In southern Syria (Damascus), an Israeli airstrike shut down the main international airport while also killing two Syrian soldiers and wounding another two. Despite persistent Israeli airstrikes, Iran continues to fly in missiles and other weapons for use against Israel.
Back in Iran the anti-government protests have continued for nearly four months and the government has not been able to shut them down. The protests persist despite arrests and some deaths, and caused growing disagreements in the establishment (senior Shia clergy) to go public. The hard-core clerics have the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) on their side, but even the IRGC is suffering defections. The longer the protests continue, the weaker the hard-core government becomes.
While these protests occur all over Iran, the government prefers to blame two troublesome minorities (Kurds in the northwest and Sunni and Sunnis in the southeast) for instigating everything. Kurds and Baluchis are only about ten percent of the population but half the protesters killed are Kurds or Baluchis.
The government has shut down Internet access in some areas where the protests were large and apparently organized via the Internet. Without much fanfare, the Starlink satellite Internet access network was activated over Iran shortly after the protests began in September and Iranians began smuggling in Starlink terminals, which consists of a small dish and special modem that connects a PC to Starlink. Since then, about 800 Starlink terminals are in Iran, providing Internet access for the protesters. The government declared the Starlink terminals illegal, along with any support for the protesters.
Major popular protests against the Iranian government have been going on periodically since late 2017 and even some elected officials, who are screened first by the senior clerics, are criticizing their government for trying to ignore or suppress very real grievances. Most of the protestors are Iranians suffering economically. Most protestors blame the increasingly obvious government corruption. The government response has been to set up a special anti-corruption court which does prosecute obvious cases of corruption, but only non-government corruption.
The most flagrant and hated corruption is found among the families of the senior clergy. These are the people who run the country in large part because the IRGC protects the ruling clerics from the wrath of the Iranian people. Despite that, the anti-corruption court is finding and prosecuting some major offenders. Over forty have been sentenced to long prison terms and several have been executed. None of the prosecuted or executed were among the inner circle of corrupt clerics or their family members. Those punished tend to be critics of the government who forgot which side they were on.
The government has been particularly eager to shut down those who provide damaging evidence of corruption by kin of the senior clerics. For example, in December 2018 someone put a recent photo on the Internet that showed Ahmad Khomeini, the great-grandson of Ayatollah Khomeini (the founder of the Iranian religious dictatorship) wearing expensive Western clothes and in the company of a female polo player. Ahmad Khomeini insisted the photo was stolen from a friend and uploaded to embarrass his father, Hassan Khomeini, one of the fifteen grandsons of the Ayatollah who had become too reformist for the ruling Guardians Council and was barred from running for election to the Assembly of Experts. This Assembly elects new Guardians Council members to replace those who have died. Hassan Khomeini is like his grandfather and lives simply but his children, like many of the descendants of the Ayatollah, exploit their family connection to get rich via corrupt practices. Ahmad Khomeini is now being called a luxury “aghazadeh”, a derisive term for members of senior cleric families. This corruption is no secret but wealthy clerical families make an effort to not flaunt it, especially when the economy is doing poorly and most Iranians are suffering.
This problem became more acute by the late 1990s. By then Iran's economy had become similar to that of medieval Europe. Back then, the Roman Catholic Church owned about a third of the real estate in Europe, the result of centuries of donations to various church institutions. Thousands of churches, shrines and monasteries had endowments, usually land plus serfs obliged to work on it. This wealth could not be taxed and eventually greedy kings and needy parliaments seized the church lands, so that today the Roman Catholic Church is a very minor factor in the European economy. Not so in Iran, where pious Iranians were urged to donate property to Islamic institutions. As a result, by 2008 over 70,000 mosques, shrines and religious schools owned more than a third of the economy, paid no taxes, and even had their own army (the IRGC). Not all this property was donated, some was simply stolen.
There's one big difference between medieval Europe and contemporary Iran. About a thousand years ago, to prevent clergy from passing church property on to their children, the Roman Catholic clergy were forbidden, henceforth, to marry. This was never imposed on Moslem clergy so in Iran the families of clergy have a monopoly on jobs and business decisions within the “religious” (defined broadly) portion of the economy. All those assets are there to serve, first and foremost, the clergy and their families. This has not gone unnoticed.
Before the Shah was overthrown in 1979, the religious assets were much smaller and were supervised by government officials. The clergy did not like this at all, and that supervision was quick to disappear once the monarchy was gone. Another post-Shah change was that, rather than wait for pious Iranians to donate property to religious institutions, the clergy seized the assets of wealthy "enemies of the state" and turned the goodies over to religious institutions which they operated for their personal gain. The clergy try to portray themselves as pious stewards of these assets.
