Monday, 23 July 2012

The Latest from Iran (23 July): Picking A Fight Over an Ahmadinejad Advisor?

President Ahmadinejad & Saeed Mortazavi0625 GMT: Immigration Watch. Issa Mousavi Nassab, the head of immigration for Tehran Province has announced: “560,000 unauthorized citizens have been identified and processed. Of these files, the married individuals have been issued passports and those who are single have been given time to leave the country.”

The statement appears to refer in particular to recent debate over the handling of Afghan immigrants, with Nassab saying there are close to 840,000 Afghani nationals in Tehran. He declared that Afghanis and other foreign nationals can only reside in Iran with residency cards or passports, and those who have neither can be dealt with by security forces in accordance with the law.

In recent weeks, authorities have restricted the locations where Afghans can live and have increased pressure on their employment. Nassab pointedly said that undocumented citizens have no work permit, and employers that hire such workers will be subject to prosecution.

0600 GMT: We begin with an intervention by 1st Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi, who has expressed "strong support" for the controversial Presidential aide and former Tehran Prosecutor General, Saeed Mortazavi.

Mortazavi, also the head of the Social Security Fund, has been under sustained political and legal pressure for three years. He was Prosecutor General at the time of the abuses in the Kahrizak detention centre, in which at least three detainees died, amid the protests after the 2009 Presidential election. Last week, at a memorial for the three men who were tortured and killed, Abdolhossein Ruholamini --- the father of one of the men, a leading conservative political activist, and the campaign manager for the Presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei --- called for trials for those responsible for the deaths.

The Government's support for Mortazavi is not surprising. President Ahmadinejad stood up to Parliament when it threatened to impeach the Minister of Labour over Mortazavi's appointment at the Social Security Fund, and last year he declared a "red line" against prosecution of anyone in his inner circle.

However, the timing and high profile of the statement by Rahimi --- himself a target of corruption allegations and a suspect in a major insurance fraud --- is curious. With the Government is coming under increasing pressure from within the establishment over economic difficulties, the Vice President's forthright declaration appears to be picking an unnecessary fight.

Analyst Eskandar Sadeghi-Boroujerdi ponders:

Trying to think what could possibly be behind Ahmadinejad Government standing behind Saeed Mortazavi, surely only a publicity disaster?

Maybe it is the amount of dirt Mortazavi has on Government? Must be approaching height of Mount Everest by now.

from EA WorldView: EA Iran

Posted via email from lissping

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