INTRODUCTION: This post covers briefly quite a few developments in Iran but includes a other items concerning states where developments are likely to impact Iran. Where the source is unidenfied, it is Enduring America)
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTS IN IRAN
ITEM: In a letter to Khamenei, filmmaker Mohammad Reza Nourizad has claimed that billions of dollars have been sent to groups in Afghanistan and Syria as well as Lebanon's Hezbollah. Chiding the Supreme Leader for the "claimed global desire for the Islamic Revolution", Nourizad asks, "Where else can you, except for China and Russia, who loot our assets?"
COMMENT: Even some Iranians conservativs now say mismanagement and corruption have done far more damage than sanctions. Over the last six years, Iran has received more income that in all history. So where did it go? The mullocracy reminds me of lottery players who win millions wind up as Walmart greeters a few years later.
Siriius is always complaining that Iran's regime and Iranians are innocents who is always being "picked on." Equating criticism of the regime with criticism of Iranians is a slick "straw man" trick. As for the regime's "innocence," could it be that its global intent, and the endless covert schemes against neighbors might have legitimately ticked them off?
ITEM: Ghanoon says the poverty line has been raised 15-20% by inflation, reaching 960,000 Toman (about $550) per month.This means that pensioners now only receive 40% of the poverty level in their monthly income (see 0805 GMT).
ITEM: Minister of Economy Shamseddin Hosseini has said that, even if the US dollar reaches 10,000 Toman (100,000 Iranian Rials) on the free market, it will have no effect on the economy.
ITEM: Danesh Jafari, an economics professor and the first Minster of Economy in the Ahmadinejad Government, has criticised today's policies: “The current economic crisis, especially in the currency market, is because the Government does not consider the long-term consequences of its decisions."
ITEM: When the officials blamed sanctions for Iran's currency problems, Khamenei criticised them and said that "our weaknesses in management" should not be covered up by the international pressures.
IRANIAN FOREIGN POLICY
ITEM: The Ministry of Science and Higher Education, in a clarifying statement, has said that it will still recognise the degrees of students who are currently at British universities. An official said, however, that "from now, no facilities will be given to those who are planning" to study in the United Kingdom.
ITEM: More on a possible warning by Ayatollah Khamenei to President Ahmadinejad over any overtures towards the US for nuclear talks, couched in the warning not to believe the "smiling" enemy and criticism of President Obama's letters....MP Kazem Jalali, the spokesman of Parliament's National Security Committee, said, "The Supreme Leader's warning about US deceptions is pointed towards some of the people in charge, who are giving up against US pressures with their wrong analysis and opinions.”Mohammad Hossein Safar Harandi, the former Minister of Culture, had also criticised Government diplomacy towards the US in a speech on Thursday.
COMMENT: Beware of any regime or faction that promotes xenophobia toward outsiders--an appeal to nationalism attempted to divert attention from its own domestic behavior. The mullahs got in by taking advantage of the US embassy siege to pull a coup that ousted fellow revolutionaries. They can't survive with anti-Americanism for domestic reasons and also because friendly relations might lead to "cultural corruption" of the sort handled by social police.
ITEM: MP Ali Motahari, a prominent critic of the Government, has met in Qom with Grand Ayatollahs Vahid Khorrassani, Safi Golpayegani, Javadi Amoli, and Sobhani, as well as a representative of Iraq's Ayatollah Sistani.
Khabar Online says that Motahari --- who was banned by the Ministry of Interior from running in March's Parliamentary ballot before he was reinstated by the Guardian Council --- and the clerics discussed "the critical situation" in elections and the need for a greater role for ayatollahs and clerics in Iran's affairs.
ITEM: Former President Hashemi Rafsanjani has criticised the regime's "cheap cardboard propaganda" --- a reference to the cut-out Ayatollah Khomeini paraded from an airplane and before a military ceremony on Wednesday --- while calling for a huge turnout on next Saturday's anniversary of the Islamic Revolution to answer threats and enemies.
COMMENT: I've noticed Rafsanjani has been talking a lot after a period of silence. Previously he didn't dare so what does it mean? He still refuses to condemn the Green "sedition" or endose the 2009 election results and that has some conservatives furious.
ITEM: Trouble ahead for Ahmadinejad advisor Saeed Mortazavi? Iran's judiciary has denied immunity for Mortazavi. Significantly, according to a lawyer, the former Tehran Prosecutor General will have to answer questions not only about his role in a 2008 case in which Abbas Palizdar, supposedly investigating corruption, was himself imprisoned on the charge. Mortazavi may also have to answer for his responsibiity in the summer 2009 case of abuses of detainees at the Kahrizak centre.