The truth is less savory and not invisible. All that PR and propaganda just enrage the population more. A growing number of people from these wealthy clerical families are trying to reform the system before there is yet another civil war, something Iranians have been noted for since antiquity. Such an uprising now would rip the country apart and probably leave Iranians worse off than they are now. These reformers believe that the violence could be triggered by something like photos of a luxury aghazadeh enjoying the company of polo ponies and immodest women.
It should be no surprise that many of the current protests call for a return of the monarchy. In part that is because nothing irritates the religious dictatorship more than calling for a return of the monarchy. The Shia clerics led a revolution that enabled them to oust the monarchy in 1979 and then take over the government in the 1980s. The current generation of Iranians is too young to have experienced living under the monarchy but it is clear from photos, videos and whispered confirmation from their elders that life was better under the monarchy even though there was always corruption, favoritism and secret police. In short, the Shah (emperor) was never as crazy, oppressive or destructive as the current religious dictatorship. It is telling that the overseas Iranians, whose numbers have grown enormously since the 1980s, are organizing to support another revolution and many of the exiled aristocracy are involved, including the children and grandchildren of the last shah. Most protesters would settle for a democracy rather than a constitutional monarchy.
The American Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is responsible for identifying shipping companies, port officials and others who are engaged in oil smuggling. Iran has become one of the “usual suspects” in this area. Recently OFAC discovered another Iranian oil smuggling effort and seized the oil cargoes the tankers involved were carrying. The latest seizure involved Venezuelan oil that was smuggled using false oil origins documents, spoofing transponders (that report ship locations incorrectly) and painting over the tankers name. The operation was handled by a shipping company that had a clean record. A decade ago, Iran began hacking the transponders tankers and cargo ships are required to carry. This was another technique Iran used to avoid international sanctions against selling their oil and importing certain goods. False documents and manipulating transponders were easier and less time consuming than earlier, and still used, methods like transferring oil cargoes at sea or some remote anchorage.
Iran is also using its smuggling skills, acquired over decades of beating American and UN weapons sanctions, to help sell its oil. The latest round of sanctions makes it much more difficult for Iran to export oil. This has caused Iran to come up with new methods to get around these prohibitions. While Iran keeps coming up with new methods to avoid sanctions, the impact of sanctions and sanctions enforcement have greatly reduced Iranian oil income. The latest sanction method, denying ship and cargo insurance to ships engaged in smuggling, worked for a while but soon methods to get around that were developed. The basic problem is that there is a lot of money to be made, and little personal risk, for those coming up with new oil sanctions evasion techniques. There are thousands of tankers involved, along with hundreds of shipping companies as well as port authorities. Smugglers have a financial incentive to find who is willing to take risks in return for a lot of cash. Early on the Iranians offered deep discounts to buyers willing to engage in illegal methods to avoid detection and sell Iranian oil. This is sometimes very risky, for those who get caught can be prosecuted, jailed, and fined. But Iranian smugglers know who is willing to take chances if the payoff is large enough. Selling oil at discounts of 30 percent or more still costs Iran. So also does the expense of secretly buying tankers that will pretend to belong to another country while moving the black-market oil. Iran kept coming up with new methods to conceal the smuggling, like modifying location transponders all seagoing ships must carry to provide false GPS locations.
Since 2021 Iranian influence in Iraq has visibly declined. This was obvious after the 2021 national election where pro-Iran parties did poorly while the anti-corruption Sadr coalition won 73 of 329 seats in parliament. Senior Shia Islamic cleric Moqtada Sadr now had momentum and the best chance of forming a majority coalition and forming a government that would make good on his promise to do something about government corruption. Sadr was unable to get enough ethnic or religious coalitions to join him and form a government. Even then, Sadr would have to achieve a two-thirds vote in parliament to elect a new president. This was seen as a win for Iran and corrupt Iraqi politicians.
