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Mousavi: Hold Referendum on Regime Policies; Major Run on Dollars

06 Oct 2010 10:3311 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

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Iran Opposition Chief Calls for Vote on Ahmadinejad Policies

AFP | Oct 5

Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi called on Tuesday for a referendum on the policies of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad which he said had left the country isolated.

"Who gave you the authorisation to leave Iran at odds with the whole world through your adventurist and dictatorial policies?" the opposition website kaleme.com quoted Mousavi as saying.

"Hold a referendum and let's see if the people support these destructive policies or not," he said.

"The regime is suffering from dangerous illusions and is in the process of burning all of its bridges, large and small."

Opposition Leader Seeks Referendum on Ahmadinejad

AP | Oct 5

In his latest remarks, Mousavi attacked the Iranian president's speech at the U.N. and accused Ahmadinejad of trying to win points in the Arab world with such provocative statements at the expense of Iran's people.

During his speech in front of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Ahmadinejad said a majority of people in the U.S. and around the world believe the American government staged the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

"We may hear cries of hurray at coffee shops in some Arab countries, but the real effect of the speech will be felt more everyday...in the market and the national economy," Mousavi said.

Iranian Opposition Leader Slams Government Policies

Radio Zamaneh | Oct 5

Mousavi expressed concern about "Iran's dire situation" and added that the government has to stand by its responsibility to "respect people's rights, protect liberties, execute the constitution and respect people's right to govern themselves."

He emphasized once more that there is concrete evidence that the last presidential election was rigged and stressed that it is not possible to "brush off" the people's protest movement.

See also: Full statement on Mousavi's website (Kalemeh [in Farsi])

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Rial Rebounds against Dollar in Sanctions-Hit Iran

AFP | Oct 5

Iran's rial rebounded against the dollar on Tuesday as banks in the Islamic republic offloaded the greenback to curb the local currency's recent steep losses triggered by sanctions, dealers said.

The dollar was trading at around 10,750-10,800 rials compared with 12,500 on Wednesday last week when banks restricted the sale of foreign currencies to private individuals.

Long queues were seen on Tuesday outside several banks and official foreign exchange houses as dollars became freely available again.

Before banks began restricting greenback sales without any explanation last week, the rial had been trading at 10,500 to the dollar.

On Tuesday, a dealer said this week's large sell-off of the dollar was in fact an attempt to counteract the effect of sanctions.

"We do not have access to the outside world as we have difficulty in transferring money outside because of sanctions. This (selling of US dollar) is the (government's) way of battling the sanctions," he said, asking not to be named.

[A] woman traveller said that "black marketeers were making a killing" in the current volatile foreign exchange trade.

"Most people in these queues are black marketeers. I am travelling outside Iran, but finding it difficult to get dollars from the dealer due to the crowd," she said.

Rush to Buy US Dollar

Uskowi on Iran | Oct 5

Reports from Tehran's currency exchange shops that line Ferdowsi Avenue indicate that due to unusually high demands for US dollar, most of the exchange shops had closed their doors, unable to meet the demands at government-imposed exchange rate. Those still opened faced long lines of customers and had to put a purchase limit of $2,000 per customer. They were selling dollar at 10,850 to 11,000 rials. The government has set the official rate at 10,650 rials and has warned the exchanged shops of losing their licenses if they sell at higher prices. The merchants on Ferdowsi Avenue were telling reporters that they had never witnessed such huge crowds lining up to buy US dollar[s].

Sanctions Begin to Compound Iran's Severe Economic Problems

Washington Post | Oct 5

The increasing exchange rate and the lack of foreign currency led to chaotic scenes at some banks. "People were literally screaming and yelling at the foreign exchange counters," said a middleman operating in Iran's vibrant steel industry, on the condition of anonymity. "They wanted dollars because the prices of goods they bought abroad was rising by the minute but nobody could give them any. It was chaos."

He and other traders operating on Iran's free market, the bazaar, saw profits disappear as the rial slid down versus the dollar. Steel prices have already increased by nearly 50 percent in the past two months because of the sanctions.

In the first sign that Iranians are becoming nervous about the currency, some businessmen are starting to send cash abroad. "People are traveling outside with their pockets stuffed with hundreds of thousands of dollars," the steel trader said. "We feel the government is intentionally trying to break our backs."

OTHER NEWS

Barter Trade: Moving Beyond Sanctions

Iran Daily | Oct 6

As Western pressures grow against Iran over its civilian nuclear program, Iranian officials try to implement programs to bypass the illegal sanctions.

Therefore, they want to import cargos via barter trade without using banking system.
Western governments try to prevent giant banks from cooperating with Iranian traders, stopping them to open credit line in other countries. They are creating obstacles to Iran's trade in global markets.

In this respect, Managing Director of Iranian Barter Market Alaeddin Khataei told IRNA that the county can import cargos through barter market.

Barter is a method of exchange by which goods or services are directly exchanged for other goods or services without using a medium of exchange, such as money.

In light of agreements inked between Iranian Barter Market and Turkish, Aussie and Mideast barter markets in UAE, Iranian enterprises can import commodities and facilities without opening a credit line, Khataei said.

In case barter transactions are applied properly, they will help economy rebound from recession, prevent a higher inflation, and reduce costs, he added.

GAO: Iran Still Buying Gas Despite Sanctions

Washington Post | Oct 5

The Government Accountability Office said five companies from China, the United Arab Emirates and Singapore may still be selling gasoline to Iran despite U.S. sanctions signed into law July 1.

The GAO said the companies include subsidiaries of Sinopec and PetroChina, which are listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Another is a Beijing-based state-owned oil firm called Zhuhai Zhenrong, which has an office in Tehran and is one of four companies allowed to import oil to China.

Japanese Sanctions May Cut Iran Oil Exports by 25%, Nomura Says

Tehran Times | Oct 6

Japanese sanctions against Iran, the second-largest oil producer in the Middle East after Saudi Arabia, may reduce crude exports from the Persian Gulf nation by 25 percent, according to Nomura International.

"Recent Japanese sanctions against Iran could force oil exports to below 1.5 million barrels a day in the near term from 2 million barrels a day currently, negatively affecting global supply while helping push oil prices higher," the unit of Japan's largest brokerage said in a note Monday.

Japan said Sept. 3 it is suspending new oil and gas investments in Iran and freezing the assets of 88 organizations and 24 individuals in its latest round of sanctions. Inpex Corp., Japan's biggest energy explorer, said Oct. 1 that it is considering withdrawing from the Azadegan oil project in Iran.

"We reckon oil production capacity will likely decline by 15% from 2010-15, compared with Iran's pre-sanction target of 35% growth," Nomura said in a Sept. 30 note, when it first wrote on the theme. "Also, gas production is unlikely to go as planned, forcing Iran to abandon all of its liquefied natural gas plans."

Nomura estimates that Iranian crude production will decline from a pre-sanction target of 5.3 million barrels a day to 3.34 million barrels by 2015, below the current production capacity of 3.93 million.

Iran Blames Stuxnet Worm on Western Plot

Computerworld | Oct 5

Iran today made its strongest statement yet that it believes a Western plot is behind the Stuxnet worm that has infected tens of thousands of computers in the country, including some at its sole nuclear power plant.

In a Tuesday press briefing, Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, blamed unnamed Western countries for creating and distributing the worm.

"It is hard for the Western states to tolerate the progress of Iran's peaceful nuclear program," said Mehmanparast in a summary of the briefing posted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Web site.

"Western states are trying to stop Iran's (nuclear) activities by embarking on psychological warfare and aggrandizing, but Iran would by no means give up its rights by such measures," Mehmanparast said, reacting to reports that Stuxnet had caused delays at the Bushehr nuclear reactor.

"Nothing would cause a delay in Iran's nuclear activities," Mehmanparast added.

On Monday, Ali Akbar Salehi, who heads Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, said that although Bushehr would not reach full generating capacity until 2011, it would hit the 40% mark in December, according to the semi-official Fars News Agency.

A leak in a containment pool, which has since been fixed, was the cause of the most recent delay, Salehi claimed.

23 Suspects Appear in Court over Tehran University Dormitory Incident

Mehr | Oct 5

The first session of the trial of 23 suspects charged in connection with the 2009 Tehran University dormitory incident was held in a military court in Tehran on Tuesday.

At the court session, indictments against 23 of the 27 suspects charged in connection with the 2009 Tehran University dormitory incident were read out, the ISNA news agency reported.

