Tuesday September 1 – the daily story

The main headlines:

Tension is clearly mounting in Tehran as the Majlis debate over the new cabinet draws to its conclusion with Wednesday’s vote. Twitter was awash with warnings of the basij raising their state of preparedness for action in case the vote was lost, of plans to arrest the reformist leaders – on Moussavi’s Facebook site there was even mention of what should be done if any leaders were held. What seemed clear from several reports was that intense pressure is being put on MPs to stop their bickerinmg and show solid support for the cabinet.

The rouydadnews website said MPs were being intensely lobbied by people in the office of the Supreme Leader (a possible reference to Khamenei’s son Mojtaba ),  Ahmadinejad supporters and even the oversized Major General  Hassan Firouzabadi, the joint armed forces chief. The Farda News site said MPs had been officially barred from accepting dinner invitations – although that excluded invites from the President’s office! – until after the vote. However, reports that bribes as high as $100,000 were being proferred for votes were roundly denied.  NIAC, Tehran Bureau

— As the Majlis debate continued for the third straight day one clear message was the almost universal backing for Ahmad Vahidi as Defence Minister despite, or probably more accurately, because of the international arrest warrant on his head. No MPs talked against his appointment and one who had planned to do so interrupted Vahidi’s speech to say he had changed his mind due to “Zionist opposition” to the appointment. PressTV, PressTV, timesonline

President Ahmadinejad has simultaneously fired 40 of Iran’s ambassadors for siding with Iran’s dissidents, as the first step in what he calls “fundamental corrections in the Foreign Ministry”, according to a report by Fars news agency picked up on the Neo-Resistance website. Another 40 will be retired from service in the course of the coming months. link

Hassan Khomeini, the late Imam’s grandson and keeper of his shrine in south Tehran, is coming under intense pressure to stop reformist leader Ayatollah Mohammad Khatami  and Hojatoleslam Ali Akbar Nategh-Nouri, an Ahmadinejad critic tipped by some as a future Supreme Leader, from speaking at the Shab-e-Qadr ceremonies towards the end of Ramadan. Mir-Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karoubi  also plan to attend.Their speeches have become a tradition since they began in 1997 when the two were presidential election rivals. According to reports the security forces fear as many as 4 million people could attend, leading to speculation that if they are not stopped some form of  pre-emptive move may be made against them. Already, according to the ayadenews website the ceremony will not be aired live on television for the first time in 20 years.  link

The debate over the Judiciary  changes , and particularly the situation of Tehran’s former Prosecutor-General, Said Mortazavi,  rages on. Mohammad Seifzadeh, a prominent lawyer who has filed a complaint against Mortazavi, dismissed the current changes in the Judiciary department as cosmetic.  “Even if the fairest individuals are put in charge of the judiciary, nothing will be reformed under the current structure,” he said in an interview with Rooz Online. Abdolfattah Soltani, another top lawyer interviewed by Rooz, said Mortazavi should be dismissed from all his posts and prosecuted for repeated violations of the law. link

— Shirin Ebadi, Iran’s Nobel  laureate, in another interview with Rooz, said Mortazavi ‘s move to deputy Prosecutor-General of Iran “cannot be considered a promotion. Mortazavi’s responsibilities and power are much more limited in his new position.  … It will be easier to pursue disciplinary complaints against him.” link

— Mortazavi’s replacement as Tehran’s Prosecutor-General, Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, has a strong belief in human rights, fair trials and an independent judiciary that on the surface at least marks him  as the complete opposite of his predecessor ,  according to an interesting profile again published by Rooz. link

— A new video of a torture victim describing her ordeal has been posted with a translation on the homylafayette blog. link

— Mehdi Karoubi has demanded that the state broadcaster allow his representative to defend his accusations of rape and torture in prison in the wake of television statements of disbelief and accusations against the reformist leader.  His Etemademelli website added that Karoubi has released a statement attacking Judge Moghadam after he attacked him on television .

A number of websites have picked up on part of Ayatollah Khamenei’s speech on Sunday about university education, in which he decries the extent of  humanities teaching. Pointing out that out of 3.5 million students, 2 million study the humanities and social sciences, he warned that the poor level of teaching, from an Islamic perspective, threatened to turn students away from Islam. He called on the relevant bodies to take his criticism into “serious consideration”. The Pedestrian blog has found a curious link between Khamenei’s speech and the show trial  “confession” of leading reformist Said Hajarian. Taken together with comments by President Ahmadinejad, the New York Times says there is growing concern in Iranian academic circles of a coming purge of universities. Pedestrian, NYT

— Mohammad Hadi Sadeghi says he will resign as Chancellor of Shiraz University in  protest at the current situation of higher education, especially in the provinces, Mehr news agency reports. It should be noted, however, that he previously resigned after the university dormitories were stormed, only to change his mind.

Iran Khodro, the country’s biggest car manufacturer, is on the verge of bankruptcy, shareholders have been told at its annual meeting. link

Saeed Jalili, Iran’s lead nuclear negotiator, said the government had completed a package of proposals for dialogue with the West “regarding all security, political and economic issues, in addition to the nuclear issue”. However, there was caution in Western capitals since the proposals have yet to be handed over. link

— Iran’s nuclear threat has been “hyped” and there is no evidence the Islamic Republic is close to producing a nuclear weapon, the outgoing head of the UN atomic watchdog said. link

Amr Mussa, head of the Arab League, accused Iran of meddling in Arab affairs in Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and the Palestinian territories, and called for an Arab dialogue with Tehran to resolve differences. “This is a very serious situation,” he said. link

— Fars News agency accuses Egypt of training Jundullah separatist guerrillas in Baluchestan. link

Attacks on Iran over the nuclear issue by the French and German leaders were rejected by Foreign Ministry which said they showed “how under the influence of the aggressive policies of the Zionist leaders they are”. link

President Chavez of Venezuela will start  a two-day visit to Iran on Saturday, the ISNA news agency announced. link

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