I’ll bet you haven’t seen very much news about Iran during the past week or 10 days, have you? And yet there’s lots of news:
• First of all, there is still no end to the bazaar strike, even though the regime has taken very violent action against the strikers. A large part of the beautiful bazaar in Kerman has been torched (for that matter, regime thugs have taken to setting ablaze large sections of forest land in the region.) Nor will the bazaar strikes end soon, since this week marks religious celebrations that traditionally close the bazaars all over the country.
• The major natural gas pipeline between Iran and Turkey was sabotaged. Enormous damage was done, and the authorities have no estimate as to how long it will be until repair work is finished. Meanwhile the two countries announced plans for a brand-new pipeline.
• Saturday – Sunday night there was a serious fire at the old petrochemical plant on Kharq island. That island is very important to Iran, because it is at once the central point from which Iranian crude oil is exported, and one end of the major pipeline that carries crude and refined products to the mainland. So anything that goes wrong there has immediate consequences both for the national economy and for daily life.
• You may recall that a bit over a week ago, amidst the continuing strikes at major bazaars around the country, there was a double suicide terrorist attack against the mosque in Zahedan, killing nearly 30 revolutionary guards. That unhappy city is still in a state of virtual military occupation, of the most brutal variety. Innocent civilians have been gunned down for the crime of walking at night, and plainclothes killers have gone door to door among the homes of bazaar shopkeepers, killing anyone who answers the bell. Here’s an exceptionally well written report:
The IRI kills the Rigi brothers, a few weeks apart, without proper trial, without even considering the possibility that giving Rigi a death penalty together with a pardon and a life term in prison, will have served the country far better than his death. The IRI is behaving like a savage barbarian; one matching the rogue elements of Jundollah; primitive, uncultured, mercurial!
So Jundollah sends suicide bombers and IRI sends thugs to the streets of Zahedan, the city of kind people, open minded people, mountain and desert people, city of smuggled goodies, city of white Sunni mosques, and dusty parks. The thugs, (the) report says, have been kniving people. These knife thrusters would be of the same ilk that was unleashed on Tehranis in Ashura: they are most likely Ahmadinejad’s products from the “rehabilitation program” that found “convicted criminals” a useful job in the society.
According to local observers, these knife-pushers are the worst of all: they seem to target Balouchis randomly, and beat them up for no reason–further fueling the ethnic resentments and convictions that the Balouch are discriminated against.
• It has been a very hot summer, and the electrical grid in and around Tehran has given up the ghost many times, especially in recent weeks. Not only have citizens suddenly found their lights and air conditioning out-sometimes for half the day or night–but the two big automobile factories have already reduced production by one full shift a day. The president has publicly blamed the problem on foreigners, as is his wont, but his problems are local.
• As the regime increasingly wages war against itself, the comings and goings of seemingly powerful people have become almost impossible to sort out. There have been repeated purges in the ranks of the Revolutionary Guards, and the supreme commander, Gen. Jafari, has now publicly stated that many senior officers had actively sided with the opposition. Why then, the general was asked, had he not punished them properly (with torture and death)? His answer was telling: it’s better to convince them of the error of their ways.
This is a surprising answer, to be sure, but after all it is the same answer that the supreme leader has implicitly given to the much asked question: why have you not properly punished the leaders of the Green Movement, Mousavi and Karroubi? In both cases, the regime is afraid to move decisively against their opponents. Khamenei & Co. are real tough guys when it comes to torturing and killing students, political activists, homosexuals, Bahais, Christians and women. But even when it comes to their favorite targets — the women — they retreat in the face of strong protests, as in the recent case when they suspended the stoning of a poor woman unfairly accused of adultery. Her plight has attracted international attention, and the regime backed off.