Iran: You Reap What You Sow

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June 7, 2009:  Unlike Turkey, which has organized large numbers pro-government Kurds to fight Kurdish separatists, Iran has been unable to muster that kind of support. The Kurdish minority in Iran is less than half the size of the one in Turkey (5 million versus 12 million). The Turkish Kurds were better organized, and put up more of a fight. But as has happened for thousands of years, the Kurdish separatists were put down by stronger neighbors. Turkey, Iran and Iraq all agree on the need to suppress separatist violence. Iran, however, is having the hardest time working out a deal with its own Kurds. The Iranian Kurds are not strong enough to really threaten the Iranian government, but the violence will just not go away.

While Iran's Arab neighbors are angry about Iran getting nuclear weapons, Iran is able to deflect some of this criticism by pointing out that many Arabs consider Israeli nukes to be a bigger problem. How can this be? Israel has had nukes since the 1970s, and they have never been used. But those nukes make it impossible for Arabs to destroy Israel with conventional weapons. Destroying Israel is a goal that has been energetically pursued by most Arab states since the late 1940s (when Israel was founded). While many Arabs have come to believe this "destroy Israel" policy was wrong, the effects of over half a century of hating Israel in the media and education system has been difficult to reverse. Iran adds to the problem by taking the lead in making media noise about destroying Israel. Moslem dictators have been using Israel as a distraction for their unhappy subjects for decades, and Iran is simply the best practitioner of this form of anti-Semitism. But this religious and ethnic hatred is used to suppress any other minority in Iran that threatens the government. The anti-Arab rhetoric keeps the Iranian population ready to support aggression against Arab neighbors, something which bothers the Arab of the region a great deal.

Venezuela and Bolivia have become a source of uranium for the Iranian nuclear weapons program, or so Israel believes. South America had never been a major source of uranium, and most of the mines there closed over the last two decades (especially since  the end of the Cold War put lots of cheap nuclear material, from demobilized warheads, on the market). UN experts believe Iran has 1.3 tons of low grade (for power plants) enriched uranium. Iran boasts of constantly growing enrichment capability, and is already believed to already have enough low grade uranium to turn into highly enriched uranium for at least one nuclear bomb. The experts believe Iran could test a crude nuclear weapon within three years, and have the technology refined so that a ballistic missile, with a nuclear warhead, would be available within 10-15 years.

The government says it has arrested 104 "devil worshipers" in southern Iran. Three decades of religious dictatorship, and efforts to enforce religious orthodoxy, has not destroyed the ancient religious

The government continues to announce new weapons, developed and produced in Iran. These include a small anti-aircraft missile (40 kilometers range) and a ground-to-air missile. Few of these weapons ever show up with combat units, although some make it to the stage where they can be fired in a test (which are always declared a success). Iran does not have the manufacturing capabilities to produce these weapons themselves, but its many underemployed engineers and scientist can reverse engineer older weapons, then smuggle in components to build the prototypes. It's considered good propaganda, and lots of that is needed as president Ahmadinejad runs for reelection.

June 5, 2009: In the southeastern city of Zahedan, five people died when arsonists set fire to their building. Sunni terrorists were suspected.

June 3, 2009: The government signed a $4.7 billion deal with a Chinese company to develop a natural gas field. This sort of thing ensures that China blocks UN attempts to impose more sanctions on Iran, and provides Iran with a source for industrial equipment and weapons. Turkish firms are also investing $12 billion in that same gas field, which makes Turkey less of a potential foe.

June 1, 2009: In the southeastern city of Zahedan, someone fired on a bus, killing one passenger and wounding two others.

May 30, 2009:  Three Sunni terrorists (belonging to Jundallah) were executed terrorist activities over the last two years. In the southern city of Ahvaz, a passenger aircraft took off, and quickly returned after a bomb was found on board, and defused.

May 29, 2009: In the southeast, someone fired three shots into a campaign office for president Ahmadinejad.

May 28, 2009:  A bomb went off in a Shia mosque near the Pakistan border, killing at least 30 and wounding over 50. Sunni Baluchi separatists are believed responsible, and they soon took credit for this attack in Zahedan. The Baluchi group, calling themselves Jundallah, are reacting to Iranian Shia persecution of Sunnis. Eastern Iran has lots of Sunnis, most of them Pushtun (from Afghanistan) and Baluchi (from Pakistan) tribesmen. Iran blames the U.S. for the growing violence from groups like Jundallah, but the bad blood between the Iranians and the Baluchis goes back centuries. It got worse when the religious dictatorship took control in Iran during the 1980s. You reap what you sow.

May 23, 2009: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ordered Facebook and Twitter to be blocked. These two web sites have been heavily used by candidates challenging Ahmadinejad in the June 12th presidential elections. After two days of popular outrage, Ahmadinejad declared that the ban was a mistake, and that he believes in freedom and free access to the Internet. He also did the math and realized that he lost more votes by blocking Internet sites used by his opponents.

May 21, 2009:  The Sejil 2 ballistic missile was successfully tested. This is a solid fuel missile that can reach Israel. Iran's existing missiles, that can reach Israel, use liquid fuel, which means it takes hours to get the missiles ready for use. Solid fuel missiles can be ready for action in minutes. This is a big deal, as Israeli satellites and spies can detect liquid fuel rockets being readied for action. No so for solid fuel missiles. Israel has anti-missile missile systems, which work better if they have some advance warning of an enemy launch.

 

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