Uskowi on Iran has learned that President Ahmadinejad has rejected the call by 260 members of the Iranian Majlis to end his boycott. Ahmadinejad has not attended any of his cabinet meetings since Ayatollah Khamenei overruled his decision to fire the intelligence minister. We reported on Wednesday that Ahmadinejad has set three conditions for his return to presidency, and he will not be back to his office until all those conditions are met.
Saturday, April 30, 2011
260 members of the Iranian Majlis, out of the parliament’s 290 MPs, in a letter have urged President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to end an eight-day boycott and accept the supreme leader’s decision to reinstate the intelligence minister. The letter was apparently written after an extraordinary close-door session of Majlis on Thursday and was disclosed today by the media.
“You are expected to adhere to the supreme leader and put an end to that which our enemies are taking advantage of,” the lawmakers wrote [Mashreq, 30 April].
Ahmadinejad has refused to attend his cabinet meetings and be present at his office since Ayatollah Khamenei reinstated the minister of intelligence Moslehi hours after Ahmadinejad had fired him.
Uskowi on Iran reported last Wednesday that Ahmadinejad has put three conditions for his return to presidency: Moslehi leaving the intelligence ministry, his political confident Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie reassuming the office of the first vice president, and the head of the Supreme National Security Council Saeed Jalili to be fired. Khamenei has not accepted any of the three conditions yet.
Last Sunday, examining Ahmadinejad’s challenge to Khamenei’s authority, we wrote that he was proclaiming a new normal for the Islamic Republic, continuing as president while disobeying the supreme leader’s orders. Something Khamenei and the conservative clerical establishment are apparently not in any mood to accept.
But the current political crisis, the most serious since President Bani Sadr was impeached and forced into exile in 1981, goes beyond the obedience issue. Ahmadinejad, Mashaie and company are introducing a nationalistic and romantic narrative of the Iranian history, emphasizing the Iranian identity of the country to be at least equal if not higher than its Islamic identity, or as they call it the Iranian Islam. The clerical establishment that came to power more than thirty years ago on the notion of exclusivity of Islam in determining the country’s identity does not agree, and sees Ahmadinejad's new-found love for the Iranian identity as serious challenge to its authority.
Meanwhile, the rulers in Tehran seem to have put serious issues facing Iran in the backburner for now: the alarming economic situation in the country and the rapidly changing political landscape in the Middle East.
The Iranian Majlis today severely limited the government’s subsidy reforms by slashing the savings to be generated from removing government subsidies by more than half. President Ahmadinejad, the champion of the reforms, had planned to save the government some $59 billion in the first year of the program. The Majlis using the week-long absence of Ahmadinejad from the political scene limited the savings to $28 billion. The parliamentarians feared the rapidly rising inflation rate and saw the removal of energy and food subsidies as main culprit.
There were no immediate comments from the office of the president on the latest Majlis move against Ahmadinejad and his programs. On Friday, the Governor of Tehran, speaking on behalf of Ahmadinejad's government, had said the subsidy reforms will contiunue unabated.
Tehran Stock Exchange (TSE) index is declining rapidly; losing 6.2% of its value last week and on Thursday registered the largest single-day decline in 2.5 years. TSE value had been rising as rapidly for more than a year. A number of analysts believed that the rise in the value of TSE was real and tied to the actual production of its member companies and the country’s GDP in general. Others believed the market represented a dangerous bubble, ready to burst anytime. The performance of TSE in the next few weeks should validate the correctness of one of these analyses.
Friday, April 29, 2011
The influential cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, acting as the Imam of the Friday Prayer, said today during his sermons in Tehran that President Ahmadinejad must obey the orders of the supreme leader. Such obedience, he added, is not conditional but absolute, regardless of the fact that the majority of people supported him at the polls.
"The president should know that the majority vote for him was not absolute but conditional on his obedience towards the orders by the supreme leadership," Khatami said [Fars News Agency, 29 April].Ahmad Khatami’s views are usually indicative of the political leanings of the hardline clerical establishment in Iran. Notwithstanding the “democratic” trappings of the Islamic Republic, Khatami is arguing that it is the absolute rule of the supreme leader, selected by the senior Shia clerics and expected to rule for life, that is the essence of the system.
