Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Iranian Regime Blinks, Frees French Accused

The Iranian government has capitulated in the face of intense diplomatic activity and released one of two high-profile French defendants on trial in Tehran for spying.

Nazak Afshar, a member of the French embassy staff in Iran was released from jail by Iranian authorities late Tuesday, following diplomatic efforts and pressure by the EU and French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Afshar spoke by phone with the French President and with family members immediately on her release.

She is among scores imprisoned and accused in what has been widely dubbed a mass show trial. Her prosecution is set to continue despite the release. Another defendant, French teaching assistant Clotilde Reiss is still in custody.

The two women are charged with espionage and conspiracy in a Western plot to overthrow the government. France has dismissed the charges as baseless and a statement from Sarkozy's office called for all charges against both to be dropped and for Reiss also to be freed and returned to France.

Sarkozy thanked France's EU partners, and other countries, specifically Syria, as among those who provided support "in this first phase." The use of the term "first phase" indicates that French and EU authorities intend to maintain the pressure on Iran to drop all charges. The bullish tone is likely an indication that the international community feels it is likely to succeed.

In retrospect the scale of the mass trial and the decision to charge numbers of foreign or dual-citizenship defendants now looks like a serious miscalculation by the Iranian regime.

This concession to the French is a signal development showing the regime is being forced to backpedal to avoid further political fallout from the decision to mount the ambitious show trial of 110 defendants.

Sweden summoned the Iranian ambassador to advise that the European Union was prepared to take unspecified 'further steps' to secure the release of French and British nationals on trial. The Swedes, who currently hold the rotating Presidency of the EU said they considered the detentions were a move against the entire 27-member bloc.

“We called in the Iranian ambassador to the foreign ministry to reiterate and reinforce this message and tell him what kind of measures we expect from Iran. On this and other issues," Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said in an interview Tuesday with Swedish Radio. "I think Iran is aware that we are prepared to take steps beyond what we have already done."

From the Iranian government perspective the show trial had seemed to offer it advantages in a battle for legitimacy against political opponents.

It reinforced a propaganda line aimed at loyalists: that Western states, Britain in particular, played a key role in protests aiming for a "soft overthrow" of the Islamic regime. The hapless foreign embassy staff were incidental pawns in this narrative.

Including prominent Iranian politicians among the defendants and staging concurrent threats to prosecute leading opposition politicians was intended to intimidate an emerging coalition of political foes.

But the strategy was flawed by virtue of an excess of zeal.

Domestically the sight of a gaunt and disheveled former Vice President Mohammad Abtahi, confessing in a televised broadcast, jarred with broad swathes of Iranian political opinion. Any intimidatory effect was outweighed by the trial's appearance of being a Stalinist-era farce with unintended echoes of the regime of the deposed Shah.

A measure of the image problem is that even the State-run, PressTV website yesterday placed the word 'confessed' in italics when describing the released French woman's testimony.

But the international effects of the trial have proved to be its Achilles heel. The foreign nationals in the trial may indeed have been pawns in the eyes of the Iranian regime, but the EU could and has promoted them into a checkmate move. The inclusion of foreign embassy staff and nationals had crossed key diplomatic protocols in an indefensible manner. The EU has leveraged against that error and can compound it into damaging international isolation of the regime. Thus the backpedaling.

Repression of the type which the Iranian regime is attempting requires both brute force and political nous or savvy. The brutality has been on vivid display, but the savvy tellingly absent.

The regime continues to implement tactics which are short-term positive and long-term deeply damaging. The first example of such an error was the overarching scale of the killing and detention of peaceful protesters. A more tempered crackdown could have achieved the goal the regime sought. The second example is the scale of the now discredited trial.

These two key errors betray either incompetence, nervousness or both. They hint at a fundamentally shallow base of core regime support. Political errors like this cost support and embolden opponents. The mistakes compound the flight of capital. Money is mostly apolitical and calculatedly amoral. It will remain in a country which is a crude dictatorship, but will tend to flee a regime which can't manage the business of repression.

