Sunday, November 20, 2005

Operation Sandblast

For some time now, nobody in power in the USA, nor in Europe seems to be able to think outside the box or even to set in motion anything to remove the clerics, who now threaten civilization, not just the USA and Western culture. But I'm not here to criticize, only to propose a viable solution with a still familiar yet creative box. Specially in the light of a battered, no longer effective student or any other anti-Mullah movement in or out of the country nor any charismatic figure behind which those inside Iran can rally. Proponents of using the Ukraine "Orange" revolution methodology have gone on record to suggest using "green" - THE COLOR OF ISLAM - as the Iranian Orange, so even ideas with some potential merit, though only if tailored down to minutia to fit the country and culture instead of a general concept that worked in a totally different environment and level or repression, appear to be "mis-thought" out in advance. The recent "selection" of Ahmadi-Nejad as President of Iran has opened a door that wasn't there before - for removing the Mullah regime in several steps - (brevity for this posting prevents expanding much on headings but others can sit and expand on the concept portrayed here. I'd be glad to participate with any serious authorities who can get something done):
1. Get Rafsanjani out of there before they kill or arrest him for corruption, then isolate or kill him. Canada where he has large development interests offers other advantages, too, to center his forthcoming activities. (Tactical rather than strategic). (Ignore Rafsanjani's call for unity inside Iran, he has no choice but to say this to stay in one piece). 2. Offer him support to contest the "election" result he recently lost and for him to form a "government in exile" to oppose the current regime (from his base in Canada). he is enough of a pragmatist to become a player with a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow offered him. 3. Link him up with the Mojaheddin Khalgh - MEK (currently designated a terrorist organization based on Clinton trying to appease the clerics) and thus provide Rafsanjani with a double approach and a motivated strike force for later entry back into Iran. A less than happy but still a practical "coalition" for both parties that can be expected to be conditionally accepted on a pragmatic basis. Neither of these two can expect Western support otherwise. (Again details, advantages and drawbacks of the coalition require more space than can reasonably be used in this posting). 4. In return, promise USA (and to the extent possible Western) support if they quickly identify and REVEAL and once in power, drop all plans for nuclear sites and ambitions. (MEK will happily continue to do so). Russia will be miffed financially. But the nuclear advancement will stop, specially with MEK to ensure Rafsanjani plays it straight. And the consequent in-fighting that will scuttle covert plans. 5. After they do get into power, they will soon try to destroy each other as a matter of course - (or can be easily incited/encouraged to do so). Rafsanjani mullahs, even with the Reformists, cannot be the future of Iran, Neither can the MEK, which can muster an estimated 100,000 followers - boots on the ground inside Iran. Individually neither group has enough strength, together they can rapidly sandblast the country clean for future generations and democracy. Neither truly supports the other to establish a durable co-operation. 6. In about two, maybe three years, vacuum up the debris and have a clean slate for future democracy in Iran with neither weakened "coalition" partner able to stop it. Probably the least blood shedding of any scenario and done by supporters of Rafsanjani and the MEK, neither of which are needed for the future of the country and thus do not need to keep their hands free of blood as would a Monarchy, or any other democratic movement.
Please notice simplicity of language (no effort to be erudite or a guru) and intentional lack of detailed exposition. Including how best to persuade 70-year old Rafsanjani to come on board (I doubt he will put up much resistance other than demanding monetary returns on projects he presently has for his family and heirs) and the MEK has already asked for a chance to govern Iran for six months before holding elections as their pre-condition. I'm providing the strategy concept not the detailed tactics - though I could help furnish some of that, too. If nobody will think outside the box, here is a sufficiently "familiar" box within which to think and be successful. Even with this premature heads up to the enemy. Want to bet they'll take the gamble to get into power despite knowing what the aftermath plan is? The only serious fly in the ointment at this point might be the risk of President Putin of Russia deciding to later provide full Russian support for the Marxist Mojaheddin (and Fedayeen or various similar Iranian groups) and impede Western efforts to pull them out by the roots. The Soviets provided enormous support in 1979 to the MEK, which was the real instigator of the Khomeini revolution. (I was there at the time "before and after" till I was helped out). By contrast the Ayatollahs and the fervent military Ahmadi-Nejad secular colleagues won't be removable in a matter of two or three years and Iran will have nuclear weapon capability, which will make future chances of removing them even more remote. Not so with operation "sandblast" outlined above.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Running A Country