Tehran’s Governor Morteza Tamadon told reporters today that despite the growing rumors, he subsidy reforms program will continue unabated.
“The targeted subsidies law will continue to be implemented as strong as ever and talks about the (program’s) termination are only rumors,” Tamadon said [Fars News Agency, 29 April].The reform program, which so far has resulted in the removal of government subsidies of energy products, including gasoline, has been the cornerstone of President Ahmadinejad’s economic revitalization plans. The rapidly growing inflation rate in the past couple of months, however, is seen as a direct result of the reforms and there are pressures on the government to curtail or cancel the future phases of the program.
The Governor of the Central Bank of Iran Mahmoud Bahmani today rejected the growing fears in the country of hyperinflation. The current Iranian month of Ordibehesht (which started on 21 April) is being referred to in economic circles as the “Black Ordibehesht.”
“We reject the rumors about the inflation and the Black Ordibehesht,” Bahmani told reporters. “The inflation rate at the end of last (Iranian calendar) year was at 12.4 percent and at the end of Farvardin (20 April) is forecast at between 13.5 to 14 percent,” he added [IRNA, 29 April].
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
The website Haft Sobh (“7 AM”), close to President Ahmadinejad and his supporters, said today that Ahmadinejad will participate in an already-scheduled TV interview next week only if the program is broadcast live. Ahmadinejad, the report says, wants to talk directly to the Iranian citizens without being censored by the authorities.
The deepening political crisis in Iran is producing some surreal situations: the sitting president and the darling of the ruling class until a few days ago is now concerned that the “authorities” would censor his speech. The speed of transformation from a leader of the Islamic revolution to a suspected enemy of the state has become mind-boggling these days!
In a sign of deepening political crisis in Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today cancelled the meeting of his cabinet that was scheduled to take place on Saturday in the city of Qom. Ahmadinejad holds some of the cabinet meetings in cities outside Tehran, and Qom was to host the government ministers this time. The meeting’s cancellation came after Ahmadinejad’s refusal to attend two previous cabinet meetings this week.
Uskowi on Iran reported earlier that Ahmadinejad has set three conditions for his return as president, including the reversal of Khamenei’s order against his political confident Mashaie to be the country’s First Vice President and the reversal of the supreme leader’s reinstatement of the intelligence minister.
Uskowi on Iran has also learned that Ahmadinejad has asked for the resignation of his minister of interior. The minister, Brig. Gen. Mustafa Mohammad Najjar, who headed the defense ministry prior to his interior post, is a senior IRGC officer and close to the supreme leader. The minister of interior will have considerable influence in the upcoming parliamentary elections scheduled for March 2012. We have previously reported that Ahmadinejad and company would run their own candidates against those chosen by Khamenei and the clerical establishment.
Also in another sign of heightened tensions in Tehran, the Majlis was to hold an extraordinary closed-door session today.
We understand that President Ahmadinejad has set three conditions for his return to presidency:
- Mashaie to be named the First Vice President
- Moslehi to leave the ministry of intelligence
- Saeed Jalili is removed from his post as head of the Supreme National Security Council.
Mashaie was appointed by Ahmadinejad as the First Vice President when he was re-elected to his second term. The supreme leader then officially ordered Ahmadinejad to remove Mashaie from his post. Ahmadinejad did that only to appoint Mashaie as his chief of staff, and giving him the authorities normally reserved for the First VP. Mashaie was eventually forced to resign his post as chief of staff.
Moslehi, the intelligence minister, was fired by Ahmadinejad but hours later he was reinstated by Khamenei. Last Sunday when Moslehi attended the cabinet meeting for the first time after his reinstatement, Ahmadinejad did not show up for the meeting although he was in Tehran at the time.
Saeed Jalili holds the important post at the national security council, but was appointed to the post by Khamenei in obvious slight to the power of the presidency.
