Wednesday September 9 – the daily story

The main headlines

Sept 9

A legal class action in New York alleges that Iran’s Revolutionary  Guards had a hand in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre buildings, according to Mohsen Sazegara, a prominent opponent of the regime. Sazegara, head of the Washington Institute for Near East Studies who was one of the founders of the Revolutionary Guards, said during a discussion on Voice of America’s Persian language Newstalk programme that he had been called as an expert witness in the case. He said it alleges that the Revolutionary Guards had been in contact with Al-Qaeda since the mid-1990s, but he did not spell out what role they are alleged to have played in 9/11. link

Mir-Hossein Moussavi warned his supporters of darker days to come, but urged them not to allow themselves to be provoked by the closure of reformist offices and arrest of two key officials over the previous 48 hours.  In a statement issued today he urged supporters to stay calm and vigilant. “The latest series of developments will do nothing but damage to your opponents, just like their other blind actions. Be careful  not to let them provoke you and destroy your home and country as they wipe out themselves.  It is clear your attempts to restore calm to society are not going to be met with a wise response.  Dangerous days lie ahead. Arresting people like [Ali] Beheshti  presages more dangerous events  to come .” link, link, link, link, The full Moussavi statement

–The mowjcamp website voiced a growing fear in the reformist camp that the arrest of Moussavi himself, along with Mehdi Karoubi, might happen as early as this Friday. The website said it was clearly going to be an important day in that Ayatollah Khamenei had chosen to deliver the Friday prayers sermon. But it said it could also be the day when history repeats itself. “46 years ago on such a day the Shah made a mistake by arresting Imam Khomeini and his comrades, despite all the warnings, and faced the people’s harsh response that made him lose his crown.”  A statement on the website of film director Mohsen Makhmalbaf, a close ally of Moussavi, said: “The coup government is planning to arrest Moussavi and Karoubi soon to damage the Green movement’s leadership and in that case people of Iran will take to the streets  until the release of all political prisoners”

— Tehran Bureau says Alireza Beheshti had to be taken to hospital after receiving a severe beating from security officers who arrested him Tuesday. It says the assault happened after Beheshti argued with the officials. He was taken to hospital unconscious with a broken skull. “According to an ‘informed source’, after Beheshti regained consciousness one of the security officers punched him in the face, breaking his glasses and inflicting further injuries on his face.” link

— Hossein Karoubi said the move to close the office of his father, Mehdi Karoubi, was an attempt to pressure him into not reporting prison abuse. He told Radio Farda the authorities want to prevent more people from bringing their complaints of abuse to his father. link

— Mohammad Ozlati-Moqaddam, a former Revolutionary Guards commander who headed  the veteran’s faction of Moussavi’s election campaign, was also arrested at his home on Tuesday, the Tehran Bureau website reported..

— A new website has been launched dedicated to the “martyrs of the Iranian Green movement”. According to mowjcamp.com the new site “allows visitors to get a more personal account of the tragic killings that occurred following the bloody coup that saw Ahmadinejad re-elected as President in June”. It is called, simply, neverforget.us. Simple and effective, but a there’s something worrying about  the dot ending.

Ayatollah Khamenei has given  a “sharp response” to a letter from Grand Ayatollah Ali Safi Golpaygani and “implicitly forbidden  him from interfering in government issues”, the mowjcamp website reported. According to posts on Twitter and some recent reports in the Iranian press Golpaygani’s  letter  complaining about President Ahmadinejad’s new cabinet was sent after discussions with several other religious scholars. According to unsourced Twitter posts Khamenei replied that only the Supreme Leader ruled, while the President and his ministers were simply the leader’s  servants and “tools” of governance. link

— After all the recent flurry of discussions between the leading clerical authorities, a group of grand ayatollahs has asked Grand Ayatollah Sistani to travel from Iraq to Iran for “closer discussions”. In addition, the only grand ayatollah who congratulated Ahmadinejad on his second term , Grand Ayatollah Nori-hamedani,  has now expressed regret for doing so.

