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Anti-US Billboards Removed in Tehran: The Guards and Kayhan Continue to Compete Against Nuclear Talks

By Firoozeh Matin, Rooz Online

Following international reaction to the news that anti-US billboards had been installed around Tehran which belittled Iran’s talks with the P5+1 powers, while announcing ignorance about who put up the billboards, Tehran municipality announced that it had removed them from the capital. But at the same time, a number of groups and organizations affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards and ultra-conservative Kayhan newspaper announced that they are holding an anti-US competition labeled “Large prize for death to the US.”

According to a November 2nd report by Tehran's Shargh daily, the billboards removed from Tehran streets have now reappeared in other cities including Mashhad.

Even as the Guards (IRGC) officially announced they did not know who had created the anti-US billboards, it has emerged that one of the sponsors of the new anti-US competition, a company that calls itself Owj(meaning pinnacle or apex) which is affiliated with the IRGC also happens to be the company whose name appears on the anti-US billboards.

These billboards had been widely placed around the capital and carried the Owj logo. One version, showed a negotiations table where the American side was represented by a man half dressed in a military outfit and another with a big dog sitting next to the supposedly American person him who seemed ready to pounce, each facing an Iranian person who appeared in a businesslike suit. The caption on the poster read “American Sincerity” and aimed at portraying Americans as insincere in the nuclear talks.

Once the billboard issue became international, the question that came up in Iranian media circles was whether it was Tehran municipality that had put up the billboards, or some other organization. The outcome of the investigation indicated that the municipality had nothing to do with it.

According to Fararoo, Mr. Mehdinejad, the public relations director of Tehran’s beautification organization told Mehr news agency, “I do not know who put up the billboards and the beautification organization had nothing to do with it. The posters were not been put on the beatification organization billboards and they would be removed.”

According to this news report all the billboards had been removed by Saturday morning but the question as to who had put them up still remained. Shargh newspaper spoke with IRGC’s public relations tsar Ramezan Sharif and pointed to the Owj log and got this response: “I have seen these billboards but have no special information. As far as I know, Owj organization does cultural-art work on such issues as the holly defense (the eight-year Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s).”

Mohammad Javad Koolivand, a presiding member of Majlis’s councils committee also spoke about this on Sunday and said, “Some are trying to portray talks with the US as supported by the public by going to polls thus directly engaging the public in this. We must see what is the view of the supreme leader on talks with the US because ultimately he has the final word on this. Some however want to convey the message that people should directly decide about this.”

According to Mehr news agency, Tehran municipality reacted to the billboards and one of its members, Mohsen Sorkhoo said, “If the municipality does not deal with this intelligently, it will harm the interests of the country. The municipality should not allow any billboard with any content, regardless of who is paying for it, be put up around the city. For example, the billboards about American sincerity should have at least been coordinated with the national security council and the ministry of foreign affairs. Otherwise, such arbitrary actions by a group can be counter to national security.”

Shargh newspaper wrote a critical piece on the billboards and said they could have a negative impact on the upcoming nuclear talks. “Perhaps the goal of those who put up the billboards was to express doubt about US sincerity in the talks, but under the conditions when Iran and the Europeans and Americans are in the initial stages of their work and plan to meet the second time shortly, this can impact the talks.”

In a related development, Tadbir website announced that a prize had been set for an anti-US completion sponsored by Tasnim news agency, Cyber Hezbollah, Nasr TV, Press TV, Saraj organization, Bashara and Owj organizations and will have two sections one for photos, poster and caricature and the other for documentary clips, hymns, articles and blogs.

Quoting Cyber Hezbollah, Tadbir wrote, “The permanent secretariat of the event announced the planning of the first large prize international competition labeled ‘Death to the US.’ The secretariat said that in view of the sensitivity of the anti-arrogance issue and the use of the enemy use of cyber space, it plans to hold a competition even labeled ‘Large international prize on Death to the US’ in 2 main sections. It added that participants could portray the views of people around the world on the ethical, behavior and social aspects of the Death to US slogan and its impact on their daily lives.

Another site, Bahar News, reacted to this idea and wrote, “This event which is clearly in opposition to the heroic flexibility policy of the supreme leader and the policy of relaxation of tensions of the government, is taking place while earlier three round of talks between Ahmadinejad administration’s ambassador Hassan Kazemi Ghomi in Iraq and his US counterpart Ryan Croker in 2008 did not display any opposition, shoe-throwing, billboarding, competition or banners; something that shows the paradoxical behavior of the bands and factions who have launched these.” It said such actions would not only provide for the failure of the talks and the continuation of the current difficult and bad economic conditions in the country under the shadow of the sanctions and present a failure for the current administration and its promises, but they also intend to return the atmosphere of the reformist years back to the country where any talk of negotiations with the US was viewed as treason.

... Payvand News - 11/02/13 ... --

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