Monday, March 30, 2009

Iran Early Bird

March 30, 2009
Diplomatic Affairs

1. Iran – Saudi Arabia – Iran’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Mohammad Hosseini, met (March 28) with the chairman of the Saudi Majlis, Al-Shura, Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Ibrahim al-Asheikh. Hosseini called for forming a special committee.

2. Resolving problems in Afghanistan through regional partnership – Speaking in Moscow (March 29), Mehdi Akhundzadeh, foreign minister for Asia-Pacific affairs and Iran’s envoy to the International Afghanistan Conference, which is being sponsored by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, said: "Resolving ongoing problems in Afghanistan will be possible by means of a regional partnership, and the Islamic Republic of Iran supports this stance." Akhundzadeh commented that the United States had linked the Afghan issue to its own internal problems and looked at Afghanistan from a U.S. angle. This policy and strategy, he added, had never been successful and had instead only increased problems in Afghanistan and the region.

3. Jalili meets Indian prime minister and his Indian counterpart – Iranian Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary Saeed Jalili met (March 28) with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss matters of regional security. Jalili also held talks in New Delhi with his Indian counterpart, National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan, on North-South corridor issues. Jalili was in India on an official visit following an invitation from Narayanan.

4. Iran's Majlis speaker in Iraq – Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani and Iraqi National Security Advisor Muwafaq al-Rubai underlined (March 29) the need to promote Tehran-Baghdad security cooperation and boost control along the common borders. Larijani arrived in Iraq last week on an unofficial and pilgrimage visit that began with a visit to the holy cities of Karbala and Najaf Ashraf. During his visit, Larijani conferred with top Iraqi religious figures, including Ayatollah Ali Husseini Sistani, as well as Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, President Jalal Talibani and Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, a member of the Iraqi Governing Council.

5. Foreign minister in Gambia - Heading a political-economic delegation to Gambia, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki met and conferred with Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, Vice-President Isatou Njie-Saidy and his Gambian counterpart, Omar Alieu Touray. Mottaki urged further expansion of bilateral cooperation in the areas of energy, health and agriculture. Mottaki is currently on a tour of several African and Latin American states. He has already visited Mali, Mauritania, Brazil and Venezuela. Mottaki left Gambia for Tehran on March 29.

6. Chavez due in Iran- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will visit Iran this weekend and will meet for talks with a number of senior Iranian officials, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Domestic Affairs

7. Urgent and revolutionary measures needed - Ahmadinejad reflecting (March 29) on the message of the supreme leader, who termed the new year as the Year of Reforming the Model of Consumption. "We should begin with high priority issues. However, the bill for targeting subsidies is a long and fundamental step … In my view, bread, water and energy should be put on the agenda. I do not expect you to draw up routine programs. It is of no use to draw up a plan for pressurized irrigation that may take 30 years to implement. I ask you to take urgent and revolutionary measures. All bodies are responsible in this regard. Each body should draw up a plan for its own. All ministers should allocate time for this purpose …We should implement it [the budget bill] correctly, so that the pace of the country's progress will not decrease and the people will not be disadvantaged.

(Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran Radio)

8. Sharp criticism of Khatami's withdrawal - Reformist journalists have criticized Khatami’s decision to withdraw from the presidential election, terming the move a "new year present of confusion and disappointment for the Reformists.” Hamid Mo'azzeni told Fars in an interview: “By changing his mind, Khatami created the worst situation for the Reformists and ended the era of reforms of the Khatami kind for good ... He made the best decision for the opponents of reforms ... Khatami proved that he is not the man for the job and just when there was a need for his presence, he resigned .. His withdrawal … is a superficial disguise for his lack of morals. In fact, Khatami has been ethical for the sake of Mir Hoseyn Musavi and the opponents of reforms but this move has been an unethical one as far as Reformists and his supporters are concerned. In fact, Khatami has resigned from reforms, not the presidential elections.”

[For the full version, please contact Terrogence.]

9. Preparing for the 10th presidential election- Mansur Haqiqatpur, the governor-general of the Ardabil Province, appointed (March 29) Firuz Ahmadi, the political and security deputy governor-general, as head of the provincial electoral headquarters and Abbas Dastbaz, director of the governor-general's office for political and electoral affairs, as deputy head of the headquarters. The two also remain in their previous positions. They will organize, monitor and conduct the country's 10th presidential election (in the province). Haqiqatpur urged them to use all equipment and capabilities of the governor-general's office to properly implement the election law, and safeguard and respect people's votes and pave the way for ensuring a high turnout in the forthcoming election.

(Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran Radio)

10. Iranian regime fears popular uprising - Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Basij paramilitary forces were deployed to restore order in various cities as popular uprisings spread. Previously, the State Security Force (SSF) was in charge of security in the cities. Brig. Gen. Ismail Ahmadi Moqadam, head of the SSF, commented on the role of the IRGC and the Basij forces in domestic security, saying: "IRGC and Basij forces play an important role in organizing popular forces. Thus, it was decided to strengthen the two in order to allow them to control cultural, social and popular security. In turn, this should lead to lasting security." (Official news agency IRNA, March 27)

Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Radan, deputy commander of the SSF, had spoken earlier about "placing Basij force in charge of neighborhood security."

On February 9, Maj. Gen. Mohammad-Ali Jafari, commander of the IRGC, referred to the popular uprisings in 2000, 2001 and 2002 and said, “The events in those years were challenging. We should not allow such problems to occur in the future … As Imam [Khomeini] said, we are not afraid of foreign threats but our fear comes from inside.” (State-run news agency ISNA, February 9)

11. National football team head coach sacked- The head coach of Iran's national football team, Ali Daei, was sacked on Sunday due to the weak results of the team in the 2010 World Cup second qualifying round. An informed source said that Daei was fired following the Iranian team's 1-2 defeat against Saudi Arabia in Tehran on Saturday evening.

Security - Military Affairs

12. Iran rejects aiding North Korean rocket launch- Iran's embassy in Tokyo issued a statement rejecting a report in the Japanese daily, Sankei Shimbun, which quoted unnamed sources as saying that a 15-member Iranian delegation had gone to North Korea in early March to advise Pyongyang on missile-related matters. The embassy statement describes the Japanese report as “politically-motivated" and rejects any missile or military cooperation between Iran and North Korea.

13 New effective defense equipment promised - Major-Gen Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the IRGC said (March 29) that Iran would witness a dazzling achievement in the field of defensive equipment, noting that the IRGC would be inaugurating new and various kinds of effective and preventive defense equipment in the current year. "We will give good news to our honorable compatriots in 1388 [2009-2010] regarding the measures taken by the IRGC and Basij, particularly by the IRGC, on various kinds of effective and preventive defense equipment. I regret that I cannot give more details now; I can only say that something will be announced.”
(Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran Network)

Human Rights

14. Executions by stoning and hanging in Iran - Amnesty International: "DEATH SENTENCES AND EXECUTIONS IN 2008"

“Continuing the trend from previous years, China - 1718, Iran – 346 and Saudi Arabia - 102 were the states with the highest rate of executions in 2008.

“Amnesty International remained concerned about the use of the death penalty in Iran. Some of the cruel and inhumane methods used to execute at least 346 people in 2008 included stoning and hanging …. Amnesty International was also concerned about proposals by the authorities in Iran to further widen the already wide scope of the use of the death penalty…. Authorities in Iran executed eight juvenile offenders in 2008 in flagrant violation of international law. Iran was the only country in the world in which juvenile offenders were known to have been executed in 2008.”

15. Juvenile to be executed - Stop Child Executions has informed the United Nations about the case of Abumoslem Sohrabi, who is facing execution in Iran. Sohrabi faces imminent execution for a murder committed when he was 17 years old. His execution order has been approved by the Supreme Court and passed to the Office for the Implementation of Sentences, the body responsible for ensuring that all sentences - including executions - are carried out.

16. Women’s rights activists arrested – Iranian authorities arrested (March 26) 12 women’s rights activists on Sohrevardi Street in Tehran. They were arrested on their way to the homes of some political prisoners as part of Iranian New Year. The women activists had plans to visit the mourning mother of Dr. Zahra Bani Yaqoub, who died mysteriously while in the custody of the State Security Force. The arrested women were transferred to the notorious Evin prison. According to the families, the detainees included Khadijeh Moqadam, Farkhondeh Ehtesabian, Delaram Ali, Leila Nazari, Mahboubeh Karami, Shahla Forouzanfar, Soraya Yousefi and Bahareh Bahrevan. A number of men who were also arrested included Ali Abdi, Amir Rashidi, Mohammad Shourab and Arash Nasiri Eqbali.

17. Political activist murdered - Ali Badozadeh, a political activist, was murdered in Mahabad, according to Iranian opposition sources in Iran. He was arrested on February 20 by agents of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) and was transferred to a secret torture chamber. Badozadeh's mutilated body, covered with snow, was found on March 25 on the outskirts of the city. His brother, Jahangear, is also serving time for political charges in the central prison of the northwestern city of Orumieh.

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