Friday, July 31, 2009
Iranian F-14 Tomcat with MIM-23 I-HAWK round
The initial plan of Project Sky Hawk was to successfully mount and accurately fire a MIM-23 I-HAWK round in the place of the dwindling stocks of the American made AIM-54 Phoenix missile.
Video of Iranian F-14 with HAWK SAM
The I-HAWK is a SAM (Surface to Air Missile) so marrying it up with the F-14 was going to be a difficult task for Iranian technicians.
One HAWK was test-fired from an F-14 on in April of 1986, but if the missile fired from the F-14 had any hope of scoring a hit, the F-14 would have to fly at no less than 10,000 ft and Mac 0.75 with the target at between 30,000 and 50,000 ft. Test-firing also had to be carefully conducted eventually proving that in the heat of combat it would be extremely unreliable.
It was eventually discontinued, a similar idea was done with the testing of Sedjil missile on the F-14 during the 1990's a few years after the war had ended.
Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad’s foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, said in Tehran today that the post-election demonstrations and the current pro-opposition movement were the work of foreign countries. He also blamed Britain, and not Iran’s Basij and security forces, for the killing of demonstrators on the streets of Tehran.
This blogger expected the government to learn a thing or two from the opposition movement, its strength and its simple and just demands as well as lessons learned from government’s heavyhandedness in dealing with young demonstrators. Instead they are following the familiar path of blaming everything on foreigners. The more I listen to such statements by government officials, the more I become convinced that they have lost touch with realities on the ground.
We are entering a delicate and probably a prolong period of balance of fear between the government and the opposition, each having its own support among segments of the population, but neither able to get rid of the other, either by use of force by the government or by street demonstrations by the opposition.
This is a rare opportunity for the opposition to mature and organize for a fundamental change in the way the country is governed. The strength of the opposition was again tested during city-wide demonstration in Tehran in commemoration of the 40th Day anniversary of the death of Neda and other slain demonstrators. And the maturity of the the opposition leaders in handling the delicate task of organizing the memorial service at Behesht Zahra was also put on display.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
"This is going to be a slightly disjointed email, I'm sorry in advance. It's already well passed midnight here and we just finished returning from the streets protesting. But I wanted to make sure to get this out tonight.
Today marked the 40th day anniversary of the killings of such youth as Neda Agha Soltan and Sohrab Aarabi in Iran's post-election demonstrations. We headed to Behesht Zahra Cemetery in the afternoon to join the 4pm ceremony at their gravesites. Behesht Zahra is about a one hour drive south of Tehran and as we neared the cemetery, about five police cars and officers were directing traffic. Waiting to enter the cemetery compound in the traffic, one of my companions pulled down the window and half jokingly asked the police officer what was going on. He smiled back and said, "Nothing, just go towards row 257." For those not familiar with Behesht Zahra, it's an enormous cemetery with wide avenues and squares. Knowing it would take us a while to find our destination, the police officer decided to help by telling us in which row we could find Neda's grave (others in Behesht Zahra would help lost drivers by directing them to Neda. That's all people said: "Neda ounjast" (Neda is there), pointing in the direction of her grave).
Throughout the ceremony it was obvious the police force was very sympathetic with the people (as opposed to the anti-riot police and the revolutionary guard factions that were present in large numbers and were standing by the graves of both Neda and Sohrab).
By the time we arrived to their graves, it was 4.30pm and about 150,000-200,000 had gathered there. Most had on green ribbons and shouted in unison: "Neda-ye ma namordeh, ein dolat-e ke morde" (Our Neda is not dead; it is this government that is dead). Her grave was covered in flowers and candles, as was the grave of Sohrab, just a few feet away. The demonstration was held about 75 feet from the graves and was where the majority of the people had gathered. The main difference between this gathering and the other gatherings in the past two months was that the slogans for this gathering were very highly charged and at times extremely revengeful. People shouted: "ma bache-haye jangim, bejang ta bejangim" (we're the children of war, fight and we'll fight back); "mikosham ani ke baradaram ra kosht" (I will kill he who killed my brother). There was no more talk of reclaiming the vote, but of getting rid of this "coup" government; the most numerous chant was "Death to the dictator." The anger could be felt at this gathering (which for me was a very ominous sign of worse things to come) and there was a very palpable lack of fear among people. Both Mir Hossein Mousavi and Karoubi had shown up at the gathering earlier in the afternoon.
We stayed for nearly two hours and decided to leave when we saw the security forces getting larger in number. As we left, we heard that they had hit some with batons and we could feel the tear gas in the air. A few minutes later reports emerged that Jafar Panahi, the award-winning filmmaker was arrested, as was Mahnaz Mohammadi, a documentary filmmaker and a women's rights activist. They have both been taken to an unknown location.
As we left the cemetery, the honking of the cars began: most cars were heading into Tehran to try to get as close to Mosallah as possible (the large mosque in central Tehran where Mousavi and Karoubi had asked to hold a ceremony of those killed last month---the interior ministry did not give the permission for the gathering, but people had decided to show up there at 6 regardless). Every car driving out of Behesht Zahar was honking their horns and all drivers and passengers had their hands out of their cars in the peace sign. The police tried to discourage drivers from driving the main highway that would lead to central Tehran, but very few listened. Soldiers standing along the streets flashed the peace sign back at the honking cars with large smiles on their faces. It was obvious the soldiers and police forces were with the people.