LEGAL SYSTEM – IRAN Because of a size concept, we normally forget that a country functions both internally and externally much the same way as does a corporation. In fact a country like Iran is just a huge company run by a distinctive management that initiated a hostile take-over and has had 25-years to run it. Instead of a Public or Customer Relations department, they have a Foreign Ministry, which here in the USA we call the State Department. The Sales and Marketing division is called the Ministry of Commerce and so on with Finance, Security, etc. Just as with a commercial market place to which to offer their goods or services a country has to also develop commercial aspirations to earn an income on which to operate. With good, competent management as opposed to inexperienced or hastily gathered supervision, the country or corporation prospers and deals with external and internal challenges adequately or poorly. Just as when certain CEOs come aboard at ailing companies they manage to turn the situation they face around, chief executives can destroy their work place. As was the case in the management change in Iran from a Monarchy to a clerical oligarchy. Not always from their own lack of skills but because they cannot fill their management or employee needs to a sufficient depth. In the corporate arena they generally answer to their Board of Directors and shareholders and hold the well being of their employees in their hands. With a country, the top positions of leadership answer to the cabinet and should theoretically answer to the people. A quarter of a century ago, Iran had finally evolved under the last monarch, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi from a mostly illiterate, minimally educated land into one where 80% could read and write and be termed literate but only a small percentage of the population had reached what would comfortably be called an “educated” status (specially politically), though millions were in school and tens of thousands were attending or had attended college or university. Many more were students overseas. By then, 65% of the Iranians were under the age of 25 and were born with modern conveniences largely in place. Thus unable to remember when lives, including of their parents, did not have color television, did not have paved streets, were devoid of highways and piped water or electricity in homes were an exception instead of the rule so refrigerators required delivery of blocks of ice just prior to when they came into their world. Primitive agriculture had grown into mechanized agro-industry and the legal and justice system of the country had wrenched itself away from purely religious tenets of law, like the Taliban in Afghanistan, to a combination of modern laws with a sufficient under-pinning of Koranic ideology to cater to the continued Islamic mind sets of the less advanced citizens. We need to look back to pre-Mullah government by the Shah’s regime to define the present, one of a kind government that’s a hybrid they cobbled together and how it wields power and hides itself as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It had taken an almost equally tough “corporate” (so to speak) take over by the late Shah’s father to uproot the inept management of the previous Qajar dynasty personified by a teenage monarch living mostly in Paris and like Attaturk in Turkey to uproot clerical inroads and turn Iran into a more secular State. The “chador”, literally meaning a tent, head to toe cover for women was “officially” forbidden though any woman who chose to wear one was not subjected to any legal action or even official criticism. Reza Shah, the father, then quite ruthlessly consolidated central government power which had dissipated into the hands of tribal chieftains, who ruled their fiefdoms with little regard to a wishy-washy central government. Something that the British and Europeans did not favor as it gave Soviet Russia too much leeway to interfere with Iran’s power structure. Reza Shah, who had commanded a Russian-Persian Cossack brigade, was acceptable to both the Russians and the British, who controlled most of the South of the country. He eventually played one off the other to unify the country and took over the monarchy as a semi-educated but highly intelligent leader and political strategist. With a mind capable of conceptualizing how to disassemble a motor car engine and how it ran after having it explained only once and willing to be without much pity to fight rampant corruption, he laid the ground work for his son to take over. Making sure that education in Switzerland and military academy at St, Cyr prepared the young boy for his future duties. What normally takes a revolution politically, to remove a tough dictatorial leader solidifying a country and central power structure, to replace him with a diplomat, happened when Reza Shah was forced to abdicate, or resign in corporate terms, and his son took over as the diplomat. The new “CEO” of Iran discovered that his “corporation” had little or no standing in the global “market” and outside entities could control his manufacturing and production of his main export – thus revenue – oil. His focus turned to recovering the “ownership” of the country’s oil from foreign hands and to establish his “corporation” as a world entity. To do this he had to be a consummate politician and he sometimes remarked that in dealing with intently opposed foreign powers such as the Soviets and Americans, he deserved an Oscar for his ability to act roles needed to keep them in check. During the next 30-years, till the advent of the Ayatollahs, he single-handedly pushed Iran into the 20th Century – economically, industrially and politically despite a severe shortage of skilled managers and employees. Specially anyone who could be trusted or were educated enough. He had to draw on friends, relatives and later family members of his wife the Empress. Sadly discovering that most of these failed in their duties and even caused harm. At one point in time he was heard yelling at the Empress that he would not accept any more of her family in any government positions as they simply messed up or failed to act in the best interests of the country. Politically, though formally