Saturday October 3 – the daily story

The main headlines

The Basij is to be merged with the land force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps according to Persian media reports. Etemad daily said the new force will be called the Land Resistance Force of the Revolutionary Guards. Mehr news agency said the aim was “greater coordination”, with Revolteionary Guards chief Mohammad Ali Jafari saying it was a first step in preparation for “confrontation with internal threats”. The current Basij commander, Hojatoleslam Hossein Taeb, will take a new post in the revolutionary Guards. Radio Zamaneh, Payvand

— Former culture minister Mohammad Hossein Saffar Harandi has been appointed an advisor to Jafari. Mehr

— The office of Iran’s Joint Armed Forces chief of staff denied reports on the Parcham and Sanieh websites  that Major-General Hassan Firouzabadi  is to leave as  Chief of Staff of Joint Armed Forces  to focus on “research and academic” activities. His office said the general’s appointment was made by the Supreme Leader “for an unlimited period” and only he could alter that. PressTV

The group of Tehran student leaders arrested on Friday have now been released, the German website Deutsche Welle reported. In an interview, one of the students said the arrests and quick release suggested the authorities are confused about how to deal with the protests. Radio Zamaneh, Payvand

Grand Ayatollah Bayat-Zanjani had a telephone conversation today with Ayatollah Dastegheib praising his “courageous remarks” to the Experts assembly as a jihad in the path of God, the grand ayatollah’s site reported.

Said Hajarian, the prominent reformist just freed by the regime, has told a group from the youth faction of the Participation Front visitors that during his 100 days in detention he was totally cut-off from the outside world, the hammihannews website reports.  He spent a month in solitary confinement in Evin prison and was then transferred to another location where he only had contact with his interrogators. The interrogators told him that outside  people were fighting and many had been killed and the regime was deelply split – all because of his reform theories. He said he could hear chants of Allah-o Akhbar and thought they were gathered in front of Evin prison.

A photograph of President Ahmadinejad holding up his identity card during last year’s elections clearly shows his family has Jewish roots, according to a report today in the Daily Telegraph which largely regurgitates claims that have been swirling around Iran and the internet for ages.  The report says a close-up of the document reveals he was previously known as Sabourjian – a Jewish name meaning cloth weaver. It said experts suggested his track record for hate-filled attacks on Jews could be an overcompensation to hide his past. Telegraph, Neo-Resistance

— The report has quickly come under attack – from a Jewish quarter.  In a report picked up by a blog monitoring Iran for  a German audience, Menashe Amir, an Israeli expert on Iran who regularly broadcasts in Persian from an Israeli radio station, says the family name Sabourjian has “absolutely nothing to do with Jews”. He says the story about Ahmadinejad being Jewish was actually concocted by the son of a conservative ayatollah last year. Julia’s Blog

—  Perhaps it was the Telegraph report that propelled Ahmadinejad into a stinging attack on the Western media today in which he cited its “scant” media coverage of  Israel’s attack on Gaza and the “hype” over Iran’s second nuclear enrichment plant near Qom  as clear examples of Western media bias. “This is how the Western media works. First they distort facts and fabricate news. Then they incessantly repeat their false allegations, just to make sure it is forever etched on the minds of people.” PressTV, Fars

The central council of the Principlist bloc in the Majlis meets Monday to elect its presiding board amid reports of an attempt by hardliners to remove Speaker Ali Larijani from  the position. Tehran MP Reza Akarami ruled out the chances of that succeeding, but it appears there will be discussion of splitting the faction leadership from holding the position of Speaker as well, which would leave Larijani at least having to make a choice. Mehr

Amnesty International called on Iran to issue an immediate order to stay the execution scheduled for Monday of Afghan national Abbas Hosseini, who was only 17 when accused of committing murder. prnewswire

The navy is on target to launch a medium-size submarine within two years, the Lieutenant Commander for Self-Sufficiency, Admiral Farhad Amiri, told Fars. He said Iran’s defence industries are currently mass producing different classes of submarine. “We can claim that all the needs of the (naval) force are supplied from inside the country.”  Fars

The head of the UN nuclear agency, Mohammad El Baradei,  arrived in Iran today for talks on a timetable for inspectors to visit a newly disclosed nuclear enrichment plant near Qom. Reuters

— Hours before his arrival President Ahmadinejad said Iran never tried to hide the existence of the enrichment plant and accused the US of making a big mistake. Turkish Weekly, Daily Times

— Senior staff members of the UN nuclear agency have concluded in a confidential analysis that Iran has acquired “sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable” atom bomb. NYT

— Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Said Jalili returned from Geneva last night declaring that Iran and the six powers had not discussed suspending Iran’s nuclear enrichment activities. Fars

— An Iranian claim that construction of the Qom enrichment facility began only last year and  analysis of satellite photos of the site have cast fresh doubt on the US administration charge that there was a covert decision to violate Iran’s obligations to the International Atomic Energy Agency.  Dissident Voice

— President Obama has reaffirmed a four-decade-old secret understanding that has allowed Israel to keep a nuclear arsenal without opening it to international inspections, three officials familiar with the understanding said. Washington Post

Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi urged Iran to let more water flow into Iraq to avoid a water crisis in the south. xinhua

In more detail

Neo-Resistance has a video clip of Ahmadinejad in which he apparently suggests  the Americans invaded Iraq not just for oil but because they were aware of the imminent arrival of the Mahdi or 12th Imam. According to the translation the President also argues that if the Mahdi was not already active, “the world would have turned upside down, the universe would have ended. The Imam manages the world.”

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