July 19, 2009

“Marg Bar Fascism”

Iran's 1979 revolution devoured its children, as revolutions so often do.

At Open Democracy, Fred Halliday suggests the current upheaval in Iran is, in some ways, an attempt to do it all over again -- and perhaps even get it right this time.

Many who know the modern history of Iran - be they Iranian or someone like myself who followed (and in part witnessed) the events of 1978-79 when the Islamic Republic came into being - will be struck by the many parallels, insights, warnings and differences offered by that earlier moment and the post-election upsurge of 2009. The apparel, slogans and precise demands may seem far apart, but at heart the opposed forces are similar.

The urge to repress, and above all the contempt for the peacefully and democratically expressed views of others, were evident in the first months of the Islamic Republic; they reached a critical point in the mobilisations of summer 1979, when left and liberal forces - seeking to defend press freedom, the rights of women and of ethnic minorities - were confronted by gangs of hizbullahi thugs, mass pro-Khomeini demonstrations, and the newly established pasdaran forces, all determined to subdue the yearnings for such freedom and rights.

I recall, in particular, an educative encounter in August 1979 with a Revolutionary Guard who had come with his colleagues to close down the offices of the independent newspaper Ayandegan. When I asked this pasdar what he was doing, he replied: "We are defending the revolution!". "Why are you therefore closing the paper?", I asked. "This newspaper is shit", he declared. When I suggested that 2 million people read the paper, he replied, without reservation: "All right, then these 2 million people are shit too!" Thus was my induction into the political culture of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards.

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Posted by Michael J. Totten at July 19, 2009 10:43 AM
Comments
The Iranian "left" was quite illiberal in the 1970s. They were also quite violent. And more imprtantly, from my perspective, they supported the seizure of the US Embassy and the taking of our diplomats as hostages as fervently as the Islamists did.
I am under no illusions about the nature of the people leading the opposition in Iran today, nor about the Iranian moderates, nor about the so-called Iranian left. All I'm hoping for is that there are enough people in Iran who want peace and prosperity that something good will come out of movement. Because if the people of Iran want peace and prosperity, it doesn't really matter what their political views are. They can't have a prosperous society when their own people live in fear, and they can't have peace when they are trying to export their revolution across the globe and when they support global terrorism. So, a "peace and prosperity" majority is what I'm keeping in my head when I support the opposition. Maybe it's just wishful thinking in my part that there could be such a majority in Iran, but that's what I'm going with.
Posted by: programmmer_craig at July 19, 2009 1:07 pm
Craig: The Iranian "left" was quite illiberal in the 1970s. They were also quite violent. And more imprtantly, from my perspective, they supported the seizure of the US Embassy and the taking of our diplomats as hostages as fervently as the Islamists did.
Some did and some didn't. Many Iranian leftists, if not most of them, have matured a great deal since 1979. I spent some quality time with several of them and profiled them in Reason magazine here. Take a look.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 19, 2009 1:28 pm
I've matured a great deal since 1979 too, but when my temper gets up you'd never know that! And revolutions tend to get people agitated. Thanks for the link though. I'll check it out, and since I respect your judgment I'll try to apply a smaller grain of salt than what's normal for me :)
Posted by: programmmer_craig at July 19, 2009 2:25 pm
Craig: I've matured a great deal since 1979 too
So have I. I was nine years old then. And I used to be a radical leftist myself. I don't have any grudges against 1970s Iranian leftists. Not only were they among the first victims of Khomeini and his Pasdaran, almost all of them -- if not in fact all of them -- are far closer to my point of view now than they were then.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 19, 2009 2:37 pm
Since revolutionary socialism is defunct and the ayatollah's have managed to so thoroughly discredit not only revolutionary Islam but Islam itself within Iran, the only "model" likely to inspire is some version of the democratic model. Wishing does not, of course, make it so, but the lack of serious ideological competition improves democracy's prospects. As, of course, happened in Eastern Europe in 1989-91. Democracy did not always win, but it mostly did: even if the hope of EU entry did much to consolidate it.
