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Selected Headlines

22 Feb 2010 20:224 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.

Recently released video shows attack on the Tehran University dormitory three days after the June election.

Iran to ban airlines not using the term 'Persian Gulf'

BBC | Feb. 22, 2010

Iran has warned that airlines will be banned from flying into its airspace, unless they use the term "Persian Gulf" on their in-flight monitors.

Now the Iranian transport minister has given foreign airlines 15 days to change the name to Persian Gulf on their in flight monitors. If they failed, they would be prevented from entering Iranian airspace, he warned.

Majlis to question Mottaki

Khabar Online | Tabnak | Feb. 20, 2010

This week the Iranian parliament's agenda includes a visit by Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki who is slated to appear before Majlis to answer questions posed by the lawmakers.

Semnan representative Mostafa Kavakebian's proposal to visit and inspect the detention centers across the country, already approved by the Judicial and Legal Commission, will be reviewed.

The request by lawmakers to review the performance of the Social Security and Retirement organizations, which has been given the green light by the Majlis Social Commission, will be discussed.

The Agricultural Commission's report on rice imports from India, which has already been presented to Speaker Ali Larijani, is another topic that will be heard by Majlis this week.

However, there has been no talk of the proposal to downgrade ties with the U.K., which some lawmakers were adamant on quickly reviewing.

Lawmaker Hossein Sobhaninia told Khabar Online that the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission had not finished reviewing this proposal and if the commission finishes its report by next week it will be discussed in parliament then.

Iran's Karoubi calls for referendum to end crisis

Reuters | Feb. 20, 2010

Senior Iranian opposition figure Mehdi Karoubi on Monday called for a referendum to end the turmoil that erupted in the Islamic Republic after its disputed June presidential election, opposition websites said.

"I suggest a referendum for a way out of the crisis and to end the governing of the Guardian Council," Karoubi said, according to opposition Jaras website, referring to the country's top legislative watchdog.

Mousavi, Karroubi discuss recent developments

Gooya | Feb. 20, 2010

Opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi met to discuss the best approach to adopt in the coming days given developments since 22 Bahman.

The meeting took place on Saturday, Feb. 20, at Karroubi's home and was attended by Mousavi, Hojjatoleslam Mohtashamipour and Hojjatoleslam Kian Ersi.

According to the Saham News report, in the meeting the four reformists discussed the events of the past days and the approaches to be adopted in the coming days.

Iran will stop the enrichment if West supplies the nuclear fuel

ILNA | Feb. 19, 2010

Iran will stop the enrichment of uranium if the 20 percent fuel is delivered to Tehran under Iran's conditions the parliament deputy speaker said Thursday [18 February].

"If they (West) accept to swap the (20 percent uranium) fuel simultaneously in Tehran, we will stop the production of 20 percent fuel," Mohammad Reza Bahonar told ILNA

"We have the capability to produce the 20 percent fuel to prove this, the president has ordered to begin its production but we looking forward to purchase the fuel," Bahonar told reporters in a press conference.

Iran to build more enrichment plants

NYT | Feb. 22, 2010

A senior Iranian official said on Monday that his country planned to build 10 more nuclear enrichment plants -- two of them within the next year -- and had identified "close to" 20 sites for such facilities.

Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, also said the plants would use a new kind of centrifuge, but did not provide details.

His remarks came just days after United Nations nuclear inspectors said they had extensive evidence of "past or current undisclosed activities" by Iran's military to develop a nuclear warhead.

Coupled with that conclusion, Iran's latest affirmation of intent to expand its nuclear capacity seemed likely to further deepen Tehran's dispute with the United States and other world powers over its nuclear program. Earlier this month, Iran also began processing uranium to a higher level of enrichment, closer to -- but still far below -- weapons grade.

Iran invites Israeli bombers to visit its nuclear facilities

HuffPo | Feb. 22, 2010

Signals from Tehran and the recent IAEA report on the country's nuclear activities provide unmistaken clues that the Iranian government may welcome a limited bombing of its nuclear facilities. This in order to unleash a patriotic swell bound to bolster the Ahmadinejad regime. The IAEA report issued on 18 February 2010 reveals out of the ordinary details of the Iranian program.

Unemployment in Iran's power industry increased

ILNA | Feb. 19, 2010

1500 Iranian workers are unemployed in the power industry due to factory shutdown and financial problems in productive units.

The head of the workers syndicate told ILNA that three factories have been shut down and 1500 to 2000 workers have been unemployed due to financial crisis. He added other productive units and factories face a dire situation which affects the workers.

Underlining the statistics, he added that due to the financial crisis, Iran's factories only have a 20 to 30 percent production capacity.

