Thursday September 3 – the daily story

The main headlines

By whatever means it was achieved, President Ahmadinejad got his convincing Majlis vote of approval, with 18 of his 21 nominations voted through by MPs, including the Islamic republic’s (but not Iran’s) first woman minister Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi at the health ministry. Those that fell were the two other women nominated and the pick for energy minister.  link, list of approved ministers, Tehran Bureau, Christian Science Monitor, PressTV, NYT

— A key factor in Ahmadinejad’s success, it is believed, is the communication to MPs from the Supreme Leader urging them to support his choices, although the entreaty apparently emphasised that the MPS should not feel under any obligation to do so, according to Ayandenews . Its report noted that the attitude of Speaker  Ali Larijani to the proposed cabinet changed dramatically after the communication and he prefaced the results of the vote with a statement thanking Ayatollah Khamenei for his remarks which had “helped” the voting process.

— In his final speech before the vote, President Admadinejad raised some eyebrows by declaring, according to the INLA news agency: “Parliament and government are responsible for the country and should not put this responsibility on the Supreme Leader and other clerics.” Was he trying to push Khamenei into the background, as some observers tried to suggest, or was he merely suggesting that a Supreme Leader should not have to trifle with day-to-day politics? link

— Immediately after his appointment was approved by the most resounding margin of all the nominees, with 80% of MPs backing him, Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi warned Israel not to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities or face “a harsh and powerful response”. link

— Rooz Online has more detail on the pressure supposedly brought to bear on MPs to support Ahmadinejad’s selections. link

— Microphones were quickly switched off when it was realised some MPs were cracking the odd unsavoury joke. On the video linked below an MP is heard to say: “If you say this was rigged, I’ll take you to Kahrizak”,  a reference to the nororious and supposedly closed detention centre. On Twitter  Speaker Larijani was quoted as joking : “I’m afraid there might be more votes than members”. And when one MP asked if this vote was being rigged too, the speaker said : “Don’t worry, the minority faction is watching  the process.” link

— After the voting a newly confident Ahmadinejad said Iran was ready for more sanctions over its nuclear programme and would not bow to pressure to meet any deadline set by the world powers. link

Mohammad Nahavandian, president of the board of directors of Iran’s Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mines, has deplored the government’s privatisation programme as being nothing of the kind. Instead of shares going to the private sector, he said, they end up in the hands of other state organisations  “especially from the military sector”, taken as a reference to the Revolutionary Guards. link

— Examples of what Nahavandian is talking about have come from Tehran Bureau, reporting on what it calls “The great Tehran Expo privatisation scandal you’ve never heard of”, and the Homylafayette blog which reports on a how the Revolutionary Guards are making a grab for the Telecommunications Company of Iran. Tehran Bureau, Homylafayette

Parviz  Sorouri, chairman of the  special Majlis committee investigating post-election incidents, has said it is not certain the perpetrators of prisoner abuse at the Kahrizak detention centre were “enemy agents” as stated by President Ahmadinejad at the last Friday prayers. “If Ahmadinejad means people (officers) at Kahrizak acted in line with the enemies’ desires, this is true, but it has not been proved to us that people who worked at Kahrizak detention centre were the enemies’ infiltrators.,” link

— More detail has emerged of why Mehdi Karoubi decided to publicise the case of the rape victim he now says has disappeared. Karoubi says he was prompted to go public after judiciary officials, rather than investigate the allegation, began interviewing the victim’s neighbours to try to dig up some dirt on him. link

— Karoubi himself joined the howl of reformist protest at the latest comments by Revolutiuonary Guards commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari about Ayatollah Khatami and other reformist leaders. He warned Jafari that his actions only threatened to open a can of worms in the shape of “other matters that will be revealed”, according to his etemademelli website.

— Abbas Mirza Aboutalebi, a leading reformist and campaign manager for Mir-Hossein Moussavi  in the election,  has been released from prison after being arrested on June 12. link

— A team of investigators has been set up by the Ministry of Intelligence to uncover the people who blew the whistle on the secret burial of prisoners in unmarked graves at Behesht  Zahra cemetery. link

Rooz Online has come up with at least two suggestions for the reasons behind the recall of more than 40m ambassadors and the early retirement for about 40 others. First, quoting Fars news agency, it says the move is designed to end a cosy culture of simply shifting ambassadors about, whereby some have served as much as 30 years in overseas postings.  But it also says, quoting an American-based diplomat, that several envoys refused an instruction to take photographs of dissidents protesting outside their embassies because of the effect this might have on diplomatic relations. The diplomat suggested a number of envoys had made arrangements not to return to Iran. link

Hezbollah has refused to respond to a report in a Kuwaiti daily alleging the group has acquired from Iran “thousands of gas masks used in chemical and biological warfare” and new chemical arms. link

— Ismail Hanieh, leader of the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip, said he affirmed his group’s warm ties with Iran during a late-night telephone conversation with President Ahmadinejad on Wednesday. link

Mujahedin Khalq supporters in America called on the Obama administration to restore US military protection for the residents of Camp Ashraf outside Baghdad and urged the Iraqi government to release the 36 Iranians taken from the camp by security officials. link

Hassan Abdulrahman, an American wanted by the FBI for the murder of Ali Akbar Tabatabai, the former Iranian press attache in Washington who went on to head the Iran Freedom Foundation, worked for three years as the chief online editor of the PressTV network in Tehran until he quite two months ago. link

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva urged major Western powers not to back Iran up against a wall and to avoid demonising it in  the way they did Iraq over its supposed weapons of mass destruction in the lead-up to the 2003 US-led invasion. “I am seeing the same sort of thing  happening with Iran,” he said. link

— Envoys from the UN Security Council countries and Germany, meeting near Frankfurt, called on Iran to accept an offer of face-to-face nuclear talks before the UN General Assembly meeting in less than three weeks time. link

Iran and Ukraine have reportedly reached agreement to manufacture the AK1-3 ultra-light multi-purpose helicopter in Iran. link

Despite the prior approval of the police and Ministry of Guidance, a special Ramadan screening of films until the early hours of the morning at selected cinemas under the heading From Iftar to Sahar, which had proved popular with young cinema audiences,  was suddenly halted by police after only a few evenings without any explanation.  link

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