Uskowi on Iran reported on Monday that Ahmadinejad had refused to show up at his office and was absent from the meeting of the cabinet in which Moslehi was in attendance. We also believed at the time that a late Monday meeting between Ahmadinejad and Khamenei had resulted in Ahmadinejad’s return to his office. But we now understand that Ahmadinejad is still insisting on the conditions outlined above before resuming the office of presidency, and did not attend yesterday’s cabinet meeting, creating the gravest political crisis in the Islamic Republic since President Bani Sadr was impeached and forced into exile in 1981.
Meanwhile, 12 conservative members of Majlis today officially put in motion a proposal to impeach Ahmadinejad.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Computer security software company Symantec today said it could not verify Iran’s claims of new worm, dubbed ‘Stars’ by the commander of civil defense force of Iran. The company’s security response group has not found an example of the worm.
"Generally, samples of malware do get traded among security vendors," said Kevin Haley, the director of Symantec's security response group. ”Iran makes this a little more difficult, because we have no direct relationships there," added Haley. "But perhaps someone else does" [Computerworld, 26 April].
No other security vendor, including Helsinki-based F-Secure and UK’s Sophos, has stepped forward to say it has a copy of Stars. It's possible that Stars was not a targeted attack aimed at Iran, but simply part of a more traditional broad-based assault, said Haley.
"It could be a mass attack that got through their defenses," Haley said. "That could have raised the alarm. They're already paranoid about attacks."
"We can't tie this case to any particular sample we might already have," said Mikko Hypponen, F-Secure's chief research officer. "We don't know if Iran officials have just found some ordinary Windows worm and announced it to be a cyber war attack." [Computerworld, 26 April].
Graham Cluley, a senior security technology consultant at Sophos, also said his company had not been able to identify the malware.
Monday, April 25, 2011
A news website close to President Ahmadinejad earlier today denied rumors that he had resigned the presidency and later even removed the denial post. Reports about Ahmadinejad’s resignation started circulating in Tehran on Sunday when the cabinet met chaired not by Ahmadinejad but by Mohammad Reza Rahimi, the First Vice President, even though Ahmadinejad was in Tehran at the time of the meeting. That cabinet meeting was the first one attended by the intelligence minister Moslehi after he was fired by Ahmadinejad and later reinstated by Ayatollah Khamenei.
Uskowi on Iran received an email from a normally reliable source telling us of Ahmadinejad’s resignation on Sunday evening. We chose not to publish the report because we could not confirm it through a secondary source. We now understand that the president did in fact submitted his resignation on Sunday but was soon visited by the Majlis Speaker Larijani who asked him to withdraw his resignation. We also understand that Ahmadinejad met with the supreme leader earlier today (Monday) and then showed up at Marmar Palace, the office of the president, after an absence since the controversy over the firing and reinstatement of the intelligence minister broke last week.
Iranian Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance Shamseddin Hosseini today rejected the latest IMF forecast on Iran’s economic growth, calling it “illogical and surreal.” The International Monetary Fund had reported earlier that Iran's economic growth in the year 2011 will fall to zero percent.
“The figure released by the International Monetary Fund is mostly based on the assumption that the West's measures against Iran have affected our economy,” Hosseini said [ISNA, 25 April].
Hosseini did not offer his own forecast on the country’s economic growth rate. Since 2009, the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) has stopped publishing its annual reports on the country’s economic growth rate, making the IMF reports the only source of information on the actual and forecasted growth rates.
Iran has been hit with new computer virus named ‘Stars.’ Mehr News Agency quoted commander of Iran’s civil defense force Qolam Reza Jalali that the experts were still investigating the scope of the malware’s capabilities and damages caused. Jalali did not disclose the targets and the dates of the attack.
"Certain characteristics about the 'Stars' virus have been identified, including that it is compatible with the system," Jalali said. "In the initial stage, the damage is low and it is likely to be mistaken for governmental executable files," he added [Mehr News Agency, 25 April].
In December, Iran admitted the country’s uranium enrichment plant in Natanz had been the victim of the computer worm Stuxnet.
