The riots throughout the Moslem world over Danish cartoons of the prophet Mohammed appear to have been instigated by Iran, with the help of Syria. The cartoons first appeared last fall, and were even published in an Egyptian newspaper last October. There was no fuss then, until the Iranian government decided there was an opportunity to enlist the media, and Islamic radicals, into some violent, and well publicized street theater. Ten have died so far, all Moslems, and the cartoons have been more widely published than would have been the case otherwise. The clerics ruling Iran apparently see themselves as retaking the leadership role in the "worldwide Islamic revolution." Remember, there are two ongoing attempts to convert the entire world to Islam. The Shia movement, which got traction in the 1980s when radical clerics took control of Iran, have been threatened by the Sunni movement al Qaeda, which rose to prominence in the 1990s. Over 80 percent of the world's Moslems are Sunni, and radical Sunnis (like the ones who run al Qaeda) believe the Shia are heretics and must be killed if they do not accept Sunni religious practices and beliefs. Thus, in the Arab world (which is very, very Sunni), Iran getting nuclear weapons is seen as a religious, as well as a military, threat.
February 8, 2006: Iran's strategy of engaging the UN in endless negotiations is preventing any action that would stop Iran's nuclear weapons development program. The UN is incapable of doing anything decisive because key UN members, like China and Russia, have commercial ties with Iran that they will not endanger by voting in the UN for actions that would hurt Iran. Meanwhile, the Iranian leaders believe that they can scare the major nations by making ominous noises about oil supplies (which tend to drive up the price of oil.) Iran believes this will prevent the U.S. from attacking it, and that the U.S. will restrain Israel from launching an attack.
February 7, 2006: The government announced production of a new version of the Misagh portable anti-aircraft missile. The Misagh 2 is, like the 1993 Misagh 1, apparently based on technology imported from China.
February 5, 2006: The portion of the Iranian Navy that is run by Islamic militants (the Revolutionary Guard) is apparently back in the smuggling business. Many believe they never stopped. The Islamic militants were deep into the oil smuggling business with Iraq before 2003, and are apparently assisting smugglers to move goods and people into Oman. There have been some close calls recently, between Iranian gunboats and ships of Arab coast guards in the Persian Gulf.
February 4, 2006: The Iranian ballistic missile program, which is run by a special organization of Islamic radicals, apparently ran more flight tests of the Shahab-3 missile last month. This missile can, if development is successfully completed, hit targets up to 2,000 kilometers away. This would put Israel, and parts of Europe, within range. Iran is apparently getting missile technology, and technical advice from Russia, North Korea and Germany (where it is being obtained illegally).
February 3, 2006: Iran has bought three Russian Su-25 (similar to the American A-10) warplanes. The Su-25s will be delivered this year.