Picture of Sohrab Aarabi. It says, "We will never forget you."
Things are quiet in Iran in the sense that major demostrations and clashes with the government forces have not taken place for about a week now. But there is great movement taking place below the surface. It is confirmed that ex-President Ayatollah Rafsanjani is now taking up the mantle of Friday prayers in Tehnran University once more. What is not know is whether Mousavi and Khatami will attending them as well. There are arugements going back and forth here and here on the iran.whyweprotest forum about whether or not this could be a trap (for the protesters) and what Rafsanjani will do or say.
It is unknown if he will side with the government, the people, Mousavi, plead for consolidation, or if it will be a harsh criticism of the government and its treatment of its people. It is unknown how this will effect the movement, whether this be a bolster for the people and something good will happen or whether this might lead the Iranians into a civil war.
So many uncertainties surround this event. All that is known is that all eyes will be upon the happenings of the Friday prayers and that this might be a great turning point in the movement. It must also be taken into consideration that what Rafsanjani does may not sit well with the people. 18 Tir was planned completely by the people and no one from Mousavi's camp had a directly influence on the organization or in the participation of the protests. In fact, they were the ones who were asked to join. And there are newspaper articles examining this, like the one the LA Times or Tehran Bereau that examines how the leaders of this movment, Mousavi and Khatami, have been left behind by the momentum of the people. Case in point is 18 Tir and also a plan to have mass protests every Thursday.
There is also reports that Ahmedi will not be in Tehran and will be in Mashaad (Iran's Holiest City)...which is very interesting.Especially, since a few weeks ago he couldn't go because they couldn't guarantee his safety. There is also a movement going on to discredit Rafsanjani as is reported by the NIAC blog.
After a long absence, Hashemi Rafsanjani is going to lead the upcoming Friday sermon. Rafsanjani is a very powerful member of the Iranian establishment who was a major supporter of Mir-Hossein Mousavi and opponent of Ahmadinejad before the election. However, state media, including IRNA, Raja, and Iran newspaper are portraying this as an insignificant event and are even making arguments that he be striped of at least one of his government positions.
Raja news, which belongs to hardliner Fatemeh Rajabi (the wife of the government spokesperson), claims that the reformist movement is “worried about the prayer attendees protesting against Hashemi Rafsanjani.” “Because of Hashemi Rafsanjani’s positions during the presidential elections and his inappropriate letter to the Supreme Leader, a widespread wave of criticism has formed against him among the people…,” says the report.
Also, the state run media appear to be trying to lay the groundwork for removing of Rafsanjani from at least one of his government posts. Raja, Iran newspaper, and IRNA have all published articles in support of article 141 of Iran’s constitution being applied to the Expediency Council. Article 141 of the constitution forbids government employees from holding “more than one Government position [or] any kind of additional post in institutions of which all or a part of the capital belongs to the government or public institutions, or [being] a member of the Islamic Consultative Assembly.” Currently, article 141 does not apply to the Expediency Council, which is headed by Rafsanjani. Rafsanjani is also head of the powerful Assembly of Experts, which is officially tasked with supervising and selecting the supreme leader.
While looking to use and expand this constitutional provision, there are extensive reports of Iranian hardliners violating other constitutional protections, such as Articles 27 (freedom of assembly), 35 (right to legal counsel), 38 (ban on torture), and 168 (the right to jury trial in an open court).
July 14, 2009 post | July 13, 2009 post | July 12, 2009 post | July 11, 2009 post | July 10, 2009 post | July 9, 2009 posts | July 8, 2009 post | July 7, 2009 post | July 6, 2009 post | July 5, 2009 post | July 4, 2009 post
Update: Holy smokes, it's confirmed. Mousavi will attend the Friday morning prayers. Nico is also reporting that he will be up all night to cover this. This is major. The Iranian govt is seeking to undermine Rafsanjani's authority. Eyes peeled people, Friday morning will be a gamer changer.
Also, there is reports now that a plane crashed and all 168 on board are dead. It is unknown who was on the flight and whether not important leaders were on there or if this might have been done on purpose or like usual because of bad maintance that the Iranian government blames on U.S. sanctions.
The Russian-made Caspian Airlines jet was heading from Tehran to the Armenian capital Yerevan when it crashed near the village of Jannatabad outside the city of Qazvin, around 75 miles northwest of Tehran, state television said.
The Qazvin emergency services director Hossein Bahzadpour told the IRNA news agency that the plane was completely destroyed and shattered to pieces, and the wreckage was in flames. "It his highly likely that all the passengers on the flight were killed," Bahzadpour said.
He did not give a number, but Iranian Civil Aviation Organization spokesman Reza Jafarzadeh told state television that 153 passengers and 15 crewmembers were on board. State TV said all were killed.
A Caspian Airlines representative told AP in Yerevan that most of the passengers were Armenians, and that some Georgian citizen and other nationalities were on board. The representative spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to talk to the press.