A few streets away from Mosallah, we saw people running from motorcycles (the Basij), who tried to taser them, and the protestors encouraged us to turn our windows up so the tear gas wouldn't hurt us. Residents came out of their homes and began small fires on the corners (to help against the tear gas). The streets were completely overtaken by protestors who were in a cat and mouse game with the security forces, all on motorcycles. We parked the car and went onto Valiasr Street (the main boulevard in Tehran that runs from north to south). The city was covered in a haze from all the tear gas and fires started on the corners. All roads leading to Mosallah were witness to huge confrontations between people and the security forces.
As we arrived on Valiasr people were spilt on different sides of the sidewalk: one side would shout slogans, the anti-riot police would attack with their batons and paint-ball guns (to mark the protestors to pick them up later), then the other side of the side-walk would start the chanting, so the anti-riot police would be forced to come to this side. As they attacked one side of the sidewalk, the protestors on the opposite side would come out of the side streets they had just run into and gather, regroup, and chant again. This continued for hours. When the anti-riot police disappeared for a bit, people lit candles and put them on the sidewalks, to commemorate the deaths of Neda, Sohrab, and the others. At one point we had managed to cover one section of the street in candles. As soon as the plainclothes militia saw the sidewalk lit in candles, they approached, stomped them out, and began hitting people. No one turned away. They would attack us, we'd run into the side streets and reemerge less than one minute later.
The most haunting scene was when protestors had gathered at the beginning of Takht-tavvos Street and were shouting "Death to the Dictator." The anti-riot police gathered on their motorcycles (two per motorcycle, all in camouflage, with full riot gear) in the middle of the street and their leader began pumping them up (it looked like a huddle during a football game---it was disgusting). He got them riled up, spun his baton in the air three times, and then they attacked (there were about 30 motorcycles, all in full gear). As they attacked the protestors in the street, some from the side began throwing stones at them, and all began cursing.
The anti-riot police would also drive up in cars and try to get people to move along and not congregate. People would walk slowly, and then turn right back around. There was no more fear. They attacked; people retreated in the side-streets, and then would come back out in less than one minute as soon as the motorcycles had gone off. There were so many protesters, and they were spread out all throughout Tehran (Valiasr Square, Fatemi Square, Yousefabad, Vanak Square, Mosallah, Sanati Square, Amirabad, Revolution Square, Tajrish Square....all the main streets and squares of Tehran were full of people and it seemed for the first time that the forces simply were not enough).
The security forces were using batons, chains, whips, tasers, paint-ball guns, and I saw handguns in the hands of three of them. There was a rumor that a few were shot at in Vanak Square. Two people were picked up near us and people tried to chase after the security forces to get the young men back, but it was a futile chase. Until around 11pm the streets were full of people. At 10 pm the shouts of Allah-o Akbar and Death to the Dictator were being screamed from the rooftops all over the city until 10.30 pm.
People of all ages, sexes, and socio-economic groups were out today. We ran into many at the cemetery who had driven in from the provinces to attend the 40th day ceremony. Religious men and women were numerous at the gravesite, as were non-religious men and women. Children were out (at one point on the street back in Tehran I saw a group of two brothers and one sister, the youngest about 7 and the eldest 14, walking hand in hand down the street). Middle aged and older people would turn to us and say "we're out on the streets for you guys, this is for your future, for your generation." One mother told a soldier who asked her to go back home "I'm not going anywhere. Don't you know that we brought you guys into power by doing just this: by being out on the streets for nights on end? We brought you to where you are today, and we're going to take you out by being on the streets. I'm not going anywhere."
people chanting: "Mujtaba be Miri, Rahbari ro Nabini" ("Mujtaba Die before becoming the Leader!"). Tehran. Vali Asr & Takhtetavoos intersection. 30 July 2009
People chanting against Mujtaba Khamanie, the eldest son of the supreme leader, and repotedly a leading figure in Basij brutality against the protesters. Rumors abound in tehran that Mujtaba is positioning himseldf to replace an ailing father.
Chants: "Marg Bar Dictator" ("Death to Dictator"). "Ya Hossein, Mir Hossein" ("O Hossein, Mir Hossein") [Mir Hossein Mousavi, the opposition leader]. Tehran. Qnabarnejad Street. 30 July 2009
People Chanting: "Iranian Republic, Independence, Freedom" Tehran. 30 July 2009
Protesters today for the first time chanted "Iranian Republic, Independence, Freedom" ("Jomhouri Irani, Esteghlal, Azadi". The significance is the variation of the first part in the chant, "Iranian Republic", replacing the familiar "Islamic Republic" part in now-famous "Islamic Republic, Independence, Freedom" chant sung during the 1979 revolution.
Eyewitnesses are estimating the size of crowd gathered so far at the cemetery at 10,000. Heavy anti-riot police presence has also been reported. There are reports of mourners being arrested, including the arrest of Jafar Panahi, Iran’s renowned filmmaker.
