Iran: Up In Flames


July 1, 2007: In the last ten weeks, Iranian forces in Iraq (mainly members of the Quds Force) have been subject to several attacks, leaving over fifty dead and more than a hundred captured. The interrogations of these men has led to more arrests, and a growing pile of evidence concerning Iranian support of terrorist activity in Iraq. Iran denies it all.

June 30, 2007: The government continues to stonewall any and all proposals from the UN to halt Iranian nuclear weapons research.

June 27, 2007: New gasoline rationing has led to growing violence, mainly at the scene of long lines at gas stations. Over a dozen gas stations have been attacked and set alight by angry Iranians. People are angry at the government mismanagement of the economy. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad got elected with promises of "sharing the (oil) wealth." This has not happened, even though Ahmadinejad did make attempts to crack down on corruption. Anti-corruption efforts did not have any widespread impact. The families of senior clerics still dominate the economy, running things for their own benefit, not that of the country. This means that growth and efficiency are not emphasized, it's all about making the the family wealthier. Popular anger against this has been growing for decades, and the gas rationing (because not enough refineries were built, and half the gasoline has to be imported) may be the last straw. Gasoline is heavily subsidized, costing consumers only about 43 cents a gallon, and this after a 25 percent price increase two months ago. This is much less than in neighboring countries, which means a lot of gasoline is smuggled out of the country for sale at those higher prices. A lot of oil revenue is used up on subsidizing the gasoline supply. The rationing, which provides the average citizen with only 26 gallons a month, is supposed to prevent the smuggling. But those with connections to the clerical families can still get access to fuel supplies and sneak stuff out of the country, as long as they cut their sponsors in on the profits. With the rationing, a lot of money will be made with stolen gasoline in Iran, as there is now a huge black market demand for fuel.

June 25, 2007: The government is offering rewards for those who turn in people sending "immoral messages" (including photographs) via their cell phones. The government is trying to install software to censor these kinds of messages, but is not having much success. The government believes cell phones have become a major tool for dissident and rebellious Iranians, but the devices are too popular, and useful for the economy, to ban completely.

June 23, 2007: The national police rounded up 150,000 people during the annual Spring campaign against young men and women dressing or behaving in "un-Islamic" ways. This is about twice the number rounded up in the past few years. The government is trying to intimidate the population, and forestall any widespread uprising. University staff, labor union leaders and journalists have all been warned to behave, or else.

June 22, 2007: Gasoline rationing has caused long lines at gas stations, and a lot of very angry drivers.

June 21, 2007: The government is not just arresting Americans in Iran (four so far), but is holding a French citizen, who had been given permission to make a film about survivors of the 1980 war with Iraq. All of the people held are Iranians who have become citizens of foreign countries. Iran still considers these people Iranians.

June 20, 2007: The U.S. says it has evidence that the five British citizens kidnapped last month in Iraq, were taken by men trained in Iran, and operating in cooperation with the Iranian government.




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