Posted by: Lorenzo at July 19, 2009 2:49 pm
When thugs come in and take over, it's not so easy to get rid of them, again. It's not as if you can hold a fair referendum, and let the citizens decide.
At some point in college, I decided the "root cause" of Marx's theory had to do with his utter contempt for his own mother! He felt entitled to be the king of England. But was introduced to life through the wrong egg and the wrong sperm. He wrote a handbook, just as Saul Alinsky has written one for the USA's 1960s radicals. And, if they grab power? Well, as the expression goes: "Life's not fair." And, America's successful revolution will just become a dream. But one that affects humanity. Doesn't matter if you're Persian. Or russian. (Those poor people never had a chance. They went from peasants to subjects.)
And, China, too. Heading for Collapse. How do I know? I picked up Gordon G. Chang's book. The flaw is in the central planning. The inability to let the marketplace set rules. And, while these "spheres of influence" look so fearsome. The truth is that beating in the breasts of men are hearts just as Thomas Jefferson explained: Seeking revolution only to free themselves from bondage.
Revolutions are not different than marriages. As much hope that goes into them, you rarely come away with something really wonderful. Until you do. Ordinary people. Brave. Fight on.
Central planning is the dog that turns everything to ENTROPY. Starts out playing a good game.
But where's the trust? Glad our dollar bill mentions trust, on its label.
This piece of your's, and your writings in general, are such a wonderful thing to read. And, to look foward to reading. To paraphrase Churchill, we are not at the last act.
Posted by: Carol_Herman at July 19, 2009 6:14 pm
In God We Trust is something our founders did not put on our currency. So before you invoke Jefferson, maybe you should get your history right. And certainly the market place didn't set the rules espoused in out Constitution. You have it backwards.
And as for butterflies, Jefferson was completely wrong in where the French Revolution was flapping its wings. You give lip service to the complexities of reality, but I'm not sure you understand it. Churchill wanted the US to nuke the Soviets because he did not imagine they would ever tear down walls. Yet, today Pravada discusses the menace of AQ that now declares war on China.
Posted by: maxtrue at July 20, 2009 5:50 am
"Yet, today Pravda discusses the menace of AQ that now declares war on China."
Churchill was wrong of cause, but if you think Pravda is doing it on your account, think again.
Russians have no lesser number of reasons to dislike AQ then Americans do.
Rusians were dealing with those guys for over 15 years now, not to mention Afghanistan.
Posted by: leo at July 20, 2009 9:45 am
Of course Leo, not on MY account. I was bringing attention to the fact that even Russia notes AQ's declaration of war on China. Some here think it is not "certain" Russia and China won't see radical Islam as a threat. Now Russia and China have attempted to form Central Asia into a military alliance so they will have to embark on a similar effort that the US has in separating the extremists from more moderate forces if they want to hold this mostly Muslim confederation together. Russia has already branded Pakistan the most dangerous nation on earth, but perhaps we are beginning to see some opportunity here despite a three-way competition between Russia, China and the US. With some tough diplomacy perhaps we could agree at putting the squeeze on radicals including the regime in Iran. China must consider remarks coming out of Turkey. Hillary is certainly sending a signal to India today that military cooperation between India and the US will be robust. Russia and the US supply arms to India and by coming together in dealing with Central Asia, China does not look like the odd man out. Their port project in Pakistan is at risk if extremists succeed in destabilizing the government.
Yes, Churchill did not have the better idea and we can see why some extreme ideas are better left in the trash can of history. And let's be clear, not once when the US had a nuclear monopoly did we extort or threaten the Soviets or Chinese despite many shrill voices advocating death or conversion through force. In the end, liberty's example won the day despite the obvious road left to be traveled. Funny, how some who tout the
Posted by: maxtrue at July 20, 2009 10:40 am
I have read, alas I remember not where; that the unemployment rate in Iran (or is it only in Tehran)? Registers at 40%.
In other words, in defining failures, if not a large scale collapse of Iran's ability to govern itself, it would stand out, if unemployment was astronomically high.
You destroy your middle class environment when men can't get jobs.
Also, just because we don't see what's going on, doesn't mean that within the framework of government, there, it's apparent things are not working.