Iran economy under strain

Reuters | Feb. 17, 2010

Rich Iranians don't mind flaunting it. Porsche sold more than 100 luxury vehicles at its opening reception a few months ago to customers undeterred by the hefty price tag or the 100 percent customs duty.

Such ostentation shows the disposable income available to a few in Iran, which is the world's fifth largest oil exporter and sits on gas reserves second only to Russia's, said Cyrus Razzaghi, president of Ara Enterprise, a business consultancy.

But it cannot mask the Islamic Republic's underlying economic problems, likely to be aggravated by any more sanctions over its disputed nuclear programme, and by political unrest set off by a fiercely disputed presidential election in June.

"Nobody in their right mind expects the system to collapse, but uncertainty is pushing people to leave," said Razzaghi, who called Iran the world's biggest brain exporter per capita, with 150,000 to 300,000 mostly educated people a year going abroad.

Officials say unemployment dropped to 11 percent in January from 12.5 percent in April, but sluggish growth and business jitters are hampering young job-seekers, especially as more women want to work -- the World Bank says women undergraduates now outnumber men 2 to 1 at Iranian universities.

The economy, while not in crisis, confronts significant difficulties, said a Western diplomat in Tehran. "It's a gradual, continuing decline. There doesn't seem to be anybody pushing policies that could reverse it, for example by allowing more foreign investment, reducing the state sector or devaluing the rial to help the domestic sector," he said.

Iran lawmaker predicts economy halting to zero per cent growth next year

Mehr News | Feb. 20, 2010

MP Ahmad Tavakoli, a vocal critic of the current administration's economic policies, has predicted that the economic growth for the next year (the Persian calendar starts March 21, 2010) will be negative or close to zero.

In the economics literature, negative growth is often associated with economic recession. It is predicted that the economic growth for the current year stands at 1.5-2 per cent and considering the implementation of the subsidy reform plan next year, this rate will approximate zero or become negative, he told the Mehr News Agency.

Iran showing fastest scientific growth of any country

New Scientist | Feb. 18, 2010

It might be the Chinese year of the tiger, but scientifically, 2010 is looking like Iran's year.

Scientific output has grown 11 times faster in Iran than the world average, faster than any other country. A survey of the number of scientific publications listed in the Web of Science database shows that growth in the Middle East -- mostly in Turkey and Iran -- is nearly four times faster than the world average.

Shariatmadari trial to be held in absence of complainants

Gooya | Feb. 20, 2010

Kayhan editor-in-chief Hossein Shariatmadari's trial will be held in the absence of his complainants, many of whom are currently in prison.

According to the Farda report, the much anticipated Shariatmadari trial is to finally be held after the court hearing was postponed due to Shariatmadari's refusal to appear before court.

Shariatmadari's complainants, who consist of intellectuals, writers, political and cultural figures, civil organizations and legal institutes, have filed suit against him for propagating lies, causing public anxiety and spreading lies about civil organizations and legal institutes.

Shirin Ebadi, Mohsen Kadivar and Emadaldin Baqi are among the complainants. Some of the complainants like Baqi are currently serving prison terms and will not be able to attend the hearing and state their complaint in person.

Baqi had participated in all the past court hearings against Shariatmadari with his lawyers.

BBC arm of MI6, says police chief of Iran

Times Online
| Feb. 22, 2010

Iran's police chief has accused the BBC of being an arm of MI6 and warned of severe punishment for any Iranians in contact with the organization.

General Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam, whose police forces have played a key role in the government crackdown on protesters, was quoted by the IRNA news agency as saying that opposition activists had co-operated with the BBC and the Voice of America (VOA) "with the aim of weakening and overthrowing the system,"

"The BBC is the arm of MI6, and VOA belongs to the CIA," he said. "Those who co-operate with foreign services through transmitting photos, reports, news and anti-revolutionary actions . . . should know that all their actions are monitored. We will settle accounts with them when the time comes."

Tehran has repeatedly accused Britain and the US of fueling the country's post-election unrest. It also frequently accuses its opponents of being in league with the country's enemies.

Iran's police chief warns against "cooperating" with foreign media

Green Voice
| Feb. 20, 2010

Iran's police chief Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam said today that "the behaviour of those cooperating with foreign [broadcasting] services and acting against the people of Iran by sending pictures, reports" was being "monitored."

"We'll get to them in good time," he said.

Moghaddam said that the reason these people hadn't been caught until now was because the right time had not come.

Iran is currently the world's worst jailer of journalist, surpassing countries such as China and Cuba.

