June 25, 2012: Not surprisingly, Iranian reform groups oppose Iranian support for the Syrian dictatorship. It's no secret that the Iranian government has sent secret police and Quds Force advisors to Syria to help put down the 16 month old rebellion against the Assads. The Iranian government has created a very effective police state in Iran which, so far, has kept the opposition from threatening the rule of the religious dictatorship that has run the country since the 1980s. What does worry the clerical ruling class is that police state governments eventually collapse. But they also know that this process can take over half a century. The communist police state lasted 70 years in Russia and many communist bureaucrats thrived in the democratic government that followed.
The government says it has arrested twenty suspects and charged them with responsibility for the deaths of five Iranian nuclear scientists in the last two years. The government accuses Israel of being responsible for all this but has not made public any proof.
Investigations continue into anti-Israeli terror attacks that took place in India, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Thailand last February. Iran denied any involvement and insists that it's all another Israeli plot. This ambitious series of attacks (that didn't kill anyone) led to over a dozen arrests and lots of other evidence linking the perpetrators to Iran. While Iranian terrorists (Quds Force) has been active in many places (Gaza, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, South America, Arabian Peninsula, and so on) its operatives are often amateurish and ineffective. When operatives are caught overseas, Iran demands its citizens back and just denies any terrorist activity. But the February operations against Israelis living outside Israel have apparently stretched Quds beyond the breaking point. The February attacks were believed to be an attempt to avenge Israeli agents carrying out several murders of Iranian nuclear scientists. But Quds has not been able to deliver when it came to retribution. This is not surprising, as religious fanaticism is more prized among Quds Force recruits than other talents. Some Quds operatives are very sharp but all of them are Islamic radicals. Apparently, Quds has orders to keep trying, while the Iranian government keeps denying.
Iran is switching the registration of its merchant ships and tankers to Tuvalu and Tanzania as the U.S. pressures nations to not allow the registration of Iranian ships. Without such registration ships cannot use major ports worldwide. Iran is also giving all its ships English names (like Freedom, Truth, Blossom, Pioneer, and Elite) in an effort to make them less obviously Iranian.
The official unemployment rate is 12 percent but the actual one is believed to be closer to 20 percent. Corruption and government interference make it difficult to start and run new businesses. The government creates a lot of civil service jobs that just add to the inflation rate and don't produce anything. The unemployment is no secret and the government makes a lot of noise announcing one new solution after another.
Russia continues to support the Iranian nuclear power program. This support is largely driven by the need for at least one export customer for Russian nuclear power systems. No one else will buy this stuff because during the Soviet period Russian nuclear reactors were seen as shoddy and accident prone. That is not the case anymore but the Russian reputation persists. So Russia needs to get some safe, reliable Russian nuclear power plants running in Iran to prove that Russian nuclear energy technology is competitive with what is offered by Western firms. Russia does not believe Iran will build nuclear weapons and even if they do, the Russians consider the Iranians too rational to be a nuclear threat.
June 23, 2012: The U.S. warned its citizens to stay away from the Kenyan city of Mombasa for a while. Police there recently arrested two Iranians and charged them with planning a terror attack against Western tourists. It's believed that U.S. intelligence helped catch the Iranians.
June 21, 2012: The government warned Iranians to brace themselves for a massive Cyber War attack by the U.S., Britain, and Israel. It was recently leaked in the U.S. that several successful Cyber War attacks on Iraq (Stuxnet, Duqu, and Flame) were indeed the product of a joint American-Israeli effort. Iran always includes Britain in these foreign conspiracies because Britain has been successfully interfering with Iranian diplomacy for several centuries and is greatly resented for this.
June 20, 2012: In Russia last minute negotiations with Iran failed to satisfy the Western nations that fear Iran will obtain nuclear weapons. New sanctions go into force on July 3rd, and these will do some real damage to the Iranian economy (and especially Iranian oil sales). Iran is scrambling to evade the sanctions but this time most major trading nations are willing to enforce the sanctions.
June 19, 2012: There were more protests in Ahwaz after four Arab men were executed for killing a policeman last year. At least fifteen Arab demonstrators were arrested. One subject the Iranians do not want to discuss is the continued persecutions of their Arab minority in the west, along the Iraqi border. The Iranians don’t trust their Arabs and keep lots of secret police and Revolutionary Guards in the area, with orders to be active in the pursuit of real or imagined traitors. The government is a little more outspoken about unruly Kurds up north. In response, separatist minded Kurds openly threaten the Iranian government, something the Iranian Arabs are much more circumspect about. The most invisible victims in Iran are the three million refugees. Over 90 percent of these are from Afghanistan, and they are a major problem along the Afghan border. The refugees find the religious dictatorship in Iran more hospitable than the warlords and Taliban back in Afghanistan. Then there is the drug business. The Afghan refugees are deeply involved with the smuggling and distribution of Afghan opium and heroin. There are several million addicts in Iran, and the Afghan refugees help keep them all high and broke.
June 16, 2012: The government has warned companies and trade unions to not talk to any media about inflation. Most Iranians know that inflation is quite high. The cost of some staples (like bread and meat) has increased over 30 percent in the last year.