The plaintiffs and their lawyers as well as legal representatives from Tehran University and the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology then submitted their complaints to the court.

The presiding judge said the court will reveal the names of the suspects once their legal proceedings are completed.

Investigations of 17 more suspects charged in connection with the case have also been conducted, and their cases will soon be submitted to the court.

On June 15, 2009, unidentified people in plainclothes entered the Tehran University dormitory, ransacked buildings, and beat and detained dozens of students.

The police said they only intervened to protect the students living at the dormitory and to restore calm.

Iran Dismisses Reports It Backs Maliki Premiership

Tehran Times | Oct 6

The Foreign Ministry spokesman dismissed reports that Tehran supports Nouri al-Maliki's candidacy for the post of prime minister in Iraq, saying Iran "never interferes in the internal affairs of Iraq."

Ramin Mehmanparast made the remarks in a weekly press briefing on Tuesday.

Mehmanparast said forming a new government in Iraq is an internal affair and the Iraqi political groups have reached that degree of political maturity to decide for themselves.

He also wished for a speedy formation of government in Iraq.

Baghdad Wrangling Rattles Iran Tie

Wall Street Journal | Oct 5

As Iraqi politicians wrangle through a seventh month of government-formation talks, an unexpected casualty is emerging: Iranian influence over the country's fractured Shiite groups.

Before inconclusive March parliamentary polls, Iran had pushed Iraq's Shiite leaders to rally under one umbrella coalition to preserve a sect-based majority in parliament, as they did in the previous elections in 2005, according to several Iraqi politicians.

When this failed, Tehran urged Shiites to reunite, post-elections, in an ad hoc coalition backing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a conservative Shiite.

Iran appeared to have scored a big victory on Friday when the Iran-based firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr did an about-face and told lawmakers in his movement to endorse Mr. Maliki, giving the incumbent prime minister a big leg up in trying to form a new government.

That move, however, spurred the defection of other prominent Shiites, including Ammar al-Hakim, head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq party, or ISCI. Mr. Hakim is traditionally seen as closer than Mr. Sadr to Iran's political orbit.

Iran Reacts Positively to Accord on Resuming Cairo-Tehran Flights

Voice of America | Oct 5

A tentative deal to resume flights between Tehran and Cairo this week received an official word of approval Tuesday from Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast.

Mehmanparast noted that the weekend agreement was a "positive move towards normalizing ties" between both countries, but suggested that conditions were probably not ripe for resuming full diplomatic relations between Tehran and Cairo.

He says that internal Egyptian politics are very tense at the moment and that the Iranian side does not see Egypt making serious efforts to overhaul their foreign policy to improve ties with Tehran. For this reason, he argues Iran's foreign policy makers have no impetus to go out and push this issue, right now.

Iranian-born analyst Alex Vatanka of the Middle East Institute in Washington points out that both Iran and Egypt have repeatedly tried to improve ties, but that fundamental geopolitical differences continue to thwart those attempts:

"I think we've been here before," he said. "Actually, we've been closer to a resumption of diplomatic relations. In the last six months or so, we have had Tehran and Cairo-particularly the Iranians-publicizing the fact that relations were about to be normalized and then, what happens is somebody in the Iranian state machinery, or the Iranian government as a whole, will make a statement that will anger the Egyptians and then the Egyptians will walk away from the deal."

"Last time that happened was when [Iranian Foreign Minister] Manouchehr Mottaki's trip to Cairo was cancelled because of what Iran had to say about the Arab-Israeli conflict," he added.

Iran Funds Al-Aqsa Mosque Model

UPI | Oct 5

A copy of one of Islam's holiest sites has been built near the Lebanese border with Israel in honor of a visit by Iran's president, officials said.

With funding from Iran, work has been carried out around the clock to complete a small scale model of al-Aqsa mosque, considered Islam's third holiest site and on the Temple Mount in East Jerusalem ahead of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to the region next week, the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth said Tuesday.

The mosque, built in the south Lebanese village of Maron A-Ras, is an exact replica of the East Jerusalem mosque with one exception -- an Iranian flag flies on top of the gold dome, the newspaper said.