As to sloganeering? Whose to say all the nuke talk isn't some sort of death wish by a few insane mullahs?
If you want to use russia as an example; you'd see when their Afghanistan problem exploded, the people, themselves, weren't backing what the kremlin was doing.
It's just that you just don't see the "street scenes." While I'm reminded that Daniel Pipe's dad, once visiting Moscow back in the early 1990's, said "he saw a train pull into the station. And, the doors did not open. The russians? Just sat there. This took him by surprise. He said had this been New York City? Passengers on the train would have tried to pull the doors apart,so people who wanted to exit, would be able to do so.
Pipes pointed out that these are behaviors you find in free countries. While he added, "and if it had been Tel Aviv, then the passengers would have ripped the doors out of their sockets.
As to what can happen, ahead? Obama may have to borrow Jimmuh Carter's cartigan. Just to stay warm. I see "successful policies" going down the drain.
I sure wish there was some kinds of confirmation about Iran's high rates of unemployment, however.
Posted by: Carol_Herman at July 20, 2009 1:05 pm
Posting this here because it came in a newsletter I cannot link. Interesting report by Strafor:
"Russia, Ahmadinejad and Iran Reconsidered
by George Friedman | July 20, 2009
At Friday prayers July 17 at Tehran University, the influential cleric and former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani gave his first sermon since Iran
Posted by: maxtrue at July 20, 2009 3:38 pm
Just because you participate in a revolt, doesn't mean diddley.
Back in 1380, the french peasants revolted. The king went out to greet the people, and promised them he'd be a better king. As soon as they left the barricades, the king went back to "business as usual." And, the french didn't revolt, again, till 1799. Oh, boy. This time the king lost his head. And, the guillotine was a busy chopping plaza.
Can you say the french of 1799 were making up for the failures of revolution hundreds of years before?
Iran is going through a process. What I see is that things are not stable.
As a matter of fact, what I found so surprising; because here in the States we've had elections that when you stand in the voting both, both choices look bad. For this reason I expected the Iranians would "just go along" with the "divine outcome." Instead? I think Ahmadinijad is more in hiding than not. I think their mad mullah ayatollah has also run into hiding.
And, there are no guarantees.
Russia? Well the people in the Ukraine know what it feels like to watch the russian bear rolling in their tanks.
Not an issue of "hearts and minds" at all.
While russians, in particular, spend a lot of time minding their own business. What's missing? A sense of "community."
At least when people go up to their roofs to shout in frustration; what you are also learning is that there's a "sense of community," underfoot.
Not a successful revolution yet?
All dictators eventually die and lose their celebrity.
Posted by: Carol_Herman at July 20, 2009 5:21 pm
Carol, it is slightly interesting comparing your remarks to the rather well thoughtout piece from Strafor.
Back to Strafor; perhaps Ahmadinejad's pick for VP was another Russian inspired suggestion to counter what is a clear signal of the emergent Sunni/Israeli nexus.
Posted by: maxtrue at July 20, 2009 5:50 pm
I give the Israeli government, including the Mossad, a lot of credit to be able to survive (and thrive), in one of the world's most hostile environments.
As to the Saud's, so far they've bet the house. And, haven't won anything.
While, yes. Obama ran in trying to give the Saud's the "right to claim" that the sunnis "broke Israel in two." (Is that one-upmanship?) Doesn't look like the Saud's get to "square #2." And, they still have "Maliki to deal with." Where the Iraqis know, among themselves, what is going on.
What the future holds for Ahmadinejad? Sorry, I'm not the Oracle at Delphi. What happens, ahead, when Obama confronts senators from his own party, who are pushing for heavier sanctions on Iran?
It's all above my pay grade, anyway.
Posted by: Carol_Herman at July 20, 2009 7:12 pm
"he was arguing that behind the cover of national self-determination, human rights and commitment to democratic institutions, the United States was funding an Iranian opposition"
If it is not true it is has to be. To pass on an opportunity like that would be paramount of stupidity.
"it could explain some of the efficiency with which Ahmadinejad shut down cell phone and other communications during the postelection unrest, as he may have had Russian advisers."
