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Headlines: Agents Raid Mousavi's Office

17 Sep 2010 21:183 Comments

Press Roundup provides selected excerpts of news and opinion pieces from the Iranian and international media. Click on the link to the story to read it in full. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. The inclusion of various opinions in no way implies their endorsement by Tehran Bureau. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the stories in perspective. You can follow other news items through our Twitter feed.

THE LEAD: NEW MOVES AGAINST DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT

Iran Agents 'Raid Opposition Leader's Office'

AFP | Sept 16

Iranian security agents have raided the office of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, his website reported on Thursday, saying it was a move to stop him from highlighting the nation's economic woes.

"Last night, security agents raided the office of Mir Hossein Mousavi. They searched the premises and took some equipment" including computers, Kaleme.com said without giving the exact location of the office.

"With the attack by plainclothes security agents on the office of Mousavi, it seems that another phase of restrictions has started," it said.

"The upcoming economic crisis... is among the worries of the government... They are distracting public opinion by imposing restrictions on people of the Green Movement like Mousavi and (Mehdi) Karroubi who are trying to give news on the status of the country."

See also: Original report (in Farsi) (Kalameh) | "US Says Iran Raid on Opposition Leader Part of Pattern" (AFP/Khaleej Times)

Iran Pledges to Bring to Trial Opposition Leaders Who Challenged President

Bloomberg | Sept 16

Iranian opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karrubi, who have been accused of inciting protests over President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election, will be put on trial, according to a prosecutor.

A case has been built against the two men, who lead the opposition Green Movement, the state-run Mehr news agency reported today, citing prosecutor Abbas Jafari-Dolatabadi in Tehran. No details were given of the charges facing Mousavi and Karrubi, who have been labeled by the government as "leaders of the sedition," a reference to the dissent that has followed the June 2009 ballot.

A trial "will take place when it will be in the interest of the ruling establishment and once the public opinion is ready," Mehr cited Jafari-Dolatabadi as saying.

Iranian Authorities Arrest University Students

Radio Zamaneh | Sept 16

Islamic republic authorities have arrested a number of students from Tehran University in connection with the 2009 attack on the dorm.



Daneshjoo news reports since the start of the new academic year, a number of students have been summoned to the judicial offices of the armed forces.



The summonses are connected with the infamous attack of the dormitory in 2009 by the police and the pro-government forces in plain clothes.



They have indicted the students and set up bails of between 10 to 50 thousand dollars for them; but the students have been immediately transferred to Evin Prison before getting a chance to post their bails.

The students who were later released on bail have reported that they were transferred to a special section of Evin Prison and were "kept under strict pressure to claim responsibility for the events that occurred in the dorm and express remorse about it."

OTHER NEWS

Rafsanjani: Inspectors of IAEA Should Be Changed

ILNA | Sept 17

[Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani,] chairman of [the] Assembly of Experts, said that "Nuclear energy is our inalienable right. It is legal if we say we do not trust these inspectors of IAEA and that they should be changed."

Iran has not carried out any activity which ran counter to laws, IRNA quoted Rafsanjani as saying on Thursday.

His remarks came after Iran's IAEA Ambassador Ali-Asghar Soltanieh reacted to the agency's latest report that criticized Iran for "hampering" the IAEA's inspectors' visit to the country's nuclear facilities.

Soltanieh told Press TV on Wednesday that IAEA inspectors have an obligation to abide by privacy laws.

"They have to keep confidential the information of the member states and reflect correct information without any leakage to the media that has taken place on several occasions," he said.

Anti-Iran Moves Are out of West Desperation: Leader

Mehr | Sept 17

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution says anti-Iran moves by the global arrogance are made out of "desperation" which will make the Iranian nation more resilient.

The issuance of anti-Iran resolutions, hostile moves against the Islamic Republic system, post-election seditious movements, and the shameful desecration of the Quran are all measures that the hegemonic powers have taken out of "weakness," Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said in a meeting with members of the Assembly of Experts on Thursday.

