Iran: November 27, 1999


Local media have published stories about recent attacks on military installations near the Iraqi border. Iran has recently made missile and warplane attacks against Mujahadeen (Iranian rebels) bases just across the border in Iraq. Apparently, the Mujahadeen are increasing their tempo of operations in Iran, making mortar attacks against police and military bases and planting bombs to kill government officials.

November 26; A Mujahadeen bomb attack in southwestern Iran left two dead and eight injured. Later on, two Mujahadeen were killed in a shoot out with police.

November 25; An Islamic radical sect, the Mehdaviat, had 34 of its members arrested for plotting to assassinate the Iranian president and leaders of Sunni Moslems. Meanwhile, on the Afghan border, two Iranian police were killed in a battle with drug smugglers.

November 21; In two incidents, Iranian police and troops killed seventeen drug smugglers near the Afghan border. Two Iranians were wounded.

November 21; It is low oil prices, not any disagreement between the religious and moderate factions, that have kept Iran from expanding its military. Both factions are agreed that Iran needs a larger military force fully equipped with weapons of mass destruction.--Stephen V Cole

November 21; Despite the continuous combat with Afghan drug gangs, the border between Iran and Afghanistan was reopened for trade today. This also allows humanitarian aid to go into Afghanistan, where famine looms. 

November 9; Reform and conservative students held separate demonstrations in Tehran.

November 8; A brawl between fans of opposing soccer teams in Shiraz turned into an anti-government riot when many of the 20,000 spectators at a game began chanting anti-government slogans and attacked the police. Over a hundred people were arrested. 

November 4; A battle between drug smugglers and police lasted several hours and left 36 policemen, and about the same number of Pakistani smugglers, dead. The drug gangs, operating out of Afghanistan and Pakistan, are often better equipped than the Iranian troops and police that attempt to detect and stop the drug convoys moving through the desolate border area. Many of the local people support the drug gangs, out of a combination of fear and economic dependence. 

November 3; Security forces found, and defused, two bombs planted in Esfahan by terrorist rebels.

October 30; Iran says that acquiring effective anti-aircraft defenses is its highest military priority. They have reverse engineered French Crotale and British Rapier low-altitude missiles from copies captured from Iraq. They are also producing their own version of the Russian SA-2 medium-altitude missile and are buying the Russian S200 (SA-5) low/high altitude missile.--Stephen V Cole

October 28 , 1999; Turkey charged that Iranians organized the assassination of a secularist academic in Ankara last week. The first of thirteen Jewish Iranians charged with spying for Israel was tried and sentenced to thirteen years in prison. Iran this finds itself at odds with Turkey and Israel, two nations with very close ties and forming a formidable opponent to Iran in the region.

October 25; In the last few years, Iran has lost 2,800 troops and paramilitaries fighting drug gangs on their eastern border with Afghanistan. In one recent incident, an Iranian patrol was ambushed and 55 men killed. There are enormous profits to be made if the drugs can be moved from Afghanistan into Iran and then to Europe and America. The non-Iranian tribes along the Afghan border mix business with pleasure by smuggling drugs and killing Iranians. 

October 24; Arab sources are spreading a story, based on an unspecified "European intelligence report," that the US plans to provoke a war with Iran over the issue of Abu Musa Island. In theory, the US would use this war as a pretext to destroy Iran's missile and nuclear production facilities, and to otherwise punish Iran for various anti-American policies. The report is not being dismissed out of hand, even by serious analysts. Iran feels that the US has long been seeking such a confrontation, and many Arabs agree. The US is, reportedly, unhappy about the rapprochement between Iran and the Gulf Arabs. Many Europeans feel that the US has adopted a policy of resorting to military force on the least of pretexts without considering the consequences.--Stephen V Cole

October 18; Much of the conflict over change in Iran is being fought out in the courts. The conservatives and fundamentalists still control most of the courts and police forces. When the media, in particular, do anything that displeases the fundamentalists, the troublemakers are hauled into court to be punished. But this is working less well as many conservative, but not fundamentalist, judges back off from automatically punishing those brought before them. There is also an increasing tendency for the accused to defy the courts (and not appear.) Public demonstrations against the "tyranny of the courts" is also more common. Public opinion, as well an increasingly vocal foreign criticism, has turned against the fundamentalists who have run Iran for the past twenty years. But the fundamentalists, being on a mission from God, are not likely to give up power voluntarily. 


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