UPDATE: Mousavi managed to visit and pay respect at Neda's grave upon arrival at Behesht Zahra. The riot police have now surrounded his vehicle forcing it to drive off cemetery.
UPDATE (4:30 pm Tehran): Some 3,000 mourners remain at Neda's grave. Police is charging the crowd to disperse them. Reports of injury.
UPDATE (4:50 pm Tehran): Mehdi Karrubi has joined the opposition supporters in Behesht Zahra. Karrubi visited Neda's grave.
UPDATE (5:00 pm Tehran): Police and Basij have cordoned off Neda's burial place, preventing people to go there.
Today at Behesht Zahra
Today at Behesht Zahra
The memorial service was to start at 4:00 pm Tehran time. Reports from Tehran indicate that the police are trying to disperse mourners who have begun to arrive at the cemetery and are arresting a number of them. Thousands are expected to attend.
Today is the 40th Day anniversary of the death of Neda Soltan and a number of other protesters. Neda's mother is also expected to attend the memorial service today. 40th Day anniversaries are important mourning occasions in Shia religion.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said today in Tehran that Iran will open a new naval base in Jask, a port in the Sea of Oman. A new air force base was also opened in Jask earlier this month.
Attack on Camp Ashraf by Iraqi Security Forces. 28 July 2009
Seven Iranian dissidents have been killed at Camp Ashraf, 60 kilometers north of Baghdad, during a surprise raid by Iraqi military and security forces on Tuesday. The camp, in Diyala Province, is run by the Iranian opposition group Mujahideen Khalq Organization (MKO). Iraqi forces have surrounded the camp and clashes are continuing for a second day. The camp is home to some 3,000 MKO members.
Commander of US forces in Iraq, GEN Ray Odierno, said in Baghdad that the US had not been forewarned of the raid. After Saddam’s fall, the camp came under US control and was disarmed. Last month, the US relegated the control of the camp to Iraqi military. GEN Odierno told reporters last night that the Iraqis had promised at the time that they would treat the exiled Iranians humanely.
Amnesty International said today it was “seriously concerned” about the raid and killing of Iranian exiles. Video footage of the raid clearly shows Iraqi forces beating people repeatedly.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
This is the first time the government has released any figures on the number of people arrested during the recent events. The 290 number as the number of total arrests has not been verified by independent sources. Some human rights groups have published much higher estimates.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Tehran. 22 July 2009. Photo by Reuters’ Yalda Moaiery.
"A delicate and prolonged period of balance of fear has started between the government and the opposition," says Nader Uskowi, a Washington-based Iran analyst and president of Uskowi Associates. "After enduring a month of relentless attack by government forces, the opposition reaffirmed its strength, but the government will hang onto power with support from the armed forces and a segment of the more traditional and rural population" [CSM, 26 July].
Ejei’s dismissal as intelligence minister came amid open criticism of Ahmadinejad by the Maj. Gen. Firouzabadi, the chief of staff of Iran’s armed for his delay in complying with an order from Khamenei to drop his pick for vice president.
The conservative backlash intensified today by the announcement that Mohammad Hossein Saffar Harandi, the minister of culture and former editor of ultar-conservative influential daily Kayhan, would not be returning to Ahmadinejad’s adminstration for his second term.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Mousavi, the presumed winner of the election, Mehdi Karrubi, former President Mohammad Khatami and 66 other prominent reformists sent a letter to the senior ayatollahs saying authorities have held protesters and activists without charges and have used torture to extract confessions.
"We call on you, the marja' taqlid to remind the relevant authorities of the damaging consequences of employing unlawful methods and warn them about the spread of tyranny in the Islamic republic system," said the letter.
"What legal, Islamic or human rights code can justify the repeated torture of those who live under the banner of Islam?" it said.
The letter said the repressive methods used to obtain confessions were reminiscent of the methods employed by Iran's former shah, who was toppled by the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
"The only way out of this situation is to release all detainees and put an end to the security state imposed after the election," it said [AP English translation, 25 July].
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called 25 July a global day of action. Protests are underway in more than 80 cities across the globe, including protest march and a large gathering today, at 4:00 pm EST, in Washington, DC.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenie in a handwritten note to President Ahmadinejad ordered him to reverse the the appointment of Esfandyar Rahim-Mashaie as his First Vice President. The note written on 18 July was made public today by Fars.
“The appointment of Mr. Esfandyar Rahim-Masha'i as presidential deputy is contrary to your interests and that of the government and a cause for divisions and frustration among your supporters. It is necessary for this appointment to be declared null and void,” Khamenie said in his note to Ahmadinejad.
Mashaie stepped down today, citing Khamanie’s “decree.”
The aircraft, a Russian-made Ilyushin 62 jet, caught fire while landing and skidded off a runway.
This is the second fatal air crash in Iran this month. A Caspian Airlines jet crashed on 15 July, killing all 168 people on board.
“In the face of [Supreme Leader’s] decree, I don't believe myself to be the first vice-president. I will continue to offer my services to the revolution and Iran wherever else necessary,” Mashie was quoted as saying [Fars News Agency, 24 April].