On iran.whyweprotest it is being said that that the Junior Judo team, 8 athletes and 2 coaches, were on board and that it was mainly Armenians and Georgians and the plane was Russian made.
Nico has changed from having separate postings for each day and now has a weekly one...for the moment.
Also, yesterday I posted a blog post about a young woman protester, Taraneh Mousavi (28), who disappeared on June 19th when Mousavi was supposed to appear at the Ghoba Mosque, and that her family was informed through unnamed sources that she died due to trauma to the womb and anus suggesting gang rape...well today there is more information. On Bistoon's blog (look below) he has a new post Mother's Nightmare that details that the govt is saying that the woman committed suicide...this is after they were told she was killed in an auto accident (it seems that this is most common report given to missing protesters).
Another thing in regards to the young woman and the new face of the protesters martyrs, Sohrab Aarabi, when his mother went to claim his body...it is stated that the morgue was stacked with hundreds of dead bodies.
Some good news for once (this happened on the 9th of July (18 Tir)...but I didn't check it out). Austin Heap's Haystack is working! It's not fully functional for use yet because they need to build the network that will support the Iranian's use. But here are some screenshots of it working in Iran Twitter and FB. Since there are no new posts on the blog I'm sure it's still being tested out. Haystack Network wesbite Haystack Twitter page Haystack needs help! I think he needs to register Haystack as a non-profit organization or foundation. It should help bring in funds (as it would be tax deductable) and it will help with the legitimacy of the organization and be able to get big name companies to help out. I tweeted him but *shrugs*
It seems that protesters have turned the water red in Moshaad pictures here.
Heh, guess what, Andrew Sullivan's blog is blocked in Iran. Guess they don't like the music that his blog has been showcasing from Iran.
I think I need to reorganize my permanent links. ;d
Iranian Leftists Report of a female protester 'possibly' gang raped and murdered
Demotix <- The mighty photojournalism site Iran election page pictures of demostrations outside Iranian embassy in London
ABC reporter jim sciutto's twitblog
LA Times – Babylon & Beyond First images to emerge of July 9, 2009 protests large crowd gets dispersed by teargass on July 9, 2009 protests
iran.whyweprotest.net 18 Tir / 9 July forum thread <- lots of vids and first hand account by a protester in Iran
goftaniha.org Ex-Basij Founder's Blog being used to ID Basij – in Farsi
Ayatollah Watch <- Information on Ayatollahs
Ahmedi's takeover has been planned since 2004
Out the Basij
ID the Basiji
twit blog about how another Ayatollah has gone against the regime
Lara Setrakian - ABC News reporter's blog TEHRAN UNREST: "IT WAS NOTHING LESS THAN WAR. PRAY FOR US."
National Iranian American Council's Blog July 9, 2009 protest coverage <- vids and pics
NY Times – The Lede Blog July 9, 2009 protest coverage | Young election protester buried in Tehran <- a new Martyr
PERSIA.ORG "Struggle for a Free Iran" <- Has dedicated their front page to information on those who have been killed and detained
Iran Negah "Ezclusive views into Iranian politics & society"
University of Texas - Austin "Power of Protest: University experts condemn violence, but urge diplomacy toward Iran"
Keeping the Change | Keeping the Change FB | Nooroz News: Tehran's Morgues Reportedly Holds the Bodies of Hundreds of Dead Protesters
Ndn.org: July 15: Twitter Iran and more impressions from the front lines of the global media revolution
Mohsen Sazegara | explaining what to do and how to do the protests
1- where to go
2- how to do it
3- things to bring
4- what to do at nights
5- slogens to write
6- which marker to write with (green neon marker in this case)
Retweeters to watch
@LaraABCNews <- Reporter out of Dubai who's been in contact with Iranians
@Pray4FreeIran <- retweeter who spreads messages about Iran
@AustinHeap <- The genius behind ProxyHeap and Haystack (says that Node 1 is a go?)
@StopAdmedi <- twitter account for Mousavi supporters
@nicopitney <- I didn't know he had a twitter account
@Iran_Translator <- NiteOwl
@bistoon <- IRGC already actively hunt him b/c of student revolt in 1999 so I can rec him
@IranAnon <- Yes it is the Iranian Anonymous crowd
News: NIAC Insight | Kodoom
Translations: Google Translate | TehranBroadcast.com | Translate4Iran
Helping Iranians use the web: Haystack | Tor Project (English & Farsi) | IranHelp.org (Farsi) Demonstrations: Facebook | sharearchy | WhyWeProtest
Activism: Avaaz.org | National Iranian American Council
Mousavi's main website | Mousavi's backup/English | Mousavi's FB
Haystack's how you can help digg page
Haystack <- The all powerful proxy (still in testing) Want to help? Don't know anything techwise? Then donate some cash and keep this revolution going, you may just save someone(s) life! Haystack is needing donations! Donate Here.