Israel to Iran: Time's Up

Jewish Week | Oct 5

Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz called Monday for a naval blockade of Iran within two to six months, saying sanctions have failed to convince the Islamic republic to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

"We'll need more than talk and sanctions," Steinitz told a meeting here of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations. "It's high time the West and the United States gave Iran a deadline to change its behavior.... We need a clear deadline for Iran to become open for inspection otherwise the ramifications should be like you did with Cuba in 1962. It kept the U.S. from going to war. It's time for clear messages and deadlines."

Brazil FM: Iran Is Not After nukes

Press TV | Oct 5

Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim says the West has no tangible evidence to support its claim that Iran is trying to produce nuclear weaponry.

There is no proof suggesting Tehran is seeking the technology to develop nukes, Amorim said in an interview with Swissinfo in the Brazilian capital of Brasilia.

He added that the Tehran declaration, which was brokered by Brazil and Turkey on May 17, is the first step to confidence-building.

He said before jumping to conclusions about Iran's real ambitions, one should see what other countries are up to.

Nuclear weapons states have "no positive intentions" and these countries should reduce their arsenals rather than trying to shrink Iran's uranium reserves, the Brazilian leader underlined.

"[Iranian] President [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad has announced if any agreement [on the nuclear standoff] is based on the Tehran declaration, they (Iranians) will not need to enrich uranium to 20%. Is there any more positive reply than that?" the Brazilian president asked.

With Trial Scheduled, Lawyer Says Almost Sure No Acquittal for Americans

ICHRI | Oct 5

Massoud Shafiee, lawyer for the three imprisoned Americans told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that he does not expect his clients to be acquitted. Shafiee said that he initially thought that Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer would be released on bail in the same manner as Sarah Shourd. But having been informed of the court date, he no longer sees it as a possibility.

"Judge Salavati told his office manager to inform me of the court date. The court will convene on 6 November 2010 at 10 a.m. at Branch 15 with Judge Salavati presiding. Starting this moment, I am entitled to see the case and to visit Josh and Shane. I think I will be able to review the case file over the next two to three days and have a meeting with them. Article 128 of Iran's Code of Criminal Procedure permits a judge to deny access to lawyers during the investigation phase," Shafiee told the Campaign.

Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki Receives 15 Year Prison Sentence

RAHANA | Oct 5

The court has recently issued a 15 year prison sentence for Blogger and student activist Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki.

Zoleikha Mousavi, Hossein Ronaghi's mother, stated that the authorities had told them that the court will issue a verdict on September 26th. However, according to his mother, the verdict did not come out until October 3rd and they did not allow his lawyer or his family to visit him when he had appeared at the court.

His mother added that the court's secretary has told Hossein, who blogged under the name of Babak Khorramdin, that he has received a 15 year sentence. Apparently, he has not even been able to see the verdict.

The 26th branch of the Revolutionary Court presided [over] by judge Mirabbas has issued the verdict and a court secretary by the name of Sattari has orally served Ronaghi with the verdict.

In a phone conversation, Ronaghi has stated that "only the court's secretary, Sattari, and the head of his office were present when serving him with the verdict." He added that they have told him that his sentence should have been execution but they have reduced it to prison. According to him, they did not allow his lawyer in the room and have told him to dismiss his lawyer or that he will end up with problems. He further stated that he has been beaten in order to sign the verdict and has not been able to read it.

Sattari has also told him that he has received a heavy sentence since he has not agreed to make televised confessions and has not admitted to his crimes.

Blogger Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki has been detained since December 13, 2009 and transferred to the solitary confinement unit of the IRGC controlled Ward 2A. He was under severe psychological and physical pressure to make false televised confessions.

Construction Project Threatening Elamite Site in Southwestern Iran

Tehran Times | Oct 6

Construction of a building at the perimeter of the Tarisha Temple is threatening the historical integrity of the Elamite site in the Izeh region in Khuzestan Province.

The building, which is being constructed at a distance of 500 meters from the temple, belongs to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the Persian service of the Mehr news Agency reported on Tuesday.

The Tarisha Temple, which is also known as Eshkaft-e Salman, is home to the largest neo-Elamite inscription ever found in Iran. It also has four bas-reliefs, two of which are inside a nearby cave. One of the bas-reliefs depicts a woman beside a man and a priest in a traditional ceremony.

All Iranian organizations have been informed by the Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization (CHTHO) about the prohibition of construction projects on the perimeter of ancient and historical sites, Khuzestan Cultural Heritage Enthusiasts Society (Taryana) spokesman Mojtaba Gahestuni said.

