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Hardline Attacks on Ahmadinejad Camp Continue; Iran Satellite Launch

17 Jun 2011 07:45Comments

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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Rasad 1 space rocket on launchpad and in flight.

7:45 a.m., 27 Khordad/June 17 Our columnist Muhammad Sahimi compiled the following news items and commentary:

Hardliners continued to attack the inner circle of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and by extension the president himself.

In a speech delivered at the office of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Qom, reactionary cleric Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi once again attacked the "perverted group" and "perverted current" -- code name for Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's chief of staff, and his supporters. Mesbah Yazdi claimed, "If some people begin something that causes perversion in the society, there will be no turning back for them to make up for their errors." He tried to liken the "perverted group" to those who turned against the Prophet and Imam Ali.

Ali Saeedi, Khamenei's representative to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or Sepah, said that the Guards will confront anyone who tries to force the Islamic Revolution to deviate from its path. He said that the "seditionist reformists" and "perverted groups" do not move along the true Islamic path, and that, "Unfortunately we are seeing worrisome variables that are in contradiction with Islam and the Revolution. Unfortunately, some of the things said by those that are at the top of power pyramid are not Islamic and this is due to perverted thinking. Sepah moves behind the Supreme Leader and tries, according to its legal mission, to protect the Revolution on the path of the Leader."

Abbas Amirfar, the cleric close to Ahmadinejad and Mashaei who was arrested 40 days ago, was released from prison, but arrested again after only a few hours. His family has said that he spent the entire 40 days in solitary confinement. After his release, the Special Court for the Clergy ordered his rearrest.

But Ahmadinejad's supporters have also responded to the attacks. The website 1shanbeh wrote, "We will not exchange a rotten hair of Ahmadinejad with 100 Mes...." The reference is to Mesbah Yazdi who has strongly attacked Mashaei and his supporters, and even Ahmadinejad himself. The website then advised the president's supporters, "As Dr. Ahmadinejad recently recommended, the best response [to the critics] is silence." 7-e Sobeh, a website closely aligned with Mashaei, published a very similar message.

***

Iran launched a satellite, Rasad 1 (Observation 1), into orbit on Wednesday. Western experts said the satellite can be used for limited military reconnaissance, as well as monitoring crops and tracking damage from earthquakes, floods, and other natural disasters. This is the second time an Iranian rocket has carried a satellite into orbit, more than two years after Iran joined the international space club by launching its first satellite, Omid (Hope). Few details about the satellite were released. In any case, the successful operation demonstrated the growing skill and confidence of Iranian engineers.

Ahmadinejad claimed that poverty will very soon be uprooted in Iran. He said that Iran's enemies have imposed sanctions to block the nation's progress but, contrary to all that they have done, "Iran is number one in the world in terms of its speed of scientific progress." He also said that no one goes to sleep hungry in Iran.

Mostafa Tajzadeh, former deputy minister of interior in the Khatami administration and an outspoken reformist, has been granted a three-day prison furlough. He has been incarcerated since immediately after the 2099 presidential elections, having been sentenced to six years of imprisonment after a show trial. The last time he was granted a furlough was ten months ago.

Ahmad Sard Haj Sayyed Javadi, a member of the Liberation Movement of Iran and one of the nation's oldest political activists, asked the senior clerics not to be silent about what has been done by the hardliners and, in particular, the deaths of Haleh Sahabi and Reza Hoda Saber. He said that he holds the government responsible for the deaths.

Hardline weekly 9 Dey, which has a record of harshly criticizing the Green Movement and its leaders, has been shut down by the commission that monitors the press. The weekly's editor is cleric Hamid Rasaei, formerly an ardent supporter of Ahmadinejad. One reason given for banning the weekly is that it published a cartoon that the commission considered an insult to the clergy. The cartoon mocks former president Mohammad Khatami. Rasaei said, "Instead of shutting us down, you [the government] should defrock Khatami and put him on trial," for his role in the Green Movement.

Payam Fazlinejad, who writes for the hardline newspaper Kayhan, condemned the closure of 9 Dey, and said that the weekly represented the "pure Islam of [Prophet] Muhammad." Fazlinejad, who in the past has attacked anyone who criticized the hardliners, also claimed that influential Majles deputy Ali Motahari, Speaker Ali Larijani's brother-in-law, said at a private gathering that not only does he not believe in Velaayat-e Faghih (guardianship of the Islamic jurist, represented by Khamenei), but that he has many criticisms of Khamenei's performance. Fazlinejad also predicted that Mashaei and his group will eventually be imprisoned.