It is very much possible and also not to interfere would be very stupid on Russia's part as well. One thing though, Ahmadinejad's opponents are not dropping like flies. Either Russians are getting weak or Iranians are too squeamish. And another thing, unrest in Iran is not totally bad for Russians. My guess, they would like to see greater escalation so it would begin affecting oil prices, but they would prefer Ahmadinejad to stay in control at the same time.
"If a Russian-Iranian entente emerges out of all this which at the moment is merely a possibility, not an imminent reality then the United States would have some serious strategic problems on its hands."
Yes, it is possible. But at the same time sale of S-300s may force Israeli hand, which may not be what Russians want. Russians cannot afford escalation of current Cold war, not while being dirt poor and having China breathing down their neck and drooling over huge chunk of South-Eastern Siberia and Far East.
Posted by: leo at July 20, 2009 7:16 pm
Carol: I don't mean to insult you, but will you please write grammatically correct sentences? Your "style" is giving me a headache. Thank you.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 20, 2009 7:18 pm
There were lots of Iranians at Utah State University during the Iranian revolution because the school excelled in irrigation engineering. I remember fights and demonstrations/counter-demonstrations during that time. I also remember sharing a pitcher of beer with several of them in the local basement dive and telling them that the witch hunts would lead to no good. So history teaches. But no one seems to read history.
Posted by: chuck at July 20, 2009 7:49 pm
Michael,
You've got me thinking about how constipated my own writing style can get when I'm too tightly focused on content, and it doesn't flow because I've forgotten the reader's perspective. A teacher once told me Ernest Hemingway annoyed her because she thought his style went beyond concise to stingy.
Posted by: Paul S. at July 20, 2009 8:55 pm
@chuck:
"So history teaches. But no one seems to read history."
Sure, we do. But none of the decision-makers listen to us.
Posted by: gus3 at July 20, 2009 9:07 pm
Ahmedinejad and Khamenei are real clowns. Right now they achieved a sort of "cleric" cleansing. Many clerics from Qom left for Najaf - for more safety.
Fatwas issued against Ahmadinejad are also crippling this regime.
The Iranian cartoons show Khamenei as a Shah.
How many want to invest in those guys? Even real thugs must be quite modest in their expectations.
Posted by: Czechmade at July 21, 2009 4:03 am
Please tell me what sort of policies the USA is pursuing; espcially when Obama spouts his rhetoric; that has anything to do with Iran's continued interest in developing nuclear warheads?
The technology Iran has obtained has come from North Korea and Pakistan. And, Russia has also "lent technology" to this quest. Lots of people are living under regimes where they have no influence at all!
While it's possible, the threat of Iran actually reaching the stage of having operational nuclear warheads wouldn't "just wipe Israel off the map." It would do damage to Obama. Who finds himself facing an American public that's losing trust in his "solutions."
It also hides from view the real threat to Saudi Arabia. While you can't fool me. There's real "war drumming" underfoot. Where the Shi'a, finally, want to destroy the Saud's. Sure. It seems impossible.
But it is just as "impossible" to believe that in democratic Israel, because the settler's control an arm of the functioning government; you just can't get to a "coalition" that is a stabilized government, without seeing that Bibi Netanyahu is limited in what he can do "for" Obama.
While Obama? What if the problem lurks within the democratic party, iself? What if, by and large, most Americans are moderate. And, most politicians are not?
It's worse in Iran. In Iran millions are being exposed to the insanities of a few. While it is possible that the last election, there, blew some sort of hole into the governing fabric? What if religious leadership cannot be counted on to be rational actors?
You think Obama understood that his rhetoric might involve him with some unexpected blow back? Plus, how come no arab state steps forward to rescue Obama, now; giving him a few carrots he could offer Netanyahu?
What happens when Iranian nukes come closer to coming on line?
Posted by: Carol_Herman at July 21, 2009 8:46 am
Leo.
Let's assume Strafor's worst fears of Russian and Iranian complicity.
First the Map
What does it mean that Hizb'Allah was caught trying to plant terror in Azerbaijan. Would that assist Russia in their leverage with an erratic former satellite?
With competition forming over alternative pipelines for gas running through Turkey what is Russia hoping for in Iraq given the past Kurdish/Syrian pipeline?