a two party, bi-cameral constitutional monarchy, he ended up abolishing the existing two party, Iran Novin and Mardom structure and forming a single party, Rastakhiz, with a left and right wing component to it. With Iran Novin, headed by Prime Minister Hoveyda regularly winning a majority of every election and being in power for some 13-years, the loyal opposition Mardom party’s most competent people could never serve in important positions and this aggravated the lack of available high level talent. Despite the tendency to dispute and block progress on purpose in the way evidenced in America by the Republicans and Democrats never arising, to avoid senseless bickering among a politically totally inexperienced nation the left wing/right wing concept became a necessary solution while he began to train his citizens to a higher political consciousness. By decreeing elections for the lowest rungs of the ladder – village headmen, to town or city mayors, county positions and some of those below the Provincial Governor, he insisted that everyone participate and become familiar with elective power by the people. Even though in practice there was only one party and he was a powerful father figure. To illustrate how politically inexperienced or naïve the populace was at the time of his overthrow by Khomeini, a village consisting of 40 households, all related to each other, was unable to decide on electing a village headman and ended up writing to the provincial governor to appoint someone to that post as they were unable to vote and decide on anyone. Apart from US President Carter’s personal animosity and direct action to remove the late Shah, the Shah’s efforts to modernize his country/corporation ran afoul of two major groups in Iran that had traditionally exercised financial and cultural control – the Bazaar and the Mullahs (clerics). When he moved the center of Commerce from Hajis in the Bazaar, who had a bath once a week and monopolized almost all imports and exports, except oil, out of “downtown” and into multinational industrial and commercial organizations and banking systems, they resented the loss of their economical stranglehold and began conspiring against the monarchy. A conceptually similar resentment, though different opposition, can been seen in America with the CIA and the State Department actively verging on insubordination toward the Bush presidency until he had to appoint Porter Goss to head the CIA and place Condoleezza Rice in charge of the State Department to bring two very powerful government entities into line with his needs. As millions of people became literate and certainly somewhat educated by Western standards and the absolute rule of the Koran, already weakened by the late Shah’s father was overshadowed and diluted by Western type of international or even family law, the power wielded by clerics also waned and caused them to resent loss of it. And with their closest allies the Bazaar merchants funding them, the Mullahs began using the Koran to undermine the Shah. Stating that God was a higher power than the Monarch (or CEO) and they as messengers of God had to be respected, feared and obeyed. When technocrat Jamshid Amouzegar was imposed as a short term Prime Minister on the Shah by American pressure and ordered all government stipends previously paid the Mullahs to be stopped, the final line was crossed and they had nothing left to lose and much to gain in forcing a change and supporting foreign born and bred Ayatollah Rouhallah Khomeini, who had not a drop of Persian blood in his veins from either his paternal nor maternal side. A fact they did not know and has been kept away from the Iranian people by the threat and danger of a fatwa (religious death decree) like the one issued against Salman Rushdie for his book the Satanic Verses. Khomeini’s background can be seen in the website link above but it’s indicative of his inability to conceive of a modern government, in scope or size, when he arrived in Iran saying he had the national budget (normally several really thick tomes carried inside a couple of small suitcases to and from parliament) on a piece of paper in his side pocket. His recollection of a government Ministry (American “Department”) – for instance the Agricultural Ministry, was an office with some 500 employees covering the whole nation. The fact that there were over 30,000 employees and managers at the time of his return to operate an increasingly sophisticated agro-industry was beyond his comprehension. One of his first orders was to remove furniture from government offices since desks and chairs were not needed. Everyone should sit on the floor just as he did and had done for decades. And on the subject of how the Ministry of Justice should operate under Islamic law, he asked why there was a need for one, stating that anyone who opposed him, opposed God and should be killed right there in the street and no further system of justice or trial was required. Many were and still are executed for “waging war against God” and for “widespread corruption of the mind”. Only the Ayatollahs can speak with God so they are the only ones to declare what God is saying or has decreed. As often as not overriding the tenets of the Koran to suit their own short or long term purposes. On this leadership and philosophy, the Islamic Republic of Iran was founded and continues to operate. And was built on the mental capacity of a populace that was told and many believed that the face on the moon was in fact that of Khomeini, placed there by God. Even the more sophisticated ones greedily accepted the fallacy that if they welcomed Khomeini he would share Iran’s oil wealth with every citizen. They could stop working and each individual would receive – man woman or child - a monthly amount equal to the buying power of $3,500 in the USA, would receive a free house built for them, never pay for any utilities, get a free