Today, the arrogant powers are suffering a disease called "hyperactivity," the Leader noted.

Omani Minister Discusses Talks to Release Hiker

CNN | Sept 17

President Barack Obama had a key role during negotiations between the Omanis and Iranians that led to the release of an American hiker detained after she and two companions allegedly strayed across an unmarked border between Iraq and Iran.

Yusuf bin Alawai bin Abdullah, Oman's minister responsible for foreign affairs, told CNN that "indecision and confusion" at the White House at times delayed the talks -- which began eight months ago when the United States requested assistance securing the release of Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal.

"The White House was confused because it was working on several different tracks at the same time," he said in a telephone interview. There were delays "due to the White House administration."

But it was Obama who cleared up any problems, bin Alawai said. It was "easy for us to talk directly to the president," he said.

The Omanis also dealt with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, saying that negotiators enjoyed good access to both leaders.

See also: "Oman: No Plans to Free 2 Other Americans in Iran" (AP)

Government Restrictions on Film Community Condemned at Iranian Festival

Radio Zamaneh | Sept 17

Iranian film community criticized government censorship and expressed solidarity with their persecuted members in its fourteenth festival held last night, at Milad Tower, in Tehran.



"About Elli" got the top spot in the festival with five awards for best film, director, actor, supporting actor and supporting actress.



Houshang Golmakani, film critic and editor-in-chief of "Film" monthly magazine said: "In the past ten years screening has been denied for over 200 films and if we add documentaries and short films to that list, we would realize that a significant part of our films were not screened."



Asghar Farhadi, director of "About Elli" upon receiving his award said: "I hope the situation of the country would become so that Golshifteh Farahani and many filmmakers like Amir Naderi and Bahram Beyzai can return and filmmakers like Jafar Panahi can resume their filmmaking."

Iranians Protest Qur'an Desecration

Press TV | Sept 17

Massive crowds have taken to the streets in Tehran and other major cities to condemn the desecration of the Holy Qur'an by extremists in the United States.

Following the Friday Prayers, thousands of worshippers demonstrated in the streets of the Iranian capital to protest the sacrilege of the Muslim holy book.

Joined by a number of government officials, protesters carried banners displaying slogans in condemnation of Florida pastor Terry Jones, who floated the idea of burning the Qur'an on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

The angry crowd chanted, "Death to the Zionist priest," "Death to America," and "Death to Israel," along with other slogans condemning the sacrilegious move.

Iran MP Criticises Defecting Diplomats

AFP | Sept 17

An Iranian MP accused three diplomats who have defected in Europe to join the anti-government opposition of having "mental" problems, ILNA news agency reported on Friday.

"Some of these people have mental problems and seek asylum in order to have an excuse to stay in their desired countries at the end of their mission," Mohammad Karami-Rad, who is a member of the parliament's national security commission, told the agency.

The Iranian foreign ministry has reacted vaguely to the defection of the three Europe-based diplomats.

Farzad Farhangian, a press attache at Iran's embassy in Brussels, called Tuesday for an uprising against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government and announced he was seeking asylum in Norway.

Governor Denies Blocking Sunnis' Eid ul-Fitr Prayer in Tehran

Mehr | Sept 17

Tehran Governor General Morteza Tamaddon has dismissed a claim that police forces had prevented Sunnis to hold separate Eid ul-Fitr prayers in Tehran on September 10.

"Sunnis congregated in 20 places in Tehran to hold Eid ul-Fitr prayer," Tamaddon said on Friday in response to the recent claim by Sunni cleric Molavi Abdolhamid Esmaeil Zehi.

"It is surprising that this Sunni cleric instead of inviting people to unity provokes division and discord," he added.