Despite it's street-thuggery resources and grip on the levers of law and administration, the shaky Iranian regime has two key strikes against it and seems to be floundering.

Three strikes you're out.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Spammers Dog Iran Twitter Activists - Again

A mass spam campaign is again flooding the #iranelection topic on Twitter. The last major spam campaign was pushing a scam called "Turbo Cash Generator", this time well organised spammers are promoting a dubious offer of a $1,000 Visa gift card at a website called

The e-researchcenter site identifies itself as a Top Notch Media, Inc. website. Top Notch Media is a ValueClick company. ValueClick is a publicly traded, international internet marketing and advertising firm, founded in 1988 and based in Westlake Village, California. Besides the e-researchcenter its subsidiary operations include Commission Junction and The company is reported to have 2008 sales of $628 million.

That level of presumed reputable corporate operations does not sit well with Top Notch Media -whose online reputation, frankly, stinks. has this warning:
These are complete crooks.... Don't fall for this scam. I did. They take your money and run... Run, run as fast and far away from this site as you can. Liars, scumbags, scam artists, crooks... I lost hundreds of dollars trusting them. carries this warning about another Top Notch Media operation:
"This company clearly has no credibility and cheats consumers out of money they are due."
But perhaps any assumption of corporate responsibility is misplaced. In March of 2008 ValueClick offered to pay $2,9 million to settle charges by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that ValueClick subsidiary Hi-Speed Media used deceptive emails, banner ads and pop-ups to drive consumers to its websites. The company's campaign offered gifts, such as laptops and iPods.

But the FTC said consumers had to navigate “a maze of expensive and burdensome third-party offers which they were required to ‘participate in' at their own expense in order to receive the promised ‘free' merchandise”.

Given the reasons for ValueClick's prior penalization, the FTC might well be interested in the current Twitter spam campaign directing consumers to its subsidiary.

After all, the new offer to consumers visiting that website seems identical in form to the offers which cost the corporation a close to $3 million penalty last year.

To benefit from the $1,000 Visa gift card, consumers lured via Twitter to must purchase 2 Silver offers, 2 Gold offers, and 8 Platinum offers from a range of products including online credit reports, teeth whitening products and Botox.

They must also recruit two others to do the same. Tellingly, the terms and conditions note that the credit card offer may require consumers to activate the card by transferring a balance or taking a cash advance.

It all looks like what the FTC described in its prior charges against ValueClick as: "a maze of expensive and burdensome third-party offers which they were required to ‘participate in' at their own expense in order to receive the promised ‘free' merchandise”. Our archive of the e-researchcenter visa gift offer page is here.

It would be unfortunate for ValueClick if the corporation were to suffer another multi-million dollar FTC sanction. The FTC's consumer complaints form is here. Feel free to refer to this article. Feel free to post this article to the net or to popular Twitter topics.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Green Blood: Iran's True Toll of Martyrs

The official number of protesters killed to date in the Iranian uprising is widely viewed with extreme skepticism. But a firm contradictory count of the death toll has been slow to emerge.

Any failure to hold Iranian authorities to account has one key consequence: it extends to repressive forces in Iran a licence to continue to kill without fear that the full scale of these murders will be exposed. Thus placing peaceful protesters at considerable ongoing risk.

Accordingly, Sea Of Green Radio presents the first in a series of investigative reports aimed at placing the true fatality count firmly in the public domain.

Listen here mp3 audio

We interview the author of the 'Iran Revolution' weblog, which is building a careful fatality count on a case-by-case basis. We also present both an overview of the evidence to date, and a preliminary estimate of the likely final death toll.