"Confronting the Stuxnet virus does not mean that the threat has been fully removed, since viruses have a certain life span and it is possible that they continue their activity in a different form," Jalali commented.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
By Nader Uskowi
The prevalent norm in otherwise rough-and-tumble politics of the Islamic Republic has always put the supreme leader above the political fray and factional politics. The executive and legislative branches, led by the president and the speaker of Majlis, were understood not to challenge the supreme authority of the leader and refrain from actions and policies that would run against the leader’s strong preferences, and the leader would in turn refrain from interfering in the business of running the government. In 1981, the first president of the Islamic Republic was impeached and forced into exile for creating a presidency independent of the supreme leader and the clerical establishment, breaking the rules of conduct at the senior levels of the regime. The old norms are being challenged again, this time by none other than Ahmadinejad who could stay in power for a second term only after the supreme leader openly sided with him during the post-election dispute.
Upon his re-election, Ahmadinejad chose his close confidant, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, to become his first vice president, a post equivalent to a prime minister. Khamenei openly objected to Mashaie’s selection and issued a rare edict, ordering Ahmadinejad to remove him from his post. Ahmadinejad did that only to name Mashaie as his chief of staff and practically giving him all the powers of the first vice presidency, openly challenging the supreme leader’s authority. The action followed by Ahmadinejad’s repeated challenges of the authority of the Majlis in approving government’s policies. The supreme leader openly requested and later ordered him to accept the constitutional prerogatives of the Majlis but to no avail.
Then came the matter of the minister of intelligence. Ahmadinejad fired him, and Khamenei reinstated him hours later. And things started getting uglier from there. Ahmadinejad’s presidential website carried the story of the minister’s resignation, but declined to publish Khamenei’s letter of reinstatement for more than two days. The official news agency IRNA, controlled by the government, likewise delayed publishing Khamenei’s letter only to publish it later after altering the content. The unprecedented action brought about fierce protest by the office of the supreme leader.
And on Saturday, Khamenei inflamed the already tense situation that exists between him and Ahmadinejad by declaring that he will intervene in government affairs anytime he feels the government’s decisions are against the interests of the Islamic Republic.
“I won't allow, as long as I'm alive, an iota of deviation of this massive movement of the nation," Khamenei said.
"In principle, I have no intention to intervene in government affairs unless I feel an expediency is being ignored as it was the case recently," Khamenei added, referring to the dismissal of the intelligence minister by Ahmadinejad. "With the help of God, I firmly stand by our right stance," he declared [IRIB, 23 April].
The established norms are being challenged by Ahmadinejad and less than a year from arguably the most important parliamentary elections in the Islamic Republic, three distinct political groupings are emerging from within the senior ranks of the regime.
- Khamenei and the clerical establishment, still the backbone of the Islamic Republic, with vast powers and control over the most critical institutions of the country.
- Ahmadinejad, Mashaie and company, challenging Khamenei’s undisputed authorities and powers, and those of the clerical establishment, and introducing a nationalistic and romantic narrative of Iran, a main source of dispute with the clerical establishment and their Islamic narrative of the country. The group also claims direct contact with the Hidden Imam without the help of the cleric intermediaries.
- Khatami, Mousavi, Karubi, Rafsanjani and company, targeting Ahmadinejad and his government, without challenging Khamenei, although the supreme leader sided with Ahmadinejad against them during the presidential election. The group will be vying for Majlis representation next year and eventually for executive powers but believes in keeping the supreme leadership of Khamenei and the powers of the clerical establishment intact.
Ironically the Green Movement who was born in support of Mousavi’s challenge to Ahmadinejad’s presidency, and other grass root movements expected to rise to compete in the upcoming parliamentary elections, will find themselves at a crossroad: either supporting Khatami, Mousavi and company, practically accepting the continuation of Khamenei’s supreme leadership and the powers of the clerical establishment, or side with Ahmadinejad, Mashaie and company in direct challenge to Khamenei and the clergy. After all, it is Ahmadinejad who is proclaiming a new normal, challenging the authority of the supreme leader and the clergy, and emphasizing a nationalistic narrative of the country, all agreeable to the youths and what is left of the Greens.
File Photo: Mehr News Agency
Saturday, April 23, 2011
2007 Channel 4 documentary about Iranian Shiism and the martyrdom culture the west first became aware of during the Iran Iraq war in the 1980's in which thousands of young men died while making massive human wave attacks to try and seize the holy city of Karbala in Iraq; this documentary tells the story Imam Hussein and follows a group of Iranian pilgrims visiting Karbala in modern day Iraq.