"The organizations must obtain CHTHO's permission for constructing any structure on the perimeter of ancient and historical sites," he added.

However, the CHTHO has not granted the IRGC permission to build the structure.

OPINION & ANALYSIS

Khamenei, Ahmadinejad Attempt to Silence Detractors

Shayan Ghajar (insideIRAN) | Oct 4

While Khamenei tries to silence his clerical antagonists, Ahmadinejad continues to pursue a lawsuit against a prominent parliamentarian for defamation. Ali Reza Motahhari, a staunchly traditionalist conservative and son of Grand Ayatollah Motahhari, a prominent ideological founder of the Islamic Republic, has acted and spoken against the president at every opportunity. Motahhari is aligned with other prominent legislators opposed to the president's erosion of parliamentary authority, and as such constitutes one of the lynchpins of opposition to his administration within the government.

The Islamic Republic News Agency, the government's primary official news agency, published a lengthy article on Oct. 4 condemning Motahhari. Members of IRNA's leadership are appointed by the president, and as such published the article as the top headline on their site's main page. The article comprises statements from Ahmadinejad's supporters in parliament, saying, "Motahhari lacks necessary political insight and acumen," and accusing the MP of "colluding with the leaders of sedition" during the unrest following the disputed 2009 presidential election.

Motahhari also published an editorial on Oct. 4 on Tabnak, the traditionalist/conservative news site affiliated with former IRGC commander and failed presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaie. Motahhari's lengthy opinion piece criticizes Ahmadinejad for undermining traditional values of the Islamic Republic by speaking of pursuing socially liberal agendas with regards to women's rights, and by insulting the descendants of the Revolution's founder, Ayatollah Khomeini. Motahhari's complaints are indicative of a broader anger from traditionally-minded politicians against the populist showmanship of Ahmadinejad, which they perceive as a threat to the Revolution's legacy.

Iran versus Sanctions, Part 2: US Shuns the Obvious

Hossein Askari (Asia Times) | Oct 6

Why have sanctions not persuaded Iran to forsake its nuclear enrichment policy? There are a number of simple lessons.

First, for the target country. Sanctions on the exports of a country may be less than effective if that country's main export is a commodity in global demand. Simply put, others will buy Iran's oil if the US does not. Will Iran get a much lower price for its oil? No.

Sanctions on the imports of a country from the sender (the United States) will do little if the country can buy similar goods previously imported from the sender (the US) from third countries (Europe, Japan and China) or still from the sender but re-exported through other countries (the United Arab Emirates) although at a somewhat higher price.

Possibly most important, sanctions to change a target's policy that the majority of its citizens support are much less likely to succeed. Iranians support the regime's nuclear program, but targeted sanctions to change Iran's human rights abuses would be much more likely to succeed; possibly resulting in regime change and a reversal of objectionable policies.

Sanctions on investments in Iran's energy sector, highly touted by a number of observers, have not affected the regime as is widely believed. The regime has not used oil revenues to put Iran on the path of rapid growth and development. It has, instead, used the country's non-renewable resources to buy domestic support in order to survive, through wasteful subsidies and to enrich senior members of the establishment (intelligence services, Revolutionary Guards, military, clerics and bureaucrats). For these purposes it has had sufficient funds, especially in the last eight or so years, with high and rising oil prices. Foreign investment and better technologies for its oil and gas sectors would have paid off more into the future (and could now become important as the regime struggles economically).

Second, for the sender. The US has sent mixed signals with policies that look at times bizarre from an Iranian perspective. The US stated long ago that Iranian oil was embargoed from coming into the US, yet Iranian refined products were exempt for a number of years. The US turned a blind eye towards most u-turn financial transactions for about 28 years. The US has frozen accounts of individuals by their name; does anyone really believe that members of the Revolutionary Guards, intelligence services, and clerical and government establishment open big foreign bank accounts in their own names? These are not boy scouts. These powerful men in Iran have partners, fictitious names and numbered accounts. Is it believable that the US with Saudi support could not persuade the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Malaysia to cut their ties with Iran? No.