Referenced in this Audio:

Friday, July 31, 2009

U.S. Realpolitik Readies to Betray Iran Opposition

An interesting article yesterday in the NY Times magazine by Roger Cohen, detailing the U.S. administration's maneuvering in relation to Iran. Cutting through the rhetoric of "concern" about the post-election outcome, Ross delivers this dire nugget of realpolitik:
'The Obama administration’s strong conviction, as several officials told me, is that Ahmadinejad’s election was fraudulent. But in the American interest, it is ready to overlook that and to talk. Restored relations with the Soviet Union came in 1933 at the time of the Great Terror, and with China in 1972 in the middle of the Cultural Revolution. But of course the bloodshed then — of an altogether different dimension — was not being YouTubed around the globe.'
Unlike Obama, the people of Iran are not prepared to "overlook" the theft of their democratic rights.

Much of the article revolves around Dennis Ross, a Beltway veteran with Israeli sympathies who has been drafted into the National Security Council and into the heart of Obama's Iran team. Cohen's article assures us that:
'Israel, which sees an existential threat in a nuclear Iran, has made clear that its patience is limited. The Ross team does not think Israelis are bluffing. They believe Israel views Iran in life-and-death terms.'
Israeli Zionists view everything in life-and-death terms, but no matter.

Further on, Cohen returns to the question of a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities by Israel:
'It is also clear to me that a military strike on Iran by Israel is Obama’s least-favored outcome: it would inflame the region he’s trying to quiet and sabotage his outreach to the Muslim world, while perhaps only delaying Iran’s nuclear program a year or two.'
A less fawning analysis than Cohen's might take his focus on realpolitik to it's logical conclusion:
1) Obama could care less about Iran's opposition; could care less if an Israeli strike scuppers the Iranian Uprising.

2) Israel is Obama's iron fist, already licenced to strike by Joe Biden's conveniently loose mouth about Israel's national interest.

3) Hollow platitudes are Obama's velvet glove. Ignore them.
A democratic, reformist Iran right now would depolarize the War on Terror. That climate would soon lead to questioning of the rationale for Obama's Afghanistan campaign; would lead to questions also about Israeli intransigence over a Middle-East resolution.

The Iranian uprising is inconveniently four years too early. The (ongoing!) War on Terror needs a hardline Iranian government to reinforce the notion of a noble battle against maniacal "towel-heads". Zionist nationalist rationale equally needs a hardline Iranian government. A sad loss such a government would be to both the above causes.

It's not what Obama says that matters. It's what Israel does.

Get your revolution on! The clock is ticking towards this Fall.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Neda “40th Day” Memorial Rallies

Estimated 4,000+ in cemetry and up
to 50,00 in Tehran center at protests

Screen grabs of 'shooting' from the video below:

Claims are being made that this was a pistol shot.
But at 44 seconds into the video below, the officer
can be seen behind a tree --loading a cartridge:

The size is clearly too large for a pistol:

Huge muzzle flash. Likely a teargas launcher/rubber bullet:

Early video from the Memorial at
the Behesht-e-Zahra Cemetery, Tehran

Tehran center - video at approx 6pm Tehran time:

Other Videos:

50+ videos of today's protests: here and here

Major Media Reports:

Opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi was prevented from joining other mourners by security forces. Police fired tear gas and beat anti-government protesters with batons. Despite riot police presence around the perimiter, thousands entered the cemetery and are now moving towards Mosala.

Parvin Fahimi, the mother of slain protester Neda Soltan was prevented from attending the memorial. According to ABC's Jim Scuitto: 'for reasons I can't say, I cannot attend the ceremony of my own daughter'.

Filmmakers Jafar Panahi and Mahnaz Mohammadi were arrested today at the cemetery.

Protesters have also gatherd in Seyde Khandan, Hafte Tir, Vanak and Vali Asr. Army helicopters are reported flying over Tehran's center. Beheshti Avenue is full of people, with the crowd chanting slogans against the regime. 3,000 protesters have gathered around Grand Mosalla according to AFP.

Clashes are now reported at Vanak, Ferdowsi and Valiasr and Haft Hoz Squares.

Intense conflict between protesters and police with Basij suport in Abbasabad St.

