impose more sanctions on Iran are gathering more adherents. France, and most
European nations are willing to make it more difficult for Iran to smuggle in
components for weapons, particularly nuclear bombs. This forces Iran to be more
dependent on Russia and China for their weapons and industrial needs. That suits
Russia and China just fine, as they compete with European firms all the time,
and it's nice to have an edge in Iran.
Meanwhile, Iran is increasing
its violence against Iraq. In the north, Iranian artillery has nearly doubled
the range of its artillery shelling against Kurdish separatists inside Iraq.
Iranian shells are now falling up to 17 kilometers from the border. More
Iranian patrols have been spotted inside Iraq, as well as Iranian recon
aircraft. When the Iraqi government protests, Iran just denies any of it is
happening. This seems to work.
Further south, American troops
are capturing more Iranian weapons, including portable (SA-7 like) Iranian
surface-to-air missiles. Iran dismisses such evidence as American fakery. But
within Iran, an increasing number of Iranian officers are discussing the
likelihood that the Americans would try to use the same tactics. Iranians
already believe American agents and Special Forces have been responsible for
unrest in southeastern and southwestern Iran. No evidence has been obtained,
but none is needed if you're Iranian and condemning the United States. Iranians
fear that American smart bombs will just start going off, destroying high value
targets (like where senior leaders happen to be at the moment). Government officials,
used to passing around fantastic tales, are now terrorized by stories that
Israel and the Americans have electronic warfare devices that blind radar, and
enable smart bomb attacks to be made at will. If such attacks were carried out,
the next escalation would be for Iran to attack oil shipments in the Persian
Gulf. But this comes with some serious strings attached. If the smart bomb
attacks just hurt the hated Iranian leadership, they can't declare an
"American Invasion" and get the expected wave of popular nationalism support. Then, if oil
shipping is interfered with, Iran loses its oil revenue, as well as imports of
refined petroleum products and food. All of this is taken more seriously inside
Iran, than outside. But these discussions in the corridors of power, and on
Farsi language message board and listservs, do have an impact on decision
making inside Iran.
Meanwhile, economic conditions
inside Iran are getting worse, not better. The increasing oil prices enrich the
clerical dictatorship and their followers. Most Iranians are screwed around
every day by the greed and incompetence of the clerics, and the thugs used to
keep people in line. As Winter approaches, the political climate is warming up.