To what degree is the administration resting on shaky ground by using Russia for supplies to Afghanistan? Do you have confidence that the increasing rally of fix wing and helicopter crashes there are not something more sinister than "accidents".
Israel recently sold drone technology to Russia in a bid to change Russian thinking regarding air defense systems bound for Iran. Was that effective, or another play by Putin to wrestle more gifts from the West with little in return?
What counter moves would you suggest including deals with China? Would a commitment to place serious missile defense in Israel be smart. Aegis docked of the Israeli coast? Increasing pressure using new Nato memberships? Reversing dual use policies in Eastern Europe?
It didn't sound like Obama got anything from his trip to Moscow. Was it effective to declare the end to the Cold War despite the events Obama is sure to have read in his daily briefings? In fact, the week following his trip tensions flared off the coast of Georgia. How significant is missile defense to Russian strategic thinking. I note their bravado about a Raptor-like fighter they say is on its way (most experts question both the design and reality).
In short, what if anything would you advise the administration to do in this game of chess or has the multi-polar world completely baffled the O-team, Israel and their collective intelligence agencies?
Posted by: maxtrue at July 21, 2009 9:19 am
Leo, added to the questions I asked you that will likely appear below once Michael fishes them out of the spam folder, let me throw some items from today's news into the mix.
1. Iranian protestors as the BBC reports this morning (why I don't know) are planning to turn off their electricity use in mass and then turn on everything that uses a lot of watts in an attempt to black out cities and give their protests the cover of darkness. I'm not sure that the Russians can thwart that, but utilities are probably under intense security.
2. From Debka: "A high-ranking Russian navy source reported July 21 that the Soviet-era naval maintenance base near Tartus in Syria is to be expanded and modernized to become "fully operational." DEBKAfile's military sources report that Russian is building the facility up as its main sea base for operations in four seas: The Atlantic and Indian Oceans and the Mediterranean and Red Seas. The upgrade of Russian port facilities at Tartus, its only foothold in the Mediterranean, will automatically enhance Moscow's strategic interests in Syria and Bashar Assad's regime.
The Russian source said that the 50 naval personnel and three berthing floats currently deployed at Tartus with accommodation for up a dozen warships will be beefed up with a new berthing float delivered by two tugboats from the Black Sea Fleet. DEBKAfile's sources disclose that those warships will include large vessels such as the nuclear-armed guided missile cruiser Peter the Great and the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, which called in at Tartus in January.
In September 2008, DEBKAfile first disclosed that the Russian Navy commander Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky and his Syrian counterpart Gen. Taleb al-Barri, had signed contracts for converting Tartus into one of Russia's most highly-developed naval infrastructures outside its territory. Its warships based there will capable of reaching the Red Sea through the Suez Canal and the Atlantic through the Strait of Gibraltar in a matter of days. For original disclosures click HERE and HERE.
Israel is deeply concerned, according to our military sources, by the sophisticated air-defense S-300PMU-2 and Iskander-E missile systems the Russians propose to hand Syria on the pretext of installing a shield to defend the facility against air or missile attack. Moscow claims they will remain under the control of Russian crews but, according to information reaching Israel, they will be quietly and gradually handedover to the Syrian army; the Russian teams are in fact instructors.
Russia justifies this, according to DEBKAfile's Moscow sources, by the deployment of the highly sophisticated American FBX-T missile-interception radar systems at the Israeli Negev base of Nevatim.
Furthermore, Moscow will have its rejoinder for the disputed US deployment of missile interceptors in Eastern Europe. As we reported last September, the Russian Black Sea fleet and new Mediterranean-based warships will coordinate their operations under a single command. They are designed as counter-deployments to the post-Georgian-war US and NATO naval presence in the Black Sea as well as its fleets in other parts of the Mediterranean including Israel's shores."
As Obama is reported to be mulling over shuffling advisors in a revamp of his Middle East strategy, perhaps a new missile Defense initiative based in Israel would be a good counter to Russian meddling.
Posted by: maxtrue at July 21, 2009 9:58 am
Bloomberg has a take quite different than Strafor and seems to miss the news posted above coming out of Russia.