Ahmadinejad had come under attack by his supports on the right to dump Mashie. Khamenei finally sent a letter to Ahmadinejad ordering him to reverse Mashaie’s appointment. Mashaie's reference to a decree is that letter sent by Khamenei.
The fiasco has become a major embarrassment for Ahmadinejad who did not expect to come under attack by his natural allies on his very first major decision in post-election Iran.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Until today, the official US position shared by European powers was that Iran would not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. Clinton’s statement was a radical departure from this policy.
"We want Iran to calculate what I think is a fair assessment: that if the United States builds a defense umbrella over the region, if we do even more to develop the military capacity of those in the Gulf, it is unlikely that Iran will be any stronger or safer because they won't be able to intimidate and dominate as they apparently believe they can once they have a nuclear weapon," Clinton said during an interview with Thai TV [AFP, 23 July].
Clinton’s statement immensely helps the hardline positions of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenie and its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, regarding the country’s nuclear policy.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Dozens of Iranian celebrities today started a three-day hunger strike in front of the UN building in New York demanding the release of prisoners detained during the post-election protests in Iran. The action was sponsored by long-time former Iranian political prisoner Akbar Ganji. Among the celebrities on hunger strike was Gogoosh, the internationally-renowned Iranian singer.
Ultra-conservative Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami (not to be confused with the former president Mohammad Khatami) warned Ahmadinejad today that he must heed to the wished of the supreme leader and withdraw the appointment.
“When the exalted supreme leader takes a position explicitly, his statement must be accepted by all means and implemented immediately,” Ahmad Khatami told Mehr news agency. “Those who voted for Ahmadinejad because of his loyalty to the supreme leader expect the president to show his obedience in practice” [AP translation of Mehr report].
In picking fight with the fundamentalists before he has even formed his new government, Ahmadinejad might want to improve his fading public image in the aftermath of the disputed presidential election and divert attentions from the main issue at hand, request for a national referendum on the election results.
Ahmadinejad’s first major appointment for his second-term cabinet had come under fierce attack by ultra conservatives, led by the influential Kayhan editor, Ali Shariatmadari. The government-owned Press TV reported on 19 July that Mashaie had withdrawn his name. The next day, pro-government websites, including Mashaie’s own website, announced that the “rumors” of withdrawal were propagated by anti-government forces, although the Press TV is a government-owned TV network! Now Khamaenie formally rejects the appointment.
The big looser today is of course Ahmadinejad. He seems to be loosing the support of the far right and increasingly operating in a void, loosing touch with the realities on the ground.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Twitter entries say demonstrators were chanting anti-government and anti-Ahmadinejad slogans. The police have reportedly arrested dozens of protestors at 7-Tir Square.
Meanwhile, Iran’s police chief, Brig. Gen. Ismail Ahmadi Moqaddam, accused the opposition of “inciting sedition.”
In a new book written by Ross and WINEP fellow David Makovsky, “Myths, Illusions & Peace - Finding a New Direction for America in the Middle East,” the authors look at the diplomatic overture toward Iran as as a means to prepare the public for serious actions against the country.
"Tougher policies - either militarily or meaningful containment - will be easier to sell internationally and domestically if we have diplomatically tried to resolve our differences with Iran in a serious and credible fashion," the authors wrote [Reuters, 21 July].
Monday, July 20, 2009
“Anyone who drives the society toward insecurity and disorder is a hated person in the view of the Iranian nation, whoever he is’” said Khamenei. "Any words they utter, any action they take, any analysis they express [could help the nation's international rivals].
"It is examination day," Khamenei added. "But anyone who flunks the exam cannot retake it the next year. Failing in this exam is not flunking, it is a collapse” [English translation by LA Times, 20 July].
Iran analysts speculate that Khamenei was upset with calls for national referendum on the legitimacy of the election made by Ayatollah Mohammad Khatami. The former president had argued that the referendum would help achieve the goal of restoring trust in the country, a requirement outlined by Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani during his Friday Prayer’s sermon.
Meanwhile, the opposition leader and former premier Mir Hossein Mousavi demanded the release of all protestors detained following the election. Detaining people, Mousavi argued, would not resolve the dispute over the election outcome. His remarks were published shortly after Khamenei’s warning to the country’s “elite.”
Khamenei has the authority under the constitution to order a referendum on any questions deemed important to the stability of the system, including a referendum to settle the current dispute over the presidential election.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
The Islamic Republic constitution does allow national referendums on vital political issues.
“If the majority of people accept the situation, we also will accept it,” said Khatami, referring to a decision made through the national referendum.
Khatami also praised Ayatollah Rafsanjani’s Friday Prayer’s Sermon and said a referendum would help achieve Rafsanjani’s goal of restoring trust in the country.
The constitution of the Islamic Republic does allow national referendums to settle the vital issues and the vehicle have been used in the past. The call by the cleric body, however, represents the first time national referendum mechanism has been suggested to end the political impasse.
Mashaie’s appointment came under harsh criticism by the conservatives, normally allies of Ahmadinejad. They objected to a remark he had made last year saying the Israeli people were friends of the Iranians. The appearance of nepotism (Mashaie’s daughter is married to Ahmadinejad’s son) also did not help his case. Hossein Shariatmadari, the influential editor of ultra-conservative Kayhan, all but doomed Mashaie’s appointment in a harshly worded editorial on Saturday.