Haystack Network wesbite | Haystack Twitter page | Haystack needs help! |Twitter | FB
Torrent/dl list of videos showing police brutality in Iran
Blog that has links to LA Protest that 35-50,000 people turn out
Want to know how the power check system in Iran works? The Wall Street Journal has an excellent graph.
Bearing Witness In Iran Weighs Heavily On Cohen: Roger Cohen on NPR
Voice of the Voiceless
YekIran <- Worldwide Protest Map
Wiki on 18th Tir Protests 1999
Wiki of Iranian Election Protests
Reporters Without Borders <- List of how many reporters are in prison in Iran
Sea of Green Radio <-an 'anon' Iran blog twitter radionomy anonymous Sea of Green radio
Eng Trans of Mousavi FB that has protest instructions and routes
Mightier Than Iran: The Rooftop Project <- Site trying to find vids of the roof top shoutings for every single night since the protests began.
Iran News <- One Stop Source
for News/YouTube/Blog/Political Cartoon links about Iran's Election and the aftermath (massive library of information)
The Guardian's list of dead and detained
Voice of America News
Iran 360 <- Photojournalism site
Slate's stash of Iran political cartoons
Green cd hour long video from Iran <- Split up into nine parts on iran.whyweprotest.net
Where is My Vote.org <- List or/way of organizing world wide protests
Iran Human Rights
Human Rights Activists In Iran The Latest Update on the Detainees of July 9 and a List of 90 Confirmed in Prison
fivethirtyeight.com: Iran <- Nate Silver "the guru of statistics" input on the validity of the Iranian election outcome
Google News: Iran Election – 30, 700 articles in the past month
Austin for Iran <- Site for organizing protests in Austin Texas
Map of Tehran
Petition for the release of American-Iranian Kian Tajbakhsh
OnlyMehdi Youtube page <- Lots of vids on Iran
Live Blogs on Iran
Revolutionary Road... <- Live from Tehran UPDATES
Andrew Sullivan's blog <- Political blog but he has a lot of coverage on iran. Andrew Sullivan's blog "Iran Erupts Again" Counter Targeting the Protesters Abbas Kiarostami's "10" <- Andrew Sullivan has a feature of exhibiting artists and music
Enduring America blog
Nico's Pitney's live blog on HuffPo The most excellent live blog out there. Has an absolute ton of information dating back the very first day. Filled with pictures and vids.
Nico's Iran Page (it seems he deleted off the info from July 7th but it can be found here)
Nico moved offices on Friday...I don't think there's a Saturday update
Week of July 13, 2009
July 10, 2009 | July 9, 2009 | July 8th | July 7th | July 6th | July 5th | July 3rd | July 2nd | July 1st | June 30th | June 29th | June 28th | June 27th | June 26th | June 25th | June 24th | June 22nd | June 21st | June 20th pt 2 | June 20th pt 1 | June 19th | June 18th | June 17th | June 16th | June 15th
NiteOwl's Green Briefs <- Anonymous teamed up The Pirate Bay (before they sold out) to provide logistical help to the Iranians in a safe anonymous forum - the vids of Anonymous declaring 'war' on Iranian govt are interesting to watch. NiteOwl's Green Briefs are compilations of news reports straight from Iranians.
#28 (July 14)
#27 (July 13) | #26 (July 12) | #25 (July 11) | #24 (July 10) | #23 (July 9) | #22 (July 8) | #21 (July 7) | #20 (July 6) | #18-#19 (July 4-5) (NiteOwl's net didn't let him access the archives of twitter (?) so it's late) | #17 (July 3) | #16 (July 2) | #15 (July 1) | #14 (June 30) | #13 (June29) | #12 (June 28) | #11 (June 27) | #10 (June 26th) | #9 (June 25) | #8 (June 24) | #7 (June 23) | #6 (June 22) | #5 (June 21) | #4 (June 20 | #3 (June 19) | #2 (June 18) | #1 (June 17)
Times Union <- Albany, New York
Turnkey opening Iranian doors (July 14, 2009 – Larry Rulison)
Adam Wills isn't involved in Iranian politics, but about a week ago, he became part of the turmoil there.
Wills' company, Turnkey Internet Inc. in Colonie, was recently hired by Austin Heap, a San Francisco Web guru trying to help Iranians circumvent online government censorship with new software called Haystack.
Haystack uses computer servers outside of Iran as "proxy" servers, allowing Internet users in Iran to anonymously visit Web sites like Twitter and Facebook that are being blocked by the government to keep news from getting out of the country. Those efforts have intensified following the uprising after the disputed June 12 election.
Heap is renting server space from Turnkey, which has a data storage office on Airline Drive with racks and racks of servers that host Web sites and e-mail systems, many of them belonging to small businesses, around the clock.
He said Monday that the request from Heap for server space was a surprise, and now he's proud to promote the spread of democracy, even if only in a small way.
