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13 Feb 2010 20:322 Comments

Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Iranian press, and excerpts where the source is in English. The link to the news organization or blog is provided at the top of each item. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the story in perspective.

Hillary Clinton's middle east tour: it's all about Iran

CSM | Feb. 14, 2010

Adm. Mike Mullen and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton kicked off an eight-nation swing Sunday through the Middle East. The focus of the trip? Iran's nuclear ambitions.

The top U.S. military officer, Adm. Mike Mullen, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton kicked off a series of visits throughout the Middle East Sunday, reaching out to the Arab world as the Obama administration pushes for tougher sanctions against Iran and its nuclear ambitions.

Admiral Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met Sunday with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and later in Tel Aviv with top Israeli military officers. Iran was a "principle topic" of discussion in Egypt, Mullen said afterwards in an interview with McClatchy Newspapers in Cairo. He added that he expects Iran will be the focus of his talks with officials in Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

No reason to stall Iran missiles deal, Moscow says

Reuters | Feb. 14, 2010

Russia sees no reason to stall on the sale of its S-300 anti-aircraft systems to Iran, the Kremlin's powerful Security Council said Sunday, hours before the premier of Iran's adversary Israel was due to visit Moscow.

The possible sale of Russian air defense hardware to the Islamic Republic is a major irritant for both Israel and close ally the United States. Both have pressed Moscow not to go ahead with a deal that may help protect Iran's nuclear facilities from potential air strikes.

"There is a signed contract (to supply S-300 missiles) which we must implement, but deliveries have not started yet," Vladimir Nazarov, deputy secretary of Russia's Security Council secretary, told Interfax news agency in an interview.

"This deal is not restricted by any international sanctions, because the talk is about deliveries of an exclusively defensive weapon," he said.

Iranian crackdown on Baha'is, opposition activists, journalists continues

VOA | Feb. 14, 2010

The Iranian press is reporting that a number of Baha'is have been arrested, along with opposition activists, journalists, and human-rights defenders, during an ongoing crackdown. U.S. officials will speak Monday at a U.N. Human Rights Commission meeting in Geneva to urge Iran to improve its human-rights record.

Members of Iran's persecuted Baha'i minority have been the focus of a recent series of arrests, according to leaders of the group and the Iranian press. The arrests coincide with a government crackdown on opposition activists, journalists, human-rights defenders and students.

Iran begins drilling for oil in Caspian Sea

PressTV | Feb. 13, 2010

The Islamic Republic of Iran has started drilling its first exploratory well in the Caspian Sea to search for oil in the resource-rich body of water.

"The Amir-Kabir semi-submersible drilling rig has started exploration drillings in the Caspian Sea. It will drill the country's first exploratory well at a depth of 1,550 meters under the seabed," North Drilling Company Managing Director Hedayatollah Khademi told the Mehr News Agency on Saturday.

In light of the great potential of the region, there is a very good possibility that the Amir-Kabir (formerly known as Iran-Alborz) semi-submersible drilling rig will help find new reserves of crude oil in the Caspian Sea, he added.

The drilling rig weighs 14,000 tons without its attachments and will facilitate exploration in deep waters in the southern part of the Caspian Sea.

According to estimates, the southern part of the Caspian Sea holds at least 32 billion barrels of oil reserves.

Iran's exploration efforts have so far led to the discovery of 46 oil fields in the Caspian Sea.

Iran has the world's third-largest proven reserves of crude oil, mainly located in the southwest of the country and offshore in the Persian Gulf.

Iran reformist leader's wife says her son "tortured" by security forces

Saham News | Feb. 13, 2010

Fatemeh Karroubi, wife of Mehdi Karroubi, has said that her son was "tortured" by security forces during a rally on February 11, the official website of Karroubi's party Sahamnews reported on February 13.

According to the website, in a letter to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, Fatemeh Karroubi offered some details on how her son, Ali Karroubi, was arrested and then tortured by security forces on the day when the rally was held to mark the anniversary of the 1979 revolution.