With the Sadr coalition gone, Sudani was able to get himself elected as prime minister. Sadr and his followers claim that Sudani will be ineffective in dealing with the corruption and continuing influence of Iran in Iraqi politics. It’s up to Sudani to prove Sadr wrong. Mindful of Sadr’s criticism, Sudani began arresting and prosecuting corrupt Iraqis and dealing with the lack of public services, especially in the Shia majority south (Basra province). Sadr’s followers are holding protests against Sudani and that won’t stop until Sudani proves he can do something effective about the corruption and poor government performance. Sudani also has to deal with accusations that he will not act against Iranian efforts to operate in Iraq and influence government decisions. Sudani can deal with a lot of those criticisms by effectively reducing corruption and improving government services. That means dealing with the pro-Iran members of parliament who backed him becoming prime minister. Sudani has to move carefully here because as much as he wants Iraq free of Iranian influence, many of his supporters in parliament were more cooperative with Iran. That cooperation includes leaving alone Iraqi oil smugglers who do business with Iran. Iran also wants the small American military contingent in Iraq to leave. Most Iraqis want the Americans to stay in order to help keep Iran out. To Iraqis, their situation of Iran has gotten worse in 2022 when nationwide anti-government protests in September persisted. This is the most public opposition the Islamic dictatorship has ever faced and it’s unclear how and when it will end.
The only real threat for Israel is Iran, and Israel has been at war with Iran in Syria for nearly a decade, during which Israel carried out hundreds of airstrikes and a few commando operations against Iranian operations in Syria. This cost Iran a lot of lives and money, and is one of the things restive Iranians want to halt by pulling Iranian forces out of Syria and Lebanon. But first the Iranians have to shut down the Iranian religious dictatorship, which, as expected, will resist efforts to shut down operations in Syria.
Palestinian terrorism and violence is still a problem but not a critical one. Iranian financial support for some groups in Gaza has not visibly increased the ability of Gaza based groups to launch a major attack on Israel. Iran still threatens to launch a major attack from Lebanon (using Hezbollah) or Syria (using a smaller number of hired guns) but so far has been unable to do so. Lebanon has suffered growing economic decline and political chaos since 2019. Lebanese consider Iran the major cause and that makes Hezbollah less popular and effective. Israel has taken advantage of that by hiring more Lebanese to act as informants or agents. These jobs pay well and, for exceptional performers, it is possible to gain residence in Israel if the agent is under suspicion and at risk of arrest. Israel has used this program for decades but the number of agents was usually quite low. In times of great chaos in Lebanon, Israel expanded its network, then gradually reduced it as the situation in Lebanon calmed down. Iran has been a major disruptive force in Lebanon for two decades and is now hated more than Israel or Syria.
The new threat in the region is an increasingly aggressive Turkey. Currently Turkey is trying to restore its good relations with Israel. For over a decade an Islamic government in Turkey demonized Israel in order to gain support from Arab neighbors. That did not work and Turkey has to use force and coercion to subdue and exploit Arab neighbors. Reviving good relations with Israel is now a major goal. One reason for this is the fact that many Turks wanted to keep good relations with Israel and now a lot more agree with that. The Islamic party in Turkey and its leader Recep Erdogan are in danger of being voted out of office and every vote counts, especially those of pro-Israel Turks.
During the last few years Iran has been accused by more and more nations of violating their laws by using Iranian agents, often from the Iranian embassy, to intimidate or murder critics of Iran who reside abroad (for their health). For over three months there have been nationwide protests inside Iran demanding that the Iranian government cease persecution of Iranians in Iran and overseas. A growing number of protesters are calling for the overthrow of the Iranian government. Despite all this, Israeli intelligence agencies, and those of many other nations report that the foreign intimidation program is continuing. One difference is that Iran is using more foreign contractors to do the dirty work. These contractors are expensive and unreliable.
A growing number of European nations have told Iran that they have run out of patience with Iran's insincere promises to halt its violent practices. Iran has always been adept at playing on the vulnerabilities of foreign governments and getting away with murder by offering apologies and promises to not let it happen again. Iran also disavows responsibility when the killer or kidnapper could not be identified. Iran has been getting away with this for decades. That success came at a cost. Decades of bad behavior at home and in so many other nations means that, as one would expect, you eventually reach the point where hardly anyone, including most Iranians, believe the lies and deceptions anymore. Iran became tagged as a known liar and terrorist more quickly in some regions than others. This happened first in the Middle East, where Iran had been viewed as dangerous and untrustworthy for centuries before the current religious dictatorship took power in the 1980s and created an unprecedented number of Iranian exiles who fled for fear of torture and murder.
Iran has no problem letting dissidents flee into exile as long as they do not openly criticize and oppose Iran from exile. In cases like that Iran’s new mullah regime felt justified in retaliating. Some foreign nations shut down these Iranian terrorism efforts more quickly than others. Iran had more freedom of action in South America than in the United States and Canada and, in the 1990s, this led to bombing attacks on South American Jews causing hundreds of casualties. That temporarily shut down Iranian terror and espionage efforts in most of South America. The bombing campaign in South America was mainly about striking back at Israel, which long had the ability to foil Iranian efforts to carry out attacks inside Israel, and even Iran attempts often resulted in devastating Israeli counterattacks.
