt in society and those who irrigated it to make it sprout out of the soil and pour into the streets to violate people’s lives and property … should be dealt with legally.”

Adding to the hardline onslaught, Mojtaba Zonour,  Ayatollah Khamenei’s  deputy representative at  the Revolutionary Guards said the Iranian security forces and police were fully prepared to defend the country and would remain on the alert to confront “any possible soft threat against the country with maximum power”,  according to Fars news agency. “The enemies showed during the recent riots that they aim to overthrow the Islamic ruling system and undermining Velayat-e-Faghih (religious leadership). The people and basij forces from different walks of life should wisely identify the enemies’ plots in this regard.”

Meanwhile, Morteza Tamaddon, Tehran’s governor-general, has ordered an investigation of the attack on opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi as he was arriving for the prayers Friday.”In our opinion, this incident is not a usual one. Suspicious elements have surely had a hand in masterminding and carrying out the plan,” Tamaddon said. Al Arabiya, AFP, Fars, PressTV

Intelligence Minister accuses Rafsanjani — Iran’s Intelligence Minister has accused Ayatollah Hashemi-Rafsanjani of conspiring to prevent President Ahmadinejad’s reelection and implied that he was working alongside various groups, including Israel and America. He also accused supporters of Mir-Hossein Moussavi of hatching a plot to allege vote rigging before the election in an attempt to prevent Ahmadinejad’s victory.

In comments made Friday and reported by PressTV today, Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei  said: “One of Hashemi-Rafsanjani’s top priorities was to prevent Ahmadinejad from winning the election and a long line of Ahmadinejad opponents was formed wherein certain individuals and groups sought the same goal for various motives.”

The minister gave the following list of “some” of the groups lined up against the president: USA, Israel and several Western countries; domestic and overseas opposition groups; various political factions such as the Nationalist-Religious Movement; certain banned parties such as the Communist Party of Iranian Kurdistan (Komala), democrats, and monarchists; the Allameh [Tabatabaei University] branch of the Office for Consolidating Unity; the Islamic Iran Participation Front; and the Mujahedin of the Islamic Revolution Organization. “All of these did not want to see Ahmadinejad in the presidential race. And for some people like Hashemi-Rafsanjani, Ahmadinejad’s defeat was a top priority.” He added that the West had tried to infiltrate Iran using “soft measures”. “After failing in Iraq, Afghanistan, and their other attempts [to topple the government], they found that they could by no means gain dominance over Iran through military means or economic sanctions.,”

According to PressTV, Mohseni-Ejeialso accused supporters of Mir-Hosein Moussavi of plotting to create doubts about the election three days before it actually took place because they were certain Ahmadinejad was going to win. “The balance tilted heavily in favour of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from June 3 onwards in such a way that some key members of Mir-Hossein’s campaign were sure of his defeat. But they would by no means allow Mir-Hossein to know the situation. To keep up his morale, they even tampered with the opinion polls.”

The minister said the opposition camps believed they could win the election after their candidates had made provincial tours. But the president’s own provincial visits had compelled Mousavi s supporters to change their minds. “Three days prior to the elections, when they were sure of Moussavi’s defeat, they started a series of activities such as creating doubts about vote rigging. On the Wednesday and Thursday leading up to the elections, they reached the conclusion that they must disrupt the atmosphere by presenting the idea of vote rigging. And they kick-started the plan straight after the elections.”

Mohseni-Ejei added that spiritual leader Ayatollah Khamenei met some of those objecting to the results “modestly and from a completely caring stance”. This is taken as a reference to a meeting representatives of the candidates had with Khamenei on June 17 which the ISNA news agency described at the time as “an amicable meeting”.  The minister said: “Those individuals made some rude and insolent remarks. The Leader listened to their comments and advised them, but they continued to pursue their illegal path.” The minister said that those implying that that the ‘Republic’ aspect of the government had been undermined “must answer to the nation and God for their actions”.

He also accused Israel of seeking the help of the outlawed Mujahedin Khalq organisation “and other terrorist groups active in Iran’s eastern region” to assassinate President Ahmadinejad. He said the Israelis had met Mujahedin agents at Sharm el-0Sheilkh in Egypt and Paris, but the talks broke down when the Mujahedin demanded the US take their name off its terrorist blacklist. PressTVISNA

TV coverage ‘upside down’ — The state broadcaster IRIB’s television coverage of the Friday prayers events has come in for stinging criticism from Parleman News , the news agency of the “Imam’s Line” parliamentary faction. Describing IRIB as the “former” national media, the agency said its main evening news programme deliberately reported events “upside down”.  “Despite the fact that the Friday prayers is being compared to Tehran’s first Friday prayers and millions of people attended it, IRIB has insisted on using its totally wrong, divisive and devious methods to cover the event.”

Parleman News said the programme had edited out all Ayatollah Rafsanjani’s criticisms of state organisations like IRIB itself, and had censored the ideas he put forward to restore peace. “But the  story did not end here. The  ‘former’ national media, in a so-called secondary report,  showed a handful of youths and protestors that ,according to eyewitnesses were in the majority, as a definite minority and as a bunch of outlaws and anarchists who had come to damage the unity of the Friday prayers and confront security forces with their particular political agenda.”

