Iran: The Generals Take Over

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August 10, 2011: Syria is in growing danger of being lost to Iran, and taken over by a pro-democracy movement. Iran considers this a potential military and diplomatic catastrophe. To prevent this, Iran has been sending in more weapons and other equipment (especially intelligence gathering gear and stuff that will help control the use of telephones and the Internet) to Syria. Iran is believed to have its security experts planning and supervising the brutal Syrian attempt to suppress the pro-democracy movement with force. Iran has been successful with this approach in Iran, and is trying to export it to Syria. But the brutality of the Syrian government towards its own people has turned the Arab world, the West, and even neighboring Turkey, against Syria, and Iran. Nevertheless, Iran seems determined to maintain the pro-Iran dictatorship in Syria, no matter what the cost to the Syrians.

Syria has been a client state of Iran since the 1980s, and has provided a forward base for Iran to build up Hezbollah, which controls southern Lebanon and part of the Lebanese border with Syria. Iran also used Syria as a terrorist base for attacks on U.S. and Iraqi troops during 2004-8. Iran has equipped Syria and Hezbollah with rockets and missiles for a war with Israel. While most Arab states officially back any preparations for an attack on Israel, unofficially they are more concerned with Iranian aggression and are hostile to Hezbollah and the current government in Syria.

Troops (mainly Revolutionary Guards) and police continue to battle Kurdish separatists (PJAK) in the northwest, on the Iraq border, and ten or more kilometers across the border into Iraq. Several weeks of operations here has left at least eight Iranian troops dead, and more than fifty Kurds. Thousands of Iraqi Kurds have fled the area where the fighting is taking place.

Iran is growing more concerned with the covert Cyber War effort by Israel. The Stuxnet and Star worms are only two successful attacks that have gone public. There are apparently others that the government is trying to keep quiet, so that Israel does not get an accurate assessment of how successful their attacks are. Iran has been recruiting computer engineers and hackers to beef up its Cyber War capabilities.

The clerics who have ultimate control of the government are forcing universities to segregate male and female students. It is starting this year with 40 academic departments in 20 universities segregating their classes. This move is opposed by many senior officials, including president Ahmadinejad. But the senior clerics control the security forces and courts, and as long as they do, what they want is what they get (well, mostly).

Police have been instructed to crack down on young men and women engaging in public water pistol fights. Often just plastic bottles of water are used, and police have been making more arrests of these young people. Such activities between men and women are considered un-Islamic. Despite hundreds of arrests, the mischief continues.

The U.S. has been accused of pressuring the Kurdish government in northern Iraq to cooperate with Iranian attacks on Kurdish separatists in northern Iraq. In return Iran is believed to have ordered the Iraqi Shia militias it subsidizes to sharply reduce their attacks on American troops. The Iranians are having some success against the Kurdish separatists, and attacks against American troops in Iraq have gone down recently.

August 8, 2011: In the northwest, five policemen were killed by a roadside bomb, apparently planted by Kurdish separatists (PJAK).

August 6, 2011: Police on the Afghan border made their largest ever seizure of illegal drugs when they grabbed 8.6 tons of opium. This makes over 30 tons of drugs (mostly opium) seized in the last five months. Opium is the favored drug for most of Iran’s three million drug addicts. Wealthier addicts (often the children of senior government officials), favor the more expensive heroin. Afghanistan produces 3,600 tons of opium a year, and at least ten percent of it is shipped through Iran. What isn’t bought by Iranian addicts, moves on to the wealthy Arab oil states and Europe.

August 5, 2011: A bomb damaged an oil pipeline about 900 kilometers southwest of the capital. The government announced that repairs were quickly made and that oil shipments were not interrupted.

August 3, 2011: Turkey has started blocking Iranian arms shipments to Syria. Iran moves goods through Turkey by truck, rail and air freight. Many of the arms shipments are actually for Hezbollah in Lebanon. Turkey is halting the shipments to protest the Iranian-sponsored brutality Syria is using against pro-democracy demonstrators.

Parliament approved the head of the Revolutionary Guard as the chief executive of the state oil company. The Revolutionary Guard is the ultimate guarantor of the religious dictatorship, and controls nearly half the economy, and uses all that wealth to help maintain the loyalty of its commanders and key members. The Revolutionary Guard recruits on the basis of loyalty first, and a willingness to kill fellow Iranians to keep the religious dictatorship in power. Putting the state oil company under the control of the Revolutionary Guard boosts the power of the Guard. Many fear that this growing Revolutionary Guard power is turning Iran into a military dictatorship, rather than a religious one. The Revolutionary Guard is not only feared, but also hated because their members are so much better off economically. But the growing power of the Revolutionary Guard is largely because religion is no longer a good enough reason to justify a dictatorship. Brute force, however, can work for a while.

August 1, 2011:  The government said they cornered and killed three PJAK men, one of them a Turkish Kurd, who were responsible for the bombing of an oil pipeline three days earlier. Four others were arrested for helping with the attack. Iran blames Israel and the United States for organizing or sponsoring such attacks. The government does not want to admit that any Iranians would be so dissatisfied with the religious dictatorship that they would resort to violence.  

July 28, 2011: The U.S. has openly accused Iran of working with al Qaeda to make terror attacks in Iran and Afghanistan.

 

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