"I've seen the same thing on the news like everybody else," Wills said during an interview at his office. "We're not a political company, but you root for (Heap) to succeed. The social media sites, that's the way they're communicating."
Heap, who created Haystack along with Daniel Colascione, a software developer in Buffalo, said price and geography were big factors in choosing Turnkey, which charges between $30 and $400 a month for server space.
"They certainly fell in the best value category," Heap said Monday by e-mail. "Because of the nature of the project, we have to spread our servers across the globe."
Wills, 35, didn't just stumble into the Web hosting business. After his freshman year at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, Wills helped to launch a dial-up Internet service provider called The Global One that was later changed its name to Global 2000. That company was sold in 1999.
Wills was later a business partner in Voiceral Communications, a digital telephone company based in Menands.He started Turnkey in 2003, and has been growing the business ever since. He sold his stake in Voiceral last year.
Wills says Heap contacted the company after seeing one of its advertisements, but he's not surprised about getting such a far-flung request because the company has been growing an international client base. The cost of server space in the United States is significantly cheaper than it is abroad, he said.
And Wills cut his prices when the economic meltdown occurred last fall, hoping to replace lost business.
The gamble worked, and he has been adding server capacity ever since. The company is now up to nine people, including three recent hires. Its customer base is up 25 percent over last year. Wills is also getting ready to launch a new Web conference service called Voxwire.
"We're bucking the trend," Wills said. "We're buying our way out of the recession."
Los Angeles Times
Iran: Analyst says the people have left their leaders behind (July 14, 2009 – Nasser Zarafshan)
Nasser Zarafshan is a well-known human-rights lawyer who spent many years in jail both before and after the Islamic Revolution.
His latest stint was for revealing the faces of those who were behind the so-called "chain murders," the serial killings of intellectuals during the late 1990s by people linked to Iran's security forces.
The Los Angeles Times recently sat down with him near Tehran University, where he studied law and was a political activist during the 1970s, for a conversation about the recent election controversy.
Supreme leader Khamenei diminished in Iranian's eyes (July 15, 2009 – Borzou Daragahi)
longer the same as opposing God."
The venerated Khamenei has even become the target of public jokes and criticism.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "commits crimes, and the leader supports him," was a popular slogan during the riots of June 20, the day after Khamenei delivered a blistering Friday sermon in which he said that the election a week earlier had been won by Ahmadinejad.
At July 9 demonstrations, protesters mocked the ayatollah's son, Mojtaba, who many believe hopes to succeed his father.
In seeking to fill the robes of the Islamic Republic's late founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Khamenei has never been deemed to have the same level of religious credentials or oratorical skills. Over the last two decades, he has invested more in building up support among the nationalistic leaderships of the Revolutionary Guard, security apparatus and militias than in cultivating a clerical establishment that increasingly reflects the values and aspirations of modern Iran.
But his decision to tilt heavily toward raw force rather than the power of the turban has exposed a dilemma. His right to rule is based on Khomeini's theological concept ofvelayat-e faqih, guardianship of religious jurists, which places him as a spiritual guide hovering above the political structure. Now, for many, Khamenei has lost his aura of infallibility and is seen as just one more political infighter -- "Khamenei-jad," as one commentator in the capital joked, combining his name and that of his controversial protege.
"It's gotten so bad that people stare at me on the street thinking because I'm a cleric I must be an Ahmadinejad supporter, until I hold up my two fingers and show my support for [opposition candidate Mir-Hossein] Mousavi, and the people become happy," Ayatollah Hadi Ghaffari, a reformist cleric, told a giggling crowd in a popular audiotape distributed around the Internet and on YouTube.
"Mr. Khamenei, you're making a mistake. I am committed to guardianship of the jurisprudent more than Khamenei . . . but I might have something to say to the guardian at the time," he said.
Another reformist cleric, Mohsen Kadivar, told Germany's Der Spiegel magazine that Khamenei's decision to tie his fate to Ahmadinejad's disputed election win was "a great moral, but also political, mistake."
Reformist journalist Issa Saharkhiz, who was recently jailed, wrote that Khamenei "has chosen the path of tyranny which the people of Iran and the world have already thrown into the waste bin of history several times."
Few believe the Islamic Republic is on the verge of collapse or revolution. The military, numerous high-ranking clerics and segments of the population continue to support the absolute power of the leader.
But recent developments might make it difficult for Ahmadinejad to govern, much less implement the hard-line agenda he shares with Khamenei of tightening social restrictions and confronting the West.
"Khamenei has always ruled from a position of insecurity vis-a-vis his clerical contemporaries and also the population," said Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who has studied much of Khamenei's writings. "Now he's in a situation where not only is he disliked, but he no longer elicits the same fear that he did before the election."