Unconfirmed report that one person has been killed in Valiasr Street. 7:55pmTehran

Heavy clashes now across much of Tehran center. Tear gas and gunfire against the backdrop of fires lit by protesters to help alleviate tear gas effects.

Gunshots heard at Fatemi Sq. Protesters clash with army near Interior Ministry.

Unconfirmed: Mousavi spotted near Mosalla.

Protests in Isfahan, Shiraz, Tehran, and forming in Tabriz. Clashes later reported in Shiraz, Rasht, Ahvaz, Isfehan, Mashhad, Oromieh, Mahabad.

Two young men arrested and placed inside a van, but a group of demonstrators broke windows and pulled the men out of vehicle.

Intense protests continue in Tehran's center after nightfall.

Latest @ 9:50pm Tehran time

Friday, July 17, 2009

Live Blog on Tehran's Key Friday 17th July

An estimated 1 to 1.5 million took part in protest today.

Compilation Video from Today:

People make their way to prayer earlier:

Mousavi at Friday Prayers in Tehran.

Later as crowds gather:

More Videos Here. And Here

Heavy clashes reported between Pro-Khamaeni and Pro-Reformists around Tehran University. People have started protesting in nearby streets but security forces are trying to disperse them.
Tear gas & batons were used. Unprecedented scenes during prayer time.

Facebook Video of protests at Tehran Uni 1:50pm Tehran Time.

Large crowd reported heading for Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting HQ.

Facebook Video of tear gas incident.

Riots all over Tehran. Heavy clashes. People mobilizing en masse. 3:30pmTehran

For the last hour, videos are being deleted from YouTube in large numbers as quickly as they are posted.

Widespread use of tear gas and knives, with stabbings being reported. Clashes reported in front of the University and around Enqelab Sq.

Thousands converging on the Ministry of Interior.

Emergency declared for Greater Tehran. Communications Shutdown.

People moving towards "vezarate keshvar" chanting: Military support us!

However army bases are reported on lockdown, precisely to prevent this.

Interior Ministry in Fatemi surrounded by up to 20 thousand, Tear gas and Basij everywhere, people are pushing in.

People shouting and screaming their lungs out --furious and not afraid.

Mashhad declared emergency. Tabriz reporting heavy clashes.

All communication from Shiraz cut.

Hundreds of thousands now on Tehran's streets. 5:30pm Tehran

Clashes spreading to all of the city central areas, gunshoots heard.

Mass street fighting with Basij taking casualties.

Numbers growing at TV station and Interior Ministry.

Via Tehran Bureau, crowds today extended from Gisha to Tehran University with an estimated 1 to 1.5 million people taking part. Largest protests since the initial Revolution Sq. to Freedom Sq. demonstration.

Karoubi Attacked at Friday Prayers > Karoubi's son: The plain clothes forces who attacked my father were congratulated by their commander on their radio!

At least 100 ppl arested today during clashes.

Protests in some part of Tehran countinued until midninght.

Rafsanjani Speaks - The People Move On


Rafsanjani's damp squib speech was a yesterday's man's address. We waited this long for.... that!?

It tainted him and all the opposition politicians who attended. They have dithered, and slowed the people's momentum.

Now, their attempt to hijack the Revolution has drowned in a lot of Rafsanjani waffle about the previous revolution; and in talk of negotiating with killers and oppressors.

The initiative is back with the people. Back with the streets.

Nothing will stop them.


"Today I will propose a solution for today's situation."

Rafsajani is telling the history of early days of Islam and Mohammad.

Rafsanjani talking about the importance of science, knowledge & ppl's rights in prophet's islamic gov.

Rafsanjani seems to be on the verge of crying! Am I hearing right?!

Now talking about how prophet was worred about differences & discord happened among his ppl b4 his death.

And YES. his voice was shaking when talking about prophet's death.

Rafsanjani talking about China. PPl: Death to China.

Rafsanjani asked them not to chant. Because of the "speical" circumstances & what's going on the nearby streets!?

