Iran: Kinder and Gentler Radicals Gain Power

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December22, 2006: The results of the December 15 elections are in, and the "pro- Ahmadinejad" candidates lost. This means Ahmadinejad's enemies have more power, and there is open talk of calling early presidential elections to remove Ahmadinejad. This is not just people angry at Ahmadinejad's mouthing off, as there are is array of factions opposed to Ahmadinejad. These include corrupt clerics (most of the corruption in Iran is at the hands of clerics who have controlled the economy since the 1980s), who fear Ahmadinejad's anti-corruption rants (which is a large component of Ahmadinejad's popularity.) While Ahmadinejad is an anti-Semitic, paranoid, delusional Iranian nationalist, he is also an able administrator who is not corrupt. That's unusual in Iran (the administrative ability and lack of corrupt behavior.) Ahmadinejad has enemies, and they are not all reformers.

December 20, 2006: While European nations cannot agree on what kind of sanctions to use against Iran (to stop Iran's nuclear program) the banking and export sanctions already in place are hurting. For example, Iran cannot raise the billions of dollars it needs to import equipment (and consultants) to upgrade its oil industry. For example, Iran does not have enough refineries, and has to import 40 percent of its gasoline. As a result of that, gasoline is rationed, which annoys the average Iranian no end.

December 19, 2006: The Saudi Arabian government claims that Iranian support for several militias in Iraq has resulted in a "state within a state," with these private armies of pro-Iranian gunmen operating largely independently of the Iraqi government. Saudi Arabia now threatens to openly aid Iraqi Sunni Arabs if the Iraqi government does not control the Shia Arab militias (which have been active in murdering Sunni Arabs, and driving others from the country.) Iraqi Shia Arabs, and Iran, hold Iraqi Sunni Arabs responsible for keeping Saddam Hussein in power, for the 1980s war with Iran, and for decades of killing and oppressing Kurds and Shia Arabs. In effect, Saudi Arabia is threatening to go to war with Iran, via support for anti-Iran Sunni Arabs in Iraq.

December 17, 2006: President Ahmadinejad is running into hostile audiences when he meets with university students. Over the last two years, Ahmadinejad has used his Islamic conservative police and militias to beat and imprison students who protested government policies. That shut up the students, for a while. Now the students are acting up again, and it's only a matter of time before Ahmadinejad orders his thugs to strike back.

Ahmadinejad got himself a lot of publicity by hosting a two day International Holocaust Deniers Conference. This is another aspect of anti-Semitism that has been popular in the Islamic world for centuries. It's all part of the Islamic custom of avoiding personal responsibility and blaming all your problems on external forces. This is dangerous stuff, as it influences policy making, and can lead to tragic decisions. While Iran is not a major military power, it has supported terrorist groups that have killed thousands of people. Ahmadinejad and his delusional rants are not harmless. Ahmadinejad wants nuclear weapons, which could make his delusions even more destructive.

December 16, 2006: The government is criticizing Saudi Arabia over security measures taken to insure that no spies or operatives are hidden among Iranians going to Mecca for the Hadj (pilgrimage to Islam's holy places). Iran has also begun floating the idea that Shia should control the holy places. For a long time, that issue has been off the table, but now it's back in play, and implies religious justification for an Iranian invasion of Saudi Arabia.

December 15, 2006: There was heavy turn out, over fifty percent of eligible voters, for the national elections (to choose local officials, and members of the Council of Experts, the group of senior clerics that have veto power over anything the government does.) Like the last election, the clergy used their veto power to exclude any reform-minded candidates. All the people running for office are "approved" religious conservatives. But the candidates have been, for the most part, identified as "pro- Ahmadinejad" (loony-tune radical), and "anti- Ahmadinejad" (more rational radical.) During the last elections, most voters stayed home in protest to the clergy blocking anyone, but Islamic conservatives, from voting. But now many voters are coming out to vote for "anti- Ahmadinejad" candidates, as a form of protest. The government is not amused.

 

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