· Speaking at Inter-Parliamentary Conference meeting in Geneva, Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani says: “In case Western countries want to return to the negotiation table, Iran would desire continuity in negotiations with regard to its nuclear program… Iran is ready to negotiate, but can’t accept impossible conditions.. .It was them [the West] and not us who left the negotiation table… The 5+1 Group may want to show the world that they still are alive and operational. What they have done has weakened the authority and prestige of the U.N. Security Council. But I still think the door to negotiations is open and they can continue. These negotiations are not dead…”
· Larijani: “The latest U.N. Security Council Resolution demonstrated that Iran’s faith in negotiations has been futile.”
· (E) Russia calls Iran sanctions counterproductive.
· Mo’etalefeh spokesman Mohammad-Nabi Habibi, speaking in Rasht, stresses the importance of unity among Principalist candidates and warns that division in the reformist camp – a vague reference to candidacy of Mohammad Khatami and Mehdi Karrubi – is only tactical and that on election day the reformists will only present one presidential candidate.
o Executive secretary of the Combatant Clergy Majid Ansari says Khatami and Karrubi will not both run for the presidency.
o Alef News Agency’s poll, based on interviews with 800 people in Tehran, shows that Hojjat al-Eslam Mehdi Karrubi’s National Trust Party has the best name recognition.
§ Asr-e Iran reports internal divisions in Karrubi’s National Trust Party.
§ Mehdi Karrubi adopts U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama’s election slogan, “Change.”
· Hassan Rowhani says he has yet to decide if he will run for president.
o Potential candidate Hassan Rowhani visits sources of emulation in Qom.
· Kayhan criticizes former president Khatami’s conference on religious tolerance for its lack of government coordination.
o Student Basij of Yazd University wants to know who financed Khatami’s conference on religious tolerance.
· Akbar A’lami, parliamentarian from Tabriz, runs for presidency even though the Guardian Council prohibited his run for parliament. More here.
· Entekhab News warns of catastrophic presidential elections for the reform movement due to multitude of reformist candidates: Mehdi Karrubi, Hassan Rowhani, Mohammad Khatami, Mehr Alizadeh, Mohammad-Reza Aref, and Akbar A’lami.
· Parliamentarian Ali Mottahari, who earlier supported Ahmadinejad unconditionally, demands the president lives up to certain conditions: “In case Mr. Ahmadinejad corrects some flaws in his management, such as continuous dismissals and appointments, sudden decisions, limited group of advisors and executives around him who belong only to a certain faction, and stubbornness, as happened in the Mr. Mashayee affair and is not being repeated in Mr. Kordan affair…, he can be a suitable candidate for presidency.”
· Ahmadinejad praises the “epic mythical deeds of the people of Gilan.” Ahmadinejad meets the clergy in Gilan.
Religion, Culture, and Society
· Because of Bluetooth and SMS technology, Tehran has become “the epicenter of deviance” and “place of distribution of Aryan anti-Arab/Islamic propaganda,” and ripe for “Christian missionary work.”
· In its campaign against academic fraud, Alef News Agency discloses that a certain Dr. Ciamak Ghazaei’s article “Serological Survey of antibodies to Toxoplasma” was plagiarized from a Brazilian journal.
· Hossein Moddaresi (subject of Roy Mottahedeh’s book Mantle of the Prophet) explains his views on Mahdism and the Imam of the Era phenomenon at a lecture at Princeton University.
· The Law Enforcement Forces discover “thousands of liters of alcoholic drinks” in the holy city of Mashhad.
· The average Iranian reads eight to ten minutes per day.
· Alef News Agency reports increased discrimination against and harsh treatment of Shi’a in the United Arab Emirates.
· Al-Mashreq reports that the Iraqi city of Najaf has become a second Qom, with Persian as the principal language of the streets.
· Agah-Sazi on the Value Added Tax: “If the government is meant to be financed through taxes, it must also regulate its expenditure. One can’t only look at one dimension of this matter. The government should not be free to spend as much as it wants and expect increase in tax incomes at the same time.”
o Aftab News Agency discusses why introduction of the VAT has been so difficult.