With Mashaie’s withdrawal today, Ahmadinejad’s already battered image and influence, after the strong challenge mounted by the reformists and moderates to his re-election, got even worse. The last thing he needed was being attacked by Shaiatmadari and the conservatives on the very first appointment to his new cabinet. He should have expected the reaction from the right to this nomination, but it seems that he may be loosing touch with the realities on the ground.
UPDATE (20 July): Mashaie's website denies he is quitting: "The rumors have been spread by enemies of the government," the website said. Iran's government-owned Press TV had announced the resignation on Sunday.
Yazdi’s comments were published in today’s edition of Asharq Al-Awsat.
“The former Soviet Union collapsed because the leadership moved too late to respond to the demands of the people and implement reform…I believe Iran is following this same path but with two key differences; firstly Iran is not an empire that can be broken up into different republics and countries. Secondly, the collapse of the Soviet Union signaled the end of the Marxist ideology…however Islam will not disappear as Marxism did. Islam is a part of our identity and culture. I am not worried about Islam, for Islam has a God to protect it…however I am afraid for the Republic of Iran and [the fate of] democracy in my country,” Yazdi said.
Yazdi is currently the secretary-general of the Freedom Movement of Iran, one of the parties of Iran's reformist movement.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
“Intermittent clashes between police and protesters persisted in Tehran tonight after an emotional Friday sermon by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's most powerful political opponent, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, that has prolonged Iran's political crisis,” writes Athanasiadis in today’s edition of Christian Science Monitor [CSM, 18 July].
Iason Athanasiadis quotes this blogger on the emerging balance of power between the opposition and the government.
"The opposition reaffirmed its strength after enduring a month of relentless attack by government forces, but the government will hang on to power with support from the armed forces and a segment of the more traditional and rural population," writes Nader Uskowi, a Washington-based Iran analyst and president of Uskowi Associates in an e-mail. "Ahmadinejad in his second term will pretend to be the president of all Iranians, and the opposition will assert that they are the future of the country. The future of Iran hangs in the balance."
Friday, July 17, 2009
The official loudspeaker suggesting slogans to people at Friday's Prayer, and people responding with their own slogan!
Official: Death to America
People: Death to Russia!
Official: Death to Israel
People: Death to Russia!
Official: Death to England
People: Death to Russia!
Official: Death to Hypocrites
People: Death to Russia!
Enghelab Blvd. Tehran. 17 July 2009
Tehran. 17 July 2009
Tehran. 19 July 2009
In Front of Ministry of Interior (in charge of the election). Tehran. 17 July 2009
Police Using Tear Gas Against Protestors
Loudspeaker: Death to America - People Responding: Death to Russia!
Tehran. 17 July 2009
Tehran. 17 July 2009
After Rafsanjani’s sermons, hundreds of thousands of people, mostly Mousavi supporters, staged a walk on the surrounding streets. Enghelab, Valiasr, Keshavarz and all side streets were completely packed.
People began walking towards Valiasr Square. On Valiasr Stree, cars joined the protesters, honking and cheering them on.
On the loudspeaker a man began shouts of "Death to America," which the crowd, overwhelmingly pro-Moussavi supporters, responded "Death to Russia."
Everyone walked in unison with peace signs in the air, chanting for Mir Hossein Moussavi.
As the crowd wound towards Keshavarz Boulevard, the security forces were out in full force. On both sides of the Boulevard riot police were stationed, as were plainclothes militia and the Basij in black, all carrying batons. The anti-riot police also had big automatic guns.
Vans were parked to take protesters to jail. But the protesters continued on.
People walked passed the security forces flashing the peace sign in their faces, and turning to them, shouting: "Ya Hossein, Mir Hossein" and "Death to the Dictator."
Tens and probably hundreds of thousands of people filled the streets around the University of Tehran, the venue of Friday’s Prayer, and chanted slogans calling for release of political prisoners and in support of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi.
The massive show of force by the opposition supporters was a major setback for the government.
The police used tear gas and batons to break out the crowd of people on nearby Enghelab and Keshavarz avenues.
Highlights of Rafsanjani’s sermon:
- Country is in midst of a crisis
- Today can be a turning point for change
- Detainees of recent events should be freed
- Sympathy must be given to those who have suffered during the recent events
- Creation of a political atmosphere of respect for freedom of expression and freedom of press
- IRIB [the state-owned broadcasting system] should help create an atmosphere of tolerance and freedom
- The period following the election was “bitter” days for people… all parties were losers
- People need to work within the existing laws
- If the Islamic Republic is not Islamic, then we will go wrong; if it is not a Republic, then it would not work
Thursday, July 16, 2009
The decision by Mousavi and Karrubi to attend, and their call on their supporters to do same, can potentially transform the routine Friday’s Prayer service into a show of force by the opposition.
Rafsanjani is not expected to criticize Ahmadinejad by name, but he might attack the government's heavy-handedness in suppressing post-election protests that has left more than 100 people dead. He might also demand the immediate release from prison of more than a thousand demonstrators detained during post-election demonstrations.