"It was not the right decision to congratulate the current president prior to the ratification of the election result," said Mohammad-Ali Dadkhah, a human rights lawyer, days before he was jailed. "The supreme leader made a prejudgment, not a judgment."
The president's opponents took on his challenge and continued questioning the vote, damaging the supreme leader's personal credibility by forcing him and his adjutants to make further defenses of the election results.
"For nearly two decades Khamenei has wielded power without accountability," Sadjadpour said. "Those days are over. Formerly sacred red lines have been crossed. For the first time, people have begun openly questioning whether Emperor Khamenei has any clothes on."
While direct anger at Khamenei has been rare over the years, people are now shouting slogans against him from rooftops. One political cartoon making its way around the Internet shows him riding double on a motorcycle with a club-wielding Ahmadinejad, likening the pair to the Basiji militiamen who have stormed crowds of demonstrators.
Slain Iranian teenager becomes symbol of protests: Sohrab Aarabi, 19, had gone missing June 15 during an election protest. Authorities finally handed over his body to his mother, who says she will not remain silent. (July 14, 2009 – Meris Lutz and Borzou Daragahi)
Reporting from Beirut -- Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral Monday of 19-year-old Sohrab Aarabi, a quiet young man whose body was returned to his family after nearly a month of frantic searching by friends and relatives. He had disappeared June 15 during a protest against the disputed reelection of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
"I won't remain silent," said Aarabi's mother, Parvin Fahimi, according to the pro-reformist news website Norooznews.org, the online incarnation of the popular newspaper Norooz, which was closed by authorities in 2002.
"The authorities were playing with me all this time," she added. "My son had been killed, but they refused to tell me."
The story of Aarabi's death and his mother's quest is emerging as another emotionally potent narrative of the fledgling protest movement. It follows that of Neda Agha-Soltan, a 26-year-old aspiring tour guide shot dead June 20 during a demonstration, who has also become a symbol of the movement.
Aarabi's relatives described him as a sometimes sullen and sensitive young man, the youngest of four brothers, who fell a year behind in his studies while stoically attending to his ailing father. The senior Aarabi died two years ago after a long illness, said Bahman Mohammadi, his paternal uncle, who lives in Aachen, Germany.
"He had his own spirit, very emotional," Mohammadi said in a telephone interview. "From childhood he was very much like his father. He was quiet. He would hold stuff inside. He never complained."
He added, "This was a big blow to this family."
Aarabi was to begin college in the fall but disappeared June 15, the day of the first large demonstration against Ahmadinejad, who is accused by opposition candidates of vote-rigging in the June 12 presidential election.
Public outrage over the teenager's death has been fueled by accounts of his mother's ordeal in looking for her son. In a video posted online, Fahimi is seen clutching his photo outside Evin Prison, where authorities had told her that he was probably being held. On the video she pleads for information about Aarabi's whereabouts.
After weeks of shuttling among prisons, hospitals and courthouses, she was summoned to the Revolutionary Court and asked to identify Aarabi from among 60 photographs of bodies. She was shown a coroner's report dated June 19, which said Aarabi died of a gunshot wound to the chest.
But Aarabi's family expressed skepticism, wondering whether he had been wounded, abused and left to die. Several human rights groups have demanded an independent investigation.
Norooznews reported that Iranian intelligence officers arrived shortly before the funeral ceremony Monday and demanded that the rites be held in silence, warning that any acts of protest would lead to arrests and more trouble for Aarabi's family.
But video reportedly taken during the funeral shows mourners chanting "God is great," a call that has been taken by the protest movement. CNN reported on its website that some people carried placards reading "My martyred brother, I will take back your vote" and held up their right hands in victory signs.
"What was done to you, no animal would do to another animal," a mourner reportedly said after reciting a poem in Aarabi's honor.
Friends and observers said Aarabi's mother is no stranger to controversy. Even before her son's death, she was an active member of Mothers for Peace, which wrote an open letter to authorities condemning Iran's nuclear program. She has suggested to those close to her that she and her family are prepared to weather the consequences of turning Aarabi's death into a rallying cry for the opposition.
A poem written about Fahimi's plight noted that her teenage son's picture was in a booklet of images of slain men between 25 and 30 years old.
"How quickly you've grown in these 25 days that your mother has been going door to door looking for you," said the poem, posted on Norooznews. "Open your eyes, Sohrab! Your mother is devastated by your picture."
Iran opposition leader, wife visit slain man's family (July 15, 2009 – Borzou Daragahi)
Mir-Hossein Mousavi and his popular wife, Zahra Rahnavard, visited the family of Sohrab Aarabi in Tehran, paying tribute to the teenager whose death and whose mother's weeks-long quest to find him have emerged as symbols of the protest movement against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Photographs posted on the Gooya website showed Mousavi and Rahnavard swarmed by supporters as they approached the family's home in the city's north-central Apadana district.
Mousavi has been relatively quiet in recent days as authorities put down protests that erupted over Ahmadinejad being declared the winner of their election faceoff last month. But Mousavi plans to forge a new reformist political front that would challenge the country's dominant conservatives and have most of the rights accorded a political party, his top aide, Ali-Reza Beheshti, said Tuesday.
"Establishing the front is on the agenda of Mir-Hossein Mousavi, and we will announce the relevant news in the near future," Beheshti, the son of a famous cleric, told the semiofficial Iranian Labor News Agency.
A cabal in the college of Mullahs? (July 14, 2009 – Amb. Mac Ginsberg)
Beyond the streets of Iran's troubled cities, an increasingly important power struggle may be taking place in the wake of the disputed presidential election. It pits the forces critical of the post-election violence (including elements of the all important Shiite clerical establishment) against Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the shadow government of Iran led by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Force.
In post-election Iran, the crazy-quilt check and balance system that has undergirded the fictitious use of the word "republic" in the "Islamic Republic" has proven to be a mirage. In reality, Iran has devolved into two parallel states: where the real power lies with the Supreme Leader, the Revolutionary Guards, and those supporting Ahmadinejad against the largely ineffectual constitutional system of checks and balances which is dispersed among an alphabet soup of organizations including the Guardian Council, the Expediency Council, the Assembly of Experts, and the Majles (Parliament).
Among a very influential number of leading grand and lesser ayatollahs, Ali Khamenei committed the mortal sin of forfeiting his divine authority by descending into the abyss of Iranian politics and consequently incurred the wrath of millions of Iranians victimized by his terror squads rather than remaining above the fray.
Indeed, Ali Khamenei's act of reckless partisanship has called into question the very foundation of a state based on absolute religious rule on one hand and vestiges of public accountability for the acts undertaken in the name of Islam, on the other. In other words, Ali Khamenei may have set in motion events that may lead to his own demise and the weakening of the very tenets of the Islamic state he voraciously defends at all costs.
Many of Iran's most influential grand and other ayatollahs who occupy the highest echelons of Iran's clerical establishment (Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri and Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi) have broken with the Supreme Leader and condemned the electoral fraud and ensuing violence, while more conservative allies of Khamenei such as Ayatollah Morteza Moghtadai (who heads the prestigious Qum Seminary) have validated the election results, and Ahmadenijad's so-called spiritual ayatollah -- Muhammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, wants to entirely rid Iran of elections once and for all asserting they are nothing but misbegotten "window dressing."
The lineup of ayatollahs on either side of the divide is of the utmost importance to the future of Iran as well as to Ali Khamenei's continued reign as Supreme Leader.
Hear the evil; See the evil; Feel the evil; - Where's the outrage over deadly church bombings? (July 14, 2009 – Rabbi Abraham Cooper)
The Rape of Taraneh: Prison Abuse of Iran's Protesters
The names and stories of the Iranians who have been brutalized or killed in the aftermath of the post-election protests are gradually seeping into a memorial vault of the faces of suffering and endurance in the name of sociopolitical reform.
One by one, the faces of protest are providing an essential yearbook of the individuals who comprise the protest masses, and a catalogue of the Iranian government's treatment of political activists.
On Friday July 19, a large group of mourners gathered at the Ghoba mosque in Tehran to await a speech about the martyrs of the post-election protests by presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi. According to one Iranian blog, 28-year-old Taraneh Mousavi was one of a group of people that was arrested by plainclothesed security forces for attending the gathering.
Taraneh, whose first name is Persian for "song", disappeared into arrest.
Weeks later, according to the blog, her mother received an anonymous call from a government agent saying that her daughter has been hospitalized in Imam Khomeini Hospital in the city of Karaj, just north of Tehran -- hospitalized for "rupturing of her womb and anus in... an unfortunate accident".
When Taraneh's family went to the hospital to find her, they were told she was not there.
According to another Iranian blog which claims to have original information about Taraneh from her family, Iranian security forces contacted Taraneh's family after the hospital visit warning them not to publicize Taraneh's story and not to associate her disappearance with arrests made at post-election protests, claiming instead that she had tried to harm herself because of feeling guilty for having pre-marital sex.
Witnesses have come forward to the various Internet sites who are covering Taraneh's story, stating that she was mentally and physically abused in Tehran's notorious Evin prison and also that a person who matches her physical description and injuries had been treated at the Imam Khomeini Hospital, was unconscious when witnessed and was later transferred out of the hospital while still unconscious.
Taraneh's is not the first allegation of brutal raping of a post-election protester -- according to the UK Guardian, an 18 year old boy in Shiraz was repeatedly gang raped by prison officials while in detention after being arrested for participating in the protests on June 15. That boy's father won't let him back in the family home.
Despite its agitations for reform, Iranian society remains traditional, according to Iranian-British blogger Potkin Azarmehr, and it's the stigma of rape that is being used as a weapon against the protesters. "By killing protesters, the government makes martyrs of them, but by raping them and allowing them to live, it makes them shunned in society," Azarmehr said.