By Mark Pyruz
From what I can discern from the open source, there are key differences between recent Iranian and Syrian law enforcement approaches to unlawful assemblies.
In the Iranian case, law enforcement wasn't well prepared at first for the large-scale demonstrations that took place following the 2009 presidential election and there were dozens of fatalities. But soon afterwards Iranian authorities enforced a less-lethal policy of crowd control, even though it endangered the lives of police officers particularly during the Ashura rioting. One more advantage the Iranians possess is an ideologically driven volunteer auxiliary force attached to the police.
The Syrians, on the other hand, are contending with multiple poles of demos across the country (where the Iranians were primarily concerned with the capitol) and are escalating their policy of lethal force in contending with the demos. In addition, the Syrian establishment really has no ideological equivalent to the Basij and the majority support base of followers to the Islamic revolution, as is the case in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Like the other countries of the Arab Spring, the Syrians have employed the military as their ultimate means of fallback. Big differences between the two approaches.
Also, even with the less-lethal policy in effect, the Iranian opposition did not have the staying power on the street, and contained itself to attempted hijackings of official, pro-establishment events. The Syrian opposition, on the other hand, seems to possess the staying power. This could be indicative of the fact that Iranian support for their governance is a higher majority, as well as the Iranian political system encompassing a representative element to its interwoven and, to varying degrees, balancing branches of government.
In any event, where the Iranian demos have declined significantly with a less-lethal law enforcement policy in effect, the Syrians appear to be contending with an escalating demo movement with their own escalating lethal force policy. Contrary to the Iranian experience, this appears to be bringing Syria to a heightening sense of insecurity.
For a six and a half minute interview segment in retrospect this clip is fascinating as a lot of topics discussed are still very relevant today.
- The reliance of the western powers on Middle Eastern oil in light of the 1973 oil embargo.
- The fact that (in hindsight nearly amusing) the western economies would eventually 'blow up' as people didn't work enough and try to get too much money for the little work done (which sounds a lot like the pretext for the current worldwide economic crisis).
- The inflated prices the west sell their arms for to oil producing monarchies in the region.
From Britain Iran brought primarily Chieftain tanks and warships in the mid to late 1970's
But for me the most interesting part was the Shah's conclusion that there was no great demand in his country for democracy, when the Iranian Revolution started in late 1978 it was clear the Iranian people at the very least wanted serious reforms as they had reason to fear for their safety at the hands of the dreaded SAVAK if they spoke out against or openly criticized the monarchy.
Also the Shah was clearly alienated from the majority of the uneducated masses living outside of the larger cities as evident by the manner in which he organized the 2,500 year celebration of the Persian Empire in Persepolis where royalty from around the world were invited to enjoy a lavish celebration and spectacle that was planned, organized and carried out predominately by western contractors rather than the indigenous Persians themselves.
Friday, April 22, 2011
President Barack Obama today accused his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad of seeking Iranian aid in the brutal crackdown of his own people. Syrian security forces today killed over 70 protesters.
"Instead of listening to their own people, President Assad is blaming outsiders while seeking Iranian assistance in repressing Syria's citizens through the same brutal tactics that have been used by his Iranian allies," Obama said. "We call on President Assad to change course now, and heed the calls of his own people," the president added. [AFP, 22 April].
Israel and American military bases in the Middle East is all within the range of Iranian missiles, says IRGC Commander, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari.
“Although we are capable of increasing the range of our missiles, we don't think it would be necessary because today our semiregional enemy -- the Zionist regime (Israel)-- is within the range of our missiles,” Gen. Jafari said. “As for the American forces -- if they were to back Israeli threats -- they would be closer to us than them and would be within the range of our firepower as well,” he added [Fars News Agency, 22 April].
Photo: Fars News Agency
He also gave a very interesting and thoughtful lecture about his trip shortly afterwards where he talked about his personal experiences and views about Iranian society and politics;
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Iran said its security forces have dismantled more than a hundred drug gangs during last month alone. Hamid Reza Hosseinabadi, the director of Iran's anti-drug force, said today that more than two tons of heroin, 18.5 tons of opium, 800 kilograms of hashish and 133 kilograms of morphine were seized within the first Iranian calendar month of Farvardin (March 21-April 20). 18,599 people have been arrested in the same period for dealing in drugs. [IRNA, 21 April].