Normally, Friday’s Prayers, even the ones led by Ayatollah Khamenei, the country’s supreme leader, attract crowds in low 5 figures. If more than 100,000 people turn up tomorrow in support of Mousavi and Karrubi, then the gathering would become a major victory for the opposition and a serious setback for the government.
Qolam Reza Aghazadeh, the director of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, has resigned.
ISNA today confirmed the report, adding that Aghazadeh had submitted his resignation to President Ahmadinejad in late June, a week after the disputed presidential election.
"This is preparation that should be taken seriously. Israel is investing time in preparing itself for the complexity of an attack on Iran. These maneuvers are a message to Iran that Israel will follow up on its threats," the official was quoted as saying.
Two Israeli Eliat class Saar Five missile warships and a Dolphin class submarine capable of launching a nuclear missile strike have sailed through the Suez Canal in the past ten days in preparation for a possible attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, The Times reported.
There were unconfirmed reports that units of Sayeret Matkal, Israel’s Special Forces, have also been transferred to a mock training facility near Eliat in preparation of an eventual attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Qalam news website reports that the opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi will attend the Friday’s Prayer which will be led by Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani [Qalam, 15 July 2009].
Mousavi, in a letter published in Qalam, declared his readiness to join his supporters in attending the service, characterizing the move as the best way to protest the “unjust” suppression of the freedoms by the government.
It is expected that Mousavi supporters will also attend the gathering, potentially creating a protest atmosphere on Tehran streets after the service.
Countering the opposition, Hossein Shariatmadari, the influential editor of the ultra-conservative Kayhan, in an editorial to be published in Thursday's edition of the newspaper, has called on government supporters to attend the prayer services as well and has instructed them to chant pro-Khamenei slogans, such as “Khamenei, we are your soldiers; Khamenei, we are at your command!” [Kayhan, 16 July 2009].
- Press TV announcing the crash
- IRNA photo
- ISNA photo
- ISNA photo
- National Identity Cards found at the site. ILNA photo
- A Caspian Airways Tupolev 154M similar to the plane that crashed near Qazvin
The original post on the crash.
Iran will soon be able to produce atomic bombs and to perform underground nuclear testing, just as North Korea has done, experts in the German Foreign Intelligence Service (Bundesnachrichtendienst, BND) have told the weekly, Hamburg-based news magazine stern. "If they want to, they will be able to set off a uranium bomb within six months."
ICHRI has based its estimate on the reports by medical staff at Imam Khomeini Hospital (19 bodies), Rasool Akram Hospital (8 bodies) and Loghman Hospital (7 bodies).
It said there were other hospitals near the demonstrations that could have received dead or injured protesters.
Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi has estimated that 100 were killed during the Green uprising.
The Russian-made Tupolev belonging to the Caspian Airways crashed at 11:45 am local time, 16 minutes after the takeoff from Imam Khomeini Airport. The plane was flying from Tehran to Yerevan, the Armenian capital.
Stanford’s Abbas Milani discusses the intellectual history of the Green uprising in his article titled “The New Democrats” published in The New Republic [15 July 2009]. Milani examines the link between the political battle underway in Iran and the old theological dispute about the nature of Shiism.
Those who voted for Khatami in 1997; the student movement of 1999; the recent struggle of the bus drivers' union for the rights of its workers; the relentlessly defiant but peaceful women's movement, particularly the attempt to solicit one million signatures in favor of reforming discriminatory laws; and, now, the green uprising of 2009--all owe something to the tradition that Na'ini established more than 100 years ago.”
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Tehran. 14 July 2009
Gooya News Photo
The Mousavis offered their condolences to the family, who had discovered on Saturday that Sohrab died last month of a gunshot wound to the heart. Sohrab has been missing since 15 June, the day he attended a huge opposition rally in Tehran. His body was returned by the government to his family and he was buried on Monday in Tehran.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Mehr News Photo
Iranian Clerics Diminished by Silence Over Protests
پایان عصر اقتدار اجتماعی نهاد مرجعیت: روحانیت و جنبش اعتراضی سبز مردم ایران
Majid Mohammadi New York 10 July 2009
In the days after the June 12 presidential election, defeated candidates, political parties, relatives of political prisoners, and others dissatisfied with the outcome appealed to senior members of the clergy to intervene to halt government-led repression.
Many reformists hoped that senior clerics would step in following the mass demonstrations, deaths and the arrest of political activists.
Yet the only high-ranking leader to openly condemn the government’s actions was Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, who was once seen as a possible successor to the late Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, but fell out with him shortly before his death in 1989 over a difference of opinion on human rights.
Two other grand ayatollahs – the highest rank in the Shia clerical system – Yusef Sanei, who once famously issued a fatwa declaring suicide bombings to be “acts of terrorism” and Abdulkarim Mousavi Ardebili, who is also seen as close to the reformers, confined themselves to asking the authorities to review allegations made by protestors, and sending their condolences to the families of those killed during the protests.
Of the other clerics, some either said nothing, like Abdullah Javadi Amoli, Ayatollah Musa Shobairi Zanjani, and Hossein Vahid Khorasani, while others like Ayatollah Hossein Nuri Hamedani came out in support of the government’s actions. Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi was among those who tried to persuade protesters to accept the election result and move on.
