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Saturday, May 27, 2006

Not Everything Going Ahmadinejad`s Way

With the threat Iran poses to Israel on the one hand and the possibility for the imposition down the road of yellow badges for Jews on the other, it's possible to lose track of the internal situation in Iran.

Not everything is hunky-dory for Ahmadinejad.

Gateway Pundit reports that as a result of fundamentalist Ahmadinejad taking power in August, there has been unrest in the universities.

He reports that this past week:
* After fighting with police and vigilantes on Wednesday, Tehran University students set their dorms on fire Thursday as protests grew more violent overnight.

* Violence rocked the northern Tabriz region again on Wednesday as up to 16 were reported killed in the clashes including three students.

* Students at Ahwaz University in the southern Khuzistan Province also held protests on Wednesday against the regime.
And there's more than just angry students. Gateway Pundit also quotes from an article in the New York Sun that reports:
In Qom, the theocracy was absorbing the aftershocks of a candid interview from Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, who told an Iraqi news agency that the current Islamic Republic has failed to deliver the democracy it promised in the 1979 revolution.

The stirrings inside Iran are the most serious challenge to befall the mullahs since the protests that accompanied the 2003 commemorations of the July 9, 1999, Tehran University student rebellions. They also suggest the regime that America and Europe are now hoping to cajole into suspending its nuclear program may be more fragile than intelligence agencies recognize.
Iran even suffers from their own cartoon protests. Yahoo News reports there was a riot on Wednesday protesting a cartoon depicting a cockroach speaking Azeri, implying that ethnic Azeris are stupid. Sticking to precedent, just as the Danish cartoons were protested against over 4 months after they appeared, so the protests against the cockroach cartoon didn't happen until over a week later.

If any of this is a result of US instigations--more power to them.

On May 16, Bret Stephens wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal entitled, How to Stop Iran (Without Firing a Shot). Instead of the current diplomacy being used, Stephens suggests:
  • Take the diplomatic offensive. "Western countries must push the internal conflicts inside the Iranian government," says Mehdi Khalaji, an Iranian journalist and visiting scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

  • Target the regime's financial interests. "In many ways, the Islamic Republic of Iran has become the Islamic Republic of Iran, Inc.," says Afshin Molavi, the Iranian-American author of "Persian Pilgrimages." Between 30% and 50% of Iran's economy is controlled by the bunyad, so-called "Revolutionary Foundations" run by key regime figures answerable only to Mr. Khamenei. Hard-line Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, considered to be Mr. Ahmadinejad's spiritual mentor, controls the sugar monopoly, while former President Ali Rafsanjani is said to be the richest man in the country.

  • Support an independent labor movement. On May Day, 10,000 workers took to Tehran's streets to demand the resignation of Iran's labor minister. And despite last year's $60 billion oil-revenue bonanza, the Iranian government routinely fails to pay its civil servants, leading to chronic, spontaneous work stoppages.

  • Threaten Iran's gasoline supply. Iran is often said to have an oil weapon pointed at George Bush's head. Rob Andrews, a Democratic congressman from New Jersey, notes the reverse is closer to the truth: Because Iran lacks refining capacity, it must import 40% of its gasoline. Of that amount, fully 60% is handled by a single company, Rotterdam-based Vitol, which has strategic storage and blending facilities in the UAE. The regime also spends $3 billion a year to subsidize below-market gas prices.
If the US is behind the protests in Iran, perhaps we can look forward to it following some of the other suggestions Stephens offers.

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