The Iranian Mess (UPDATED)
The chimpanzee has returned to Tehran, where he is unlikely to have as much fun as he did in New York. Thanks to the New York Post, we now know that in between blaming America for the 9/11 terrorist attack, Ahmadinejad had an unannounced dinner with Black Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan. Wouldn’t you love to have a transcript of their conversation?
One will get you ten that there were other unannounced meetings as well. One of the supreme leader’s favorite newspapers has announced the arrival in Tehran of a delegation from Oman to facilitate the release of the remaining two American hikers from imprisonment. If that is true, the deal was undoubtedly hammered out during Ahmadinejad’s sojourn in New York.
Back home, he is facing a new round of strikes in the bazaars, where the gold sellers have shut down their shops around the country, from Tehran to Torbat Haydariyeh, Nayshabour, Sabzevar, Isfahan, Tabriz and Shiraz, to protest against the rising taxes. And he is still in the midst of a battle over the political system; he claims that he is superior to Parliament, and that he is in charge of foreign policy. The elected representatives reject the first, and the supreme leader will not accept the second. So the chimpanzee is now fighting on three fronts, as well as facing a mounting barrage of criticism from the opposition Green Movement.
You may recall that the green leaders feared they would be arrested when Ahmadinejad returns from his boffo performance at the United Nations, and in order to impress the leadership with the strength of their mass following, they called on the people to chant every night from their rooftops. The chants of “Allah o Akbar” and “Death to the Dictator” have been very loud, and Mousavi and Karroubi have hammered away at the illegitimacy of the regime. Will the regime risk an open confrontation with millions of their own people? And if it does, how will the people respond? Nobody really knows, and in all likelihood there is a lot of heated rhetoric in the corridors of power at this very moment, between those who fear that a direct move against Mousavi and Karroubi would result in a very violent civil war, and those who fear that failure to move would produce the implosion of the regime.
Meanwhile, the Revolutionary Guards have killed some 30 Kurds in reprisal for the bomb that went off on a military base in Mahabad a week ago. It seems that the action actually took place across the Iraqi border, yet another violation of Iraqi sovereignty.
Then there is the fascinating story of the computer “worm” that, according to numerous publications, penetrated tens of thousands of official Iranian computers. Government officials in Iran stoutly maintain that no serious damage has been done, but then they would say that no matter what the truth was. It seems very unlikely to me that a regime as notoriously inefficient as the Islamic Republic could have an accurate assessment of what took place, but it is certainly convenient to be able to blame the usual suspects in Washington and Jerusalem for the regime’s failure to produce a nuclear warhead after 21 years of working on it. Perhaps they will soon blame the “worm” for the long lines at gas stations (to a limit of less than 16 gallons a month), and the rising food prices.
It’s fascinating, but it’s a mess.