Iran: Feeding the Revolution

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December 30, 2007: U.S. sanctions, via the banking system, have begun to hit Iranians where they live. The Arab banks that provide credit to Iranian importers of consumer goods, are having their credit cut off. This means shortages of consumer goods inside Iran, and more anger directed at the government, not the United States. Some $8 billion worth of consumer goods a year are moved across the Persian Gulf, from the Arab side to the Iranian side. The Iranian government has made itself a lightning rod for blame because of its continuing attempts to control the way Iranians live. This year, there have been crackdowns on dress codes (especially for young, middleclass college kids) and access to alcohol, parties, Western music and films. This sort of thing may be the ultimate cause of a violent revolution, more so than the loss of other freedoms (press, expression and fair elections.)

December 28, 2007: In Iraq, U.S. troops killed eleven Shia Arab militiamen, who were accused of working for Iranian radicals. American and Iraqi troops have been hunting down and killing or capturing Iraqi and Iranian terrorists with increasing success. The Iranians have apparently decided not to escalate this little war. Back in Iran, the radicals who have supported Iraqi Shia groups attacking the Americans, are now on the defensive. Years of efforts by the radicals has not produced much. The Iraqi Shia are still largely hostile to taking any orders from Iran.

December 25, 2007: While the government has backed off on support for anti-American terrorism in Iraq, support for the Taliban in Afghanistan is another matter. Iran appears to have accepted defeat in Iraq, but still believed the Taliban had a shot in Afghanistan. This is not popular in Iran, because people remember the years of anti-Taliban propaganda, which simply reminded everyone of the widespread atrocities the Taliban committed against Shia Afghans.

December 22, 2007: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is getting criticized more frequently, and more savagely, about the sad state of the economy. Inflation this year has been 19 percent, and the religious leaders who control the economy, appear indifferent to the problems. Ahmadinejad got elected two years ago on promises to deal with the economy, and he obviously hasn't.

December 17, 2007: Al Qaeda number two guy (and real brains behind the organization) Ayman Al Zawahiri denounced Iran in a video. Zawahiri, an Egyptian, is angry that Iran has backed off from its support of Iraqi Shia terrorist attacks on U.S. troops. But U.S. commanders find that Iran is still sending weapons, money and trainers to pro-Iran Shia militias in Iraq. Those militias, however, have stopped most of their attacks on U.S. troops, largely because the Americans are hard to kill, and shoot back with deadly efficiency. The Shia militias have better luck with Sunni Arabs, although they have to be cautious. Too much violence brings in the police, army or, worst of all, the Americans. The Iranian government has come to accept that Iraqis don't like to fight the Americans. This attitude has spread to the Iranians, who talk big, but back off if the American troops growl at them. The Iranian government apparently believes that fighting the Americans, or even threatening to, is not the best option.

Russia delivered at least 80 tons of nuclear fuel for Iran's first nuclear power plant. This enriched uranium is not enriched enough for a nuclear weapon. The Russian delivery also makes it unnecessary for Iran to continue enriching uranium. But Iran wants to continue with this anyway, even though that means there will always be a suspicion that uranium is being enriched to a higher level, that would make the stuff useful for a nuclear weapon.

 

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