These results, for which I am indebted to Potkin Azarmehr, are even worse for Khamenei and Ahmadinejad than the official ones. They are certainly not what we would call “scientific,” but keep in mind that Facebook in Iran is closely monitored by the regime, and anyone who responds online is running the risk of seeing Revolutionary Guards at their door in the middle of the night. But, like those who clicked in on national television’s questionnaire, they want to declare their opposition to the nuclear program, to demonstrate how seriously they are responding to sanctions, and to voice their dissent against regime policies.
Meanwhile, Khamenei’s misery was intensified by various international slaps: the German government’s complaint when an Iranian diplomat reportedly harassed a ten-year-old girl; the Saudi kingdom’s cutoff of visas for Iranian pilgrims; and the formal closings of the British Embassy in Tehran and the Iranian Embassy in London. Also: the extradition of an Iranian terrorist suspect from Malaysia to Thailand; the arrest of two suspected Iranian terrorists in Kenya; and the announcement from British security officials that they fear a revival of Iranian-sponsored terror.
No surprise, then, that the security forces are lashing out — even executing men accused of drinking alcohol — and the war of all against all at the highest levels of the regime continued apace with the arrest of the president’s spiritual advisor. According to Mashregh News, Abbas Ghaffari, spiritual advisor to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai have been sentenced to eight years in prison.
Ghaffari was given five years for blasphemy, two years for insulting Imam Khomeini and the supreme leader, and one year for propaganda against the regime — as well as 99 lashes. If you read the bill of particulars, it sounds very much as if this man of faith was a practitioner of occult rites. Some of his accusers said Ghaffari was “a man with special skills in metaphysics and connections with the unknown worlds” who had “invoked spirits and djinns.”
Nor should anyone be surprised to see the regime — more and more represented by the Revolutionary Guards Corps — flexing its muscles in demonstrations of missiles and issuing dark threats to the world at large, from shutting down the Straits of Hormuz to crushing Israel and American military bases in the event of conflict. Most of this is bluff and bombast; Iran is not about to start a full-scale military conflict with us because they know they will be decimated. If they are attacked, there will probably be some sort of response, but that will depend on what happens inside the country, which is the major concern of the supreme leader and the Guards. The bluff and bluster intends two objectives: it intimidates the Iranian people, and it drives up the price of oil. The former won’t work. The latter always does, at least for a while.