Infernal Iran; The Death Spiral Accelerates
Let's start with economics. Here are three recent tweets:
- Updates on Iran's economic situation: The price of bread has increased six-fold since subsidies slashed;
- Iran's Energy Ministry: The price of electricity for households will soon be quadrupled;
- Bank Melli & Mellat have told AN (Ahmadinejad) if they don't receive funds within 4 days, they'll be bankrupt.
And here are some data on Ahmadinejad's accomplishments from a Farsi web site:
- 47% under poverty line.
- 75% of all projects started remain unfinished&halted.
- Average inflation of 20%.
- Budget submitted one month late.
- Welfare under $20 aftr promising $70 during elections.
- Gov employees raises granted days before the election are now deduced in installments on paychecks.
- Failure to submit progress reports & answer to legal authorities for the past 4 years.
- No inflation-adjusting raises of Gov employees salaries & benefits.
So it shouldn't surprise anyone that people are racing to the banks to get their rials and toumans out, and convert them to some harder currency. But the banks won't give them all their money; withdrawals are limited to $15,000 per account, and there have been many angry scenes. The people know that the rulers are shipping out their own wealth, and they hear terrible rumors about the impending failure of major banks.
A Tweet: "Bank Melli security guard fires at people, injures old man"
This bespeaks a far broader malaise, a slow descent of the Iranian state into the inferno. As Ahmad Alavi, a thoughtful economist, put it, the state now faces a crisis of legitimacy. The people are acting on the basis of their experience, and, lacking reliable information and confidence, the only way they have to conserve their assets is to take it from the bank.
It is all part of Iran's descent into Hell. Deutsche Welle tells the story of a man who died. His friends and family choose a tomb for him at the Behest-e-Zahra cemetery. It costs 25 million toumans, payable in cash. There's more than enough money in the family account to cover it, but the bank will only give 2 million in cash. Friends raise another 3 million, and the poor soul is buried in a tomb one-fifth of what the family desired.
And what do the mullahs do? They yell about epiphenomena.
A Tweet: "Shariatmadari (who runs Kayhan, a daily linked to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei) attacks head of Central Bank for extending deadline 2 take banknotes w/ slogan out of circulation."
In case you don't get the reference, the Greens--who are demonstrating a sense of humor unique in modern revolutionary history--have been writing anti-regime slogans on the banknotes. So the regime, which can't take a joke, ordered all such money removed.
But the regime fears its people, and thrashes vainly to prevent them from maintaining contact with the free world. Khamenei issued a fatwa on January 24th "reiterating the religious ban on buying satellite dishes and viewing broadcasts via them."
This is how to earn the contempt of the people. Indeed, it's how to earn the contempt of your own children. It now emerges that the son of Ali Larijani, former chief negotiator with the infidels and now speaker of Parliament, was arrested during the last wave of demonstrations, and only released the next day when the security forces discovered who he was. As a friend of mine put it, the leaders have to chain their children at home when anti-regime confrontations start.
As the regime loses its grip, fractures are appearing in the ranks of the security forces, Khamenei and Ahmadinejad's line of defense against the revolutionary surge. Fox News tells us that twenty to thirty percent of the national police--under the control of the Revolutionary Guards--have been dismissed (we're talking about a thousand to fifteen hundred cops out of a total of some five thousand) and replaced by men from outside the major cities. The replacements work for lower wages, and, at least at the outset, are less afflicted by the moral crisis that has led many police to refuse to attack demonstrators, or even join them.
Meanwhile, new labor organizations, as for example the steel workers' union in Isfahan, are springing up to demand workers' pay. These developments are documented in the elegantly named Flying Carpet Institute blog.
Slowly, relentlessly, the regime is dying. But it is taking a lot of good people with it. The recent rise in violence in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan can be tracked back to Tehran. Western intelligence services are aware that Khamenei has given the Revolutionary Guards carte blanche to kill as many infidels as possible, wherever they have the opportunity. And within Iran, they are hanging their children. Listen to my brave friend, Potkin Azarmehr, tell the awful story of a boy executed for a crime he could not have committed (he was actually in prison when the event occurred).
The State Department condemned the recent executions, which is to its credit. But there will be many more hangings and stonings, of Kurds, of Baha'i, of random dissidents. It's time to put this evil regime out of its misery. Help the Iranian people win their freedom, and thereby change the world. Is there no leader in the West who will do it?
UPDATE: Turns out they kill babies too. in utero.