On November 4th Iran celebrates its "National Day." Among pro-government elements, the day is marked by the burning of American flags and loud condemnations of "The Great Satan." Perhaps fearing that they may make a scene during "National Day" celebrations on November 4th, the government has been cracking down on those whom it views as dissidents, including liberal religious leaders ranking as high as ayatollahs, college professors and students, and minority group leaders.
October 29, 2006: The government is now arresting and trying Shia religious leaders who preach separation of church and state. The arrest of Ayatollah Seyed Hossein Kazemeini Boroujerdi, and several hundred of his followers earlier this month, caused a major fuss. The police chief of Tehran resigned in protest over how the religious police and hard-line street gangs were used in that operation. The government may hate Saddam Hussein and his followers, but they sure know how to imitate Saddam's governing methods. The government makes heavy use of pro-government street gangs to terrorize Iranians into staying away from reform organizations.
October 26, 2006: Due to major sales to Iran, Russia is now the major supplier of weapons to developing countries. Such sales increased from $5.4 billion in 2004 to $7 billion in 2005 and kept growing last year. China and India have long been major arms customers, but now, with the addition of Iran, Russia's weapons industries are booming. The Russians have been dealing with the Iranians for centuries, and believe that the Iranians talk big, but can never deliver. Thus a nuclear armed Iran is much less of a concern to the Russians.
Iran buys from Russia partly because no one else (except low tech sources like China and North Korea) will sell it arms, but also because, as a bonus, Russia prevents the UN from imposing additional sanctions. Iran knows that any military action against it will just increase the repressive government's internal popularity. When Iran does test, and then deploy nuclear weapons, the government will further increase its domestic popularity, and make a rebellion less likely. With nuclear weapons, Iran can more confidently make aggressive moves in its neighborhoods. Arab states on the other side of the Persian Gulf see Iran supporting Shia rebels in the Arab countries. If the Arab Shia can be persuaded to rise up in rebellion, a nuclear armed Iran would be in a good position to intervene militarily, and annex Arab territory on the west side of the Persian Gulf, and incorporate that into the "Islamic Republic." While Shia comprise only about five percent of Saudi Arabia's population, those Shia are concentrated on that part of eastern Saudi Arabia that contains most of the oil. It isn't quite the perfect plan, because Arab Shia are not enthusiastic about being ruled by Iranians. The Arab Shia want economic and religious freedom, but not Iranian overlords.