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Green Spokesman: 'No Deal'; Regime Media: US 'Exile Gov' Plot Foiled

09 Jun 2011 10:30Comments

Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Farsi and Arabic press and excerpts where the source is in English. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the stories in perspective. You can follow breaking news stories on our Twitter feed.

Iran Daylight Time (IRDT), GMT+4:30

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Ardeshir Amir Arjomand. Mohammad Reza Madhi.

10:30 a.m., 19 Khordad/June 9 Our columnist Muhammad Sahimi compiled the following news items and commentary:

Dr. Ardeshir Amir Arjomand, senior adviser to Mir Hossein Mousavi, said in an interview with Kalemeh, the website that reflects Mousavi's views, "So long as the leaders of the Green Movement are under arrest and are not allowed to be active freely, and as long as the means and ways of the [ruling group] have not changed, speaking about national reconciliation and free elections is meaningless." He added emphatically, "The leaders of the Green Movement will never cut a deal over people's rights and the national interests." He declared the march on June 12, the second anniversary of the 2009 presidential elections, that has been called for by the Coordination Council for the Green Path of Hope a "test" that will indicate whether the political system can tolerate protesters who want to demand their rights peacefully. The council has called for a completely silent protest.

Amir Arjomand continued, "The Green Movement's leaders have repeatedly said that they want national reconciliation and do not have enmity toward anyone, but they have [also] emphasized that their capital is people's trust, not positions and power. National reconciliation cannot be achieved behind closed doors, in dark alleys, and via barter deals for power." Saying that the ruling group should repent for its sins and ask the people for forgiveness, he added, "Free and problem-free elections are the best, the most peaceful, and the least costly way of transition to democracy," and invited the government's critics to clearly define "the criteria for free, fair, and problem-free elections" and insist on them. He accused the regime of not respecting "the most elementary human rights," and said, "Given the track record of fraud, repression, and law breaking, how can anyone trust them to hold free elections?... The way to regain people's trust is through the release of the political prisoners and the Green Movement's leaders, freedom for political groups and the press, and elimination of the [Guardian Council's] power to vet and disqualify electoral candidates." Responding to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's assertion Saturday that the security of those political opponents of the regime who do not want to topple it should be protected, Amir Arjomand said, "How and according to what criteria can you speak about the security of the critics? The security that you are talking about is not for the people, but for your friends and supporters."

Fars, the news agency run by the intelligence unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, claimed that the Ministry of Intelligence has defeated a plan by the United States to form a "government in exile" for Iran. According to Fars, a high-ranking ministry official asserted the following:

After the sedition of 2009 [the Green Movement] that aimed at toppling the Islamic Republic through a "soft" revolution designed by Gene Sharp [known for advocating nonviolent revolution], others, such as Joseph Nye [of Harvard University] began planning for stronger actions, including terrorist operations. Then there was a meeting at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies that lasted three hours, during which it was decided that a "government in exile" should be set up for Iran. Thus a search began for someone to lead such a government, and it settled on Mohammad Reza Madhi [a former Revolutionary Guard commander in its intelligence division who was close to the office of the Supreme Leader before he left Iran] who was in the jewelry business in Bangkok, Thailand. Madhi was contacted by the American embassy and he accepted the role, traveled to Washington, and met with [Vice President] Joe Biden who promised him full support. Then Dennis Ross [Middle East adviser to President Obama], who was in charge of the project, tried to identify other figures for the "government in exile." One such person was Amir Hossein Jahanshahi, a businessman with dual French-Israeli citizenship who is close to Ashraf Pahlavi [twin sister of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi]. Others included Abdollah Mohtadi [leader of the Komala, a Kurdish dissident group], Hassan Sharafi, [Dr.] Alireza Nourizadeh [a London-based political analyst], Reza Hosseinbor, the leader of a secessionist group, and [filmmaker] Mohsen Makhmalbaf who is "the representative of the sedition to the outside world," all of whom participated in a conference at the Atlantic Hotel in Paris. The United States also provided $7 billion for the effort. One goal of the effort was to attract Iranian diplomats. But when the identity of Ahmad Maleki [a diplomat in the Iranian embassy in Italy], a nephew of Mehdi Karroubi, was revealed, the project to attract diplomats collapsed. The unknown soldiers [intelligence operatives] of Emam-e Zaman [Imam Mahdi] rescued Madhi and returned him to Iran.

