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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.”