A group of Majles deputies, led by Ali Larijani, will meet with Ahmadinejad next week to discuss the merger of several ministries proposed by the president. The Majles is supposed to debate the mergers on Sunday.

Majles deputy Hamid Reza Katouzian, head of the parliament's Energy Commission, said that the government will be responsible for any instability and chaos in the Ministry of Oil. He criticized sudden firing and appointments in the ministry, and said that the ministry is highly important to the nation, and should not be treated like most other ministries. He added that over the past six years that Ahmadinejad has been the president the minister of oil has changed four times, indicating instability in the ministry.

Judiciary chief Sadegh Larijani has ordered Iran's prisons not to admit those who are addicted to narcotics, but transfer them to camps for treatment, Gholam Hossein Esmaili, head of the Organizations of the Prison reported. According to Esmaili, "No one wants the addicted, not even the prisons. Thus it is the government's responsibility to treat them and return them to society." He said that one reason for not imprisoning the addicted is the increase in the prison population. The camps -- where treatment is mandatory for addicted offenders -- are run by the Ministry of the Interior.

Amir Hossein Jahanshahi and Mehrdad Khansari, the leaders of the so-called Green Wave, an opposition group in the Diaspora, claimed that the Iranian government kidnapped Mohammad Reza Madhi, the former Revolutionary Guard intelligence officer who was working with the two to topple the government in Tehran. In a press conference in London, the two men said that they trusted Madhi, adding, "Commander Madhi, similar to all those that contact us from within Iran, was tested to make sure that he was not a spy for the government and he did have the connections in Iran that he claimed to have."

Three political prisoners, Mehdi Khodaei, Arash Sadeghi, and Ahmad Shah Rezaei, have gone on a hunger strike to protest the death of Haleh Sahabi, daughter of nationalist-religious leader Ezatollah Sahabi, who passed away after being attacked during the funeral of her father. They were planning to end their strike on June 12, but because nationalist-religious journalist Reza Hoda Saber passed away as a result of a heart attack after being on hunger strike for nine days -- also to protest Haleh Sahabi's death -- the three have continued their strike. Khodaei, a university student, has been sentenced to seven years of imprisonment, Sadeghi to five years, and Shah Rezaei to 18 months.

Saeed Ghasemi, a former Revolutionary Guard commander, rejected the claim by the government that only 32 people were killed in the aftermath of the 2009 presidential vote. He said, "It is unbelievable that only 32 people were killed in the disturbances after the election." Green Movement supporters calculate that at least 110 people were killed. In fact, the families of 43 of those who were murdered spoke about their loved ones on the election's second anniversary.

Thursday was the birthday of Imam Ali, Shiism's revered first Imam, cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad. The day is recognized as Father's Day in Iran. In a message to Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi on the occasion of Father's Day, a group of veterans of the Iran-Iraq War who support the Green Movement stated,

For four moths, the rulers have tried to make us forget about you by putting you under house arrest and locking your homes' doors by their agents. But, this only increases ouir desire and enthusiasm to see you two. Today is father's day. You were the first fathers that we thought of, and we send you, the strong and kind, our first congratulations [before thosefor any other father]. We will visit the grave of your fathers on you behalf and will give them your congratulatory messages. We will also honor the martyrs of the Green Movement.... Dear Mir Hossein and Karroubi, you proved to us that you pursue justice, respect for people's rights, and elimination of dictatorship.

Mansoureh Behkish, several of whose brothers and other family members were executed in the 1980s, was arrested. Behkish's relatives, together with many others who were executed in the summer of 1988, are buried in Khavaran Cemetery, southeast of Tehran. Their families try to hold memorials for them every year in the cemetery, and Behkish has always played a role in the memorials.

In an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Fatemeh Adinehvand, wife of imprisoned political activist Abdollah Momeni, said that she is concerned about her husband's health: "Mr. Momeni suffers from backache and has a heart condition. Since last week, he has been transferred to the prison infirmary twice. He received painkiller injections twice in order to relieve his back pain. He needs treatment outside the prison, but prison officials do not pay any attention to our requests for granting him furlough."

