Iran: Suicide Is Painless, It Brings On Many Changes

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April 26,2008: Government leaders make the most of the one thing they are popular for; the nuclear program. Atomic bombs are rarely mentioned, the emphasis is on "nuclear technology". That's a code word for nuclear weapons, which are immensely popular in Iran. Political and religious leaders openly boast of how clever they are in obtaining nuclear technology despite the efforts of the UN, and the world, to deny Iran access.

Iranian leaders need all the popular acclaim they can get, because the religious police have not relented in their campaign to punish women who do not dress properly. Now the religious police will visit work places and restaurants to insure that women found there are properly covered up. Those who fail inspection are issued a warning or hauled off to a police station, where they must wait for a family member shows up with proper clothing (that is not too tight, too short, to skimpy or too revealing in general). The clerics who run the country and mismanage the economy are also trying to distract the public from the shortages and 20 percent a year inflation. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has recommended greater use of the "culture of martyrdom", to solve the country's economic problem. He did not elaborate.

One subject the Iranians do not want to discuss is the continued persecutions of the Arab minority in the west, along the Iraqi border. The Iranians don't trust their Arabs, and keep lots of secret police and Revolutionary Guards in the area, with orders to be active in the pursuit of real or imagined traitors. The government is a little more outspoken about unruly Kurds up north. In response, separatist minded Kurds openly threaten the Iranian government, something the Iranian Arabs are much more circumspect about. The most invisible victims in Iran are the three million refugees. Over 90 percent of these are from Afghanistan, and they are a major problem along the Afghan border. The refugees find the religious dictatorship in Iran more hospitable than the warlords and Taliban back in Afghanistan. Then there is the drug business. The Afghan refugees are deeply involved with the smuggling and distribution of Afghan opium and heroin. There are several million addicts in Iran, and the Afghan refugees help keep them all high and broke.

Iranian politicians also are quick to deny any Iranian involvement in the violence that still troubles neighboring Iraq. But the U.S. has a growing pile of evidence that says otherwise. Documents, equipment and interrogation transcripts all detail Iranian efforts to, well, that's where it gets murky. There are several Iranian factions meddling in Iraq. Some are most interested in establishing a religious dictatorship, as Iran has, in Iraq. Others just want to support those who are willing to kill American soldiers. Others only want to make money, any way possible. U.S. troops have killed or captured hundreds of Iranians and Iraqis who are working for various Iranian government factions, plus some private Iranian groups that could best be described as "armed entrepreneurs."

Iran has gotten itself involved in a public feud with al Qaeda. It began when Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad publically claimed that the September 11, 2001 attacks were a ploy by Israel or the CIA, to justify a war on Islam. A few days later, an al Qaeda leader, Ayman al Zawahri, rushed out an audio tape, denouncing the Iranians for casting doubt on the fact that al Qaeda had planned and carried out those attacks. Although Shia Iran and Sunni al Qaeda occasionally cooperate, they are, in fact, bitter enemies.

Commercial photo satellite pictures have revealed a ballistic missile assembly and test facility 230 kilometers southeast of the capital. Layout is similar to such facilities in North Korea. Iran is not particularly upset with this kind of exposure, and officials openly boast of getting around UN and European sanctions by getting what they need from "East Asia" (code word for North Korea and China.) Iran even tries to export its weapons, but was recently expelled from a Malaysian weapons trade show because UN sanctions prohibit Iran from exporting weapons. At first, Malaysia allowed Iran to exhibit, but then the UN intervened and the Iranian exhibit and salesmen were gone.

Twice in the last two weeks, armed Iranian speedboats (the favorite ride of the seagoing Revolutionary Guards) have come too close (a few hundred meters) to U.S. ships in the Persian Gulf, and warning shots were fired by the Americans. Interestingly, the Iranian government denied both incidents. That's not unusual. The government is a collection of factions that don't communicate well. The Revolutionary Guards are often out of control, and make everyone in the government nervous.

April 12, 2008: A bomb went off in a southern Iraq mosque, leaving a dozen dead and nearly 200 wounded. Police later denied it was a bomb, and blamed the explosion on an accident involving weapons left in the mosque after a military exhibition. Mosques are frequently used to store and show off weapons. Islam considers itself a "militant" religion, so weapons are welcome in mosques.

 

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