See also: "Part 1: A History of Failure"

Iran's Dive against the Dollar

Thierry Coville, Associate Research Fellow at the Institut de Relations Internationales et Stratégiques (World Policy Institute) | Oct 5

[O]ne should not leap to the conclusion that the sanctions are working. The Iranian government has sufficient foreign exchange reserves (due to the oil windfall from 2005 to 2008) and as long as the oil price does not crash (oil exports represent 80 percent of foreign exchange earnings), the Iranian economy will survive. Iranians have in the past showed great talent at finding alternative financial solutions when the usual mechanisms do not work. UAE still plays a central role in Iranian foreign trade, but there has also been a reorientation of Iranian commerce with Asia -- China and South Korea being now the second and fourth biggest exporters to Iran. Sanctions on the energy sector may have an impact on the long term, but are unlikely to change Iranian government behavior on the nuclear issue immediately.

The most troublesome aspect of these sanctions, however, is that they are weakening Iranian civil society and reinforcing the networks close to the regime. The Iranian private sector, with no privileged access to the Iranian banking system, is suffering most acutely from the financial sanctions. It is the Iranian worker or member of the "educated" middle-class which will suffer from a higher inflation rate, if the rial depreciation goes on. The companies close to the Pasdarans and the Foundations have enough political backing to get access to the financing they need to survive in this difficult economic environment (they are controlling most of the illegal import networks which generate huge profits).

In fact, these sanctions, by limiting the economic exchanges between Iran and the outside world are constraining the reinforcement of Iranian civil society. This policy of isolating Iran is then in complete contradiction with the positive comments made by the American and European governments about the "mature and democracy-loving" Iranian civil society during the protests of 2009.

Will the Obama Administration Sanction Chinese Companies Doing Business in Iran?

Meir Rogin (The Cable) | Oct 5

Bob Einhorn, [the] State [Department]'s senior advisor on Iran and North Korea sanctions [...] traveled to Beijing last week to press the Chinese not to undermine the sanctions. It's not clear yet if he was successful.

In a July 29 hearing, Einhorn referenced a previous GAO report that identified 41 foreign firms with a petroleum interest in Iran. "There are a number of entities that are very problematic. I have to say that a number of them have been engaged in sanctionable activity," he said in testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform committee.

Complicating matters are the persistent rumors that China may have secured some type of immunity from additional sanctions as part of their agreement to support U.N. Security Council Resolution 1929, which established relatively benign sanctions against Iran as punishment for its continued pursuit of nuclear weapons capability.

Undersecretary of State William Burns said at an Oct. 1 hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the State Department had competed an internal review of the companies noted in the GAO report and would make more determinations soon, but he cautioned not to expect too many companies to be singled out for punishment.

"There are probably -- there are a number of cases, less than 10, in which it appears that there may have been violations of the Iran Sanctions Act. Most of those appear to involve activities that have stopped, in other words, involving companies that have pulled out of business in Iran, but there are a couple that appear to be ongoing," he said.

Capitol Hill observers have been encouraged by the administration's recent moves -- but are still not convinced they constitute enough of a commitment to increasing pressure on Iran.

"Many in Congress are worried that the administration will fall for Iran's latest bid to buy a reprieve from sanctions by appearing interested in negotiations," said one senior GOP senate aide. "Congress will not let up on the pressure on the administration to go after Iran and those who are supporting it, namely, the Chinese."

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11 Comments

It is only obvious for Mousavi to ask for a referendum on 'regime's policies' since anything else would jeopardize regime's existance.This regime is on its last leg and it is at its weakest ever.The conduct of the so called opposition leaders despite their lack of leadership for obvious reasons is a great indication of their true intentions.These guys have always been and will always remain as supporters of the Barbaric Republic.This is truly a waste of time.
What happened to the Greens this year? What happened to the leaders on the outside?
What a joke.

Niloofar / October 6, 2010 5:16 PM

agree with Niloofar. mousavi will not abandon his support for this barbaric regime. well he is one of them so why should he?

arman / October 6, 2010 8:20 PM

Mousavi's latest interview fits in with a generally improving and highly encouraging pattern of signals he has been sending to the opposition. I suggest you read his last two interviews in full.

1. His statements have very clearly evolved and he has shifted gears from putting emphasis on Khomeini and the Islamic Republic to putting emphasis on the people and Iran. He has uniformly made it clear that he considers the people of Iran to be the sole owners of the Green Movement and that he views himself as a humble supporter of the movement rather than its leader.