— Ayatollah Khamenei has become a “tool for Ahmadinejad, Mesbah Yazdi, and the Revolutionary Guards”, says Mahmoud Tehrani, a nephew of the supreme leader now living in Paris. In an interview with Radio Farda he said: “If he’s not an accomplice in their crimes, he’s at least their tool. He can’t do anything. If he takes one step back, his leadership will be destroyed and his side will fall apart.” link

Iran handed over its new package of proposals on its nuclear programme to the PS5+1 group of powers. The US said it would look over the document very carefully in the hope of a constructive response. link, link, link

— In Vienna Glyn Davies, the US envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Washington believed Iran was close to having the ability to make a nuclear bomb and had serious concerns the  Iranians  may be deliberately trying to pursue a “nuclear weapon option”. link, link

— A rare piece of Iranian praise for President Obama came today from the chief of Joint Armed Forces, Major General Hassan Firouzabadi. He said the two messages Obama had sent Iran since becoming president suggested he was more of a realist than his predecessor, George W Bush, on the nuclear issue. link

— A Q Khan, the creator of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme recently freed from house arrest, boasted in a recent television interview that he and other senior Pakistani officials, eager to see Iran develop nuclear weapons, years ago guided that country to a proven network of suppliers and helped advance its covert efforts. link

There was widespread puzzlement today over the reported decision of President Ahmadinejad to withdraw the two nominations to replace ministers vetoed by the Majlis. According to a Tehran Bureau report he did so after the meeting with Ayatollah Khamenei earlier this week. Trying to discern who said what to whom in what appears to have become something of a heated argument is quite difficult. But it appears something Khamenei said about women female ministers caused nominee Fatemeh Alia to change her mind after a sleepless night and request that her nomination be withdrawn. link (and scroll down)

— More than 220 MPs sent a statement to President Ahmadinejad demanding that he adhere to the guidelines set forth by the Supreme Leader. At the first meeting of the new cabinet he vowed to do just that. link, link

More bad economic news for the government: Hamid Hosseini, head of the Iranian Oil Products Exporters Union, said the value of Iran’s oil product exports has plunged by more than half in the first half of the current Iranian year due to the global economic downturn. link

Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau is set to act against a large “mainstream” bank over illicit links with Iran and is also investigating Venezuelan banks over potential illegal ties to Tehran, according to the Financial Times. link

A respected Israeli newspaper said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slipped off  to Moscow this week to discuss Russian arms sales to Iran and Syria. Netanyahu’s office, however, insisted the premier had spent Monday at the headquarters of the Mossad foreign intelligence agency. link

— Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said claims in Russian and British newspapers that the Arctic Sea cargo ship supposedly hijacked by pirates was secretly carrying a delivery of Russia’s most advanced anti-aircraft system to Iran was an “absolute lie”. link

— But the BBC kept the claim alive, quoting Israeli intelligence sources as saying they had told Moscow they knew the ship was secretly carrying a Russian air defence system for Iran. link

President Ahmadinejad took another tilt at Europe today, saying some of its countries are “politically backward”. The proof of this, he said, was that they opened their embassy doors to protesters in Tehran.  “We thank God that their true nature has once again been made known to everyone.” link

15 students have been summoned before the disciplinary committee of Kashan University accused of disrupting academic order and provoking students to take part in protests, the mowjcamp website reports. A further five students have already been suspended for a semester. link

The British Embassy in Tehran said its decision to suspend the issue of visas was not linked to the arrest of staff members during the post-election protests. It blamed the dismissal of the head of the visa section and the “the misuse of the embassy’s application appointment system by travel agencies”. link

Carrefour has continued its growth in the Middle East by entering Iran, opening a ‘Hyperstar’ store in west Tehran through its Middle Eastern partner, Majid Al Futtaim. link

In more detail

Mousssavi’s Facebook page has a translation of Apocalypse Now – From Hojatieh to Mesbahieh, an analysis by Hanif Alipour of how today’s turmoil fits into the alleged plot by Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi to set the stage for the coming of the 12th Imam.
Rooz Online carries an interview it conducted with reformist Morteza Alviri shortly before he was arrested.

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