Perhaps Russia is picking up the slack for Ahmadinejad who has his hands full.
Same reality observed, but very different views.
Posted by: maxtrue at July 21, 2009 1:56 pm
"What does it mean that Hizb'Allah was caught trying to plant terror in Azerbaijan."
Probably nothing. Most likely that HA is looking for ways to restore itself as Divine Glorious Resistance by trying to avenge(?) Mugnea's murder. Calm and peace are deadly for these guys. HA has no tracking in Azerbaijan, Iran is not exactly loved over there and there is a lot of Jewish influence as well. Russians are too smart and too careful to bet on a shot, which is longer than long.
"To what degree is the administration resting on shaky ground by using Russia for supplies to Afghanistan?"
I am not aware of Russia being used in this fashion. And if true I see nothing wrong with this type of cooperation. If US succeeds in Afghan Russia might feel jealous of American success, but emotions aside both stand to win.
"Israel recently sold drone technology to Russia in a bid to change Russian thinking regarding air defense systems bound for Iran."
And to remind Obama that he is not the only one in this beautiful world. BTW, I do not recall news of Israel finalizing drone deal with Russia. Did I miss it?
"What counter moves would you suggest including deals with China? Would a commitment to place serious missile defense in Israel be smart. Aegis docked of the Israeli coast? Increasing pressure using new Nato memberships? Reversing dual use policies in Eastern Europe?"
I am not sure who this question is related to. Perhaps if you could rephrase.
"It didn't sound like Obama got anything from his trip to Moscow."
I do not know what you expected to get out of it. I am not sure why Obama went over there, but if it was solely about nukes then he has no clue what he is doing. Nukes have limited shelf life, on average of 30 to 50 years. Every year Russia and US are forced to decommission old nukes by dozens if not hundreds. To maintain deterrence factor at very least one must be able to replace equal numbers of those nukes, which were decommissioned. Russia does not have money to do this. I say, do not go to Moscow on fool's errand. Be patient and let Nature take its course. Soon enough Russians will not be able to scare even Chinese with their nukes. Besides, nukes are not everything nova days anyway.
"In short, what if anything would you advise the administration to do in this game of chess"
Mostly nothing. I am big fun of implicit action. Regimes like Iran or Russia always shoot themselves in the foot sooner or later. Just do not forget to keep oil prices down and everything will fall into place soon enough.
My apologies for not replying to your second post. Very long for my lazy gluteus maximus.
Posted by: leo at July 21, 2009 7:08 pm
Hi Leo,
Thanks for the response, but before I get to your replies first let me post some news from today's headlines as it is rather interesting.
First, another conflict has broken out. I mentioned the possibility Russia may have suggested Ahmadinejad's VP pick, but then again he is related to Ahmadinejad's family through marriage. Now the Supreme leader is rejecting his pick though Ahmadinejad does not appear at the moment to do following his sponsor's advice. I wonder where Starfor would place this possible split on the "new generational" side.
The other headline is that Hillary Clinton appears to have accepted the likely aquiring of nukes by Iran. This has already produced some butterflies in Israel and I'm not sure her assurances to Israel of a nuclear umbrella are reassuring. I wonder if the Saudis like this either, or whether "denuclearization" is a realistic option.
As to your responses Leo, here is some info on UAVs.
I am sure you are aware Russia agreed to allow a supply route to NATO in Afghanistan which may give them a bit of leverage. This comes after the Russian press was quite bitter about US renewal of an air base lease in Central Asia, an area the Russian press claims is their not-to-be-messed-with back yard.
I was referring to what counter moves you see in thwarting Russia. Countering their build up in Syria could be off set by a new push to build advance missile defense in Poland AND Israel. Not likely by this administration. We could even allow nuclear enrichment again in those liberated Eastern European countries we banned after the wall came down. Sadly, at the present rate the Orange revolution may not survive the next election.
There might even be a way to play China in this regard of Russian offsets in the Central Asian region and their bid to prop up Ahdmadinejad.
Keep oil prices down also means waiting for Iran to test a bomb and then oil prices will rocket. By that logic, I suppose you are saying any Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities is a very bad idea given the map.