ITEM: Ahmad Sadr Haj-Seyed Javadi, the 95-year-old former judge, MP, and Minister of Justice, has written an open letter to the Iranian people, apologising for the unfulfilled promises of the "temporary" Government and advocating democracy as "a doubtless and predetermined necessity". Javadi was part of the Council of the Islamic Revolution, formed by Ayatollah Khomeini on 12 January to manage the Revolution.
The reformist Assembly of Teachers and Researchers of Qom has said that a critique as well as a celebration of the Revolution is necessary. It cited issues such as unemployment, drugs, cultural oppression, a poor economy, bank fraud, and arrests without charges, including the strict house arrests of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi.
SYRIA, RUSSIA AND CHINA
(I recommend today's New York Times as a starter for covering the following items. I just hit on the main points here along with brief analysis).
ITEM: Hours after a day in which Assad's forces massacred 260 people (the current total) in Homs and injured hundreds more, Russia and China have vetoed the UN resolution on Syria. Both are strong supporters of Iran's ruling mullahs as well, while Russia continues to ship arms to Assad to murder more Syrians.
Comment: Both regimes would fall much faster if not for this support but they will fall anyway--most likely Assad first. By taking such positions, Russia and China are behaving shortsightedly. Both are likely to pay a long-run price for their present positions. Consider the consequences:
First. though the end result will be the same anyway, the amount of bloodshed and property destruction will be much greater than would have occurred otherwise. Secondly, the probability of factionalism in Syria is ten times as probable in event of civil war than if Assad resigned and went into exile now--as he probably would if not for those two supporters. Thirdly, when these regimes do fall, the present regimes in China and Russia, if still in place, will be treated as "cold war" hostiles by the new Syrian and Iranian governments. Finally, most Arab states in the Persian Gulf region despise these two regimes (Assad for his slaughter of a Sunni majority, Iran for his repeated and covert schemes of assassination or promoting insurrection) as well and they also may exact a price on any foreign power who supported these tyrannies.
At the NY Times, don't miss the other front page report on Syria entitled, Damascus Avoids Blood of Uprising, but Not Pain. It's also of interest becaus Iran may have to go through the same thing unless the Iran's conservatives turn on Khamenei as an incompetent failure and dump him releasing all political prisoners and leaving all questions open to public change or in event Khomeini's grandson runs for the presidency and wins though the explosion may occur before then if things keep going as they are. There are several more intesting articles in the "world" and opinion section of the Times.
ITEM: Despite bitter cold temperatures in the East, tens of thousands of Russians turned up to protest against Putin's regime.
COMMENT: Once started these things don't go away. The disenchanted never become "re-enchanted." All that happens is their numbers grow as existing grievances go unanswered and police crackdowns increase the total number of dissidents greatly in the long run. For folks like Sirius, who blame the USA for troubles, I've already pointed out the problems in blaming the CIA for such uprisings but in Russia's case one more difficulty with that theory can't be explained away. The majority of the protestors are either Russian nationalists or communists and both hate the West and CIA.
Given the weather, I suspect Putin didn't expect so much though I imagine it kept the demonstrations shorter than otherwise. It raises the question of what will happen when spring arrives. Surely this number will multiply by who knows what number and demonstrrations will be continuous. See my earlier post on why I don't see how the regime can win this battle, why I think Putin will resort to brutal force and where it is likely to lead.
You may want to read or review my earlier predictions on Russia's bleak future if this gets out of hand. Link:
The Washington Post now reports that 80,000 showed up just in Moscow alone and in sub-zero temperatures. If that doesn't sugges something is coming, I'll grab my cat, boil him and enjoy an exotic dinner.
A SCARY BUT PLAUSIBLE REPORT ON EGYPT
In the opinion section, the Times has a analysis suggesting Egypt could become like Pakistan if current events continue. That would be a disaster for oil-less Egypt, whose economy is already foundering, for the West (Al Queda could become embedded there) and for the region including Arab Spring "victors" and Turkey who may be subjected to destabilization by radicals based in Egypt. I do agree that the military and security services and their refusal to give up power are the heart of the problem.
In an unusal plea, an Egyptian Islamist leader is pleading for help from the US and the West and also foresees an impending catastrophe as very possible. Will Egypt become a failed state or, like Pakistan, only a step up from one?
So add Egypt to your list of states worth watching closely.
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