A documentary about the operation, Diamonds for Deception, was broadcast by state television on Wednesday night. Interestingly, Fars and IRNA, Iran's official news agency, referred to Madhi differently. Fars claimed that Madhi had penetrated the "counterrevolutionaries" as part of a plan by the Ministry of Intelligence, whereas IRNA referred to him as a "CIA spy." Whereas Fars spoke of a "rescue operation" for Madhi, IRNA claimed that the intelligence operatives made him aware of the anti-Iran project, and he left the project on his own.

Fars's report sounds very much like a scenario written by Hossein Shariatmadari, the managing editor of Kayhan. In fact, an editorial in the paper practically repeated the report word for word, without ever mentioning Fars. But, similar to IRNA, Kayhan referred to Madhi as a "counterrevolutionary." Bultan News, a website linked with the security and intelligence forces, referred to Diamonds for Deception as a "security documentary," but then removed the mention of it. Both Kayhan and IRNA claimed that Madhi has "confessed."

In a joint statement, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi and four human rights organizations asked the United Nations Human Rights Council to speed up the selection process for a special rapporteur on human rights for Iran and dispatch the investigator as soon as possible. The four organizations are the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, International Federation of Human Rights, Center for the Defense of Human Rights in Iran, and Reporters without Borders. The statement said that Iran's judiciary is in such a terrible state that citizens are reluctant to bring their cases to court, as they have no hope of justice. Arbitrary arrests and imprisonment of citizens, torture, and executions are ongoing. Not only are people denied the right to gather and peacefully protest, but the security and paramilitary forces use violence to prevent people even from mourning for their dead. As an example, the statement mentioned the funeral of distinguished nationalist-religious figure Ezatollah Sahabi and the death of his daughter Haleh Sahabi during the procession, which was disrupted by agents of the regime.

A group of leading Hollywood film industry professionals and Amnesty International have launched a campaign calling for the sentence of distinguished Iranian film director Jafar Panahi to be overturned. Panahi has been sentenced to six years in prison for supporting the Green Movement and banned from directing films and writing screenplays for 20 years. A group of campaigners, led by Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon, will deliver to the U.N. in New York a petition with tens of thousands of signatures demanding Panahi's conviction be set aside. About 20,000 people have already signed the petition, including directors Martin Scorsese, Ridley Scott, and Paul Haggis, and several well-known Iranian activists such as director Mohsen Makhmalbaf, pop singer Faegheh Atashin (Googoosh), academics Hamid Dabashi and Azar Nafisi, and previously imprisoned journalists Roxana Saberi and Maziar Bahari. The organizers intend to hold a rally outside the U.N. offices and symbolically rename a nearby New York street plaza "Azadi Square" (Freedom Square) after the site in Tehran where hundreds of thousands rallied in protest after the 2009 election.

Dr. Fereydoon Abbasi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), announced that the Islamic Republic will install a new generation of centrifuges in its uranium enrichment sites and increase its 19.75 percent uranium enrichment output by a factor of three. He said that the first cascade of 164 new centrifuges will "soon" be installed at the facilities both in Natanz, the main uranium enrichment center, and Fordow, near Qom, whose existence was announced in September 2009. According to Abbasi, the enrichment of uranium to the level of 19.75 percent will be transferred from Natanz to Fordow under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The shift will enable Iran to triple its 19.75 percent uranium enrichment output, according to the AEOI chief. In his press conference on Tuesday, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had declared that the report of IAEA chief Yukyia Amano on Iran's nuclear program was written under U.S. pressure. He lashed out at the IAEA for being "swayed by political pressures.... Yukiya Amano is moving in the direction of hurting the agency's reputation.... The agency is taking orders from the United States," Ahmadinejad said, declaring that Iran will never stop uranium enrichment.

