Iran: Street Fighting Men

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September 4, 2006: The head of the UN went to Iran to meet with senior officials over the issue of Iranian nuclear weapons development. Basically, the UN was told to take a hike, and forget about Iran halting its efforts to develop nuclear capabilities. The UN continues to threaten to impose more sanctions, a threat which Iran ignores. Iran has been operating under various types of sanctions since the 1980s. These sanctions have hurt economic development, but not nearly as much as the corruption and incompetence of the religious dictatorship that runs the country. The clerics in charge have the support of only about a quarter of the population, and use the "conflict" with the UN to keep their base supporters enraged, and ready to use violence against the majority, if the majority should ever get restless. But most Iranians, no matter how unhappy they are with their current government, are not willing to fight a civil war to change it. The government takes advantage of that, by allowing most Iranians to do whatever they want, as long as they do not oppose the government, or make the government look bad (so no racy clothing on the women, no public consumption of alcohol and so on). President Ahmadinejad is partiicularly good at this, enacting "reforms" like allowing women to attend sporting events, while locking up more opposition journalists. This has gone on for nearly two decades, and the clerics hope it will go on indefinitely. But it won't. Most Iranians are unhappy with their religious dictatorship, and the anger grows daily. There are more and more violent incidents, usually with the governments organized thugs battling unhappy Iranians in the streets.
August 31, 2006: News of the prompt economic aid to Hizbollah supporters in Lebanon, has gotten back to Iran, and caused noticeable unease among the 40 percent of the population living in poverty. This segment of the population, that were long supporters of the religious dictatorship, have become much less so in the last few years. The clergy is living very well, and then there's all that money going to foreigners, and oil income of some $50 billion a year, leaves the poor Iranians wondering. The clergy fear that someone might harness that unrest, which is why there has been such a violent crackdown on reformers in the last two years.
August 28, 2006: Iran publicly tested a submarine launched anti-ship missile. They said it was of Iranian design and manufacture, but that is very doubtful. It's probably a Russian missile, although some say it's Chinese. However, China is known to be still having problems developing this sort of missile, which is launched from the torpedo tube of a submerged submarine. Russia has an incentive to provide Iran with these anti-ship missiles, because if the Iranians used it to interfere with oil shipments from the Persian Gulf, world oil prices would go way up. Since Russia is a major oil exporter, they would benefit. China would not.
August 27, 2006: The courts continue to try and convict opposition journalists. In the past year, the opposition media has been completely neutralized. Publishing anything contrary to the official government line gets you shut down, arrested and prosecuted. Most of the opposition media activity has moved to the Internet and overseas TV and radio, which the government is having a more difficult time shutting down. Along those lines, opinion polls, at least accurate ones, are no longer allowed. The government knows it is unpopular.

 

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