After the 1990s Iran made itself unwelcome in most of Eastern Europe for trying to kill local Jews or Israeli tourists there. China and Russia had always made it clear to Iran that any such violence within their borders would result in Israeli-level retribution. Besides, Iran needed help from Russia and China to circumvent the growing list of sanctions imposed by nations subject to Iranian state-supported terrorism. Eventually most of the world was off-limits, to one degree or another, to Iranian retribution operations. One exception was Western Europe, which had become the main target for Iranian intimidation efforts. Europe was, next to the United States and other English-speaking nations, a popular place for Iranian exiles to settle. European nations were also more willing than the U.S. to ignore Iranian misdeeds for the sake of continued trade. That was still true until the last few years when leaders of more and more European nations found they had no popular support for tolerating Iranian bad behavior.
January 3, 2023: In the capital (Tehran) Qassem Fethallahi, the commander of an IRGC riot control unit was shot dead outside his home. No one took credit for the killing.
December 31, 2022: In the northwest (Kermanshah province) IRGC troops fired on an anti-government protest, killing a 22-year-old man and wounding eight others. Since the protests began in September, at least 477 protesters have been killed. Thousands have been wounded and over 14,000 arrested. Two of the arrested protestors were tried in court, found guilty and executed. Another 100 protestors have been sentenced to death and await execution. The government has a problem with that because each execution brings more people out to protest.
December 30, 2022: In the south (city of Qom) another seminary student was shot at and wounded. There was a similar incident on the 20th. Qom is considered the capital of the religious establishment, because so many seminaries are located there. That means a lot of senior Shai clerics, some of them regularly lecturing in the seminaries and all of them preaching in the many mosques the city contains. In the last twenty years a good indicator of how much impact a period of sustained protests occurred could be seen in who said what in the Qom mosques. The 1979 revolution against the imperial government began in the Qom mosques. This time the government is run by a religious dictatorship. Most of the senior clerics live and work in Qom and more of them are urging the government to make changes to avoid continued unrest. There is even more strife among the seminary students, who come from all over the country. These students, especially the younger ones, are more representative of the population as a whole and have attitudes closer to those of the protestors than to the religious elite. There have been spirited arguments among the students and a few cases of physical violence. There have been at least two incidents of seminary students being shot by one or more shooters who remain unidentified.
December 29, 2022: In the southeast (Sistan-Baluchistan province) someone fired on a police patrol and wounded one policeman. The attackers were believed to be Sunni Baluchi separatists being sought by the police and IRGC. Pakistan keeps getting blamed for the continued presence of Iranian Sunni separatists in Pakistan Baluchistan. Pakistan tries to keep the Iranian Baluchis out but the Baluchis live on both sides of the border and Iranian and Pakistani Baluchis want to create an independent Baluchistan that includes a chunk of southeast Iran where most of the Iranian Baluchis live. The months of nationwide protests have led to more protests by supporters of Baluchi separatism in Iran.
Iran provided most of the hundred or more ballistic and cruise missiles Russia fired at Ukraine today, Ukrainian air defenses shot down 66 of the missiles, most of them the slower cruise missiles. This attack was directed mainly at electricity generation facilities.
December 28, 2022: Iranian pilots and ground crews are in Russia to learn how to fly and maintain the 24 Russian Su-35 fighters that Iran is receiving from Russia. These aircraft were originally sold to Egypt but the Ukraine-related sanctions canceled that and when Russia began buying weapons from Iran they found that Iran would take modern jet fighters, like the Su-35 to pay for the weapons going to Russia.
December 26, 2022: Efforts to prevent Iran from getting U.S. dollars have caused problems in Iraq. Since 2010 the exchange rate for the Iraqi currency (dinar) has hovered around 1,200 dinars to buy one dollar. American efforts to halt the illegal moving of dollars to Iran and Syria has increased that by more than 20 percent. With dollars more expensive in dinars, imported goods in Iraq become more expensive. The government blames the Americans but the root cause is corruption in the Iraqi banking system. Many government officials profit from this, but blaming Westerners for mistakes by local officials is a long-standing custom. The new currency curbs leave Iran with fewer dollars and less capability to interfere in Iraqi affairs.
