A meeting of 60 Iranian trade unionists was raided by security forces June 17 in the northern city of Karaj, and all were arrested. Most were members of the Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers' Organizations, including longtime labor activist Mahmoud Salehi. Most were released the following day, including Salehi, but nine remain in the custody and have been transferred to the special Intelligence Office in the city of Rasht. Advocates note that the meeting was peaceful, and authorities showed to warrants for the arrests.
From the International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI), Feb. 14:
Resolution against the economic sanctions and threat of war on Iran
The International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI) strongly condemns militaristic policies of capitalism. IASWI is a part of the anti-capitalist movement, of the working class global front and the 99% of the world's population, for a real and enduring peace based on freedom, equality, social and economic justice and the abolition of exploitation.
Protesters took to the streets of Tehran Feb. 14, one year after opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi were put under house arrest for supporting Iran's last protest wave. Since their detention, their whereabouts have not been known. The opposition website Kaleme, which supports the opposition Green Movement, reported convergences of protesters at several points around the capital, holding generally silent marches, despite a heavy presence of riot police. (BBC News, DPA, Feb. 14)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Iran Feb. 13 atfter an Israeli diplomat's wife in New Delhi was injured by a car bomb, and a second bomb was disabled in a staff member's car at the Israeli embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia. "Iran is behind these attacks; it is the largest exporter of terrorism in the world," Netanyahu said in a statement. Citing recent incidents in Azerbaijan and Thailand, Netanyahu said: "In each instance we succeeded in foiling the attacks in cooperation with local authorities. Iran and its proxy Hezbollah were behind all of these attempted attacks." The attacks came the day after the fourth anniversary of the assassination of Hezbollah operations chief Imad Mughniyeh in a Damascus car bomb blast.
Two citizens of Azerbaijan have been arrested in connection with an alleged Iranian-backed plot to kill two Jewish educators and the Israeli ambassador in Baku, the capital, local media reported this week. Three men reportedly were charged with weapons smuggling as part of a plot to kill a teacher and a rabbi at the newly opened Chabad Or Avner Jewish school in Baku, as well as the Israeli ambassador to Azerbaijan, Michael Lotem. Two of those charged are reported to be in custody; one is still at large. It is alleged that Iranian intelligence agencies promised to pay the three men $150,000 to carry out the murders. The National Security Ministry said the men were connected to an Iranian citizen who had links with Iran's intelligence services. Israel's Counter-Terrorism Bureau has issued a travel warning for Azerbaijan. The US embassy also issued a warning saying "the possibility remains for actions against US or other high-profile foreign interests in Azerbaijan."
Does it get any murkier than this? The conspirosphere is abuzz with claims aired in Foreign Policy magazine Jan. 13 that Mossad agents recruited militants from the Iranian terrorist group Jundallah by passing themselves off as CIA agents in a "false flag" operation. Iran's Press TV and Pakistan's The Nation as well as stateside conspiranoids like Prison Planet and Antiwar.com have jumped all over it. But, predictably, the actual original report is fuzzy on the details and raises more questions than it answers. Here's the salient passage:
In what Iran called a "terrorist act," nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan was killed when an unidentified motorcyclist attached a magnetic explosive to his car Jan. 10. Rosha was a department supervisor at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility. He is the third man identified as a nuclear scientist to be killed in Iran in a mysterious explosion in the past two years. A fourth survived an assassination attempt. The survivor, Fereydoon Abbasi, is now the head Iran's Atomic Energy Organization. In a statement quoted by Reuters, the organization said: "America and Israel's heinous act will not change the course of the Iranian nation." Iran insists its nuclear program is peaceful.
It would certainly be an irony if the US "withdrawal" from Iraq (which really isn't, with hundreds of military advisors and thousands of private contractors staying behind, and the Pentagon set to augment its troop presence in the Gulf region) only wound up sparking a US military confrontation with Iran. There are growing signs of fear of Iranian power over Iraq, and of a backlash from Sunnis and secularists. On Dec. 27, three leading members of the Sunni-backed Iraqiya coalition had an op-ed in the New York Times, "How to Save Iraq From Civil War." The writers are Iraqiya leader and ex-prime minister Ayad Allawi (actually a Shi'ite but an ex-Baathist); parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi; and finance minister Rafe al-Essawi. They appeal to Washington to pressure Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to stop hoarding power in violation of power-sharing agreements, and are quick to play the Iran card. They charge: "Maliki is welcoming into the political process the Iranian-sponsored Shiite militia group Asaib Ahl al-Haq, whose leaders kidnapped and killed five American soldiers and murdered four British hostages in 2007."