In her letter, the wife of the reformist cleric wrote, "All political parties and figures form both wings [reformists and conservatives] had called on people to take part in this big rally. They called on the people to attend the rally peacefully and avoid extremism or verbal and physical violence. However, extremist groups, who can only continue their political and economic life through violence or by creating crisis, ordered their unidentified agents to attack my husband, who is an old companion of the Imam and people. Of course, all people are aware of the details."

Karroubi's wife then explained that her son was arrested by security forces and transferred to Amir al-Mo'menin Mosque in Tehran where he "was beaten up and insulted" by them. "The hooligans, who are dressed as security forces today, identified Ali. Ten minutes later, after they received the agreement of their seniors, they separated him from other people and beat him severely. These people, who do not believe in God, turned the safe house of God into a place for torturing the offspring of the nation," read the letter.

She added, "In addition to the assault and battery, they used filthy and offensive words against Fatemeh and Mehdi Karrubi in order to put him [Ali Karrubi] under psychological pressure. When Ali objected to the insults and defiling the sanctity of the mosque, not only did they intensify their physical and oral violence, they also threatened this 37-year-old man that they would ... [ellipses as published] him."

"When they were transferring the detainees, they separated Ali from other people and handed him over to special guards headed by corrupt individuals. The new round of torture began ... when an order was sent to Shahid Motahhari Base to set Ali free, the officer who was in charge of torturing him expressed regret saying that `if you had stayed here another 24 hours, I would have delivered your body to your family'..."

Karroubi's wife concluded, "This letter of grievance [Ranjnameh] is not for Ali, because he is now receiving treatment and close to his family. This letter is for you to help the unknown children of this country, especially those young people who have been arrested recently, before it is too late."

She criticized the judiciary and the parliament for not being capable of defending the people and asked the supreme leader to help the "oppressed."

The website also published a photograph of Ali Karrubi showing his arms and back bruised.

Those who collaborate with foreign media must be severely punished

Aftab Yazd | Feb. 10, 2010

The deputy chief of General Command Headquarters of the Armed Forces, Masoud Jazayeri, said, "The great rally on 22 Bahman will be recorded as an everlasting symbol. The hostile and terrorist moves by the British, American and Zionist media and the categorical announcement by the British House of Commons about its support for channels such as the BBC leave no room for doubt that the Islamic Republic of Iran should employ a new policy towards such media."

He pointed to such media organizations as the British government's misinformation agency of the BBC, VOA of the American CIA and a number of digital media during the recent riots and seditions, adding, "The moves by these media, which worked like the operation-and-command chamber of a soft coup, indicate quite clearly that with a solid and well-shaped approach, all defense instruments should be used in confrontation with the regimes guiding these media outlets so that the supporting governments do not remain immune. "

He continued, "One of the moves, the necessity for which does not need proof, is to create new laws and regulations based on the current situation in our country. Based on these, any connection and service to these media outlets will be considered a definite felony and the offenders must be dealt with categorically and severely."

Biden: US making `significant progress' on Iran

AP | Feb. 14, 2010

Vice President Joe Biden says the U.S. had made "significant progress" in addressing Iran's nuclear program.

But former Vice President Dick Cheney says he's not yet persuaded that the Obama administration will do what's necessary to keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons.

Voice of America, BBC and Deutsche Welle condemn new wave of Iranian jamming

AP | Feb. 12, 2010

Voice of America, the BBC, and Deutsche Welle have condemned what they say is a new wave of illegal Iranian jamming targeting their shared satellite.

The international broadcasters said in a joint statement Friday that Iranian authorities were violating international law and called on satellite operators to pressure Tehran to stop.

The BBC has repeatedly accused Iran of jamming broadcasts of its Persian television station amid the country's post-election turmoil. The BBC now says Iran has begun jamming its English-language World News as well.

Other channels affected include the Voice of America's Farsi-language television service, the Radio Farda service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and Deutsche Welle's television and radio services.

Iran: 22 Bahman's reality "no victory, no defeat"

EA | Feb. 12, 2010

Many are debating as to whether today was a "defeat" or a "victory" for the greens. Certainly we have to wait and observe more but given what we know, I refuse to look at events in such terms. What was supposed to be "won" that is now "lost"? Yes, given the lack of a huge turnout, pressure will most likely increase on opposition groups and human rights activists in the following weeks and months. The Iranians inside Iran either chose to stay away from the protests, or could not gather in big numbers. But if you were an average Iranian who supported the opposition, what would be lost for you?