2. He has repeatedly said that people should have a right to self-determination and in his latest interviews has implied that he thinks the whole regime may collapse as a result of its policies and due to the high level of dissent.

3. Unlike some reformists he does not try to build walls between the opposition inside Iran and Iranians outside of the country. In fact he has welcomed support for the Green Movement from abroad. Everyone knows that the main supporters of the movement outside of Iran are Iranian expatriates who are overwhelmingly against the regime.

4. Another encouraging sign was an interview that Dr. Rahnavard gave to Nikahang Kosar, knowing full well that she would be facing some very tough questions from someone who is not your typical reformist. She came out of it reasonably well, but most significant is the fact that she was brave enough to go ahead with it.

5. Karoubi has recently said that it is up to the people to decide whether they want religious government or not.

The main reformist figures (Tajzadeh, Safai-Farahani, Aminzadeh, Saharkhiz etc.) held these views even before they were sent to prison, so you can imagine what they are thinking know. The point is that while things aren't perfect, all of the important reformists (except for Khatami who seems to send weak and confused signals every now and again) appear to have experienced somewhat of an intellectual revolution which makes it possible to work with them at this stage. The future belongs to the people of Iran.

Cy / October 6, 2010 10:07 PM

Cy,

1. You are really confusing me. Only as early as a month ago Mousavi and Karoubi were hailed as the leaders of the Green movement and now he is a humble supporter?

2. Point well taken however, that falls short of our objectives. We all know this regime is a matter of time. We all know the people are the sole owners. The question is self determination under what set of rules? If anything his position is parallel with what we see of the Greens at the present time.

3. Cy, explain please. I don't know who you are referring to.

4. Can you provide a link to this interview?

5. You are 100% on Karoubi. I don't know any of these people. Remember, some of us never experienced the other side. Khatami has no courage and never did. The intellectual revolution is a given.

Niloofar / October 7, 2010 5:18 AM

Niloofar,

1. It is true that Mousavi is generally at least perceived to be the leader of the movement. My point is that he has insisted that he does not see himself as a leader of the movement. That is, he has not tried to stamp his authority on the movement thereby defining it limits. This way he enables those who are against the regime to join in. He is also then able to justify anti-regime sentiments in the opposition by saying that this is an accurate reflection of society rather than his work.

2. Once again, the fact that he has insisted on this is significant. It means that if and when the movement is victorious he will not set the parameters, rather it will be the people. In a sense if and when the regime is gone, it will be the people who set the rules.

3. Traditionally there has been a separation between the Khodi and the Gheir-e-Khodi by the reformists, i.e. between reformists and democrats if you will. This largely disappeared when the Green Movement was born but there are some mostly minor reformists who have tried to build these barriers again. Kavakebian who is a refomist MP is the latest one, although he is a bit of a nobody. The very fact that he got past the Guardian Council proves this. Nonetheless he may represent a level of anxiety among some reformists. I sense that Khatami might fall under this category.

4. http://www.khodnevis.org/persian/%D8%B1%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%87%E2%80%8C%D9%87%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%AE%D9%88%D8%AF%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86%DB%8C/%D8%B3%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA/9197-پاسخ‌های-زهرا-رهنورد-به-سوال‌های-خودنویس.html

5. The people I named were among the masterminds of the reform movement which took off in the late 90s. I should probably add Hajjarian to the list as well. Anyway, they were revolutionaries in 79 and held important positions in the regime during the first 16, 17 years or so after the revolution. They became disillusioned with the regime and realised that it had to change. They also helped Mousavi's campaign take off. They are all in prison today. People usually get disillusioned with ideological revolutions a generation or two after the event itself, so it is truly remarkable that in the case of the Islamic Revolution the very revolutionary generation lost faith in it and only in about a decade at that!

I will leave you with this clip of Tajzadeh taken about a month before the election to give you a sense of how some of the most important reformists think.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLD8XkPMFpI

Now after the fraud, the murders, the widespread use of torture and his own show trial, it is safe to assume that he is even more disillusioned with the regime.