Momeni was a former spokesman for the Office for Consolidation of Unity (Daftar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat), an umbrella for most university student organization, as well as a spokesman for the Organization of University Graduates (Advar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat), was arrested in the aftermath of the 2009 presidential election. He is currently serving his prison sentence of four years and 11 months in Ward 350 of Tehran's Evin Prison. Adinehvand added,

"Unfortunately after he wrote a letter about being tortured during his interrogations, he has even been deprived from in-person visits with his children and has not been granted furlough to seek treatment for his illnesses. The physician at Evin Prison said several times that Momeni needs treatment outside the prison for his illnesses, especially for his heart condition, but they have not granted it so far. I have, therefore, abandoned submitting requests for leave. Mr. Momeni is following up this [request] inside prison. The authorities know his situation better than anybody else. He says everything is repetitive and upsetting in prison. We take him books to engage him in prison, but they won't deliver the books to him, and they won't return them to us. Mr. Momeni studied social sciences. Most of the books I have taken him are in this field. I mean I didn't take him books that might generate sensitivity. They routinely [take the books and] deliver them to him once, and the next time they are neither delivered to him, nor returned to us.

"During the past year, the kids were allowed to have in-person visits with their father only twice. The second time was in March when the children and their father were able to see each other in person after ten months. Since then, no matter how hard I tried, I was unable to get another in-person visit. I am sad to be away from him, to not have him next to me and my children. He is somewhere where I can only see him through glass. When the kids see him like this, they get so upset. They feel that their innocent father is on the other side of the glass. The children want to kiss their father, so does he. They have only been able to see each other in person twice for about 20 minutes in one whole year."

Cellmates of journalist Reza Hoda Saber held a memorial for him in Evin's Ward 350, where he was incarcerated. They said that the death of Ezatollah Sahabi and his daughter Haleh Sahabi were very painful for Saber. According to them, Saber would read the holy Qur'an for hours every day and was always helpful to the young inmates.

Three conservative Marjas (sources of emulation for the Shia masses) have declared that writing political slogans on monetary bills is "problematic" and should be avoided. The group includes Ayatollah Hossein Nouri Hamadani, who supports Khamenei. But Grand Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi Golpayegani, who was the first secretary general of the Guardian Council in the 1980s, said that if the writing does not damage the bills, it is allowed. Supporters of the Green Movement have used such bills to spread their message.

The Obama administration is opposed to sanctions under consideration by the U.S. Congress. The sanctions contemplated by Congress will punish companies that sell refined petroleum products to Iran, or help its oil industry in other ways. The sanctions would apply only to U.S. agencies and companies, and would not be binding on other countries. The White House is concerned that the Congress may go too far in imposing sanctions on those that work with companies that are based in countries that have cooperated with Iran, such as China, Russia, and several European nations. European Union foreign policy Chief Catherine Ashton recently sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton reminding her that the Unites States promised in 1998 not to punish European countries for doing business with Iran. In order to avoid diplomatic problems, the Obama administration is seeking a waiver for countries that have cooperated with the United States on Iran.

Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), senior Republican member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and an ardent foe of the Islamic Republic, called the U.N. sanctions a "goose egg." Ros-Lehtinen is calling for Congress to ramp up the international fight against the Iranian nuclear program by imposing "crippling sanctions against Iran" on its own.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said that Iran should help get sanctions against it lifted by making its nuclear power program more transparent. Ivanov said the world's preoccupation with events in Northern Africa should not keep leaders from dealing with "the dead end that the Iranian nuclear power program is in," according to the Interfax news agency. He was speaking after a meeting between Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Ahmadinejad in the Kazakh capital of Astana. Ivanov added that Russia believes that Iran should increase access to the International Atomic Energy Agency, and "we heard the Iranian president accede to the idea." The meeting between the two heads of state occurred in parallel with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization's tenth annual summit.

Chinese President Hu Jintao, who led his country's delegation to the conference, called on Iran to 'seize all positive factors' to gain international support for its nuclear program. Hu was quoted as saying by official Chinese media that, "Iran should hold immediate talks with Germany and members of the U.N. Security Council to break the current standoff over international inspections." Iran, an observer not a member, boycotted the Shanghai group summit in 2010.

In a joint statement issued in Moscow on Thursday, Medvedev and Hu, the visiting Chinese president, supported Iran's rights with regards to its nuclear program. Returning from the Shanghai summit, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said that Iran's nuclear facilities are open to inspection. He said that during the summit, Iran emphasized that the experts of P5+1 -- the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany -- can visit Iran's nuclear facilities.

Copyright © 2011 Tehran Bureau

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