I am personally not disapointed, because after seeing the incredible turnout for Ashura, I was certain the state was busy preparing for 22 Bahman from the day after Ashura. They were incredibly surprised that day and they were not going to allow a repeat, given that it was such an important day for them. It was crucial to make the opposition look like small groups of eghteshahgar (attention seekers creating disturbance) and to secure the city full force.

Expecting anything else was pure blissful optimism.

Add to that the grave miscalculation by the greens themselves.

I think here is where the diaspora is actually influencing the state in Iran for the worse.

I was at an Iranian salon a few weeks ago. The 57-year-old lady who I've known for more than a decade now told me: "I have been wanting to go to Iran for two decades now. I am waiting for after 22 Bahman, since the regime will be toppled that day, and then I'm going."


I spoke to a traveler agent, a friend of the family, who said that at least a dozen people had called her and told her to make them reservations for Iran - but not to confirm their ticket until 22 Bahman, when they would know that "the regime would be toppled for sure."

There was a vote on balatarin yesterday where 85% of people (almost 11,000 individuals from inside and outside Iran) voted that the greens would "take over" Azadi Square. These sentiments were further echoed by questionable individuals like Mohsen Sazegara, who was giving tips on VOA on "what the protesters should do after taking over Azadi."

There were talks about "over 3 million opposition forces" attending the rally. I think this is a perfect example of where the virtual world and the expat community circulate their visions of sugar plum fairies on TV stations, and thus have become liability to the movement. When you raise expectation above the real capacity of a movement , that only results in disappointment and despair.

The reality was that after Ashura, today was not going to be an easy day, and the greens should have at least made a better plan. Given tight security and the lack of a good plan, the result was inevitable.

I think today was more a reality check than a "defeat":

-The state has far more security resources at its disposal than what we'd like to believe in terms of getting out supporters, bought or otherwise.

-The movement has to think beyond street protests.

Iran Analysis: The Regime's Pyrrhic Victory

EA | Feb. 12, 2010

This year's events were less like celebrating a revolution that freed the country from tyranny and dictatorship and more like a tyrannical dictatorship celebrating its continued survival.

The more one pays attention to the words and actions of the officials of the Islamic Republic, the more it becomes apparent that there is something wrong. From the start of the post-election protests, the regime has been adamant that the protesters are few in number and do not have a real agenda except chaos and mayhem. (There were exceptions when officials, desperate to explain specific situations, talked about millions being on the streets in June, but these were single officials trying to explain away a difficult fact.) If the protesters are so few in number and so insignificant, there is no reason for such heavy security presence. How to resolve this contradiction? Either the regime knows that opposition is widespread, or we are witnessing a totalitarian regime in action. Or both.

The protests have been ongoing for eight months. This period from June to February has covered almost all of the Islamic Republic's official occasions where it has traditionally encouraged the populace to take part in public events and used them as evidence of its popularity and stability. But since 12 June, during each one of these events the regime has had to resort to naked violence to disperse people from the streets. Only two such days remain in this year's Islamic Republic calendar that have not been tarnished yet by clashes on the streets: the anniversaries of Khomeini's death (4 June) and the 15 Khordaad uprising (5 June).

The Islamic Republic is a regime built upon ideological symbols and depends heavily on them. Friday prayers are supposed to be weekly affirmation of the public's support for the regime (both in a religious and a political context). Qods Day in September is to celebrate Islamic Republic's support for oppressed Palestinians. 13 Aban (4 November this year) was meant to commemorate the killing of schoolchildren by the Shah's security forces and, perhaps more importantly, the start of the US Embassy hostage crisis (referred to by Khomeini as the second revolution and the Islamic Republic's proof that it stood up to superpowers). 16 Azar (7 December) is supposed to be the commemoration of student movements that stood up to the Shah's regime. Ashura (27 December) is to commemorate the uprising by Imam Hossein (the third Shi'a Imam) against tyranny and his martyrdom. 22 Bahman is to mark the victory of the Revolution that brought about the Islamic Republic.