Turkey Seeks to Treble Trade with Iran

Financial Times | Sept 17

Turkey aims to treble its trade with Iran in the next five years, the prime minister has told businessmen at a summit aimed at lowering tariffs between the two countries.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has cultivated warmer ties with Iran at a time when sanctions imposed by the UN -- reinforced by unilateral measures from the US and the European Union -- have deterred many governments and companies from doing business with Tehran. The prime minister is pressing Iran to ease access for Turkish business. "Our bilateral trade ties have reached $10bn ... When we remove the barriers to trade between ourselves, when we complete our preferential trade agreement we can reach a bilateral trade volume of $30bn in five years," said Mr Erdogan at Thursday's summit.

Samet Inanir, an adviser at the trade relations board DEIK, said of the $30bn trade target: "We should consider Turkey and Iran as if they were France and Germany." Turkey argues that sanctions are having no effect on Iran's nuclear ambitions and diplomacy is the only way to sway Tehran. Mr Erdogan's government is committed to implementing the latest round of UN sanctions against Tehran -- which it opposed in the Security Council.

But Turkey will not enforce the more wide-ranging US or EU measures. Turkish exports to Iran have risen in recent years, but Iranian sales of natural gas still accounted for 80 per cent of the $10bn of bilateral trade in 2008.

Iran Sharply Cuts Petchem Exports, Reconsiders Gasoline Imports

Mehr | Sept 17

The Iranian deputy oil minister pointed out that the export of petrochemical products has mainly stopped following the implementation of a crash program to boost gasoline production in domestic petrochemical units.

Abdolhossein Bayat explained that the ministry might resume importing gasoline in late September.

He noted that gasoline production capacity in 6 petrochemical complexes has reached 19 million liters a day, and added, "Currently what is produced in petrochemical complexes is transferred to oil refineries and is changed into high octane gasoline."

The managing director of the National Iranian Oil Products Refining and Distribution Company, Ali-Reza Zeighami, said on August 29 Iran is about to take-off on producing a target 191 million liters of gasoline a day. He said that the country consumes 64 million liters a day.

He added that if the gasoline rationing plan is not implemented the consumption figure will increase to between 100 to 120 million liters a day.

Armenia, Iran to Build Power Plant amid Increased Ties

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty | Sept 17

Armenian Energy Minister Armen Movsisian says Iran and Armenia will start building two major hydroelectric power stations on their border in the coming weeks, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

The announcement, made by Movsisian on September 16, ends years of negotiations.

Movsisian said he and his Iranian counterpart Majid Namju will launch the start of construction work on the Arax River, which separates the two countries, immediately after signing an agreement in Yerevan.

Susa Cultural Heritage Loses Court Case

Mehr | Sept 17

A court has issued a ruling allowing the developer of a hotel project to resume construction activities near the 4000-year-old site of Susa in Khuzestan Province.

The decision was made after the Khuzestan Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Department (KCHTHD) had postponed the demarcation of the ancient site, the Persian service of CHN reported on Thursday.

Construction of the hotel began in 2007 in an area located among the ruins of the ancient palaces of Shaur and Apadana (not to be confused with the Apadana Palace at Persepolis) and ancient mounds of Susa.

However, it was halted shortly thereafter as a result of objections raised by media and cultural heritage enthusiasts. In addition, the KCHTHD sued the owner of the hotel project.

OPINION & ANNOUNCEMENTS

How the United Arab Emirates Sees Iran

Yousef Al Otaiba, UAE Ambassador to the United States (New York Times) | Sept 16

To the Editor:

Your Sept. 10 editorial "Read the Report" notes the threats raised by Iran's nuclear program and the need for nations to enforce sanctions to halt its progress. The United Arab Emirates has taken more vigorous actions to enforce multilateral sanctions and tighten export control laws than the editorial suggests.

The United Arab Emirates fully supports and enforces all United Nations sanctions against Iran.

In addition to freezing bank accounts and financial assets of persons or entities that support proliferation and weapons development activities, the United Arab Emirates has closed down dozens of international and local companies involved in money laundering and the transshipment of dual-use materials.

