January 23, 2008: The U.S. has
increasingly put economic sanctions on individual Iranian officials. These have
little practical effect, as those so named can do their overseas banking
through a third party. Most of those sanctioned don't travel to the West, so
the threat of legal action against them there is moot. But these sanctions to
put these Islamic radicals in the spotlight, giving many of them publicity they
would rather not have.
American commanders in Iraq believe
that Iranian radical groups are still training Iraqi Shia Arabs for terror
operations, and supplying weapons to these groups. But attacks on U.S. troops,
especially with Iranian EFPs (explosively formed penetrators) continue (since
last Fall) to be rare. There were a few more such attacks right after New
Years, but then it died down. The Americans believe that the Iranians are
having problems with the factional politics found in Iraq. The pro-Iran Shia
Arab militias have broken into factions, some of them less enthusiastic about
any Iranian connections.
The UN has agreed to more economic
sanctions on Iran, but not enough to really hurt. To date, the sanctions
imposed have caused Iran to spend more time and money to buy foreign goods.
Iran has been smuggling in sanctioned military gear for over two decades. This
gradual approach to sanctions just gives the Iranians enough time to adapt.
Eurasia is undergoing a sustained cold
spell, as frigid arctic air moves farther south than usual, and stays there.
Iran has had nearly a hundred people dying from the cold, and fuel supplies are
running short, or even running out in some parts of the country. President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is taking most of the blame. To make this very clear, supreme
(religious) leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had a proclamation broadcast on
national radio, commanding Ahmadinejad (who is subordinate, like everyone else,
to Khamenei) to get fuel those parts of the country that have the worst
shortages. Iranians are not happy with Ahmadinejad, now they are cold and
Khamenei has made matters worse for Ahmadinejad
by approving half the reform candidates for the March parliamentary elections.
Last year, far fewer reform minded candidates were allowed to run for
parliament. While technically a democracy, Iran's constitution gives a panel of
religious leaders the final say on who can run for parliament. That, in effect,
makes the nation a religious dictatorship. Most of the population is unhappy
with this, but not to the extent that they would start a civil war to change