§ Mehr News Agency’s discussion of earlier attempts to introduce the VAT.
§ See also Naser Imani’s article on the 1stclosure of the Tehran Bazaar since the establishment of the Islamic Republic.
o Ousted Central Bank director Tahmasb Mazaheri attends the IMF annual summit.
· Donya-ye Eqtesad discusses the conflict over VAT introduction.
· Judiciary Chief Shahroudi urges public participation in development schemes and wealth distribution.
· Chicken prices decline 21 to 25 percent in the Iranian market.
· Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi warns against pyramid schemes.
· Supporting Ahmadinejad’s accusations on corruption in the banking sector, senior presidential advisor Mojtaba Hashemi Samareh claims more than 50 percent of the loans in the entire country are extended to three thousand individuals.
· Ahmadinejad delivers a major speech on economic reform in Rasht in which he pushes direct distribution of cash to the people: “For the past 50 years a group has managed to take these subsidies, now let the people take advantage of it.”
o “If we want to make jobs, we can uproot unemployment in two years time… Today most of our people live a life on the brink, and even the slightest change in the prices disrupts their lives. Therefore, today the government is determined to correct this state of affairs by reforming the subsidies…When I mentioned the numbers 450,000 rials [in cash handouts] to some people and 700,000 rials to the unprivileged class, some were angered that I share such matters with the people. ‘You should have obtained permission from our group and gang and then talked to the people’ they told me. But I tell them that I am the servant of the people and whatever happens in this country, one must first and foremost share it with the people. It is the people who own the country.”
· The butchers’ guild says the meat market in Iran is stagnant: “The people really don’t buy meat anymore.”
· Head of Iran Chamber of Commerce criticizes the small amount of Iran’s non-oil exports.
· Crocodile farm established on Qeshm.
Military and Security
· Interior Minister Kordan: “Iran is facing a heavy psychological operation…Within the framework of the soft warfare that the West has designed for us…some changes in policies have been devised against Iran…There are also a number of people who are fighting against the regime from within…”
· Revolutionary Guards commander in chief General Ja’fari appoints Yazdan Mavid-Nia as deputy and chief of the command council of the IRGC, and commander Bahman Karegar as advisor to the commander-in-chief. More here.
· Interior Minister Kordan: “The comprehensive and widespread move of the Islamic Republic of Iran has, despite Malek Rigi’s [attempts] at striking in the Eestern borders, managed to annihilate four grand villains one of whom was the kidnapper of Friday prayer of Farej. During the past two or three years we have severed the arms of Malek Rigi. Abd al-Malek Rigi himself is in Pakistan and I hope we get our hands on him as well.” According to Entekhab four members of the Jundallah terrorist organization were killed.
· Hayat News commemorates establishment of the Political/Ideological Indoctrination Bureau of the Iranian Army. The Bureau is divided into seven subdivisions: 1. Cultural and Public Relations Bureau. 2. Inspections, Supervision and Ideological Evaluation Bureau, 3. Human Resources Bureau, 4. Plan and Program Bureau, 5. Training Bureau, 6. Political Bureau and 7. Logistics command. The heads of the bureau, since its establishment, have been Hojjat al-Eslam Safayi, Hojjat al-Eslam Qouchani and Hojjat al-Eslam Seyyed Mahmoud Alavi.
· Bahrain to invest in the 15th and 16th phases of South Pars Gas Field.
· Iranian and Syrian banking systems to increase bilateral relations in response to international sanctions.
· (E) Iran-Tajikistan trade increasing.
· (E) Iran’s Mahan air to fly thrice weekly to Baghdad.
· The Islamic Republic accuses NATO of involvement in narcotics trade in Afghanistan.
· German commentator and scholar Christoph Bertram urges the West not to worry about a nuclear-armed Iran.
· Parliamentary Speaker Larijani attends a parliamentary session in Finland.
· (E) Argentina considering Iran embargo because of Iranian terrorism in Buenos Aires.
Human Rights and Labor
· Law Enforcement Forces of Khorasan discover a mass grave near Mashhad.
· Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting chief Zarghami says 30 percent of Iranians have access to satellite television.
Photo of the Day
· The Iranian parliament in action.