Iran: June 1, 2003

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 The US is proposing supplying millions of dollars to Iranian reformers to help them mobilize popular support to get the religious conservatives out of government. This means changing the constitution, which, legally, the religious conservatives can block, because the constitution gives them veto power (via the Guardians Council of religious leaders) over anything an elected government does. Meanwhile, the religious conservatives support a nuclear weapons program and several foreign terrorist organizations, including Hizbollah in Lebanon, Shia radicals in Iraq and al Qaeda fugitives in Iran. The religious conservatives have the support of 20-30 percent of the Iranian population, including several hundred thousand men with guns. The principal weapon of the reformers at the moment is provocative clothing worn by young Iranians, which taunts the religious police on the look out for such stuff. Providing money and things like radio and satellite broadcasting capability, an armed resistance to the religions radicals might develop, but probably not. as young Iranians have been very reluctant to start a civil war. There was such an armed resistance, based in Iraq, but these fighters were backed by Saddam Hussein and have been disarmed by American troops. American military action against Iran is unlikely. The terrain is more mountainous and the Iranians more organized and feisty than the Iraqis or Afghans. Even an embargo against Iran would simply play into the hands of the religious conservatives, as most Iranians would unite to defend the country against foreigners. However, American Special Forces could assist any armed opposition that developed inside Iran. The US is particularly nervous about Iran creating nuclear weapons, as the religious conservatives still preach the "destruction of the United States," and have recently been linked with the May 12th al Qaeda attack against Americans in Saudi Arabia.

 

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