Iran has temporarily closed down the newspaper of leading reformist Mehdi Karoubi, who angered hardliners by saying some opposition protesters had been raped in jail, the website of his party said. Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi denied that the Etemad-e Melli daily, which together with the party website offers a way for Karoubi to reach his supporters, had been banned, Mehr News Agency reported. “Technical printing problems were the reasons for not distributing the paper (on Monday),” Mortazavi said. The website of Karoubi’s party, which is also called Etemad-e Melli (National Trust), said the newspaper was closed down late on Sunday on the orders of Mortazavi’s office.
The new head of Iran’s judiciary suggested on Monday that he would prosecute security agents accused of torture in the postelection crackdown, a nod from the country’s conservative leadership to widespread anger to reports that jailed protesters were abused. Sadeq Larijani was sworn in as head of the powerful judiciary on Monday after being named to the post by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The appointment could be a sign of how the supreme leader is seeking to balance among factions within the conservative camp, which has seen angry feuds between supporters and critics of hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Larijani is the brother of parliament speaker Ali Larijani, who is seen as a top conservative rival of the president. Khamenei has strongly backed Ahmadinejad in the postelection crisis, but at the same time the judiciary appointment suggests the supreme leader wants to keep the sometimes unruly president in check with other conservatives.
In an interview with Fareed Zakaria on CNN, Oren was asked about several reports suggesting that Israel was planning to strike Iran’s facilities to prevent the Islamic Republic from obtaining nuclear weapons, although Iran insists its nuclear program has only peaceful goals. Zakaria said that John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, had gone as far as to say that he believed Israel was likely to attack Iran by the end of this year. “I don’t think it’s true. I think that we are far from even contemplating such things right now,” Oren said in response. “The government of Israel has supported President [Barack] Obama in his approach to Iran – the engagement, the outreach to Iran.” Zakaria questioned Oren’s statement, saying, “You’re just saying this, Michael. It is well known that the government of Israel is deeply uncomfortable and nervous about the idea of engagement with Iran.”
Bueno de Mesquita is one of the world’s most prominent applied game theorists. A professor at New York University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford, he is well known academically for his work on “political survival,” or how leaders build coalitions to stay in power. But among national-security types and corporate decision makers, he is even better known for his prognostications. For 29 years, Bueno de Mesquita has been developing and honing a computer model that predicts the outcome of any situation in which parties can be described as trying to persuade or coerce one another. By early 2010, according to the forecast, Iran will be at the brink of developing one, but then it will stop and go no further. If this computer model is right, all the dire portents we’ve seen in recent months — the brutal crackdown on protesters, the dubious confessions, Khamenei’s accusations of American subterfuge — are masking a tectonic shift. The moderates are winning, even if we cannot see that yet.
The brothers Larijani — often referred to as the Kennedys of Iran — are emerging as a powerful counterweight to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from within the conservative camp. And unlike other Ahmadinejad rivals, the Larijanis are fully endorsed by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatullah Ali Khamenei. Over the past 30 years, the five sons of a senior cleric have been a major force in Iran’s power structure, either serving in or running for positions including the presidency and various diplomatic roles as well as posts in Cabinet ministries, the Council of Guardians, the legislature, the powerful National Security Council, the judiciary, Iran’s top broadcasting authority and even the Revolutionary Guards. Over the past year, they have consolidated their power. Mohammad Javad Larijani, a Berkeley-educated mathematician, has been a member of parliament, Deputy Foreign Minister and adviser to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Bagher Larijani, a physician, has served as Deputy Minister of Health. And Fazel Larijani, a diplomat, spent years posted in Ottawa. All five are bearded and bespectacled.
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A close aide to Ayatollah Khomeini, Mr. Sazegara was a founder of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, but an eventual falling-out with the clerical regime sent him back to the United States as an exile. Today, he has become a global leader for Iranian dissidents who have risen up in opposition to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the clerics who have endorsed his disputed re-election. Mr. Sazegara’s image now appears on many Iranians’ computer screens every day, all over the world, against a green background seared with a V for victory sign. The Washington-based dissident’s wardrobe of green T-shirts and the green ribbon permanently tied around his right wrist adhere strictly to the opposition’s color scheme. Sometimes, the color branding is so strong that only Mr. Sazegara’s pale complexion swims out from a sea of green.