All of these events are now remembered not for their original symbolic importance, but for the fact that the security forces of the Islamic Republic have on every occasion beaten and at times killed peaceful Iranian demonstrators.

Beyond this public demonstration, the regime has managed to discredit many of its notable officials and personalities. Many of the Islamic Republic's former leading figures are in prison on charges of sedition or acting against national security. Some very senior politicians and activists are treated as the enemy these days. On the eve of Ashura, government thugs disrupted a speech by former President Mohammad Khatami, in in no less a place than the home of the Islamic Republic's founder, Ayatollah Khomeini. Mir Hossein Mousavi, Prime Minister during most of the eight-year war with Iraq, and Mehdi Karoubi -- revolutionary cleric during the Shah's regime, former head of the Martyrs' Foundation, former Speaker of Parliament -- are insulted by regime officials on a daily basis, prevented from taking part in official commemorations and at times shot at with tear gas and beaten.

The problem is not just that the current leadership of Islamic Republic owes all it has to such people. The real problem is that, only eight months ago, two of them (Mousavi and Karoubi) were both passed through the formidable filter of the Council of Guardians as Presidential candidates. The regime is now calling them leaders of sedition.

The question for the regime is: have these people, who have impeccable revolutionary credentials, always been leading an insurrection? If so, how is it that for 30 years the Islamic Republic's many intelligence organizations and intelligence officials missed this? Or could it be that the state of affairs of the Islamic Republic is such that even loyal servants are forced to protest? No enemy would have been able to undermine the ideological symbols and tarnish the reputation of the Islamic Republic with such efficiency.

The regime is fast losing any claim of being Islamic, popular, just, or merciful. And its showpiece events have become occasions on which its forces are mobilized to attack its own citizens, even as it pours resources into a show for TV cameras so that it -- and some foreign media with superficial view of the events -- can call it a "victory".

So a Pyrrhic hypothesis: For any regime, especially one that claims to be a popular republic based on Islam, pointing TV cameras at the right-looking crowd while beating the "wrong crowd" with all its might, especially on the anniversary of its formation, is not a victory.

Iran on 22 Bahman: Ahmadinejad 'Wins Ugly'

EA | Feb. 12, 2010

Let me explain: when a team "wins ugly", it doesn't triumph through overwhelming superiority, a strength that is likely to see it chalk up victory after victory. Instead, it scrapes through -- in a contest in which all sides makes mistakes and miscalculations -- because its faults aren't quite enough to take away its lead, because it hangs on with just enough of a territorial advantage, because it has a bit of luck to offset its weaknesses or enough tenacity to avoid exhaustion.

That's a good starting point for 22 Bahman. If the regime prevailed today, it did so in part because expectations of the opposition had been set so high. The dramatic scenes of protest of Ashura (27 December), fuelled in part by the recent death of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, the relay of strong statements by Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi, and Mohammad Khatami, and the signs of regime fatigue offered the prospect of overcoming the blunt force and propaganda of the Government. And "overcome" was not the triumph of years or months from now but of this moment; 22 Bahman, 31 years after the Islamic Revolution's victory, might prove the triumphal day once more.

That didn't happen, and I guess in that sense, it has to be Government and Supreme Leader 1, Mousavi-Karroubi-Khatami and Greens O. But that winning score is a "negative" margin, rather than a tribute to the "positive" efforts of the regime. There was nothing hopeful in the rows of security forces who, having been prepared after the humiliations of Ashura, were not going to countenance another retreat. There was nothing of glory or Islamic value in the confrontations with Mehdi Karroubi (wounded, his son missing), Zahra Rahnavard (beaten), Mohammad Khatami and Mir Hossein Mousavi (forced into retreat), let alone the thousands of encounters in which chains, batons, and flying-squad detentions trumped hope and determination.

