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The Iranian Death Spiral Speeds Up

It would be appropriate and helpful for our top officials to speak out on behalf of Iranians murdered and tortured for the "crime" of asking for justice and freedom, and not just of those of their oppressors who get blown up by terrorists.

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are so frightened of the Iranian people that they even deployed thousands of armed thugs to prevent public prayer or other celebration of Ashura, which I believe is a first in the country's history.  They dread any mass gathering, knowing that the country is a mass bomb waiting for a spark to ignite it.  Weeks ago, for example, they banned the traditional mourning for the late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, prompting his son to remark,"they are even afraid of the dead Ayatollah Montazeri and his grave."

Such a regime attempts to control the people by violent intimidation, but knows that the violence is not working.  Ahmad Janati, the secretary of the Guardian Council -- one of the country's most important officials -- confessed explicitly that the regime had failed to crush its opponents:

“The destruction of the Velayat Faghih (rule of the clergy), that of the Islamic revolution, and the basis of Islam and the Quran are among the much coveted aims of the enemy, which are still relentlessly pursued.” Referring to last year's events he added, “This shows up in various occasions: they provoke or deceive any number of people wherever possible, they falsify facts, and the foreign media supports them.”

This is the first time such a high-ranking official of the Islamic republic of Iran admits to the use of suppressive measures against protesters and explicitly states that the protest movement in Iran, known as the Green Movement survives and has not been destroyed.

Earlier this month, the former #2 of the Iranian Parliament, Ali Shakouri-rad, was arrested when he asserted in a public debate that the current head of the judiciary, Ayatollah Larijani, had admitted that the results of the June, 2009 "elections" had been falsified, and that Green Movement leader Mir Hossein Mousavi had actually won.  Shakouri-rad said he had proof, and would present it at an appropriate moment.  He is not the only one.  Ali Akbar Mohtashamipour, the man generally credited with creating Lebanese Hezbollah, recently released a series of five devastating videos of a public presentation in which he recounted chapter and verse of the electoral fraud.  The videos are in Farsi, but I now have a full translation, and the details are devastating.  These videos have by now circulated widely in Iran, and if the regime were as strong as its leaders pretend, they would move against him.  But they don't, any more than they do against Mousavi, or his firebrand wife, or their colleague Mehdi Karroubi.

Instead, they have decided to strangle the Iranian people by replacing the long-standing subsidies of gasoline, water, electricity and food staples with direct bank transfers to individual citizens.  As Ahmadinejad announced Sunday, the price of gasoline will be quadrupled, and flour will cost forty times as much as it did in the past.  Per usual, armed men deployed around the country to guard against public protest (but there was none, predictably.  The opposition is working for regime implosion, not a big street battle).  Everybody knows what this means:  people on the OK list will get the money (as long as it lasts), while those on the Enemies list will be squeezed and starved.  It won't work;  this regime cannot possibly manage such a program.  In short order we will be treated to many stories about furious, freezing and hungry people.

And the sanctions are squeezing THEM.  Recent reports suggest that Iran has reduced its payments to Hezbollah by more than forty percent.

If only there were a Western leader with the prescience and courage to support the Greens, we would find many terrible problems a lot easier to manage:  Iraq and Afghanistan would go better, the tyrant Chavez and his "Bolivarian" Axis of Latin Evildoers would be weakened, and the misnamed "peace process" might even have a chance.

But no.  This is an era of weak Western leadership, as we all know.  We'll get there eventually, but it's going to be a lot slower and a great deal tougher than necessary.

UPDATE:  As advertised, the regime executed eleven prisoners in Zahedan on Monday the 20th.  And those are just the ones they told us about...

SORRY, make it twelve.