08/12/2009, 00.00
IRAN
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Tehran to parole Reiss

Iranian authorities admit that 4,000 people were arrested during post-election protests. Basij commander talks about conspiracies as 202 parliamentarians out of 290 pledge their support for Ahmadinejad. A scholar expects Iranian politics to become further radicalised.
Beirut (AsiaNews) – Iran says it will allow Clotilde Reiss (pictured), a French university lecturer standing trial in Tehran on espionage charges, to stay in the French Embassy in Tehran until the case is over. French President Nicholas Sarkozy thanked Syria and the European Union for their support in securing this goal. The decision comes after a French Embassy cultural service staffer, Franco-Iranian Nazak Afshar, was released. She too is accused of espionage.

At the same time that such positive steps are taking place, Basij (volunteer) Commander Hojjatoleslam Hossein Taeb warned that the enemies of the Islamic Republic have hatched plots to sow the seeds of discord in the Iranian nation.

In a statement published by the semi-official Fars news agency, Taeb accuses Iran’s enemies of making “their utmost efforts to spark and spread pessimism among the people” through the wide use of the media in order to break the unity of “the Iranian nation”.

What do all these contradictory signals from Iran mean? They might mean that the power struggle within the country’s leadership is still not over.

Indeed TV stations have reported that 202 of the 290 members of the Majlis (parliament) have sent a letter to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, pledging their support for his cabinet, Irib News said, as long as its members have the necessary “ability, capacity, experience and sufficient expertise” to do the job.

“With the Supreme Leader’s recommendations as an example, the Majlis believes that if the right conditions exist, it will vote for the president in a confidence vote,” the letter said.

The reference to the supreme leader, which is customary in Iran, might also be a sign that a confrontation is underway between the Ayatollah Khamenei and Ahmadinejad.

On the margins of all this, it was revealed that 4,000 people were arrested during the protests that followed last June’s presidential elections.

The figure, which contradicts earlier ones reported by the authorities, comes from Iran's Judiciary spokesman Ali Reza Jamshidi, who said that “3,700 of them were released soon” afterwards, Press TV reported.

Iran's judiciary is closely following the post-election developments to ensure that the rights of the detainees are protected, Jamshidi added.

In saying so he was probably referring to charges made by opposition leader and presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi, who claimed that prison guards raped male and female protesters causing them “serious physical and mental damage.”

In light of the situation some are suggesting that Iranian domestic and foreign politics might undergo radicalisation.

Azadeh Kian, a professor and researcher at the University of Paris’s French National Research Centre, told Rooz, an online publication by Iranian exiles, that even though Ahmadinejad might hold the presidency, his rule lacks internal and international legitimacy.

“Those who support him are among the most radical internal factions and, with supporters like that, he would not even allow himself to enter serious talks to reduce tensions and mistrust,” she explained. (PD)

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