Not that the stigma of rape is exclusive to Iran and other more traditional societies. A friend of Azarmehr's who is presently in Iran told him that he's "sick of hearing that people like Taraneh are better off dead" from friends abroad, just because they "can't handle the fact that she's been raped."
The Miami Herald
Miami-Dade Imam's life in limbo as he faces deportation to Iran (July 14, 2009 – Jared Goyette)
As the political crisis in Iran turns toward a slow boil, a North Miami Beach imam is closely watching events unfold there. U.S. authorities could deport him at any moment to the Islamic republic, a country he has never visited.
Farahi was born in Kuwait to an Iranian father and a Syrian mother and moved to Miami 16 years ago on a student visa.
Since Kuwait only grants citizenship to children who have a Kuwaiti father, Farahi is considered an Iranian national, despite the fact that he has never been to Iran and doesn't speak Farsi.
His problems with immigration authorities in the United States began in 2001, when he learned that he would not be able to reinstate his student visa because he had not taken enough credits in his final semester as an undergraduate. Faced with deportation to Iran, he applied for political asylum.
New York Times
Iran executes 13 it calls Sunni rebels (July 14, 2009 – Robert F. Worth)
In another sign of concern, the state news agency cited police officials as saying satellite dishes were illegal, and authorities have begun going from house to house confiscating the dishes. After the BBC’s Persian service and other satellite channels began broadcasting images of the violence and antigovernment protests last month, the authorities started jamming the signals and issued statements blaming the channels for the unrest.
The rebel group whose members were executed Tuesday, Jundallah, is considered a terrorist group by the Iranian government and is believed to have killed hundreds of Iranian soldiers and civilians. Iran has accused the United States of supporting Jundallah, which claims to be fighting on behalf of the Baluchi ethnic group in Iran and Pakistan. The group also plays on sectarian tensions in Iran, which is mostly Shiite.
Jundallah claimed responsibility for the bombing of a Shiite mosque in Zahedan on May 28 in which 25 people were killed. Two days later, Iran hanged three men accused of being involved.
Clerics fault a mute Iran as Muslims die in China (July 13, 2009 – Robert F. Worth)
Welcome to the Middle East, 2030: If Barack Obama can negotiate a Middle East peace settlement, what might the region look like over the next 20 years? (July 15, 2009 – Paul Eedle)
168 feared dead In Iran plane crash (July 15, 2009 – Matthew Weaver and Saeed Kamali Dehghan)
In possible signal to Iran, Israel boats cross Suez (July 14, 2009 – AP)
"Women Commandos" in Iran (July 13, 2009 – Robert Dreyfuss)
The panel answered a lot of questions about the role of women in Iran today -- and left some questions hanging.
Fatemeh Haghighatjoo, who quit her term in parliament in 2004 to protest against the Guardian Council's peremptory banning of hundreds of political candidates -- including not less than 80 members of parliament! -- in that year's election, described women in Iran as being on the "front lines" of the Green Movement and the election battles. Often, she said, they protected men from being beaten in the streets, and they formed ad hoc groups such as Mothers in Mourning or Peace Mothers to demonstrate at places like Evin Prison, where many protestors are being held.
Most interesting was the panel's emphasis on the fact that the women's movement in Iran didn't arise out of nowhere to prominence in the Green Movement but was, in fact, a long time in the works. Tohidi said women in Iran had been engaged in many years of quiet educational and organizational work, especially over the past fifteen years, and today the women's movement in Iran is the "strongest in the Middle East." Some of them, she said, were Islamists who have been formulating a more progressive and liberal version of "Islamic feminism" while others are secular women who've moved far beyond Iran's culture of revolutionary Islam. The two currents came together in 1997 in the massive vote that elected President Khatami, and since then they've brought strong pressure to bear on subsequent candidates. Jaleh Lackner-Gohari added that during the 1980s and 1990s, many women went into higher education and the professions precsiely because they were barred from politics and, she joked, "had nothing better to do." Quietly, they built networks, professional organizations, and channels for communications -- including, lately, blogs.
Left unsaid, however, was the issue of: what now? Where does all this energy go, in a society in which nearly all levers of actual power -- in the government, in the (all-male) clergy, among military and Guard commanders, and virtually all of the regime's constitutional institutions -- are dominated by men, and reactionary ones at that?
And, when I asked about President Obama's options now, the entire panel came out against US engagement with Iran, for fear that by so doing the United States will "legitimize" the regime. "Now is not the time for Obama to sit down with this government," said Moruzzi. She suggested that the leader, Ali Khamenei, and President Ahmadinejad see talks with the United States as the "big carrot" that could restore their discredited regime to legitimacy. Others on the panel agreed. "They should not be invited to international meetings," said Jaleh Lackner-Gohari. "We should not negoitiate with the Ahmadinejad government," insisted Nayereh Tohidi.
