Faster, Please!

Groucho Plays Tehran

The Islamic Republic looks more and more like a Marx Brothers creation. The leaders proclaim themselves invincible, but just offstage, we can hear the sounds of breaking crockery.

For starters, the currency is crashing — Iran may well be the only country in the world in which the dollar is not only gaining strength but is the object of unbridled passion. In the past couple of days some money changers have refused to sell dollars because the market is just too volatile.  As RFE/RL tells us:

the rial declined 13 percent against the dollar last week as demand for the U.S. currency soared among businessmen and ordinary people. On September 29, the rial was 12,500 to the dollar; a week earlier, a dollar was worth 10,500 rials.

Even Iran’s loyal Syrian allies are unwilling to take a chance on the rial; Syrian merchants have been refusing Iranian money in their shops.

For those who would take refuge in gold, forget it; the gold bazaars are on strike all over the country. Take a look at this short video of the bazaar in Hamadan.

It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the country’s leaders do not know how to cope with the economic, social, and political chaos they have created. More and more companies have been given to the military.  Six energy and petrochemical firms were transferred to military control in recent weeks,  in a clear demonstration of the inability of government ministries to do their job.

Instead of addressing the country’s very real problems, Iranian leaders are devoting considerable time and energy to such crucial issues as proper Islamic uniforms for the national women’s soccer team, and new bicycles for women that would avoid attracting men’s attention.

The one thing that the regime does know how to do is repress, and every day actual and suspected dissidents are thrown into jail, where they are lashed and tortured, and often executed. But the opposition is anything but silent. Prisoners are writing detailed accounts from their jail cells, to the great consternation of their oppressors, and the leaders of the Green Movement are more outspoken with every passing day.  Mir Hossein Mousavi, for example, commented on his Facebook page that “converting lying into a method to run the country is the sign of fear as well as the sign of decline; they (totalitarians)  not only are afraid of the street rallies and demonstrations, but they are even frightened by the green wristbands of artists, athletes and youth.”

Mousavi then called out Ahmadinejad, defying him to test his claim of great popularity by asking the Iranian people what they think of his policies:

Who has given you such a permission to put the country’s vote against the whole world with your adventurous policies and tyranny and create such dire conditions in economical and political affairs of the country? Don’t cry “Hurray” for yourselves! Hold a referendum, and see whether people support these destructive policies or not!

Pro-Green clerics have directed similar criticism against Supreme Leader Khamenei.  Ayatollah Dastgheib, a member of the Council of Experts, accused Khamenei of violating the Constitution by illegally exercising power he does not hold.

the only duties of someone selected by the Assembly of Experts are “…to coordinate the efforts of the three branches of government and to prevent the violation of citizens’ rights by the three branches.”… Dastgheib asserts, “This person … has no right to interfere in the affairs of the people.”

No wonder, then, that the regime has been jamming the websites of several senior ayatollahs. And no wonder that Ahmadinejad’s top aide called for clerics to go back into their mosques and leave politics to the politicians.

As Mousavi says, tensions within the regime have now become deep fissures, and as they fight among themselves, the country is going to ruin. It is very hard to imagine that these leaders can effectively assert authority. All can see that these emperors are running around without clothes, the most recent example being the fascinating story of the computer “worm.”  I do not think that we really know anything approaching the real story, but the widespread conviction that some foreign power was able to penetrate the most important computers in the Islamic Republic was profoundly humiliating to Khamenei and Ahmadinejad, who had taken to pounding their chests and declaring that Iran and the United States were the only true superpowers in the world, and that United States would soon collapse. And when the opening of the nuclear reactor at Bushehr was delayed by two or three months, it was easy to imagine that this was the result of sabotage by the worm.

Groucho would undoubtedly have said that in the Islamic Republic even the worms are turning against the regime.

This dreadful regime is the laughing stock of most Iranians, and to its credit the Obama administration declared that the latest round of sanctions was the result of the regime’s abominable treatment of its own citizens. But not a single administration official has called for regime change in Tehran;  that was left to Senator Lieberman, who called for support for the Iranian opposition.  A lonely voice, but at least it is a clear call.  Revolution is the best hope to end the rule of the murderous band of fanatics that kills Americans every day.  And the best hope for revolution is for the West to support it.

Faster, please.