March 21, 2012: Israel and the U.S. keep feeding the media stories about an air strike on Iran's nuclear weapons facilities. Iran would welcome such an attack, as it would cripple growing opposition to the religious dictatorship that runs Iran and only delay the nuclear weapons program. There is little the rest of the world can do to half the Iranian effort to develop nuclear weapons, mainly because having nukes is very popular with most Iranians, even those who want a more democratic government. Such a government would be more persuaded by sanctions to halt weapons development but the current religious dictatorship shows no signs of disappearing anytime soon. And once Iran has nukes, getting rid of them would be very unpopular with most Iranians.
Iran's oil customers are cutting their orders. The new sanctions make it more difficult for Iran to sell its oil and most nations want to avoid dealing with Iran. It gets worse. In a major blow to the Iranian economy, and Iranian clandestine operations (smuggling and Quds Force terrorism), the UAE (United Arab Emirates) is halting use of the Iranian currency in the UAE. This is for very practical reasons, mainly that the Iranian currency (the rial) has lost half its value in the past few weeks because of all the new sanctions. There will still be illegal trading of the rial in the UAE but these will be much more expensive. Iranians can no longer use UAE banks to deposit large amounts of rials. Quds Force will now have to establish and run safe houses for storing large quantities of rials and other cash.
Iran's Quds Force has been caught carrying out anti-Israeli terror attacks in India, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Thailand recently. Iran has denied any involvement, but this ambitious series of attacks last month (that didn't kill anyone) led to over a dozen arrests and lots of other evidence linking the perpetrators to Iran. While Quds has been active in many places (Gaza, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, South America, Arabian Peninsula, and so on) its operatives are often amateurish and ineffective. When operatives are caught overseas Iran demands its citizens back and just denies any terrorist activity. But the recent offensive against Israelis living outside Israel has apparently stretched Quds beyond the breaking point. Iran believes that Israeli agents are behind several murders of Iranian nuclear scientists and they want revenge. But Quds has not been able to deliver when it came to retribution. This is not surprising, as religious fanaticism is more prized among Quds Force recruits than other talents. Many Quds operatives are sharp but all of them are Islamic radicals.
March 18, 2012: Under pressure from the United States, Iraq has told Iran that weapons could no longer be flown from Iran to Syria via Iraq.
March 17, 2012: Because of increased sanctions over 30 Iranian banks have been cut off from using SWIFT, the world's largest international electronic funds transfer system. Iran can get around this but it will be more expensive and more of a hassle.
March 15, 2012: Hackers got the email of senior Syrian officials and turned it over to
for publication. This revealed how deeply Iran has been involved in advising ally Syria on how to deal with a year long popular rebellion.
The Iranians suggested that Syria hunt down and kill as many of the most active rebels as possible. This will demoralize the large number of Syrians who oppose the Assad dictatorship and convince people to submit to a government they oppose. Iranian advisors have pointed out how well this worked in Iran, where a large urban population, that opposed the religious dictatorship in Iraq, have been brutalized and terrorized into submission. Iran also advised that much be made of largely imaginary foreign agents (from Israel and the West, of course) being responsible for stirring up the people. This gives rebellious Syrians a suitable excuse to accept a future amnesty and behave. Iran pointed out that no proof of this non-existent foreign involvement was needed because decades of anti-West and anti-Israel propaganda in Islamic countries have convinced most Moslems that the lies are true. Iran practices what it preaches and continues to arrest and imprison (and, increasingly, execute) outspoken critics of the government.
March 14, 2012: In neighboring Azerbaijan police arrested 22 suspected Iranian agents and accused them of planning terror attacks on American and Israeli targets. Azerbaijan has been chasing down and arresting Iran-backed terrorists for years.
March 8, 2012: The UN accused Iran of not being open about its nuclear energy program. UN nuclear inspectors suspect Iran is developing nuclear weapons.