Wednesday September 2 – the daily story

The main headlines

Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, the Revolutionary Guards commander, stepped up his series of attacks on reformist leaders by effectively describing them as potential foes of the Islamic system who were seeking to undermine the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Jafari hinted there were unpublished parts of the “confessions” broadcast at the recent show trials that showed how Ayatollah Khatami and his reformist allies sought to topple Khamenei.  link, link, link

— The general’s comments drew sharp complaints from  reformists. Mohammad Reza Tarbesh, leader of the reformist faction in the Majlis, said they were based on forced confessions from jailed activists that were “not worth a penny”.  According to parlemannews he reminded the general  that the Revolutionary Guards were not supposed to be involved in politics under the constitution, and those who allowed ther guards to do so, make arrests and obtain “confessions” should be the ones prosecuted.  Tarbesh also wrote to the Head of the Judiciary, Sadeq Larijani, demanding that the state-run TV station be prosecuted for airing the illegal show trials, while those responsible for the prisoner abuse that followed the election should also be brought to justice “regardless of their rank and their trial should be public with media’s presence”. He also warned that if the attacks persisted the reformists were in a position to publish “some truths and realities which will  damage the regime”.

— The Assembly of Combatant Clergymen also strongly condemned the “false accusations” made by Jafari and urged the Prosecutor-General to take against action.

Mehdi Karoubi said a prison rape victim he had introduced to the authorities had disappeared after being interrogated by judiciary officials. His etemademelli website quoted Karoubi as saying: “This person had been treated so outrageously that he has disappeared and there is no news of him.” Karoubi said he  held Said Mortazavi, the Tehran Prosecutor-General, and his representatives responsible for any “deplorable incidents happening to this person and his family.” link

— Karroubi has written a letter thanking Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri for his support in his quest to expose prison abuse, according to Sayam News. Tehran Bureau, which carries a translation, says the significance of the note lies in the fact that Karoubi was one of Montazeri’s leading detractors during the battle with Ayatollah Khomeini that led to his being deposed as the Imam’s designated successor. The Bureau’s report said the letter “may be viewed as an apology to Montazeri and a clear warning that he is capable of challenging the leadership of Khamenei”. link

— Mortazavi finally left office as Tehran Prosecutor-General today, the ISNA news agency reported, expressing pride for his role in the crackdown on the reformists.  “We faced a social crisis following the election and I avail myself of this opportunity to thank all my former colleagues for their holy war to defuse this big plot,” he said at his farewell ceremony. link

— Moussavi’s Facebook site reported that guards heavy-handedly broke up an iftar gathering by relatives of prisoners outside Evin prison on Tuesday night.

— Mohammed-Hossein Abedi, head of the medical examiner’s office, has denied a claim by a Tehran municipality spokesman that his office issued permits for multiple burials in section 302 of Behesht Zahra cemetery, the gooya website reports. He added that any burials of unknown persons would have to be authorised by his office. His denial follows claims that victims of the post-election crackdown were secretly buried there by regime officials.

The riveting cabinet debate at the Majlis

The riveting cabinet debate at the Majlis

A row has blown up over a note being circulated in the Majlis purporting to come from Ayatollah Khamenei and asking MPs to give President Ahmadinejad the vote of confidence he seeks. Tabnak claims the note has been put round by one of the ministers up for approval, who asked those he contacted to “pass the message on”. Other MPs , however, have questioned the authenticity of the letter. MP Heshmat Felahatpisheh, however, said that, whether true or false and whether or not it was viewed as simple advice or an order – the focus of another argument about it –  it will have its intended impact on the vote. Some MPs asked the Speaker, Ali Larijani, to contact the Supreme Leader to verify the authenticity of the letter.

— Perhaps the emergence of the letter explains what the Neo-Resistance website notes as the sudden change of mood by Speaker Larijani. The website notes: “He who has been the arch nemesis of Ahmadinejad … and whose brother has just taken over the judiciary, seems to have had a change of heart! He is no longer acting as fairly or critically as he did in the previous vetting sessions, as expected from his job, and he seems more intent on wise-cracking and joking than moderating the objections raised by different parties.” link

— The Majlis debate on the cabinet has spilled over to an extra day, with two ministers still to present themselves before a final speech from President Ahmadinejad. link

Hassan Qashqavi , the Foreign Ministry spokesman, denied that the replacement of more than 40 ambassadors was because they had supported the reformist protests. He said it was “a natural affair that happens every three years”.  link

Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi, the pro-Ahmadinejad cleric, said today the  Islamic Azad University, a private chain of universities, had lost its “true way” and should be brought back to the “main path”, the rouydadnews website reports. He said the university had many financial, educational and human resources but should be “cleaned up” to become truly Islamic. The university has close links with Ayatollah Rafsanjani, who initiated the project, and at the recent show trials his son Mehdi was accused of using the campus in Tehran to operate and finance the Jomhouriat website that campaigned against Ahmadinejad during the election.

Farzaneh Dadkhah, one of 12 hunger strikers outside the American Embassy in London, was taken to a specialist heart hospital with suspected heart problems. The hunger strikers, in their 37th day, are demanding international  action over the Iraqi assault on the Mujahedin Khalq enclave outside Baghdad. link

Mina Alizadeh, a  member of the Iranian women’s dragon boat team currently in the Czech Republic for an international tournament, has reportedly travelled to Germany to seek asylum. link

Iraq’s intelligence community has determined that Saudi Arabia was leading a Gulf Arab effort to destabilise the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in an effort to hamper Iran’s domination of the country. link

— Iran rejected allegations by General Mohammad Shahwani, the former head of Iraqi intelligence, that Tehran had a role in the recent deadly bombings in Baghdad and was interfering in Iraq’s domestic affairs. “Iran condemns all acts of terrorism in Iraq and rejects the baseless allegations,” said Mohammad Ali Mohammadi, press secretary of Iran’s mission to the United Nations. link, link

US federal agents have arrested a Belgian man on charges of conspiring with an Iranian to try to buy F5 fighter jet engines and parts for Iran. link

Turkey may be forced to pay $2 billion to Iran for unused natural gas it is contracted to buy although  domestic consumption rates have fallen by as much as 20% because of the economic downturn. link

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