Kuwait's foreign minister said that his country uncovered an Iranian “spy cell” monitoring US military presence in Kuwait and possessing explosives to bomb strategic facilities in the country. The news announced today supposedly deal with the actions of the Kuwaiti intelligence to dismantle the cell almost a year ago.
"We are talking about a cell whose task was not only to monitor and record the US military presence that is in their view hostile -- the American forces presence on Kuwait lands -- but it exceeded that," said Sheikh Mohammad al-Salem al-Sabah. "They had explosives and the intention to explode vital Kuwaiti facilities. They had names of officers and they had extremely sensitive information. This indicates bad intentions to harm Kuwaiti security." [Al Arabiya, 21 April].
Kuwait hosts a vast US logistics base, Camp Arifjan, in the desert south of the capital that serves as a staging post for US forces being deployed in neighboring Iraq.
Last month, a Kuwaiti court sentenced two Iranians and a Kuwaiti to death for being part of an alleged Iranian spy ring and expelled three Iranian diplomats supposedly connected to the espionage activities. Earlier this month, Iran expelled three Kuwaiti diplomats.
Iran has expressed concerns about a strategic treaty between the US and Afghanistan that is being finalized between the two countries. Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Jaweed Ludin, returning from a visit to Tehran, discussed Iran’s concerns with reporters in Kabul today.
Ludin said he had told Iranian officials that Afghanistan seeks a kind of strategic relations with the US that would benefit Afghanistan and not harm regional countries, or spark tension in the region [Press TV, 21 April].
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
The peacekeeping unit of the Iranian Army Ground Force is fully ready for UN missions in any part of the world, the Iranian Army's top Ground Force commander announced on Wednesday.
"The peacekeeping unit of the Army Ground Force is waiting for the relevant orders (by the UN) to be dispatched to the countries specified by the UN," Commander of the Iranian Army Ground Force Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting with a number of foreign military attachés in Tehran on Tuesday night.
Stressing that Iran, like any other country, has formed a peacekeeping unit which enjoys a highly integrated structure, he stated that the Army's peacekeeping unit will be dispatched to the places and countries announced by the UN as soon as the Iranian foreign ministry communicates the relevant orders to the Army.
Meantime, Pourdastan rejected speculations that Iran intends to dispatch its peacekeeping unit to Bahrain.
For the second year in a row on the occasion of Military Day in Tehran, Iran has paraded a pair of M113 APCs specially marked and painted in UN peacekeeping colors.
The Majlis, Iran’s parliament, today warned President Mahmoud Ahmadineajd to obey an order from the country’s supreme leader to reinstate Iran’s intelligence minister.
The minister, Haidar Moslehi, was pushed out of the cabinet on Sunday in a rift with Ahmadinejad, but Ayatollah Khamenei ordered him to remain as intelligence minister. Moslehi showed up for work today, but the pro-government website dolatyar.com reported that Ahmadinejad doesn’t recognize him as intelligence minister. The post was later removed from the site but Ahmadinejad’s official website still carried the report of Moslehi’s resignation with no mention of Khamenei’s order of his reinstatement.
A statement signed today by 216 Majlis members, more than two-thirds of the 290-seat parliament, warned Ahmadinejad that Majlis expects nothing but “total obedience to the (Supreme Leader’s) order without any questions” [Fars News Agency, 20 April].
The rare public display of disunity among the country’s senior leadership started last week when Ahmadinejad’s closest ally and chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, was forced out of office by hardliners who considered his championship of the Iranian identity of the Islamic Republic a direct challenge to the country’s clerical establishment. The intelligence minister Moslehi, himself a hardliner cleric, was thought to be behind the push to oust Mashaie.
The Iranian foreign ministry confirmed earlier reports that Iran and Egypt are preparing to resume diplomatic relations and exchange ambassadors after 30 years of hostile relations. The move would be a tangible sign of Iran’s growing influence in the Arab world in the aftermath of popular revolts in the region. Egypt's new foreign minister, Nabeel al-Arabi, has said the new regime is willing to "turn a page" in relations with Tehran.
