Saturday August 22 – the daily story

The main headlines:

Ayatollah Rafsanjani headed a meeting of the Expediency Council and, according to AFP, called for the current “excited and emotional atmosphere” to be replaced by a “wise one”. But what did he actually say, and what does it mean? Many green supporters greeted the report with dismay, because in it Rafsanjani  is quoted as saying people should follow the orders of the Supreme Leader  for ending the present political turmoil. One website went as far as to say the speech represented a “setback” for the opposition movement. But is that actually what he said? We gather a few sources on  the same speech to help you make a judgment. The most interesting appears to be the version on the Neo-Resistance website, which is taken from the official account of the meeting on Rafsanjani’s own website. From that it is clear that in fact, Rafsanjani was attacking the state-controlled media and reiterating the points of his Friday prayers sermon. Whichever report you accept, his central theme was clearly that a solution is only possible if everyone obeys the law, and there can be no doubt where that particular message was intended to go.  AFP, PressTV, Reuters, BBC, Neo-Resistance

— What was also significant was this view of the top table – Ayatollah Shahroudi, Rafsanjani flanked by the Larijani brothers, and Mohsen Rezai. The central trio, many argue, represent the new powerhouse in town. One person missing who should have been there, sitting next to Rafsanjani, was President Ahmadinejad. Reports suggested he was displaying his chagrin at Rafsanjani’s snub of his inauguration.

— The NIAC website has also picked up on  reports that the Executives of Construction, the party set up at Rafsanjani’s  behest, has declared its full support for Mehdi  Karoubi’s crusade against sexual abuse in prison. link

— Habibollah Asgharoladi, secretary general of the Followers of the Imam and Leadership Front and fellow expediency council member, praised Rafsanjani’s peacemaking role. “Hashemi Rafsanjani is a respectable and influential figure and his role in the peace and stability of our revolutionary society is of key importance,” he said according to ISNA. link

The complaints about President Ahmedinejad’s new cabinet have begun. In particular, a number of clerics are upset by the inclusion of three women. link

— Leading Principlist MP Ali Motahari  said the cabinet was feeble and effectively made up of Ahmadinejad’s lackeys. link

— After Western dismay, and Argentine rage,  at the choice of Ahmad Vahidi – on Interpol’s most “most wanted” list over the 1994 bombing of a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires that killed 85 – as Defence Minister, the Ali-Akbar Javanfekr, the president’s Press Adviser , said the international reaction was a “Zionist plot” to undermine the new administration. link

Two stories today illustrate the difficulties of enforcing the law against the government itself. Firstly, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, the president’s controversial aide,  is refusing to accept a court conviction for financial misconduct, saying the offences were committed during the Khatami presidency. The report then picks up on the fact that a fraud conviction against Ali-Akbar Mehrabian, the Minister of Industries and Mines, for stealing  someone else’s invention, was annulled on the day he was nominated by Ahmadinejad for a second term as minister. link

Expect some sound and fury over more provocative comments from Ahmadinejad’s  press secretary, Ali-Akbar Javanfekr, this time suggesting that the considerable loss of weight evident in former Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi at his trial indicated that prison had taught him the importance of keeping his weight under control. link

The Assembly of Members of Parliament, made up of former MPs, has condemned the state broadcaster for questioning the authenticity of its letter to the Assembly of Experts demanding a review of the performance of the Supreme Leader  and has reiterated its demand.

Iran has reacted strongly to a statement Friday by the West German Chancellor, Angela Merkel,  threatening for the first time to join energy sanctions on Iran if it does not co-operate on its nuclear programme. link

— Alaeddin Boroujerdi, chairman of the National  Security and Foreign Policy Commission, said: “Definitely, the West will sustain losses after starting a sanctions game against Iran.” link

— Another commission member,  Mohammad Karim Abedi ,  said: “Germany is among the countries which are under the influence of Zionist lobbies and is forced to make such moves.” link

— And a third commission member, Mohammad Kami Raad, said: “We do not need Europe, but they need the Persian Gulf oil.” link

MP Hojatoleslam Hossein Sobhaninia has praised Iranians for their vigilance in thwarting a velvet revolution, according to Fars news agency. It illustrates a paradoxical aspect of the hardline  case against reform, because he  accuses the enemy of “seeking to spark the same velvet revolution and vast social developments in Iran that were seen in Georgia, the Czech Republic and certain central Asian states”. So a religious leader appears to lament the passing of Socialist administrations that believed religion was the opium of the masses.  link

— A similar message was issued today by Fars News Agency Managing Director Hamid Reza Moghadamfar , managing director of Fars news agency. link

The Revolutionary Guards are involved in operations against “counter-revolutionary rebels and terrorist groups” in Kurdestan and West Azerbaijan and so far 26 Kurdish rebels have been killed, according to Fars. link

Mehdi Sadeghi, Managing Director of the Iran Air Tour Company, has attacked repeated delays by  Russian plane manufacturers in fulfilling their contracts for new planes and equipment.  But, wouldn’t you believe it, he says  it’s actually the fault of the US and France for forcing the Russians to introduce the delays. link

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