Ayatollah Lutfullah Safi Golpayagani, meanwhile, tried to conciliate between the two sides, urging them to seek a middle way.
Two groupings of clerics, the Assembly of Combatant Clerics and the Qom Seminary Researchers and Lecturers Association, backed the stance taken by defeated reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi throughout the protests. However, these two bodies only represent a small fraction of clerics in Iran.
Two powerful clerical bodies from the conservative camp, the Association of Combatant Clerics and the Society of Lecturers of Qom Seminary, chose to remain silent when demonstrators came out onto the streets, although they had not lent their support to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s bid for re-election.
Some believe these groups were intimidated into silence by the attacks leveled against Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the former president who chairs both Iran’s Assembly of Experts and the Expediency Council, and backed Mousavi’s election bid. Allies of Ahmadinejad accused Rafsanjani and family members of corruption.
When a delegation of protestors visited Qom to speak to clerics on June 19, only Ayatollah Sanei agreed to see them.
Elsewhere in Iran, two other conservative clerical associations – located in Tabriz and Isfahan – supported Mousavi prior to the election, an unusual step given the heightened level of repression facing provincial clerics critical of the government.
Once again, however, they lapsed into silence once the demonstrators appeared on the streets, and made no comment when Mousavi said the results were illegitimate.
Despite the clerics’ reticence about speaking out after the election, the backing that many gave to Mousavi indicates their concern that Ahmadinejad’s administration has acquired too much power and reach.
Iranian clerics may be heavily dependent on the state, and its highest-ranking members enjoy the largesse of an oil-rich government, but they have not desire to lose the public’s respect.
Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, clerics have been sensitive to developments in society, and have been careful to try to reflect popular moods and trends. They have also long been on their guard against an administration that is shaped by the military and the security forces, and espouses policies that principally benefit these groups.
To understand the Shia clergy’s behaviour before and after election day, it is best to break them down into three categories – seminary students and lecturers; mosque and Friday prayer leaders; and thirdly clerics in government employment as judges, teachers, managers and religious instructors.
Although there is some overlapping between these groups, all three groups are dependent on the office of the Supreme Leader for their livelihoods, one way or another. They no longer derive their principal income from religious tithes paid by members of the public, and their lack of economic dependence on the state is merely notional.
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei quite clearly prefers to maintain the status quo, given that he has long seen Ahmadinejad as his natural ally.
The first category, seminary students, are naturally more supportive of Ahmadinejad because they aspire to fill government posts that will fall vacant once the older generation of clerics step aside. It is also worth noting that government funding for seminaries has gone up substantially during Ahmadinejad’s time in office.
The second group, mosque and prayer leaders, are more traditional and conservative in outlook. They tend not to be so trusting of the president, given his idiosyncratic religious views. They are also in closer touch with ordinary people, and get to hear their complaints about government policies and actions on a daily basis.
The third group, clerics holding down government jobs, are even more solidly supportive of the Supreme Leader than the students. Under Khamenei, favoured clerics have benefited from a good press, with the statements they make accorded far more weight than those of regime critics, who get dismissed as “low-level” clerics by the media. The negative press given to Ayatollah Montazeri is a case in point.
Given the high level of clerical dependence on the state, it was never likely the religious classes as a whole would stand up for the anti-Ahmadinejad protesters. Senior clerics have failed to respond to the many letters they have received from members of the public asking for help.
That silence could undermine public confidence in the clerical establishment, if people begin to believe the authority it has enjoyed in society has been traded for the patronage of an increasingly authoritarian government.
Majid Mohammadi teaches humanities and sociology. He is the author of more than two dozen books on Iran and has a particular interest in political Islam, judicial reform, and social movements.
This article is an abridged and translated version of the full original text published on the Farsi pages of Mianeh, with editorial adjustments agreed with the writer made to provide clarity for English-language readers."
Sunday, July 12, 2009
The US military said the men seized in Irbil had been thought to be connected to Iran's IRGC Quds Force, accused of providing funds, weapons, roadside bomb technology and insurgent training.
The Iranian government holds US responsible for kidnapping and detaining of these diplomats in Irbil.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
The 12 men would be hanged by Friday in Zahedan, Baluchistan’s provincial capital.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Police has been using tear gas to disperse the crowd at Enqelab. The reports also indicate that the Basij Force and anti-riot Guards have moved into the square.
- Clashes reported in Saadat Abad. Hundreds of protersters in a sit-in on 12-e-Farvardin.
- Protests also reported in Tabriz, Isfahan and Shiraz.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
“I know Russia opposes the planned configuration for missile defense in Europe. I have made it clear that this system is directed at preventing a potential attack from Iran and has nothing to do with Russia,” President Obama said in a speech in Moscow [Timesonline; 7 July 2009].
“If the threat from Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs is eliminated, the driving force for missile defense in Europe will be eliminated. That is in our mutual interest.”