What Arabs Really Think about Iran

David Pollock, Senior Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (Foreign Policy) | Sept 16

It is no secret that Arab public opinion toward U.S. President Barack Obama has soured since his June 2009 speech in Cairo, Egypt. According to a slew of recent opinion polls, Arabs have been deeply disappointed with Obama's accommodations to Israel. Analysts have suggested that this discontent has caused Arabs to embrace Iran and its nuclear program, and are hostile to U.S.-led attempts to isolate and pressure the Islamic Republic. But on this front, the numbers tell a very different story.

Prof. Shibley Telhami, for example, contended that Arab opinion is "shifting toward a positive perception of Iran's nuclear program." Telhami, who is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a prominent analyst of Middle Eastern public opinion, asserts that Arab publics even have sanguine views about the consequences for the region if Iran was to develop a nuclear weapon.

But since last autumn, when Obama reached a public compromise with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the hot-button issue of Israeli settlements, a number of different polls have measured Arab attitudes toward Iran. In every case but one, these surveys have consistently demonstrated heavily negative views of Iran, its nuclear program, and of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Mainstreaming War with Iran

Stephen M. Walt, Robert and Renée Belfer Professor of International Affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University (Veterans Today) | Sept 17

If you are worried that the United States might be foolish enough to attack Iran, then you might take comfort from Jeffrey Goldberg's lengthy and alarmist Atlantic article on the subject. Based on a flock of mostly anonymous interviews, Goldberg has concluded that odds are better than 50-50 that Israel will attack Iran sometime next spring.

Although Goldberg does not explicitly call for the United States to attack Iran and is careful to acknowledge the potential downsides of this option, the tone and thrust of the article is clearly intended to nudge the Obama administration toward an attack. He emphasizes that attacking Iran's nuclear facilities would be very difficult for Israel (some analysts think it is it is essentially impossible), but says it would be easy for the United States. He reminds us that Obama has repeatedly said that Iran with nuclear weapons would be "unacceptable," and suggests that both Israel and various Arab states have real doubts about Obama's toughness.

The implication is clear: "If you meant what you said, Mr. President, and you don't want people to think you're a wimp, you'd better get serious about military force."

In short, a central purpose of this article is to mainstream the idea that an attack on Iran is likely to happen and savvy people-in-the-know should start getting accustomed to the idea. In other words, a preemptive strike on Iran should be seen not as a remote or far-fetched possibility, but rather as something that is just "business-as-usual" in the Middle East strategic environment.

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3 Comments

Rafsanjani's latest remark about the IAEA seems to be directed entirely at an Iranian audience, given that he must know there is no truth to his statement that Iran hasn't broken any laws (read: "treaty obligations").

Ian / September 17, 2010 10:38 PM

Yes, and Jannati has been silent for a while. I wonder what might lie behind that silence?

Ian / September 18, 2010 4:44 AM

Ian,

Why would Rafsanjani address his remarks to anyone but an Iranian audience?

He is not a member of the Iranian government, not in anyway responsible for the actions of this government.

Rafsanjani's goal is to influence the Iranian people in an effort to regain his influence in the Iranian government. How would addressing his remarks to anyone other than Iranians help that goal?

What is more interesting to me is your statement from Rafsanjani "that Iran hasn't broken any laws".

How, exactly, does a nation break a law? Who declared such a law? Who is punished for breaking this law? Who are the enforcement agents for this law? How will these enforcement agents enforce this law? How will the defendants be prosecuted for violiation of this law? There are many more questions.

As you can see, there are many,many questions regarding such international "laws". Perhaps you should base your arguement on something other than such unrealistic international "laws". There have been many such arguements made against U.K., U.S., U.S.S.R., China, etc., etc. policies.

All such "laws" are seen by most for what they are. A waste of money, and time.

muhammad billy bob / September 21, 2010 10:40 PM