Posted by: maxtrue at July 22, 2009 6:09 am
Leo, I can't seem to findhere I saw the actual link to confirmation of UAV sales to Russia from China. My links seem to run out the end of June.
Israeli drones sales and Russian air defense to Iran
This is an usual dance of which underscores another serious strategic realtionship below.
Arrow and Iron Dome
I wonder however, what the Russians, Israelis, Iranians and even the Chinese (who are fielding an anti-ship missile) think of Obama's present course. (see below)
One cannot say this Obama critic is a Conservative.
Posted by: maxtrue at July 22, 2009 12:25 pm
Now the Supreme leader is rejecting his pick though Ahmadinejad does not appear at the moment to do following his sponsor's advice. I wonder where Starfor would place this possible split on the "new generational" side.
I'm starting to wonder if the whole client/sponsor thing between AJ and Khamanei may be backwards? I've read over the last few years that AJ has substantial support in the IRGC and Basij, and that while he was President he moved aggressively to increase that. It seems Khamanei didn't really have much to lose by just letting one of the other candidates win, since he approved them all. Maybe this has been a powerplay by AJ all along, and Khamanei is odd man out? It seems the people are against Khamanie, and the clerics are only supporting him reluctantly. Without the IRGC, what does he have besides a losing hand?
Posted by: programmmer_craig at July 22, 2009 1:28 pm
Craig,
I was thinking about a variation of your speculation. Various clerical elements do seem to have put Ahmadinejad in power. Reading the actual debate between him and Mousavi does support Strafor's analysis, but I think you might be on to something.
Ahmadinejad knows how bitter the people are right now, especially the
Posted by: maxtrue at July 22, 2009 3:35 pm
"I am sure you are aware Russia agreed to allow a supply route to NATO in Afghanistan which may give them a bit of leverage. This comes after the Russian press was quite bitter about US renewal of an air base lease in Central Asia, an area the Russian press claims is their not-to-be-messed-with back yard."
Yes, you are correct. I missed that news. Russians agreed to allow US weapons to pass through Russian territory via air and land. However, I suspect, it is not the most favorite US solution, for dealing with Russia might prove too expensive in the long run. If Pakistan will be able rein in Taliban in its Western regions then US might try not to exercise Russian option after all.
I was referring to what counter moves you see in thwarting Russia. Countering their build up in Syria could be off set by a new push to build advance missile defense in Poland AND Israel. Not likely by this administration. We could even allow nuclear enrichment again in those liberated Eastern European countries we banned after the wall came down. Sadly, at the present rate the Orange revolution may not survive the next election.
I do not think anybody will be able to answer this question, nor I think Russia must be thwarted. I'd rather Russia could become our friend. A lot to gain for both. As to Syrian NAVY base deal. Talk of it goes on for a number of years now and nothing is being done. Nothing was done even when economical situation was much more favorable to Russia than today. Look, Russia's self-esteem is hurt. They went from something very big and very important to something practically nothing in a span of less than one generation. Can you imagine how it must be for people like Putin who were used to see World tremble after just simple mention of SU and today they are passing as drunken impotents and dirty beggars. To fix that Russia does what Russia knows how to do best, being nasty MF. Plus a lot of bluff too, like that Syrian NAVY base and strategic bombers fly-bys.
Keep oil prices down also means waiting for Iran to test a bomb and then oil prices will rocket. By that logic, I suppose you are saying any Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities is a very bad idea given the map.
Well. Que sera, sera. And I believe that "any Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities is a very bad idea", period. First, Ahmadinejad is scared and he is trying to hide it behind veneer of defiance and crazy talk. Second, Ahmadinejad and his Mullahs are goners regardless of Russian support. It may not happen today, but it will be very soon. Third, Iran has a potential to become the greatest Israeli and US ally in the region once crazies are taken care of. I would've just kept applying the pressure and waited for it to pop.
"Leo, I can't seem to find here I saw the actual link to confirmation of UAV sales to Russia from China. My links seem to run out the end of June."
