The Corner

Iran News Round Up

(Thanks to Ali Alfoneh for his compilation)

Politics

· Montakhab-Nia, the number two man in Mehdi Karroubi’s National Trust Party, attacks former president Khatami, widening the split between the reformist camp.

· Akbar A’lami, former member of the Iranian parliament whose candidacy was rejected by the Council of Guardians comments the parliamentary elections on his web site: “[Election participation was due to] rumors of stamping of identification papers of Iranian citizens which are expected to be looked at whenever anyone seeks a job in the public sector…[The results were expected since] the Supreme Leader had asked the electorate to ‘elect representatives who make work easier for the government.’…Friday prayers leaders […] presented participation in elections as a religious duty…Commander in chief of the Revolutionary Guards openly asked the members of the Basij Resistance Force to support the Principalist [Alliance]…” A’lami also presents an interesting discussion of the mathematics of electoral participation in the Islamic Republic. More.

Economy and Trade

· Abundance of food stuff, but rising prices in poorer suburbs of Tehran.

· Tabnak News, close to former commander in chief of the Revolutionary Guards, Mohsen Rezai, steps up criticism of the economic policies of the Ahmadinejad government.

· At first cabinet meeting of Iranian new year, Ahmadinejad stresses the importance of “monumental economic reforms.”

Religion, Culture, and Society

· In order to challenge Iran’s state-imposed moral code, Iranian high school girls perform a dance in their class and broadcast it on youtube. (Video).

· Tabnak News publishes a report on the broadcast of Dutch politician Gert Wilder’s film about Islam which includes a clip of Ahmadinejad saying the Iranian revolution is not only for Iran, and also quotes Ayatollah Meshkini. More.

· Asian and African students at theological seminaries in Iran visit sites from the Iran-Iraq war zones in southwestern Iran.

· Iranian megastar Googoosh performs at the Media City in Dubai.

Diplomacy

· Foreign Ministry spokesman protests against the broadcast of Wilder’s film on the internet.

· Tabnak News publishes a report that five former secretaries of state recommend resumption of diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic.

· China welcomes Islamic Republic’s application for membership of the Shanghai Pact.

· Head of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, Ezzatollah Zarghami: “The U.S. and the West hinder expansion of Iran-Russia relations.”

· The Islamic Republic, Afghanistan and Tajikistan sign several agreements on expansion of roads, railroads, cooperation in the field of anti-narcotics, etc.

· Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki leaves for Damascus to participate in the Arab League Summit.

· Arab Online claims Iranian and U.S. authorities were engaged in secret negotiations during U.S. presidential candidate Senator McCain’s visit to Iraq.

· Jannati: U.S. backs terrorists in Iraq.

Security and Military

· Unidentified men attack a bus transporting “Rahian-e Nour,” members of the Basij, near Khorramshahr. One passenger reportedly died because of the shooting against the bus.

· 200 hectares of the rain forest in Gilan burn.

Photo of the Day

· Spring comes to Iranian Azerbaijan.

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Civil-Military Relations, and a senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly.