Iran: July 22, 2002


: declined of late. 

  The basic problem in Iran is that there are, for all practical purposes, two governments, with two different agendas and two different foreign policies. The elected government controls parliament, the presidency and part of the bureaucracy. This government wants reform and is supported by 80 percent of the population. The religious conservatives are not elected, but control the courts and police and lots of money (some of it tax revenue, a lot of it income from assets seized by religious leaders after the 1979 revolution.) This faction is pro-terrorism and has veto over laws passed by the Iranian parliament. Iran's neighbors are upset with all of this because the elected government supports good relations with neighboring states while the unelected religious conservatives support religious fundamentalists who often are trying to replace neighboring governments with Islamic government. 

The conservatives fear that the pro-reform sentiments are spreading to members of the police. As a result, they are forming special police units that contain men selected more for their political reliability than for their police skills. These units are said to contain foreign Islamic fundamentalists. This rumor has enraged many Iranians, who see themselves as oppressed by a bunch of unelected religious fanatics. If foreigners are involved, it just adds insult to injury.  The conservatives are not backing down, but are instead increasing patrols in areas known for "un-Islamic activity" (parties featuring alcohol, dancing and men and women mixing.) If the past is any indication, then one of these raids will be resisted with weapons and the new revolution will