Saying I was there in every moment of the revolution. I know what Imam wanted.

According 2 #iran constitution everything is done with ppl's vote. Even supreme leader.

Unfortunately #iranelection was a big loss for everyone. We need unity.

His suggestions: (1) we should return ppl's trust.

(2) everyone has to act according to the law.

(3) We should create an environment that ppl can talk and discuss.

He's blaming the guardian council. ppl (not clear which side) chanting! (Basij chanting in support of Khamenei, yet Raf keeps thanking them as though they r chanting 4 him)

He asked for releasing the detainees. AND his voice is shaking!!

He said we should try to gain the trust of those who are mourning. Although difficult.
Longer version now here.

The Revolution Will Not Be Hijacked

It's coming up to 1:30pm in Tehran right now, but already, before Rafsanjani has even begun to speak: there's a reek of sellout in the air.

That's not surprising with Rafsanjani involved. It's the sort of thing to be expected from a master political chess-player. And yes, this is politics Jim. But not as we know it.

Mousavi should know it. Greatness came out of the shadows and thrust itself opon him. That greatness rode on the shoulders of a people inspired with detestation for an oppressive government, rather than a love of Mousavi. But it was greatness nonetheless.

There is talk of working within the system. But nothing less than the departure of Ahmadinejhad and/or the no-longer-Supreme Leader will do.

Absent these systemic changes, by showing up to listen to Rafsanjani, Mousavi will cast that greatness to the winds of politics. Old politics.

The politics of the back room. The politics of vested interests. If Mousavi does this it will be a calamitous error. Iran may very well take a step forward. But it wants to take a giant leap, and Mousavi should know this.

The people know it. They have not come this far and shed this much blood to make an incremental advance. This is not about an election, nor is it any longer about Mousavi. It's about time.

It's about time, that Iran embraced it's own greatness. And the people know that. After all it is their Revolution. Over the last few weeks, while the leaders played old politics, the people were out in the streets constructing a new politics. A politics without leaders. A politics capable of solving Iran's massive national problems.

The Genie is not only out of the bottle. The Genie has smashed the bottle and has no intention of ever returning to it.

Politicians everywhere tremble at the thought.

And scramble to hijack the Revolution.

Israel Readies to Rescue Ahmadinejahd

You would think that the leaders of 'The West' would be doing their best to rein in crazy talk coming out of Israel about it's preparedness to attack Iran.

Such a move would simply hand a perfect justification to the regime to sideline opposition protests by issuing a rallying call for national unity against a foreign enemy. Exactly the line it is using in propaganda already. But with the smoking ruins of it's nuclear program as justification, it could even declare a state of war.

Curiously, such Israeli action has already been given the cover it needs: through supposedly loose talk about Israel's right to pursue it's national interest by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden; and by both Obama and Hillary Clinton deadlining negotiations with Iran at September.

It's all even more puzzling considering that even talk of such intemperate actions works against the chances of Mousavi --who has already indicated a willingness to negotiate on ensuring Iran's nuclear program remains solely for civilian use.

Not much of this makes sense if you are working on the assumption that the leaders of "The West" are keen to see the emergence of democracy in Iran.

They're not.

It makes a lot more sense if you realize the value of the dancing sock-puppet Ahmadinejhad as a propaganda justification for the neo-colonial adventures of the Anglo-American-Israeli power axis against "crazy Muslims".

When you factor in that alliance's long-term, strategic relationship with Iran's regional rival: Saudi Arabia, then the combined value of the sanctions and the pathetic government of Iran in slowing Iran's economic and political advancement also makes a lot of sense.

Doubtless we can rely on the Israeli end of the alliance to launch a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, if the regime can't suppress the uprising by September.

As one astute tweet on Twitter put it:
G8/Obama to Iran: You have until September to destroy the protests. Don't screw up.
Iran issues have in recent weeks become clouded with a dense fog of disinformation. The most pernicious of all, is the disinfo that the West loves freedom and wants the people of Iran to have a share.