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Iran: Backlash

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20200116.aspx

January 16, 2020:

The economic sanctions and successful efforts to block Iranian oil smuggling continue to cripple the economy. GDP shrank about 4.2 percent in the last year and is expected to shrink 7.2 percent in the coming year. Reserves of foreign currency, needed to pay for imports, are down to $73 billion, a third less than two years ago. The unem0loyment rate is headed for 20 percent and more Iranians are finding themselves with a lower standard of living. Meanwhile more videos appear showing the families of the ruling clerics and senior IRGC officers enjoying affluent lifestyles, often while vacationing outside Iran. Because of the recent Iranian missile attacks on American bases in Iraq the U.S. has imposed more economic sanctions, further reducing economic activity in Iran.

Government Sponsored Terror

The government is caught between foreign pressure to halt the use of terrorism inside and outside the country and internal protests against government mismanagement and brutality inside Iran. Being forced to admit that Iranian forces shot down a Ukrainian airliner on the 8th was a major embarrassment and triggered more anti-government protests. Officially the government blamed the Americans, who were no longer suffering Iranian attacks in silence. The government also had a growing internal dispute between radicals, led by the IRGC, who wanted more use of terrorism and other violence and more moderate members of the religious leadership the IRGC was created to protect. This dispute was nothing new, but it has been getting worse over the past few years. One senior IRGC general, Qassem Soleimani, was a major proponent of more terror, both inside and outside Iran. While many of the religious leaders who ruled Iran opposed Soleimani and the other radical IRGC generals for demanding more violence, the clerics also needed the IRGC to protect the government from growing public protests and anger at the decades of corruption and misrule. The IRGC does not appear to a direct threat to the government (as in a coup) but they do remain a source of radicalism the government cannot ignore. The IRGC has responded to current protests with gunfire and arrests of who took video of the missiles striking the Ukrainian 737. Iranian families of the victims have been warned to keep their grief private or else.

The death of Soleimani was a relief as he was the most powerful, and influential of the IRGC radicals. Now the IRGC radicals, especially Quds Force commanders, fear more personal attacks on them by the Americans. The government has always resisted the more radical ideas to the IRGC, like carrying out major terror attacks in the United States. The religious leaders, or at least most of them, know this would lead to war with the Americans, a war that would do great damage to Iran and probably mean the end of the religious dictatorship. The IRGC radicals are less impressed by such logical thinking and believe in miracles. It’s the growing influence of the radicals that that makes so many other nations strong opposed to Iran getting nukes. The IRGC is a large organization and has plenty of replacements for leaders killed by the Americans or Israelis but many of those replacements are more radical and less competent than Soleimani. That means less effective but more obvious IRGC terrorism. That in turn generates more opposition to the IRGC within Iran. The least harmful (for Iran) way out of this mess is a popular uprising that produces a new, democratic, government. There is no assurance that will happen, with or without a lot of bloody resistance from the IRGC.

 

The IRGC is not accustomed to a lot of resistance and setbacks, which is has been encountering more frequently over the last few years........(Snip)

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