The Latest from Iran (27 February): Has Khamenei Met Mousavi?

Director Ashgar Farhadi holds the Oscar for his “A Separation”, winner of Best Foreign-Language Film — see separate feature (Photo: Reuters)


1123 GMT: Foreign Affairs (Syrian Front). Press TV publishes an attack article claiming that the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based in London, and the British Government are fabricating tales about the violence in Syria:

[There is[ serious doubt about the truth behind its stories as they are weirdly in line with and helpful to London’s Syria policy, which supports the ouster of Syrian president Bashar al-Asad.It is also interesting that London claims Asad’s government is violating human rights principles in dealing with ‘protestors’ while revelations earlier this month showed the British government is training and providing arms and other support to terror squads in Syria to wage violence under the guise of demonstrators.

1115 GMT: Elections Watch. Yadollah Javani, the head of the Political Bureau of the Revolutionary Guards, has declared, "People's presence in the elections proves their support for the nezam (system) --- no one can resign his religious right to vote."

0735 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. Deputy Speaker of Parliament Mohammad Reza Bahonar has some choice words for the President. Claiming that decisions on the Constitution must be by the Guardian Council and not the President, Bahonar said, “Ahmadinejad has always a specific interpretation of the law and Constitution (to his own benefit), and therefore his interpretation of the Constitution is worthless."

0725 GMT: Reformist Watch. At the end of memorial ceremony on Sunday, former President Mohammad Khatami was asked by a journalist, “Do you participate in the [Friday's Parliamentary] election?” Khatami replied, “Unfortunately you write whatever you like, regardless of what I say”.

Khatami’s brother Mohammad Reza and Abdollah Nouri were less guarded in their answers, saying they will not vote.

0705 GMT: At the Movies. We have now posted a separate feature on the Oscar for Ashgar Farhadi’s A Separation as Best Foreign-Lanugage Film.

0655 GMT: Hunger Strike. Al Jazeera English’s The Stream notes the hunger strike of detained blogger/physician Mehdi Khazali, now in its 50th day.

Last night activists staged a “TweetStorm” on Twitter, posting a rush of messages with the hashtag #MehdiKhazali about the prisoner, serving a 14-year sentence for his criticism of the system and the Supreme Leader.

0625 GMT: Currency Watch. The Iranian currency is again slipping, a month after the Central Bank took far-reaching steps to halt its sharp fall.

Voice of America posts a video report, as the Iranian Rial fell 1.5% yesterday to 19400:1 vs. the US dollar.

The Central Bank has tried to impose a single “official” rate of 12260:1, but this has little sway on the streets. The Rial was at a level above 21000:1 in January, a fall of 60% in value since September, when the Bank intervened with a rise in interest rates and authorities threatened to arrest “unofficial” traders.

0600 GMT: On Sunday, we mentioned the rumour, carried on the opposition site Rah-e Sabz, that the son of the Supreme Leader, Mojtaba Khamenei, had seen the detained opposition figure Mir Hossein Mousavi. The story claimed that Khamenei was seeking Mousavi’s co-operation to deal with the “crisis” in Iran.

BBC Persian is also circulating the report, saying that an “informed source” amongst the opposition has confirmed that the meeting took place.

Mousavi, along with his wife Zahra Rahnavard and fellow 2009 Presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi and his wife Fatemeh, has been held under strict house arrest since mid-February 2011.

An EA correspondent assesses that the claim may be propaganda from the Green Movement before Friday’s Parliamentary elections, both overshadowing the vote and causing uncertainty amongst those who are thinking of participating.

At the same time, I recall that last month, a well-placed EA source in Tehran offered the solid information that meetings had taken place between high-level regime officials with opposition members, urging them to bring out their followers to the Parliamentary polls.

 

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