th terror bombing of a mosque in Shiraz was first said
to be an accident, then it became a Western plot. Now there are unnamed
culprits in custody who have confessed to having American and Israeli sponsors.
The official Iranian line is that the Great Satan (the United States) is trying
to destroy Iran, and halt its efforts to convert the world to a Shia Moslem dictatorship.
The evil Americans are doing this by surrounding Iran (with troops in Iraq,
Kuwait, Bahrain, Pakistan and Afghanistan.) The U.S. is also held responsible
for propping up Israel, and keeping the Palestinian people down. Iran is an
open advocate of destroying Israel.
The most powerful weapon in the
Iranian arsenal is the press release. That's not saying much, as the Iranians
have been recycling the same paranoid plots for too many decades. For example,
the April 12
reality, Iran is a religious dictatorship, ruled by a minority of religious
fanatics who operate a very effective secret police force. The more extreme of
the religious fanatics support Islamic radicals elsewhere, like in Lebanon,
Gaza and Iraq. The majority of the clerical rulers of Iran seek to maintain
their power, and wealth, by obtaining nuclear weapons. In the West, the fear is
that the radicals will get their hands on a nuclear weapon and use it against
the U.S. or Israel. This could happen once the unhappy majority of Iranians
rebel against the Islamic police state they are so unhappy with (and terrified
Arabs in the Persian Gulf see Iranian influence everywhere, and feel it's all
about turning the Sunni Arab states into vassals of Iran. The recent street
battles between Shia and Sunni gunmen in Beirut, Lebanon was interpreted as an
Iranian reminder that they have the final say on what happens in Lebanon. In
Gaza, the Hamas radicals hang onto power mainly through cash, weapons and
advisors from Iran. The large Shia minorities in Saudi Arabia, and other Arab
Gulf states, are constantly scrutinized for signs of Iranian manipulation. In
Yemen, a rebellion by Shia Arab tribes is seen (without much proof) as another bit
of Iranian mischief.
response to many complaints, China says it has cut back on weapons exports to
Iran. Chinese assault rifles, rockets and RPGs were being sold to Iran and
smuggled to neighboring countries. Some of this was just for the money, in
other cases, there was some politics involved. Chinese weapons have been
showing up, via Iranian gunrunners, in Lebanon, Afghanistan, Gaza, Somalia and Iraq.
embargo on Iran is largely ineffectual. Smugglers (government or freelance) can
bring in just about anything you want. Those trying to enforce the embargo are
most successful when directed at the manufacturers of unique military or
scientific equipment. But any commodity items, forget it. Computer gear and
consumer goods come across the Gulf daily, and nightly, in speedboats. The two
man crews get about twenty dollars each per trip. If an Iranian patrol boat is
encountered, a $100-150 bribe usually takes care of any problems. Larger items
are driven in from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Azerbaijan.
government is increasing its efforts to censor what Iranians can access on the Internet.
The banned sites tend to be those critical of the government, or pushing women's
rights. Iranian Islamic radicals are very sensitive about anything touching on
their control over women's lives. Another serious subject, which the Iranians
like to keep quiet about, is the growing number of Iranian Moslems who convert
to Christianity. Blocking Farsi language Christianity sites is a big deal. The
odd thing is that Christianity was never really big in Iran. Iran's pre-Christian
religion, Zoroastrianism, survived until it was largely replaced by Islam 1,400
years ago, after dominating the country for about 1,500 years. The government
is also blocking Farsi language sites about Zoroastrianism, which is becoming
more popular in Iran, apparently in response to the seemingly dreadful impact
of Islam. Many Zoroastrianism customs survived the arrival of Islam, much to
the chagrin of Moslem clerics. Efforts to stamp out these customs only makes
them more popular.