Iran: The Worst Of The Worst

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August 26, 2009: Although over 4,000 demonstrators were arrested after the disputed June 12 vote, the government is prosecuting fewer than 200. The government is concerned about creating martyrs (if some of the accused are executed or sent to jail for a long time) that will spur the opposition to more violence. Meanwhile, the government now accuses Western nations of being responsible for the unrest. This is to placate their base of support (about twenty percent of the population), and reassure them that they are not really a minority. The trials of over a hundred demonstrators are meant to be staged, as much as possible, in order to make the government look good. This works, in that the minority who support the government are encouraged. But the trials are enraging the growing majority that opposes the government.

Despite that, some of the hard line clerics who run the government want even harsher punishment for real, or imagined, opposition leaders. These clerics are true believers, and believe the only solution for violence is a lot more violence. But most of the clerics in charge are more cautious, and realize that they face two enemies. The most obvious are the popular opponents, who want more reform, democracy and clean government. That would mean a lot of the current corrupt clerical leadership going to jail and losing their wealth. As bad as that sounds, Ahmadinejad is worse. He is also a reformer calling for clean government. But he is more inclined to execute the guilty. Worse, Ahmadinejad believes in carrying the fight (for a global Shia Islamic state) against foreign enemies, using terror and violence. Ahmadinejad wants nuclear weapons real bad, and his opponents, both in and out of government, fear Ahmadinejad would do something rash, that would get Iran nuked.

Hamas (Palestinian radicals in Gaza) and Hezbollah (Lebanese radicals in Lebanon) are both concerned about the opposition in Iran, and the possibility that the financial, weapons and diplomatic support they receive from Iran might be interrupted. Hamas and Hezbollah leadership know that this support, for foreign radicals, is unpopular inside Iran, and even some of the ruling clerics oppose it. Saudi Arabia is also accusing Iran of supporting rebel Shia  tribesmen just across the border in Yemen. Hezbollah, at the request of Iran, has sent trainers to Yemen, to assist the rebel Shias.

Several sources within Iran report that, since last May, the expansion of Iran's nuclear fuel program (turning "yellowcake", or uranium oxide into power plant, or nuclear weapons fuel) has stalled for the first time in three years. This is believed to be the result of running short of yellowcake. The government denies that there is any slow down.

August 23, 2009: France got their embassy employee out of jail (for "encouraging street violence") with $300,000 in ransom (it was called bail), and may have to pay more before they can get their man out of the country. These ransom negotiations are being mediated by president Assad of Syria, who has long been pro-France (if not pro-French). Another example of how corruption can be useful at times.

August 22, 2009: In the last few days, fighting between Revolutionary Guard troops and Kurdish rebels in the northwest left 23 Kurds, and an undisclosed number of troops, dead. Turkish operations in northern Iraq have forced Kurdish separatist rebels across the border into Iran, where there have been clashes all Summer with Iranian troops and police. Iran and Turkey are believed to be cooperating in their operations against the Kurdish rebels.

August 19, 2009: President Ahmadinejad nominated a wanted (by Interpol) terrorist, Ahmad Vahidi, to be Defense Minister. Vahidi is wanted in Argentina for involvement in a 1994 attack on a Jewish community center. Vahidi is believed to have helped carry out other terror attacks as well. This brought him recognition and rewards in Iran, as a government official. Ahmadinejad has also nominated three women to his 21 member cabinet. These are the first women nominated for such high posts since the Islamic revolution three decades ago. Some senior clerics are opposed to women taking such senior jobs.

August 17, 2009: The government closed a newspaper run by a candidate for the recent presidential elections, Mehdi Karroubi. The government was most concerned that this paper had been successful spreading accusations that prison personnel had raped women arrested for demonstrating.

August 16, 2009: The government has arrested another protesters, and accused them of encouraging the unrest. One of these was a Jewish teenager who threw stones at a bank.

 

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