Monday, April 18, 2011
Armed assailants have kidnapped 13 Iranian engineers in the western province of Farah in Afghanistan. The engineers were working for an Iranian construction company, building a 75-mile road in the Hassan-Abad district of Farah. The province borders Iran. The militants in the area have taken responsibility for the kidnapping and have threatened to kill the hostages if work on the road is not halted.
"For the time being the road construction has stopped. Police have launched a search operation in the area where they were kidnapped," said Gen. Sayed Mohammad, the police chief for Farah province [AP, 18 April].
UPDATE (20 April): The twelve engineers were freed by their captors unharmed on Wednesday 20 April, Afghan police officials announced.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today accused the US of creating tensions between Iran and the Arabs. The statement came after the GCC urged the Iranian government to stop interfering in the internal affairs of its member states.
"America and its allies are trying to create an Iranian-Arab tension, they seek to sow discord among Shiites and Sunnis. But their plan will fail," Ahmadinejad said at Iran’s annual Military Day parade [IRIB, 18 April].
The statement by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), an alliance of six Arab states in the Persian Gulf, was issued on Sunday, mainly in reference to Iran's policies in Bahrain.
“The international community and the UN Security Council (should) take the necessary measures to make flagrant Iranian interference and provocations aimed at sowing discord and destruction among GCC member states,” the statement said [AFP, 17 April].
In a related development, Saudi Arabia threatened today to withdraw its diplomatic mission from Iran if the Iranian government do not provide security and safety for its diplomats. Iranians have been demonstrating in front of Saudi embassy in Tehran, and last week they threw firebombs inside the embassy compound.
"I hope we won't be obliged to withdraw our diplomatic mission from Tehran if Iran fails to take the necessary measures to protect it," deputy foreign minister Prince Turki bin Mohammed told reporters in Riyadh [AFP, 18 April].
Sunday, April 17, 2011
By Nader Uskowi
In a rare public display of disunity among the senior leaders of the Islamic Republic, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenie today overruled President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and asked the country’s intelligence minister to stay on his post. Earlier in the day, the official news agency IRNA reported that Ahmadinejad had accepted the resignation of Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi. The semiofficial Fars News Agency then quoted unnamed senior government officials that Moslehi had been fired by Ahmadinejad.
Last week, Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff and closest political ally, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, was forced out of office by hardliners who considered his championship of the Iranian identity of Islamic Republic a direct challenge to the country’s clerical establishment. The intelligence minister Moslehi, himself a hardliner cleric, was thought to have lead the push to oust Mashaie.
Khamenei’s move once again proved his supreme authority, ruling the country as a supreme leader for life, pretty much like a shah, with Ahmadinejad acting as his prime minister, notwithstanding his official title of president. Khamenei’s move, coming days after Mashaie was sacked, further undermines Ahmadinejad’s power and authority in the rough-and-tumble politics of the Islamic Republic.
Saturday, April 16, 2011
The Islamic Republic of Iran has successfully tested the country's latest anti-aircraft missile system dubbed Sayyad-2 (Hunter II).
The system has been tested recently and will be unveiled in the near future, Fars News Agency reported Saturday.
The Sayyad-2 is an upgraded version of the Sayyad-1 system with higher precision, range and defensive power.
The Sayyad-1 missile defense system is comprised of two-stage missiles that can target all kinds of aircraft, including bombers, at medium and high altitudes.
It is also equipped with a 200-kilogram warhead and has a speed of 1,200 meters per second.
The Sayyad-1 anti-aircraft missile system can be used in electronic warfare and against low radar cross-section (RCS) systems.
The Sayyad-2 static surface-to-air missile system is a further development of the Sayyad-1 series, which in itself is a development of the Russian S-75 (NATO SA-2 Guideline) system. The Sayyad series is also heavily influenced by the Chinese HQ-2 and may benefit from North Korean technology input. Other reports not yet confirmed suggest the updated Sayyad series to be strongly influenced by HAWK and Standard missiles in current IRIADF inventory.