December 24, 2022: Ukraine accuses Iran of supplying Russia with 1,700 Shahed-136 cruise missiles. Ukraine calls for attacks on the Iranian factories that produce them.
December 23, 2022: Iran prefers to keep its support for Russia in Ukraine quiet because that support is generating more economic sanctions from the west. Iran refuses to sell Russia ballistic missiles because the NATO nations will impose more sanctions that hurt the Iranian economy as well as their nuclear weapons program. Negotiations over the nuclear program continue. In August 2022 talks were held in In Austria to revive the 2015 JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) treaty. The August meeting produced a draft agreement that removed some of the economic restrictions. To take effect Iran and all members of the group of six nations (China, France, Russia, Britain, the U.S. and Germany) that negotiated and signed the 2015 treaty must agree. The 0riginal 2015 treaty lifted economic sanctions in return for Iran halting its nuclear weapons program (which Iran insisted it did not have). The treaty was signed in mid-2015 despite doubts about known nuclear research facilities. Since then, there has been mounting evidence that Iran was already working to continue its nuclear weapons research program and is continuing. Officially, Iran insists it has no nuclear weapons program. The NATO nations that took part in the August meeting agree that their voters show little support for reviving JCPOA. There is more concern about Iran receiving 24 Su-35 fighters from Russia. With Iran only supplying its Shahed-136 cruise missiles. These weapons were designed for covert surprise attacks and carry small warheads. Ukrainian air defenses have improved to the point where most of the Shahed-136s Russia launches against them are shot down. In one case all the Shahed-136s launched were shot down. This attack was made at night to hit Ukrainian urban electrical distribution systems. Officially, Iran says it is not supplying Russia with Shahed-136s.
December 20, 2022: In the south (city of Qom) a seminary student was shot and wounded. No one took credit for this.
December 19, 2022: In southern Syria (Damascus) and Israeli airstrike on Iranian storage facilities outside the airport killed two Hezbollah gunmen guarding the site. Hezbollah is a Lebanese Shia militia organized in the 1980s by Iran and supported by Iran ever since.
December 18, 2022: In eastern Syria (Deir Ezzor province) four IRGC members were killed by a landmine as they were participating in operations against ISIL militants in the area.
December 14, 2022: The banker in charge of foreign exchange at the Central Bank was replaced after less than a year on the job. His successor will step into a very difficult situation. It was worse than that because by the end of 2022 the governor of the Central Bank was replaced. The continuing economic crisis is a daily reminder to Iranians that their government is inept and needs to be changed. The basic problem is that most Iranians do not trust the government when it comes to improving the economy. That means many Iranians seek to obtain dollars for their savings and major purposes. The dollar is far more stable than the Iranian rial. The declining value of the rial and increase in prices is a major factor in the growing poverty rate. At the start of 2022 more than half the population was visibly living below the poverty line, even though the official poverty rate was about 40 percent. A very visible sign of the economic decline has been the decline in value for the local currency versus the dollar and the subsequent overall inflation. The situation has gotten a lot worse in the last few years. For example, in 2019 it cost 120,000 rials to buy a dollar. That led to a new currency, the toman, which meant the exchange rate was 12 toman to the dollar. The toman was what some Iranian currency was called for a long time, until 1925. The revival of the toman was necessary because people needed too many rials to purchase basic goods. Many Iranians still use the term. The exchange rate has recently gotten a lot worse. In 2020 you need over 26 toman to buy a dollar. Currently it costs 42 toman and despite strenuous efforts the government cannot reduce that rate and keep it low. The government spent a lot of dollars trying to reduce the exchange and seemed to succeed in November but the Americans increased restrictions on dollars headed for Iran and the Iranian efforts could not handle that. A decade ago, a dollar could be had for 3.2 toman. The current foreign exchange crisis is largely due to exporters of non-oil goods keeping about half the money they receive in banks outside the country. That was in response to government efforts to enforce a fixed exchange rate that made life worse for businesses and consumers. Avoiding that is a good business decision because that money is safer from government corruption if it is kept in foreign banks. Many Iranians with jobs prefer to keep their savings in dollars, even if that is illegal and local banks cannot be used. Because of their corruption and economic incompetence, the religious dictatorship feels more threatened by their subjects than by any external threat.