The agency also accused  IRIB of juxtaposing video footage of Moussavi  and Karroubi supporters who had been unable to get into the Friday prayers ceremony because of the limits on space with Rafsanjani’s remarks emphasising the need to obey the law – “which was not addressed to the people but rather to those organisations that break the law” – in order to show the supporters as “outlaws and law breakers”.  In addition it said, unlike the usual coverage of Friday prayers, the television station failed to show the tens of thousands of people praying outside Tehran University “, lowered the sound of their chants as much as possible and limited itself to showing only the first few rows [inside the Friday prayers arena] … “

The report , carried on Moussavi’s facebook page, added:  “It appears that IRIB’s insistence on its unprofessional and  unethical policies has greatly damaged national security and the unity of the country and is delivering irreparable blows to public trust in the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

The NIAC website quoted the pro-Moussavi Mowj Camp website as saying IRIB report also censored Haszhemi’s comments on the Chinese handling of their Muslim revolt in the west and the public chant’s of “Death to China”. The report said this was done to protect “Ahmadinejad’s good relations with the Chinese government. It said the broadcast repeatedly used slow motion and, instead of showing Moussavi supporters, concentrated on Ahmadinejad’s supporters holding his picture. Facebook, NIAC

Ex-basij leader becomes a Vice President — President  Ahmadinejad has appointed Mehrdad Bazrpash, the boss of Iran’s second biggest car-maker notorious for his role in organising a crackdown on student dissent in 2006, as one of his vice presidents and head of the National Youth Organisation. He replaces Hojatoleslam Mohammad Javad Haj-Ali Akbari.

Bazrpash, 30, is head of the Sapia car company, a job he was given two years ago and will continue to do. Described by PressTV as one of the President’s “youngest confidants”, he has also acted as the president’s adviser on youth matters. He is a former basij who, according to several reports, played a key role in the suppression of student dissent in 2006. According to the Guardian, he oversaw a  basij attack on students at Tehran’s Sharif University who were trying to prevent the burial of three “war martyrs” inside the campus mosque. In a television interview from last year put on YouTube, he denied suggestions that he is related to Ahmadinejad, but obliquely confirmed the two knew each other from the days before Ahmadinejad became president.  PressTV, Guardian, YouTube

Habeus corpus, Iran style: girl’s charred body ‘found’ –The website of the National Council for the Resistance of Iran claims that the burnt corpse of Taraneh Moussavi, the 28-year-old woman missing since she was detained on June 19 , has been found at a  roadside between Karaj and Qazvin, west of Tehran. The site gives no further details but says her family have been ordered not to hold a funeral ceremony or tell anyone how she died.

According to previous reports on various blogs, which cannot be confirmed, Moussavi was held with a group of protesters near Ghoba Mosque, although it is not clear if she was one of them. After being taken to a police station, then to the Hosseinieh Ershad Basij detention centre for interrogation, all but Moussavi were released. The family, alerted by one of those released, launched a fruitless  search for their only daughter. A few days later they were told her car had been found abandoned in Tehran. But  they heard nothing more until 10 days ago, when an unidentified caller told the family she been in a car accident and was in the Imam Khomeini hospital in Karaj with injuries that included a severe tear in her anus and her uterus. When the family went to the hospital it said there was no record of her. But a nurse told them a girl answering Taraneh’s description had been brought in unconscious and later taken away in the same state. Since then there has been no more word until today’s claims. NCR-IranHuffington Post

In other news

Ali Akbar Salehi, the new head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, today urged the West to make more of an effort to create an atmosphere of trust with Iran in their row over Iran’s nuclear ambitions. In his first comment since his appointment this week, he said the two sides needed to end the hostility of the past six years in order to close the file on the argument. But he added that there was no room for further technical or legal discussions on the issue. Meanwhile the organisation has denied reports that the resignation of Salehi’s predecessor, Gholam Reza Aghazedeh, was related to delays in bringing the Bushehr nuclear plant on stream and praised his “brilliant record”. A spokesman also discounted reports of discord between the organisation and Ministry of Energy over the plant, which it is hoped will begin operations in the autumn.  A sign that all is not well with the programme came three days ago when the ISNA news agency quoted Assadollah Asgaroladi, president of the Iran-Russia Chamber of Commerce, as saying delays in the project “will harm the friendly ties of Iran and Russia”. Earlier this month reports suggested the completion date had been thrown into doubt because the Russians were trying to renegotiate the contract. The stated reason was that a number of Russian banks were refusing to work with Iran. ISNA, ISNA, ISNAAsia Times, PressTV

Gholam-Hossein Elham, Minister of Justice, has denied telling the press that the Expediency Council move to bar Guardian Council members from other government posts – which would affect him – was unconstitutional. He said the government would comply with the ruling. PressTV

Mohsen Hashemi, head of the Tehran Railway Company, says that despite Majlis approval last year to use the country’s foreign exchange reserves to complete and modernise the city’s metro system, the city council has not received any of the money, leaving the programme four years behind schedule. PressTV

Iranian photo-journalist Mojtaba Takin was killed along with his daughter in a car accident on the Astara-Theran highway in northwest Iran on Friday. His wife, who was apparently also in the car,  died today. Takin headed the photography depoartments of Mehr News Agency and the Tehran Times. PressTV

In the ‘now we’ve heard it all’ slot today is Iran’s state-owned PressTV reporting on the United States welcoming Ayatollah Rafsanjani’s call for press censorship to be lifted. You couldn’t make it up. PressTV

And finally … not a funny today, but an apocalyptic view of the future from an unidentified young Iranian who sees revolution and bloodshed as the only solution to beating what he says are the “mobsters” in power in Tehran. It may not have come to that yet, but with Rafsanjani sharpening the divide with his sermon yesterday, one can’t help but think increasing numbers of young people will go down this road unless those in power patch something together soon. YouTube

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