Ahmadi-Moqaddam says police watching journalists working for foreign media

Khabar Online | Feb. 20, 2010

Tehran police Chief Esmail Ahmadi-Moqaddam warned individuals cooperating with foreign news agencies that their counterrevolutionary activities are being monitored.

"Those who work with foreign news agencies must know that their counterrevolutionary behavior is under surveillance."

"These individuals will be identified and dealt with in due time."

Ahmadi-Moqaddam pointed to the recent developments in the country and said, "Such acts of sedition have always been and will always be by those who know sedition and yet clothe it in justice.

He went on to say that during the course of the current sedition many individuals had lost their way, and others had chosen the wrong way but refused to accept their mistake, adding, "The people who had lost their way found it again on 22 Bahman.'
He went on to highlight the colonialist and arrogant behavior exhibited by the enemies, in particular the U.K., and said that these enemies always belittle the Iranian nation.

"By inciting the serial murders [of intellectuals] they tried to deliver a blow to the intelligence ministry and in the 18 Tir incidents where they [the abovementioned enemy]
tried to attack the police."

MP: Calling plainclothes Basiji is treason

Khabar Online | Feb. 20, 2010

The deputy head of the Majlis foreign policy and national security commission said that "plainclothes" [agents and vigilantes] have been present in all administrations and never once identified.

Esmail Kowsari, who is the Tehran representative in Majlis, stressed that autonomous forces should not be considered as belonging to the Basij and told ILNA that "Basij has an organization and commander and its members are sent on missions with the order of their commander. Therefore, one must not consider autonomous plainclothes forces to be the same as Basijis and whoever has such a reasoning is a traitor."

In response to a question about the fate of the 22 Bahman detainees as well as those arrested before and after the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Kowsari said, "This Commission has no plans to follow up on the situation of the 22 Bahman detainees and will not have any meetings with security and intelligence officials over this issue given that no serious incident took place on 22 Bhaman and the detainees are all offenders."

Rafsanjani warns against slandering, marginalizing insiders

Tabnak | Feb. 20, 2010

Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, head of the Assembly of Experts and the Expediency Council, urged restraint from slandering and marginalizing officials.

At the meeting of the Expediency Council on Saturday, Rafsanjani said that the participation of Iranians in the 22 Bahman rallies sent a message that should strengthen the unity of the nation.

"We must distance ourselves from the tendencies to banish, curse and slander [one another] as they [these tendencies] are like lethal poison, and instead we should focus on unifying aspects and commonalities as well as the voice of the Supreme Leader in official media outlets, especially the state broadcaster."

He added that maintaining unity was essential to resolving the country's domestic problems and to fighting the threats and adventurism of foreign countries.

"Any moves that damage the unity and break the trust of the people must be condemned and shunned by those loyal to the Islamic Revolution."

Khatami visits Alireza Beheshti

Parleman News | Feb. 20, 2010

Former Iranian President Seyyed Mohammad Khatami visited Alireza Beheshti at his home following Beheshti's release from prison.

The son of the martyred Dr. Mohammad Beheshti was realsed on Feb. 10 after serving 40 days of detention. Beheshti had also been detained on August 26 and held for four days.

Following his release many of the Iranian political figures have visited Beheshti at his home.

Elham's wife: I won't talk if my husband tells me not to

Tabnak | Feb. 20, 2010

Fatemeh Rajabi, who came close to becoming a household name due to her relationship with the first Ahmadinejad administration's justice minister and cabinet speaker Gholam Hossein Elam, is well known for her anti-Reformist remarks.

In an interview with Khabar Online, Rajabi talked about her personal life and explained her views on various topics including the role of the wives of politicians and the manner of good governance.

Rajabi said that she had chosen her path by choosing a house in a location far from her family and relatives, adding that she lives in a mostly blue-collar neighborhood.

She added that she is a firm believer in carrying out her wifely duties according to Islamic rules and said, "In Islam leaving the house without first getting permission from the husband is haram (forbidden) and inappropriate for women, but even if he [Elham] he went beyond this principle and restricted me in expressing my opinions, for certain reasons I would consider myself religiously bound to obey [and refrain from talking]."

"Of course I know that once I say this, pressure will be applied on him [Elham], and [my] opponents will tell him now that she has this view you should restrict her, but so far he has never asked this," she explained.

When asked why she directs such harsh criticism at Reformists, Rajabi said, "[Esfandiar Rahim] Mashai is harmful to the establishment and [Ali Akbar] Hashemi [Rafsanjani] is dangerous."

NAJA become shareholder in Mehdi Hashemi's company

Khabar Online | Feb. 20, 2010

The Iranian Police Force, NAJA, has purchased a company previously owned by Mehdi Hashemi.