December 10, 2022: Israel ordered an unannounced three-day training exercise that included 5,000 reservists and 8,000 active-duty conscripts. These exercises usually assume an Iranian or Iranian sponsored attack from Lebanon or Syria. The training exposes the troops to the problems involved getting to the combat area and deploying. This is not as simple as it looks when so many troops are involved. Which route each unit uses and the possibility of disruption by traffic jams or enemy fire often means problems during the exercise. In addition to the troops, supplies have to be moved up as well. There are several of these exercises each year and most are a little different and involve a different combination of troops. Some involve close coordination with the air force. The troops' units are trained to be adaptable. The army plans these exercises and keeps the details and timing secret.
December 7, 2022: Turkey and Azerbaijan are holding extensive joint military exercise along Azerbaijan’s border with Iran. The exercise began November 20. The exercise is a response to an exercise Iran held in October. The Iranian exercise included a mock crossing of the Araz River that runs along the Iran-Azerbaijan border. Azerbaijani diplomats have made it clear the Turk-Azeri exercise is a signal to Iran. A website with ties to the Azeri defense department said that Azeri soldiers are also capable of crossing the river.
December 3, 2022: An American warship intercepted another fishing boat traveling Iran to the Red Sea coast of Yemen controlled by the Shia rebels. Over 50 tons of munitions were found and removed. This is the second such interception in three months. There is a naval blockade of the Yemen coast and the Americans provide an interception force closer to the Iranian ports the smuggling boats leave from with their hidden cargoes. The Americans appear to have improved their intelligence on how the Iranian smuggling to Yemen operates. Information may also be coming from inside Iran where a lot of Iranians are seeking to overthrow their government and halt expensive overseas operations like the civil war in Yemen. Were it not for Iranian support, the Yemeni rebels would have been defeated long ago. The Iranian aid to the Yemeni rebels is not subtle. There are many Iranians specialists from the IRGC Quds Force in Yemen. These are led by a retired Quds Force general who is the Iranian ambassador to rebel controlled Yemen, which is about a third of the country, including the capital. The rebels are on the defensive because Iranian aid has been sharply reduced in the last year because of the blockade and increased economic sanctions on Iran.
December 2, 2022: In the southeast (Sistan-Baluchistan province) for IRGC soldiers were killed during a clash near the Pakistan border involving Iranian Sunnis.
December 1, 2022: In the southeast (Sistan-Baluchistan province) a Sunni cleric was kidnapped and killed. No one took credit for this and the IRGC is suspected.
November 29, 2022: India and China see opportunities in the new Russia-Iran alliance. Because of the alliance Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan are nervous because they are, after Ukraine, according to Vladimir Putin, on the list of former Soviet territories that need to be reunited with Greater Russia. That would be difficult because these three states have growing economic ties with China and diplomatic ties with India. China and India told Russia that the Ukraine War was counterproductive and bad for the Russian economy and armed forces. Putin refused to heed that advice from China and similar criticism from India. The Central Asian states oppose the war in Ukraine and agree with China and India. This provides more economic opportunities in Central Asia, where China was already displacing Russia as the major trading partner. The Central Asian nations have also seen an influx of many (hundreds of thousands) Russians fleeing the mobilization of men to fight in Ukraine and do it with little or no training, inadequate equipment and inept or absent unit leadership. These exiles brough billions of dollars with them, which they deposited in local banks. Much of that money was used to start new businesses in these former parts of the Soviet Union. The local economies prospered from these investments and some of the host nations predict significant GDP growth because. Many of these young and well-educated Russians seem ready to settle in their new countries, at least until Russia ends the war and the growing police state atmosphere. Finally, Russia needs to get out from under all those sanctions.
November 24, 2022: The head of the Yemeni military blames Iran for the end of the ceasefire on October 2nd and subsequent rebel attacks. The rebels receive most of their weapons and some cash from Iran.
November 23, 2022: In southern Syria (Damascus) a roadside bomb killed Iranian colonel Davoud Jafari, an IRGC technical adviser on aerospace matters. Iran blames Israel for the bomb and no one claimed responsibility. Iran openly said it could retaliate against Israel. Iran upgrades to anti-aircraft defenses around Damascus and Jafari appears to have been involved with that.
November 22, 2022: The Afghan IEA (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan) government is having problems on the Iranian and Pakistani borders because of disputes over exactly where the border should be, or because of Iranian efforts to block Afghan drug smugglers, or because of Pakistani efforts to go after TTP operations on the Afghan side of the border. The IEA is negotiating with Iran and Pakistan in an effort to find solutions. This is difficult because the IEA budget problems mean not enough security personnel to police the borders. Pakistan and Iran are willing to use their own security personnel to police the borders. The only problem here is that Iran and Pakistan border guards are less likely to fully appreciate Afghan complaints.