"Negative", not "positive". And no, the regime's rally in Azadi Square does nothing to alter that assessment. President Ahmadinejad's speech was not even subtle enough to offer a pretence of legitimacy through economic progress, social cohesion, or political manifesto for a post-election Iran in which the election is still a matter for dispute. This was a 75-minute diversion puffed up with a "surprise" (the 20% enrichment of uranium) which had been announced four days ago, the ritual denunciations of the "West" and Israel, and a fantastical vision -- awaiting the 12th Imam -- of Iran straddling the globe.

There are distinctions to be made in this "negative" victory. It is probably more substantial for the Supreme Leader. The window of political opportunity to curb his authority and, in extreme visions, to remove him from office has now closed; those pursuing compromise within the system like Hashemi Rafsanjani have had to do so by pledging fealty to Ayatollah Khamenei, and figures like Mousavi and Karroubi have now defined their resistance as one that accepts the Leader's rule, provided he deals with an unjust and abusive Government. Khamenei is a damaged figure, a damage that is seen not only in the failure to get resolution but in his own bouts of self-doubt, but he will survive.

If the opposition had truly been "crushed" today, that might have been sufficient to ensure Ahmadinejad's longer-term survival, even in the absence of any positive measures. But the Green movement and figures like Mousavi and Karroubi were not crushed. They were bashed about, dispersed, and, most importantly, exposed as tactically naïve with today's loudly-declared plan to march from Sadeghiyeh Square to the Government's lair in Azadi. Their ranks have been thinned by the detentions, and their communications have to fight new ways to deal with regime restrictions.

Put this on your scorecards. Without "legitimacy", the President -- if not the regime -- has to "win ugly" every time. The opposition -- from within the system or without -- only have to win once.

MP Ali Motahhari in a letter to Musavi: Your method is useless

Siasate Rooz | Feb. 7, 2010

In an open letter to Mir Hossein Mousavi, Ali Motahhari noting that Mousavi has described the problems well, but not the cure, defined Mousavi and Karrubi's behaviors as an impediment to the realization of the reforms intended by a lot of those caring for the Revolution and advised him to take advantage of the great opportunity of 11 February to end the self-made crises.

He added, "One of the principles of the constitution is the principle of Velayat-e faqih and accordingly we should consider the leader's view as the last say in social and political problems." Further in his letter, Ali Motahhari said, "You should accept that you and Mr. Karroubi have become an obstacle for realization of reforms desired by you and so many of the people caring for the Islamic Revolution."

The member of the Cultural Committee of the Majlis noted, "I strongly speculate that the prominent leader of the Islamic Republic, once his mind is at peace about you two great individuals, would attend to the headstrongness of others, the mistakes by the third great individual, that is, the respectful president and also to the mistakes by some extremists claiming to be principlists."

The letter further said, "At least, you can try this for several months and if this is not the case, you could continue your method again, which I consider as harmful and useless. You have said in your statement that the volume of economic and social news is too little compared to political news. This proves our claim that the present crisis is an impediment preventing the assessment and supervision of economic and social performance of the government and its accountability. In your statement there are positive points and steps towards unity and ending crisis, however one of the principles of the constitution is the article of Velayat-e faqih and accordingly we should consider the Leader's view as the last say in social and political problems, even if we are not convinced, but this point has not been noted in your statement.

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Iran: 22 Bahman's reality "no victory, no defeat"
EA | Feb. 12, 2010

This piece was quoted by EA but the original was posted on Pedestrian's blog:

Catherine / February 15, 2010 11:27 AM

MP Motahhari's statement is an odd call for unity and compromise across divisions. Compromise is usually always a virtue in any deadlocked situation.The implication is that the leader could restrain the harsh, 'headstrong' elements.I don't believe he can,even if he wanted to, he is beholden to them for his survival and most people know that.He has had supreme power for a number of years and therefore must be responable for all of the abuses and deaths. It seems his strategy hasn't worked. The GM leaders have been doing very little as their own followers remark so what they could say and do to reconcile the majority who did not vote for Khameneis personal candidate with the security hordes is doubtful. This MP seems to imply that Khamenei could "call off the dogs", I am not sure he can.The relationship of the regime and the people as it stands can only ever be one of abject slavery,blackmail and threats. North Korea is every bit as much a failed state as Somalia although the nature of the failure are different.

pirooz / February 15, 2010 11:45 PM