Iran: Street Fighting Men

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May 31, 2007: Europe threatened Iran with more sanctions if work on nuclear weapons does not stop. Iran is ignoring these demands, believing having nukes is essential to preserving the Islamic dictatorship in Iran. The Iranian clerics have much to fear, and not just from foreign threats. Their incompetence and corruption has ruined the economy. Unemployment among young Iranians is about 50 percent. Some 40 percent of the population is on the government payroll, and there is not enough oil money to pay off all the people who do support the government (about a third of the population). Thus the government keeps printing more money, and the result in an inflation rate of over 20 percent. The Iranian people are getting increasingly restless, and, more ominously, surly. The government has relied on street level gangs of young Islamic conservatives to discourage such behavior. But it isn't working, and there have been more and more street battles. The government can more readily call in reinforcements, and has won all these brawls so far. But if the government starts losing them, it's the beginning of the end. Some of the kids have cell phones, a technology the government tried to keep out. The fear is that a street level disturbance will result in the protestors calling in their own reinforcements, defeating the security forces, and spreading. The clerics fear an event similar to the one that suddenly destroyed communist rule in Russia and Eastern Europe 18 years ago. For that reason, much attention and cash is spent on the street level muscle (the Basij militia), and a constant willingness to use physical violence against any protests or "un-Islamic" behavior. The universities are being purged of any staff suspected of being disloyal to the clergy. Any contacts with foreigners are being discouraged, as the Iranians fear U.S. groups that go around giving workshops on how to overthrow a dictatorship using non-violent means. Such workshops are held for Iranians across the Gulf, and many Iranians sneak over to participate.

May 30, 2007: In the northwest, security forces clashed with Kurdish separatists, killing at least ten of them. Some Iranian troops were wounded. Five Britons were kidnapped in Baghdad, by what appeared to be an Iranian backed militia. Iran has been taking hostages in an attempt to get its own people, captured while operating in Iraq, released.

May 29, 2007: Iran has accused three Iranian-Americans, who were visiting Iran, of being spies. In effect, Iran has taken the three hostage, in a continued attempt to get the U.S. to release Iranian officials captured in Iraq (where they were caught working with pro-Iranian Shia terrorists). In Turkey, a freight train from Iran to Syria derailed, and a sealed boxcar, that was supposed to contain construction materials, was found to contain American made weapons. Turkish police are investigating, and Iran has been told its railroad transit privileges may be cancelled. The Turks don't search every railroad car on trains from Iran to Syria, and take the Iranians word for it that there is no illegal cargo. Then again, there is so much corruption in Iran, that this might have been a non-government smuggling operation.

May 28, 2007: For the first time in 27 years, Iranian and American officials met, and discussed how to reduce violence in Iraq. The U.S. wants Iran to stop supporting, and directing, pro-Iranian militias and political parties. Iran wants the U.S. to stop supporting moderates and reformers inside Iran. Both sides deny the others accusations. Iran said it was willing to help equip and train Iraqi security forces if the U.S. admitted it was wrong to have troops in the Middle East, and got out of the region. This demand had a particular urgency, given that last week, two American carrier task forces entered the Persian Gulf and put on a show for the greatly outgunned Iranians.

May 27, 2007: Sudan is the latest Sunni nation to complain of Iranian attempts to convert people to the Shia form of Islam. Sudan is run by a dictatorship led by Islamic conservative Sunni Arabs. Iranian conversion efforts have increased in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.

 

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