To me, this is utterly wrongheaded, and self-defeating. If Iran wants to talk, President Obama can embrace such talks on a realist, state-to-state basis, without endorsing the regime's bad behavior. To reject an offer from Iran to talk, now, would fatally undermine Obama's carefully constructed opening to Tehran, pushing Iran deeper into isolation, strengthening the hand of the radical right, and weakening the very reform movement that human rights groups want to enhance. Indeed, it was Obama's opening to Iran since January that was partly responsible for the strength and ferocity of the opposition movement in Iran, as countless men and women told me during my two-week trip to Iran in June.
Part of the reason why the panel of women at the Wilson Center oppose US-Iran dialogue now is that many of them expect that the regime might collapse in the near-term. I disagree. Based on what we know now, it's more than likely that the regime will maintain control for a prolonged period to come, perhaps years. The opposition movement isn't dead, and it's not going away. But I'd venture a guess that Ahmadinejad will complete his four-year term. And the world can't wait for the regime to collapse. We're going to have to hold our collective noses and do business with these guys.
Iran's Eye Gougers (July 7, 2009 – Robert Dreyfuss)
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is dropping the mask.
Until June 12, when the Guard emerged as the critical pillar of the regime in putting down the post-election protest demonstrations, the IRGC remained in the shadows. Intelligence specialists say that there isn't a lot known about the organization, structure and operational commanders of the Revolutionary Guard (IRGC), otherwise known as the pasdaran. During my visit to Tehran last month, I spoke to one Iranian expert, a former journalist, who said that there are two things that are very closely shielded in Iran: the organization of the IRGC and the organization of the Office of the Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
But now, at least, the Guard is openly acknowledging its role.
Iran's New Revolutionaries (June 24, 2009 – Babak Sarfaraz)
Iran: A Compromise Deal?
In a few weeks' time, this remarkable infant movement has miraculously redrawn the political map, revived the dormant civil society, broken down the noxious official ideology and shattered the aura of the Supreme Leader as some sort of semi-divinity. As one Iranian academic (who requested anonymity) observed, "In the space of less than two months this country has traversed the span of more than two decades."
Moussavi's principled stance on the election fraud and other issues has provided the Green Wave movement with much-needed legitimacy against the government's depredations. In turn, the movement's resilience has so far prevented the government from prosecuting Moussavi and has strengthened his hand in negotiations.
The regime is severely divided over what strategy to follow next. Some hardline factions are openly calling for a Tiananmen Square-style solution to the crisis. The more farsighted individuals and factions are counseling caution. They are concerned that imposing martial law and killing innocent people could alienate the faithful and turn the traditionalist clerics of Qom against the government. Yet, as the July 9 clashes with the police demonstrated, the protest movement is taking root in the society, and if it goes unchecked, it could be just a matter of time before it spreads to other cities and localities. Moreover the continuation of the movement is driving a stake into the heart of the official ideology of the guardianship of the jurist which is premised on the pseudo-infallibility of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. By repeatedly ignoring Khamenei's injunctions to recognize the Ahmadinejad government and to cease their protests, Moussavi and his Green Wave movement have struck a devastating blow to the guardianship of jurist ideology, which posits a direct-line descent from God to the Prophet to the Hidden Imam to Khamenei.
What's more, the Ahmadinejad government will likely have a tough time in the next four years managing the economy and the state while a robust civil disobedience movement is thriving in the country. Already, Tehran's economy has entered a mild recession, dragged down by the weeks-long protests and the symbolic acts of resistance such as withdrawing money from government-owned banks.
Foreign Policy <- Blog?
Clinton to Iran: Time is Running out (July 15, 2009 – The Cable – Laura Rozen)
Hillary Clinton will give what one administration official familiar with the U.S. Secretary of State's preparations described as a "muscular" foreign-policy address this afternoon before the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C.
As The Cable reported last week, Clinton appears to be using the occasion to raise her profile amid Washington chatter that she has not yet seemed to fully dominate her turf as the nation's top diplomat. Six months into the job, it's a perception Clinton seems determined to challenge.
According to excerpts of her prepared remarks that were shared with Foreign Policy, Clinton plans to say that "the international agenda today is unforgiving," with the United States facing "two wars, conflict in the Middle East, ongoing threats of violent extremism and nuclear proliferation, global recession, climate change, hunger and disease, and a widening gap between rich and poor."
"All of these challenges affect America's security and prosperity," the excerpts say. "And all threaten global stability and progress."
Crashed Iranian airliner 'disintegrated into pieces' (July 15, 2009)
Rafsanjani set to deliver pivotal sermon (July 15, 2009)
Trial of Baha'is delayed in Iran
Mir Mousavi meeting with the family of Sohrab Arabi pt 1 &2
Rafsanjani's Daughter (the one who was arrested and released) in parts 1 & 2