As it has for thousands of years,
Iran is taking advantage of opportunities to sponsor unrest in neighboring
countries. Thousands of years ago, the kings of Iran financed rebels in
neighboring countries, and gave sanctuary to the rebels. The violence and
unrest in neighboring countries kept those potential opponents distracted and
weak. These days, the ancient traditions continue, with Iran supplying money,
weapons and technical advisors to pro-Iranian political parties and militias in
Iraq and Afghanistan. Because of all this, Iran is quick to accuse others of doing
the same. Unrest among its Arab, Kurdish and Baluchi minorities in Iran are
blamed on American and British agents. It's happened in the past, and may be
happening again, but ignores the fact that the minorities that make up half the
Iranian population can be troublesome without any outside help.
An Iranian defector put the spotlight on Iranian
firms engaged smuggling banned equipment into Iran, in support of nuclear
weapons, and other military, programs. This annoys Iran, which has put a lot of
effort into setting up these front companies, so they can beat the sanctions.
Exiles have to be careful about shooting their mouths off, because the Iranian
government often shoots back with bullets. That's another ancient tradition;
sending assassins to silence disloyal Iranians who have gone abroad to say bad
things about the motherland.
Speaking of bullets, a small
number of Iranian troops (a platoon or so) crossed into northern Iraq, in
pursuit of Kurdish separatists who have been operating in Iran's Kurdish north.
Iran doesn't have as many Kurds as Iraq. Shia Iran also uses the religious
differences (most Kurds are Sunnis) to terrorize and oppress its Kurds, and
keep them quiet. That works most of the time. Currently, Iran is cracking down,
sending more Revolutionary Guards into Kurdish areas, to abuse the locals and
smoke out the armed separatists from camps in northern Iraq. But now the
Iranian troops have identified villages across the border where the separatists
are living, and are using artillery and infantry patrols to drive the armed
Kurds away from the border.