The president’s remarks clearly links the missile defense shield with Iran’s nuclear program, putting tremendous pressure on Russia to work toward ending Iran’s uranium enrichment program.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
IRIN frigate Alborz returned to Bandar Abbas today after patrolling the waters off Gulf of Aden. The British-made frigate, commissioned in 1971, was deployed to Aden to protect Iranian oil tankers and merchant ships against the pirates. The frigate became the first IRIN ship to take part in naval operation in international waters. Accompanying Alborz, was IRIN Busheher which also returned to its port of Badar Abbas today.
IRIN has deployed two more ships from their home port of Jask to Gulf of Aden. The IRIN Naghdi, a US-made patrol frigate commissioned in 1964, and IRIN Bandar Abbas.
Monday, July 6, 2009
"We declare that the result is unacceptable due to the unhealthy voting process, massive electoral fraud and the siding of the majority of the Guardian Council with a specific candidate," said the statement posted by the party on its website today.
The party’s defiant declaration ran counter to the forceful declaration by IRGC Gen. Yadollah Javani that that "no one is impartial" in the dispute over the election.
"There are two currents -- those who defend and support the revolution and the establishment, and those who are trying to topple it," Gen. Yadollah Javani said on Sunday [IRNA].
IRGC declared yesterday that it has taken over the security apparatus of the regime, adding to its enormous economic and political power, and effectively militarizing the regime.
Majma-eyeh Modaressin’s declaration that the new Ahmadinejad government is illegitimate, takes away the “Islamic” part as well. The senior religious body which was instrumental in bringing Ayatollah Khomeini to power and establishing the Islamic Republic does not accept the legitimacy of this government.
Islamic Republic; two words that do not tell the story of the current government in Iran.
Instead, we are moving toward a Bathist-type dictatorship backed by the military, a dime-a-dozen variety you can find all over the Middle East.
“Because the Revolutionary Guards was assigned the task of controlling the situation, it took the initiative to quell a spiraling unrest. This event pushed us into a new phase of the revolution and political struggles and we have to understand all its dimensions,” Gen. Jafari said in Tehran on Sunday in his first news conference since the protests.
IRGC, Gen. Jaffari continued, has led “a revival of the revolution and clarification of the value positions of the establishment at home and abroad."
Jafari's comments reinforce the opposition’s claim that a palace coup instigated by military elites loyal to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has taken place in Tehran. The loyal opposition, and former premier Mir Hossein Mousavi, have been branded as traitors and US agents (Kayhan).
Mousavi and the opposition, however, have not accepted the results of the election. The all-influential Majma-eyeh Modaressin (Assembly of Scholars and Researchers of Qom Seminary) has called Ahmadinejad’s government illegitimate. And the grass-root organizations are planning for a huge rally on Thursday.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
"The Air Force is standing up to all threats honorably, mightily and powerfully and it will not step back," said Gen. Shahsafi.
The statement came after the Israeli Air Force was reported to be planning to participate in a joint aerial exercise with NATO forces in Europe and the US to train for long-range flights as test-runs for potential strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities.
Earlier in the day, Vice President Biden had told ABC television the US would not stand in the way if the Israelis decided they needed to attack Iran's nuclear facilities.
Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, left, Iran’s former president, met on Sunday in Tehran with relatives of individuals arrested in post-election protests. The move was widely seen as a show of support for the opposition.
Inspired by the work of Marjane Satrapi, the authors tell the story of recent uprising in Iran:
“Israel can determine for itself as a sovereign nation what is in its best interest,” Biden said. “If the Netanyahu government decides to take a course of action different than the one being pursued now, that is their sovereign right to do that. That is not our choice.”
Biden made the remarks in an interview with ABC’s “This Week” taped in Iraq and broadcast today.
Biden also said that a US offer to meet with Iran about its nuclear program remains “on the table.”
“We’re not rushing to sit down,” Biden said. “We need to wait to see how this sort of settles out.” Still, he said, if Iranian leaders “seek to engage, we will engage.”
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Majma-eyeh Modaressin va Mohagheghin Hozeh Elmieh Qom, the Association of Scholars and Researchers of Qom Seminary, the group declaring the new government illegitimate, is the most influential Shia religious group in Iran. Their declaration will have profound effect on the political scene in the country. It will put the traditional religious establishment in Iran against the Ahmadinejad administration, casting doubts on the government’s ability to survive.
Also coming under question would be the undisputed authority of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. In his open support of Ahmadinejad after the disputed election, Khamenei broke with a twenty-year tradition of staying neutral in inter-regime disputes. The declaration of illegitimacy of Ahmadinejad administration by Majma-eyeh Modaressin severely undermines Khamemeni’s authority.
The declaration would also boost Mousavi’s stature as the leader of the opposition and the presumed winner of the presidential election.
Link to Majma-eyeh Modaressin's declaration [in Farsi]:
Meanwhile, Hossein Shariatmadari, the influential editor of the ultra-Conservative daily Kayhan, has called for detention and trial of Mir Hossein Mousavi, the leader of the opposition and the prime minister of the Islamic Republic during the eight-year Iran-Iraq war, on charges of “treason.” He has called Mousavi a “U.S. agent.” Shariatmadari is also a top aid to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei.
The expected trial of the reformist leaders and the call for trial of Mousavi is formally transforming the Islamic Republic into a naked dictatorship, with no pretenses for being one of the few centers of tolerance in the Muslim world for the loyal opposition.