In reaction to those statements, the European Union expressed deep concern on Wednesday, saying Tehran was become increasingly defiant of the U.N. Security Council. In a statement read out by Hungary's ambassador at a meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors, the E.U. noted with "grave concern" Iran's lack of cooperation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog. "We note with particular concern the announcement made only today by Iran that it will increase its capacity to enrich [uranium] to 20 percent, thereby further exacerbating its defiance of the United Nations Security Council." The E.U. statement demanded that Iran suspend its uranium enrichment program, and called on Amano to submit to the IAEA Board of Governors "at the earliest possible date a comprehensive analysis of the possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear program."

In a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday, President Barack Obama said the United States and its allies may impose more sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, since Iran has vowed that no offer by the West can halt its enrichment of uranium. Obama said that he and Merkel agreed that Iran's nuclear program and its refusal to engage in any meaningful talks remain a serious concern."We agreed that if the International Atomic Energy Agency this week determines again that Iran is continuing to ignore its international obligations, then we will have no choice but to consider additional steps, including potentially additional sanctions, to intensify the pressure on the Iranian regime," Obama said.

Majles deputy and Ahmadinejad critic Ali Motahari said that 90 legislators have signed a draft resolution to summon the president to parliament and question him. The deputies want to question him about the forced resignation of Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi, the government's cultural policies, and his views concerning the group around his chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei.

Gholam Hossein Elham, Ahmadinejad's adviser for legal matters, said that if Khamenei had not issued a formal order for Moslehi's reinstatement, he would not have remained minister of intelligence. In his Tuesday press conference, the president defended the Mashaei group. One reporter observed that many revolutionary organizations had criticized his inner circle but the government had kept its silence, and requested, "If you have any explicit views, please express them." Ahmadinejad responded, "My position is again silence." When another reporter asked him whether he has been given any documents regarding the "perverted group" -- Mashaei and his circle -- Ahmadinejad replied sarcastically, "If they had any documents, there would not be any need for so much noise."

Majles deputy Shariar Taherpour, who is a member of the parliament's Industries and Mines Commission, said that Iran's earning from oil exports during the Ahmadinejad administration has been half of the total of such income during the entire period Iran has been exporting oil, yet the economy has not experienced any significant rate of growth. He added, "Every year $70-80 billion has been spent on importing products and stuff that were not necessary to be imported, such as grapes from Chile, oranges from elsewhere...while not supporting the domestic production. The hollow slogans and undeliverable promises have increased at the same time, and as time passes fewer such promises are ever delivered."

The Central Bank increased the rate of exchange between the U.S. dollar and the toman, Iran's currency, by 11 percent, from 1,059 to 1,171 tomans per dollar. The exchange rate in the unofficial market is even higher, with a dollar fetching 1,212 tomans.

7-e Sobh, Mashaei's daily mouthpiece, strongly criticized reactionary cleric Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, who used to be Ahmadinejad's spiritual mentor, but has turned against him. Mesbah Yazdi, who is very close to Khamenei, had claimed that he had worked hard to help Ahmadinejad to get elected. 7-e Sobh asked, "Could you please specify what you did for Ahmadinejad's election? It may be good for the public to become aware of the work that you did.... If you challenged the reformists, it was not due to your love for Ahmadinejad, but your hatred for the reformists, because you knew well that you do not have anyone who could beat the reformists. You and your supporters backed [current Majles Speaker Ali] Larijani in 2005, but what was the result? In fact, your [supposed] support for Ahmadinejad reduced his votes, rather than increasing them. If they allow him to run in 2013 and you do not support him, he will receive 34 million votes."

