[20:46 GMT] Snap Analysis of President Obama’s Nowruz message (Part 1)

He starts with a greeting and acknowledgment of the tradition of Nowruz, and then gets down to business.

As I have every year as President, I want to take this opportunity to speak directly to the people and leaders of Iran.

So he is addressing both the people and leaders of Iran. This is an interesting distinction. Will have to revisit his previous Nowruz messages to compare. But it is worth noting that first he mentioned the people, following by the leaders of Iran.

Since taking office, I have offered the Iranian government an opportunity. If it meets its international obligations then there could be a new relationship between our two countries.

President Obama did indeed reach out to Iran when he took office. It’s arguable as to whether he actually reached out to the government of Iran. From a taxonomy perspective, the word government when it applies to Iran’s power establishment, can creation confusion.

For instance, does he mean he reached out to the clerical leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei? Or is he referring to Ahmadinejad? Is he referring to the Revolutionary Guards? Who is he referring to? Ahmadinejad has used the word “government” to refer to his own office and mandate, as distinct from others in the establishment. Because, depending on the answer, there are big ramifications (at least insofar as within Iran itself). But this is another story altogether, one I would like to revisit.

The bigger disconnect, though, is that what he calls an opportunity for a new relationship between the two countries, he makes conditional on “if it [Iran] meets its international obligations.”

Therein lies the conundrum, because as far as Iran is concerned, and insofar as all IAEA assessments to-date, it has not been shown that Iran is not meeting its international obligations as signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT).

Iran is under a strict international monitoring and inspection protocol, arguably under the most stringent monitoring regime of all signatories to the NPT.

Iran was for years under the even more stringent “additional protocol” under which it voluntarily suspended enrichment while negotiating with the Europeans. This was during the presidency of Mohammad Khatami.

All of this is while Israel, India and Pakistan in the near vicinity of Iran, and North Korea, a bit further away, all flout any pretensions towards following any inspection protocols whatsoever.

Those in charge of Iran’s nuclear dossier will look at this from the perspective that they are already meeting their international obligations, and minus any other justification, they will argue that the reason for this special attention on Iran lies in the desire to maintain Israel’s upper hand in the region militarily.

So President Obama is offering Iran a better relationship with the United States on the basis of Iran doing something it thinks it is already doing.

Stay tuned for the second part of my snap analysis.

[20:00 GMT] U.S. Present Barack Obama gives his 2013 Nowruz message to Iran:

As a new spring begins I remain hopeful that our two countries can move beyond tension, and I will continue to work towards a new day between our nations that bears the fruit of friendship and peace.

I will provide a snap analysis in my next update.

[9:08 GMT] Political Prisoners Watch

Journalist, Mojtaba Samienejad reports on Twitter:

Vahid Asghari is an Iranian blogger and cyber activist that was sentenced to death by the judiciary of the Iranian government in 2012.

[Correction made 9:36 GMT. Our apologies to @madyar for incorrect name used.]

[8:16 GMT] Elections Watch – Mashaei, Ahmadinejad’s man.

Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi

Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi

The former head of Iran’s Interior Ministry, Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, in reference to Ahmadinejad’s right hand man, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, has said, “It has been said that Mr. Mashaee intends to become candidate. We have counted for that and know what to do. We have to do our own job. We must not reveal our tactics now.”

Mashaei has long been considered by Iran’s clerics and principalist (supporters of Ayatollah Khamenei) to be the head of a “deviant current” that wishes to supplant clerical influence and rule in Iran.

Ahmadinejad has recently been making it clear that he intends to support and promote Mashaei for the presidency.

Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei (left), Ahmadinejad (right)

Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei (left), Ahmadinejad (right)

But before Mashaei can run, the powerful Guardian council has to vet him and approve him. They have made it clear that they do not intend to do so. Pour-Mohammadi appears to be implying that there are plans in place for various contingencies.

He went on the say “If the ruling side candidate has a high capacity we will enact our own plans, if he doesn’t and goes into coalition with others again we will have our own plans.”