According to Poul newspaper, the Naji Gharb Company, which is a subsidiary of NAJA's Mehregan Investment Institute, purchased 49 percent of the shares of the Engineering and Manufacturing Marine Services Company.

According to the report, the transfer of shares to NAJA has been announced as privatization. NAJA's decision to participate in purely economic ventures has come as a surprise.

After the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) began to play a more active role in economic and construction projects, it appears to be NAJA's turn to join the competition.

Naji Gharb offered $4 million more than an investment firm owned by the oil industry and purchased the shares for $140 million.

Ahmadinejad's son-in-law given new position

Fararu | Feb. 22, 2010

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's son-in-law Mehdi Khorshidi Azad was appointed as the "presidential advisor and member of the Presidential Advisors Council."

The presidential decree has tasked Khorshidi Azad with "coordinating the affairs of the presidential advisors" given his "invaluable past experiences."

Kuwait hopes for no more sanctions against Iran - FM says ahead of Europe tour

KUNA | Feb. 22, 2010

Kuwaiti deputy premier and foreign minister Shaykh Muhammad al-Sabah hoped here Monday [22 February] there would not be more sanctions against Iran in order to fend off more tensions in the region.

"We wish our friends (in Iran) can do their best to reassure the international community about the Iranian nuclear programme so that there would not be an excuse for imposing sanctions," he told reports ahead of starting a tour that will take him to Portugal, Britain, Luxembourg, Belgium and Libya.

"There are wise people in Iran," he believed. But, he urged Tehran to fully comply with international legitimacy and IAEA requirements in a bid to stave off more tensions with the international community, which he said would bring negative impacts on the gulf region. Concerning Iraq, the Kuwaiti foreign minister said Iraq is a key part of the Arab region's security mechanism so that everybody is required to work in Earnest to ensure smooth and successful elections in Iraq.

"Iraq is now undergoing a sensitive period, and the elections are consequently a crucial watershed in its history given that it would determine its identity. Therefore, we wish that the elections would be represented by all components of the Iraqi people," he elaborated.

Iranian forces kill 4 Kurdish separatists

Reuters | Feb. 21, 2010

Iranian security forces killed four members of a Kurdish separatist group involved in deadly clashes last year in the northwest of the country, state media said on Sunday.
"Personnel of the Intelligence Ministry ambushed and killed a four-member team, affiliated to the Komouleh terrorist group, responsible for the deaths of three security officers in that province in late December," the report on state television said, citing the ministry in West Azerbaijan province.

"Members of this terrorist team were identified in a region near Sardasht and in the course of a surprise operation ... the terrorist team was destroyed."

It was not clear if the report was referring to an Iranian Kurdish Marxist group or the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which took up arms in 1984 for an ethnic homeland in southeast Turkey.

Iran said PJAK was behind the death of a Justice Ministry official in Khoy city in West Azerbaijan last month.

Israel unveils drones able to hit Iran

NYT | Feb. 21, 2010

Israel's Air Force on Sunday introduced a fleet of huge pilotless planes that can remain in the air for a full day and fly as far as the Persian Gulf, putting Iran within their range.

The new aircraft, called the Heron TP, has a wingspan of 86 feet, making it the size of a Boeing 737 jetliner and the largest unmanned aircraft in Israel's military.

The commander of Israel's Air Force, Maj. Gen. Ido Nehushtan, said the aircraft "has the potential to be able to conduct new missions down the line as they become relevant."

Israel's military refused to disclose the size of the new fleet or whether it was designed for use against Iran.

Israel mulling a spring or summer war: Ahmadinejad

AFP | Feb. 16, 2010

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday that Iran's arch-foe Israel was mulling starting a war "next spring or summer" but has yet to make a final decision. Skip related content

Without specifying whom would be targeted, Ahmadinejad said: "According to information we have they (Israel) are seeking to start a war next spring or summer, although their decision is not final yet."

"But the resistance and regional states will finish them if this fake regime does anything again," the hardliner said at a press conference when asked about ongoing efforts to reconcile ties between Arabs and Israel.

The already deep-seated enmity between Iran and Israel have deteriorated since Ahmadinejad became the president, with the latter not ruling out a military strike against Tehran's nuclear sites in a bid to stop the Islamic republic's galloping atomic programme.

Iran sends condolences to Morocco over minaret collapse

Press TV | Feb. 21, 2010

Iran has expressed condolences to the North African nation of Morocco over the collapse of a minaret at a 400-year-old mosque which left dozens of civilians dead.

In a condolence message sent to Moroccan authorities on Saturday, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast expressed sympathy with the bereaved families of those killed in the incident on Friday.

At least 41 people were killed and 80 more injured after the minaret of the Lalla Khenata Mosque in the Bab al-Baradeen neighborhood of Meknes --: a town located 130 km (81 miles) southeast of Rabat -- collapsed during Friday prayers, burying most of the 300 worshippers gathered there.

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Persian Gulf - A bit unfortunate to apply the ban. There are more Arab countries with lots and lots more flights that will insist to use the other and despicable word. Karubi's call is ridiculous. When the regime knows the outcome, will it go with it?

Anonymous / February 23, 2010 10:20 PM

@ Anonymous
Karoubi doesn't expect a referendum, it's more a strategic call to pressure the regime and take a step further (attaching the Guardian Council).

Heidar / February 24, 2010 3:39 AM

The Arabs can insist all they want. They'd be better off tying a string around their finger or something to remember to get it right: Khalij-e-Fars!

Anonymous / February 24, 2010 10:13 AM

"Recently released video shows attack on the Tehran University dormitory three days after the June election."

The following brief study might answer a lot of questions (?)
(here just a few questions to be answered:
why do the security forces appear relatively disorganized?
why are rules, normally painstakingly observed by security organs, not observed?
Why do some/quite a few of the perpetrators (members of the security unit) appear not to be as physically fit and present as it is to be expected from trained security forces?
why has this video been published at all? etc. etc.)

»Ansar-i Hizbullah / Followers of the Party of God

Ansar-i hizbullah, the followers of the party of God, (also known as Ansar-i Hezbollah or Ansar-e Hezbollah), is a semi-official, paramilitary organization in Iran which carries out attacks on those whom it perceives to be violating the precepts of Islam, such as women wearing makeup, reformist protestors, and unmarried couples.

This clandestine organization took its formal name in 1992. However, its origins date back to the street gangs of the urban poor, called "Hezbollah" (Party of God), organized by various forces in the Islamic Republic regime during the revolution of 1979. Most of the members of Ansar-i Hizbullah either belong to the Basij militia or are veterans of the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) who believed that they must continue fighting for the integrity of Islam. They realize their vision through physical intimidation of those whom they view as the enemies of Ayatollah Khameini and Islam. They are known to break up demonstrations against the government, assault people in western dress, and raid shops that sell forbidden items. They have also been accused by some of politically-based assassinations.

Ansar-i Hizbullah became more prominent after it attacked student dormitories at Tehran University in July of 1999. This attack was in response to a peaceful student protest on July 8th concerning further restrictions on the press. In concert with police, members of Ansar-i Hizbullah chased and beat the students back to their dorms. At the end of the morning, two students were dead and twenty were hospitalized. When the newspapers reported these attacks, protests lasting five days spread to 13-18 other cities in Iran.

The Iranian government has chosen to tacitly support groups like Ansar-i Hizbullah because they both aim to maintain the conservative status quo in Iran. Senior conservative clerics use gangs like Ansar-i Hizbullah as a way to consolidate their power and harass and/or eliminate their enemies. Therefore, Ansar-i Hizbullah enjoys a semi-official status; while they are not officially a part of the government, they complement the Iranian government's existing intelligence and security apparatus. Many senior clerics have been associated with Ansar-i Hizbullah and are thought to finance it. Additional evidence of its favorable status lies in the fact that during its 1999 attack on Tehran University, its members used 1000cc-engine motorcycles, which only security service members are allowed to possess.

Thus, the Iranian government is behaving in a manner similar to Maoist China when it channeled youthful nationalists into Red Guard gangs which would assault the government's purported enemies. Like these Red Guards, Ansar-i Hizbullah wishes to make the revolution permanent by assaulting those who advance an agenda of change.

The Iranian government, confronted with internal calls for reform, enacted a compromise by not performing a massive military crackdown on the dissidents, but rather letting militant groups like Ansar-i Hizbullah prevent the movement from spreading further.

While paramilitary groups like Ansar-i Hizbullah are currently useful in extending the government's control over its citizens, they also pose a threat to the government. First, the Iranian government must keep these groups on a tight leash or they may become powerful enough to challenge the government for political power. Second, if the government ever decides to institute any reforms, groups like Ansar-i Hizbullah may violently oppose any such actions and create instability and unrest.

Ansar-i Hizbullah has succeeded in quieting many of its political opponents through its intimidating tactics. Nonetheless, its recent violent acts may be a portent that they, along with their conservative backers, are losing power in Iran - Ansar-i Hizbullah would not be committing these acts of violence if there were no signs of modernization to confront.«

Website of GlobalSecurity.org – page last modified 26th April, 2005


Publicola / February 27, 2010 12:44 AM