Mohammad Sharif Malekzadeh, secretary-general of the Supreme Council for Iranian Expatriates, said that even though the council's budget was eliminated by the Majles, it has continued its work. He added that the office of the president will provide the necessary funds for the council's activities. The council, founded by Mashaei last year, has been routinely targeted by critics of the president and his chief of staff.

In his Tuesday press conference, Ahmadinejad claimed that "we have precise information that, in order to control Pakistan and weaken the government and the nation, the U.S. intends to carry out operations there to create problems for Pakistan's nuclear facilities." He continued, "And then through the U.N. Security Council and some international organizations, they will lay the foundation to be there [Pakistan] more extensively than ever and weaken their national sovereignty." In response, the Pakistan Foreign Ministry declared Wednesday, "Pakistan is a nuclear-weapon state. This is an established fact.... We do not comment on our strategic program." Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani also said that his country's nuclear facilities are safeguarded and there is no ground for concern.

Political prisoner Arzhang Davoodi was put on trial again and his sentence increased to ten years and eight months of imprisonment. The court also stated that he must be taken to a court in Bandar Abbas in south-central Iran to stand trial for other offenses.

Three Kurdish political prisoners, Alnoor Khezri, Kamran Sheikhi, and Seyyed Ebrahim Sayyedi, have been on a hunger strike for the past week. They had been jailed in Ward 350 of Evin Prison in Tehran, but were taken to Rajaei Shahr Prison outside the city and jailed in the ward for dangerous common criminals. The three went on hunger strike to protest the conditions of their incarceration. The families of the three are very concerned about the state of their health.

Imprisoned journalist Mehdi Mahmoudian, a member of the public relations office of the banned reformist Islamic Iran Participation Front, has been transferred to solitary confinement. Mahmoudian is one of four leading political prisoners who had gone on a hunger strike, but ended it after being asked to do so by many political figures and groups. He was arrested after making revelations about the crimes that occurred in the aftermath of the 2009 presidential election in the Kahrizak detention center, in which at least four young protesters were murdered.

An appeals court has upheld the 19.5-year prison sentence of blogger Hossein Derakhshan. The long-time Canadian resident was a supporter of Ahmadinejad during his last two years abroad.

Mashregh News, a website close to the hardliners, alleged that two nationalist-religious journalists, Reza Alijani and Morteza Kazemian, have left Iran with their families and asked France for political asylum. Alijani, who has been imprisoned several times by the Islamic Republic, was the editor of Iran-e Farda, founded by the late Ezatollah Sahabi. The weekly was published from 1992 to 2000 and played a leading role in the birth of the reform movement. Kazemian is a member of the Movement of Militant Muslims, a leftist Islamic group led by Dr. Habibollah Peyman, long a leading nationalist-religious figure.

Sixteen hundred workers at the South Pars Complex in southern Iran have gone on strike. South Pars, the largest natural gas reserve in the world, is to be developed in 28 phases. The striking workers, who have been employed on phases 1-10, have not been paid for three months.

Credible sources have told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that on May 23 and 24, 16 people were secretly executed in Vakilabad prison in Mashhad, in northeastern Iran. All but one had been convicted of narcotics trafficking. Three sisters were among the executed, and one was executed after being convicted of rape.

Conservative cleric Grand Ayatollah Naser Makaren Shirazi criticized the repeal of Saeed Malekpour's execution sentence of. He said, "Recently, a person distributed 300,000 immoral DVDs, and fortunately Sepah [the Revolutionary Guards] arrested him. He was convicted and sentenced, but unfortunately the sentence was overturned."

Brigadier General Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam, commander of the national police, criticized the planned merger of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology with two other ministries, saying it will hamper police efforts. He also said that by March 2012, there will be a center in every provincial capital for police monitoring of cyberspace.

Copyright © 2011 Tehran Bureau

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