I should say that I am certain that this regime will ultimately fall. Either discontent in society will continue to spread and intensify leading to a social explosion that will spiral out of control at some point in the future resulting in a revolution or the regime might implode as did the Soviet Union (perhaps at some point someone attempts to reform it and the inherent contradictions will result in the whole thing unravelling or, say, the Clergy calculates that it is not in their longterm interests to govern as they are doing today, although I don't think this is likely). I do not see the Islamic Republic as being viable in the longterm, by which I mean decades at most. I do not think reforming the Islamic Republic is possible even if we remove the physical obstacles we face today. Thus I do not perceive any risk of saving the regime by aligning myself with those reformists who are serious enough to face jail and possibly death for reform.

I hope this was useful. Since term is starting in a couple of days, I think this will be my last long response for a while!

http://www.khodnevis.org/persian/%DA%A9%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%AA%D9%88%D9%86%D8%B3%D8%AA%D8%A7%D9%86/9369-تکامل-اقتصادی-در-نظام-اسلامی-از-دوران-طلایی-تا-دوران-خلایی.html

Cy / October 7, 2010 7:47 AM

You did great my friend. I learned a lot. I thank you.

Niloofar / October 7, 2010 11:36 PM

Cy/Niloofar,

Great conversation.

I think it is fairly obvious that some of the "reformists" are themselves reformed/transformed individuals. More than any words, their actions speak for themselves. the fact that they are willing to pay the price when they could be suckling on the teets of power speaks volumes.

But I still do not think these individuals themselves will represent the final product. They are part of the evolutionary change that is occuring in Iran.

I think the most encouraging transformation that may be happening in Iranian society today is a shift away from personality-based politics (e.g loyalty to let's say pahlavi, Khomeini, Rajavi, Moussavi, etc) and instead moving towards principle-based thinking such as rule of law, human rights, rule of majority with respect of minority, and sep of religion and state, principles that were hardly ever mentioned in 79. At least that is the impression I get when I hear young greens and their slogans.

Ahvaz / October 8, 2010 11:34 AM

Ahvaz,

You are quite right. Also, I don't think the Iranian society as a whole (including the leadership)was mature enough to move away from personality-based politics in 79. This is an issue that only the passage of time could have resolved in the form of 'intellectual evolution'. I am optimistic, but I still think some kind of 'cooperative' leadership on the outside is necessary as a buffer. We cannot expect a positive outcome automagically. What are your thoughts? We are truly weak in that department.

Niloofar / October 8, 2010 7:53 PM

i think that moussavi and karoubi are smarter than that and they see green movement and it cause ,much larger than themselves and they would like to be folish of them to call themselves the leader.i take my hat off to them both.

fay / October 9, 2010 6:50 AM

Fay, you can take your hat off for anyone you like. They aren't as smart as you think or they would not have been part of this evil establishment to start with.You missed the very point these kids have tried to bring to your attention.The era of personality-based politics is OVER.Stop justifying their every move just because you like them as characters and start paying attention to their actions and judge them for "principle-based thinking such as rule of law, human rights, rule of majority with respect to minority, and separation of religion and state. Principles that were hardly ever mentioned in 79." Are they doing it? Any one or all of it? Now you are thinking.

H.D. / October 9, 2010 7:52 PM

Thanks Niloofar,

I have been enjoying your posts a lot lately ;)

I agree with you. I think we have a problem with leadership (or lack of) right now. I think we are still searching for our Mandela, MLK, or Ghandi. I dont think Moussavi is up to par, but he is a big step in the right direction (right now considering the circumstances).

The key is for the leader(s) to champion fundametal Principles that are self-evident, universally recognized as GOOD, moral and ethical, such as women's rights and equality, minority rights, prisoner's rights, children rights, rule of law, and citizen/human rights and rule of majority.

(Chasing after a personality would be a dead end.)

Whether that leadership comes from inside or outside Iran is anyone's guess. I would say though that Iranians inside the country have a better pulse of the situation and can relate much more to contemp Iranians compared to us out here.


One thing I know with Absolute cerainty is that this regime will fall.
When and how that will happen is any one's guess, but the outcome is ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN. History is full of seemingly invincible savage regimes (even mightier and more savage than ours) falling, often faltering very very quickly, and in most unpredictable fashion.

Of course, Iran's problems will not suddenly go away when the regime finally falls. In fact we would need years to recover, rebuild and catch up and we would still need to deal with our nutty neighbors. I think that is an area where the experiences, expertise and brilliance of Iranian dispora( who are some of the best and brightest Iranians) could be invaluable.

Ahvaz / October 11, 2010 11:04 PM