Iran: Wars Are Hell

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September 16, 2007: The country is at war, or, more correctly, at wars. There are many fronts. Most of the fighting is being done by the Revolutionary Guards and the national police. The regular armed forces are kept in their barracks, as the government does not trust this conscript force, full of young men who are not very fond of the religious dictatorship running the country. The Revolutionary Guards, or at least the al Quds force (which specialize in supporting pro-Iranian terrorists in foreign countries) is having a hard time in Iraq. With the collapse of al Qaeda in Iraq (because the Sunni Arabs turned on them), U.S. troops are now concentrating on Iranian supported groups. Coalition commando forces are specifically looking to capture as many al Quds operatives as they can. As a result of this, Iran has been pulling its al Quds people out of Iraq. Those that have been captured so far have given up embarrassing and damaging information.

In northern Iran, the war against the Kurds is not going well. Before 2003, Iran was supporting pro-al Qaeda Kurdish groups by providing sanctuary inside Iran, as well as weapons and supplies. These Islamic radicals took control of some villages inside Iraq, but were destroyed by Kurdish militiamen and American Special Forces. Then Kurdish separatists groups began sneaking into Iran and recruiting Iranian Kurds who were willing to fight. That problem has grown over the past four years, to the point that there are several thousand Revolutionary Guard troops, including artillery and some armored vehicles, operating along the Iraq border. The Iranian artillery fires shells at Kurdish villages in Iraq, and Revolutionary Guard patrols often cross the border. But the Iranians know they cannot get too aggressive. The Kurdish militias can handle Revolutionary Guard patrols, and the Iranians have suffered dozens of casualties in these clashes over the Summer. The Iranians also know that if they put too many people into Iraq, they will have to deal with American smart bombs. While some Revolutionary Guard commanders say otherwise, most Iranian military leaders don't want to fight U.S. troops, especially not in largely Kurdish areas along the Iraq border. Most of those Kurds would welcome an American invasion, and the Iranian generals don't want to invite one. Even with that restraint, the fighting over the last few months has left over 200 dead, and many more wounded.

In the southwestern province of Khuzestan, police executed three Iranian Arabs, who were accused of terrorist bombings inside Iran. The Iranian Arabs are despised by ethnic Iranians (an Indo-Aryan group, related to Indians and Europeans), and the current generation of Iranian Arabs are fed up with the discrimination they suffer. Their fathers fought bravely for Iran when Iran invaded in the 1980s, and all the government gave in return was more abuse. There's more anger than organization and violence. British agents are widely believed to be helping to organize armed resistance, but there's no proof. Those rumors have been an Iranian staple for over a century. But there are a lot of unhappy Arabs in Khuzestan, and there is some violence.

In the southeast, there's a lot of violence, and several hundred casualties a year. But it's more crime-wave than war. It's all about drugs. Iran is a prime market, and transit route, for heroin and opium from Afghanistan. Pushtun tribes in Afghanistan, and Baluchi tribes in Iran, are getting rich from this trade, and the police, reinforced by Revolutionary Guard units, are fighting a losing battle against the well armed and motivated (by huge amounts of cash) smugglers.

September 15, 2007: The government is cracking down on trade unions. The economy is not doing well, and unions are demanding changes. Union leaders are being arrested and sent to jail for "acting against national security."

September 14, 2007: Iranian 240mm rockets have been found in Iraq. In Afghanistan, more Iranian weapons are being shipped in. This is the work of the al Quds Force, a components of the Revolutionary Guards, and controlled the most radical and ruthless elements of the Iranian government.

September 9, 2007: One of the major causes of low economic growth is the low price Iranians pay for oil products. This leads to waste, and smuggling petroleum products to neighboring countries that have much higher prices. But raising the domestic price of oil based products would be very unpopular, and the government doesn't want to risk triggering a popular uprising.

September 7, 2007: Taking a cue, and perhaps some detailed advice, from China, Iran has convinced, or coerced, many Iranians studying at Western universities, to do some spying. This involves collecting technical secrets needed for weapons programs back home, or information on local Iranian communities. These Iranian migrants are usually hostile to the religious dictatorship back in Iran, and the Iranian government wants to keep an eye on that. By knowing what these exiles are up to, and who they are, the government can, for example, threaten to harm kin still in Iran, in order to shut up the troublesome exiles. The same tactics can be used to get some of the exiles to spy for Iran, but first you have to get information on who is out there, and who is most vulnerable to those tactics.

 

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