While most of the world’s attention has focused Iran’s nuclear weapons program and its threats to the West, there are other “goings on” in Iran not front and center in the media’s coverage of the terrorist state. The protests against the current regime that began last June with the stolen election are still going on. In fact the opposition is spreading in the streets, in prisons, and even in the military.
According to a report in the WSJ, the present regime of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in trouble, not only has the government lost legitimacy in the eyes of the public, their ability to fight the problems facing the country has led to leaders who are openly fighting each other.
A few weeks ago
Here are some examples:
- The Iranian air force shot down three drones near the southwestern city of Bushehr, where a Russian-supplied nuclear reactor has just started up. When the Revolutionary Guards inspected the debris, they expected to find proof of high-altitude spying. Instead, the Guards had to report to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei that the air force had blasted Iran’s own unmanned aircraft out of the sky.
- In late July, Mohammad Ali Jaffari, commander of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, the regime’s Praetorian Guard, admitted publicly that many top officers were supporters of the opposition Green Movement. Shortly thereafter, according to official government announcements, some 250 officers suddenly resigned. In the past weeks, several journalists from the Guards’ FARS news agency have defected, some to France and others to the United States.
- Iran has suffered a series of attacks against its petroleum industry. As Iranian media reported (detailed in the London Telegraph), a pipeline to Turkey was blown up last month, most likely by Kurdish oppositionists. Soon afterwards there was an explosion in a natural gas pipeline near Tabriz. That was followed by a spectacular blast at the Pardis petrochemical plant in Assalouye, which—being a major facility for converting natural gas to fuel for vehicles—is central to Iranian efforts to cope with the new United Nations, U.S. and European Union sanctions against refined petroleum products.
- Unemployment last month reached 15% and is as high as 45% in some regions. In Tehran, health officials warned pregnant women and mothers of young children not to drink the water. Electrical failures are widespread. Taxi drivers have been striking around the country this summer, some because of the long lines at gas stations and others because of a shortage of compressed natural gas.
- As these pressures have mounted, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei—against whom Iranians chant “Death to the Dictator!” at public gatherings and nightly from their rooftops—has sought to reaffirm his authority. Late last month he issued a fatwa declaring that his opinions had a status equal to those of the prophet Mohammed. The fatwa caused such consternation that it was removed from his website, then quietly returned a few days later.
- Mr. Khamenei issued a broad fatwa against music. “It’s better that our dear youth spend their valuable time in learning science and essential and useful skills and fill their time with sport and healthy recreations instead of music,” he declared. Only “Western music” had previously been banned by Mr. Khamenei, and Iranian youth reacted with predictable hostility. In the days that followed, a Canadian-made remix of the 1979 Pink Floyd song “Another Brick in the Wall” went viral on the Internet with the new chorus, “Hey Ayatollah, leave those kids alone.”
- President Ahmadinejad has also tried to buttress his popular support, first by claiming that “stupid Zionists” were trying to kill him, and then by putting out a story—which few in Iran took seriously—of an assassination attempt on his motorcade. As usual, the “report” went through various iterations: first it was a grenade, then a firecracker, then nothing at all.
I guess he should be lucky that its only the STUPID Zionists if the smart Zionists went after him he would be dead by now.
These various debacles have strengthened the Green Movement, and opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi continue to launch serious verbal attacks on the regime. When the head of the powerful Guardian Council recently accused the Greens of receiving money from the Saudis and the Americans, Mr. Karroubi gave him the back of his hand: “If I am a conspirator because I object [to the rigged presidential election], then you are a partner of those who stole this nation’s vote and are disloyal to the nation.”
To add insult, Zahra Rahnavard, Mr. Mousavi’s firebrand wife, wryly commented that the accusation would “make a cooked chicken laugh.” Mr. Mousavi himself said that the Islamic Republic has become worse than the shah’s regime, because “religious tyranny is the worst form of tyranny.”
Challenges to the regime now come even from prisoners. When Mr. Ahmadinejad challenged Barack Obama to a debate this month, a Green Movement website reported with grim admiration that five journalists in Tehran’s infamous Evin Prison had invited Mr. Ahmadinejad to come to jail and debate them.
As Michael Ledeen laid out above, the despotic regime ruling Iran today is facing serious challenges both from within and without. The people are angry and feel their government is illegitimate. Those sanctions approved by the security council and added to by the US congress are having an affect on the regime, maybe not to get them to consider to change their ways, but it is making life more difficult for the Iranian citizens already fed up with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad perhaps giving increased momentum to the revolutionary forces. Sanctions need to be enforced to be effective. The US must strictly enforce the sanctions against Iran to help the the Iranian “Green Revolution” reach the tipping point and rid themselves of the oppressive regime that still terrorizes them every day.