I was able to open your link. It says there is $53M agreement to sell 10 drones to Russia in exchange for Russia NOT selling their S-300 systems to Iran. I could not understand whether agreement was finalized or not, but it should not matter. If Russians will keep their end of the bargain it would be mutually beneficial for both sides.
"I wonder however, what the Russians, Israelis, Iranians and even the Chinese think of Obama's present course."
I really do not know. I would suspect Israelis would not like him very much at this point and Russians probably view him as their pigeon. Cannot say much about Iranians and Chinese though. Obama does appear as rather naive, but it may be just an appearance (or so I hope).
Posted by: leo at July 23, 2009 6:48 am
Leo,
Thanks for your responses. I do not know what your background is, but your comments are usual sensible sounding. If you are right about Ahmadinejad however, he may get rash and perhaps Israel may risk taking out certain facilities such as the heavy water one. If they can do this with impunity, it could be a loud signal. The failure Monday of the Arrow II missile system in the Pacific may actually increase Israeli fears exponentially in the short term as it will take Iran some time to produce their solid propellant missiles in any quantity.
I hate to keep picking your brain, but do you have any insight on Ahmadinejad's refusal to date regarding his VP? Or is this just a diversion?
Last, in regard to tactics we could use to increase the butterfly of revolution in Iran, do you think 1. serious pressure on Germany to reduce exports/imports to Iran, and/or 2. reducing gasoline exports to Iran would be helpful?
While I too, would like to see Russia and the US coming together, their behavior speaks against this. I do suspect their economic situation will derail their carrier fantasies, new fighter programs, restoration of their submarine strength (perhaps the basis for their Missile Defense fears), and even fixing their new ballistic missile program ASAP. One rumor for their withholding deployment of their S-300 systems to Syria and Iran is that some Israeli experts claim Israel has a way to exploit its alleged vulnerabilities and thus would seriously damage Russia's military reputation. This compounded by Russia shooting down several of their own air craft in Georgia might give them pause. Still, with the threat of Russia supplying Iran, I think taking the Raptor off the table for the 1.7 billion involved in such leverage by keeping production lines open sends a signal we are not going to produce a Raptor bomber "designed for the Cold War" that could penetrate such defenses. Perhaps such a sale by Russia to Iran would be a red line, though I am not sure Iran would be paying quickly in cash.
Thanks again for the replies.
Max NYC
Posted by: maxtrue at July 23, 2009 8:53 am
"I hate to keep picking your brain, but do you have any insight on Ahmadinejad's refusal to date regarding his VP? Or is this just a diversion?"
Not a clue what so ever. Although I doubt serious disagreement between "think-alikes". Given Ahmadinejad's choice of VP most likely it is minor disagreement of personal nature rather than systematic failure. They will eventually settle one way or the other.
"Last, in regard to tactics we could use to increase the butterfly of revolution in Iran, do you think 1. serious pressure on Germany to reduce exports/imports to Iran, and/or 2. reducing gasoline exports to Iran would be helpful?"
Anything US and Israel will choose to do at this point must be very hush-hush or else it will backfire. Pressuring of Germany would probably look too obvious unless it is through UN, maybe even then.
Likewise, thank you very much for interesting conversation.
Posted by: leo at July 23, 2009 10:36 am
The following link is to MESH . There, after the post called Summer Reading 2009, you will find a series of articles regarding Israel, Iran and Russia in the context discussed above.
One short post talks about the willingness of Russia to be more helpful in Iran if the US gives them space regarding Georgia. That didn't seem to turn out well. Another article discusses why Russia's strategic interest is to prevent improvement in US-Iranian relations. One writer, bases his views on extensive travels to the region.
Last, there is an article offering some options of what to do about Iran now. Some of these ideas, Leo has already commented on as being a bit beyond hush hush. I assume out not "meddling" overtly is based on the belief that the Iranian people would come together and oppose such meddling, though I am not sure that is what Leo meant, or that would in fact happen. Michael's links to bloggers showed some Iranians want us to stop gasoline exports or other measures that could cripple the regime.
Posted by: maxtrue at July 24, 2009 10:26 am
Not exactly how like minded people work things out quietly.
Posted by: maxtrue at July 24, 2009 10:55 am
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