automobile, color TV and latest model refrigerator as their reward. Nobody stopped to calculate, or even knew how to figure out that the annual budget of the whole wide world would probably not suffice to implement this empty promise. Instead of this “paradise” people quickly found themselves standing in long lines using their ration card coupons to obtain a meager weekly portion of half a chicken, under two pounds of meat, a small portion of rice and cooking fat reminiscent of starvation level diets. At a price they could barely afford and different lines for every item. Even bread was rationed. Total ignorance of the Ayatollahs and their clerics of how to run a vast “corporate” complex that government required, soon ended in disastrous discomfort and disjointed supply chains. Former “managers had either been imprisoned, killed or had managed to flee the country. However, the Ayatollahs saw the silver lining to this and encouraged the shortages. People standing in line to obtain a bare minimum of food on which to survive had no time to think let alone act politically or resist the take over of the Khomeini Tsunami. The reason the theocratic regime has survived and not been rooted out like the Taliban in Afghanistan – apart from possessing huge oil and gas reserves – is that the regime hides behind a so called democratic system that holds elections. This gave the Europeans and previous American administrations and other nations with commercial and financial interests overriding humanitarian considerations – till now – the cover to put up with a despotic, unelected few ruling through an “elected” parliament despite only “selected” candidates being permitted to run for parliament or any office and having to be approved by the unelected clerical despots – thus preventing anyone other than a fervent sympathizer from becoming a congressman or in a few instances, congress woman. And if a bad apple – in their eyes – gets past the filter, subpoenas summoning them to the religious courts and threat of death serves to keep them in line. For example, apostasy is a crime punishable by death and the sole judge of guilt is one of the despot’s appointees. At the time of the late Shah’s departure from Iran, Amnesty International declared there were about 3,400 political prisoners in Iran. After Khomeini’s take over this number swelled to over 90,000 in a matter of months, for easily understood reasons and is rumored to be in the 70,000 range today. About 4,000 pre-teenagers have been arrested and imprisoned in the last ten months. Dozens of these have been condemned to death, executed or publicly whipped. Exact statistics are hard to obtain with numerous law enforcement agencies and independent paramilitary groups all arresting, imprisoning and even executing people. SAVAK, the Shah’s secret police, not devoid of AbuGhraib type of misuse of prisoners had no need – after 20-years of experience and tutelage by the CIA, which helped found it, to detain more than the leaders of dissident groups, knowing who they were and by keeping those leaders off the streets, rendering the movements headless and ineffective. Khomeini’s official and unofficial security cadres, local vigilante neighborhood “committees” run by a barely educated, low level cleric, were unable to assess or evaluate dissidence and would arrest someone with their whole family, then all that family’s friends and their families and then the friends and families of those people. This compounding of arrests quickly led to staggering numbers in prison. FORM OF GOVERNMENT STRUCTURE In a nutshell, modern Afghanistan even in recent terms under President Karzai, used to be considered in the time of the late Shah of Iran to represent what Iran probably used to be four or five hundred years ago. Today the Islamic regime’s leadership mentality and government and chunks of society have in many instances reverted to where Afghanistan was under the Taliban. Harsh, unforgiving, regulated by the lowest of the low thugs with Old Testament attitudes and because of nepotism or lack of anyone better “managed” by people with no modern worldly experience and only the Koran from 1300 years ago as their operating manual to govern a society trying to get along in the modern world. Outwardly, the Islamic clerics still retain the trappings of the Shah’s government structure but peopled, managed and regulated by “Old Testament” laws overriding every modern concept. With real power and control residing in theological hands, which even the supposedly legislative branch, the Majliss (parliament) is helpless to alter or confront. At the very top is the Supreme Ruler, (false – self-declared) Ayatollah Khamnei, who in a twist of fate and political strategy set aside the man Khomeini wanted to take over and rules by decree as representative of God on this earth. An extreme dictator of far worse ilk than the very worst nightmares and criticism leveled at the way the late Shah ruled. At least the Shah was educated and after 30-years of on the job experience and successes as Iran’s CEO, worked toward bringing Iranian life into the modern era instead of forcing it back into the 14th Century and using executions, lashings and inhumane prison to make sure it stayed there. Under Supreme Ruler Khamnei and chosen and appointed by him is a “board of directors”: the Council of Experts – who have to approve anything and everything that needs to get done, including selection and approval of candidates for any “elected” office or government position. Laws and parliamentary bills have no standing unless confirmed by this council and their veto aborts any and all legislation. They also set the tone for national behavior and philosophy. Interested in the tiniest of matters they have ordered a “national” costume to be designed to replace western clothing for Iranians to wear. Presently, formal attire consists of normal suits without a tie – except for clerics and their robes – but definitely without wearing a tie as that was a monarchist fad and not to be continued. A President gets elected every four years and presides over the single house Majliss (parliament). Here again the Council of Experts has to approve the candidates for President and their veto cannot be overturned. For the past eight years or so Mohammad Khatami has acted as the sheep’s clothing for the Mullahs, passing as a genuinely elected President and promising reform and modernization to the Iranian nation, specially the discontented youth, who eagerly voted for him in the hopes of getting rid of the theocratic limitations imposed on them. Attempting to kill two birds with one stone, the Ayatollahs even allowed some of Khatami’s genuinely reform minded friends to be elected to parliament. Remember they have to approve of candidates, so “allowed” is fact. Not only did this seemingly genuine set of elections fool and appease discontent within the country but did exactly the same with Americans and Europeans. Western nations could be persuaded by Khatami to “allow” the reformists a chance to get results and improve the plight of Iranians while putting up with or excusing the horrible other aspects of the Ayatollahs. A time confluence over the past eight years of any reform being vetoed and nothing being achieved by Khatami and Western governments losing patience with the charade of democratic government when Iran reaches the verge of becoming a dangerous nuclear power has resulted in everyone: the youth, the West and even the Ayatollahs realizing that this tactic no longer brings results, so in the last parliamentary election (about a year ago) only hardliners were allowed to run for parliament. Some 2,500 contenders were disqualified by the Council of Experts to prevent any dilution of hardliners inside the new parliament. Even President Khatami, no longer a useful stalking horse or shield against internal and worldwide discontent will be allowed to run for that office again. His duplicitous role may perhaps be tempered by the fact that when he tried to achieve a lessening of restrictive or terrorizing government regulations and actions, he was called in to Khamnei’s office and openly told that he had better shape up or next time he was summoned it would be to watch his wife and daughter and a couple of other women relatives gang raped in front of his eyes. A common enough practice for him to have no doubts and give in and become a meek supporter. To bring this into context, clerics have set up brothels with orphan girls who approach the authorities for help, some very young, or who they had arrested as vagrants. With unemployment anywhere as high as 30% and by government estimates requiring several billion dollars to address, the estimate of homeless girls who sleep in the streets of the capital city of Tehran every night runs into the tens of thousands. Prostitution has become rampant beyond belief. Suicide, specially among females but among the youth in particular in Iran has hit incredibly high proportions and drug addiction – in all age groups - has become a socially debilitating problem. Islamic anti-gay strongly enforced tenets has brought a new focus to the Iranian medical profession – sex change surgery. Homosexuals, out of fear of execution, whipping and imprisonment have turned to surgeons to become trans-sexuals and thus marry their homosexual male partners and avoid horrible retribution meted out to gays. Another fast expanding medical field is plastic surgery and botox embellishment at prices where the rate of exchange of foreign currencies against the Iranian Rial makes having this done in Iran very, very inexpensive. And Iran’s doctors, used to having to treat anything and everything have acquired great depth of medical expertise and skills without fear of being sued as in America and thus can use state of the art procedures unavailable elsewhere. Backing the regime are several official and unofficial military and paramilitary cadres as well as armed operatives of the main National Security (SAVAMA). The regular military, mostly of conscripts, uses soldiers as cannon fodder. In the war with Iraq they sent waves of “soldiers” as young as 13-years old, with a wooden gun and a plastic key to paradise across Iraqi minefields – to clear them for the Revolutionary Guards (Pasdaran) who then went in and fought with more conventional military tactics. These Revolutionary Guards, who ultimately report to Supreme Ruler Khamnei have placed some 250,000 of their special forces at the Iran-Iraq border near Basra (south-East Iraq) to attack American and Coalition forces, with the British being the closest. Former President Rafsanjani (nicknamed “the eunuch” by many because he cannot seem to grow a full beard) still wields enormous power even while out of office and may throw his hat in the ring at the next Presidential election in July. As a business venture and because he is a member of the ruling elite he bought a couple of billion dollars of obsolete Russian helicopters to be used to move some of the 250,000 troops around at the Iraq border. Also hundreds of thousands of Russian Kalashnikovs so that the weapons on both sides of the border would be interchangeable with those now used by Iraqi Shias and insurgents. Plus millions of rounds of suitable ammunition. One group of armed men, originally recruited from Arab and Afghan countries to help quell student uprisings has begun proving a double edged sword. With Iranians mostly not willing enough to violently confront their student brothers and sisters – or kill and maim them, the Ayatollahs brought in or recruited the worst of the worst Afghan residents, Yemenis, North African Arabs, Palestinians and Al Qaeda fighters to send into the streets at the first sign of unrest. This huge hit squad group resides in barracks, lives an easy life, gets paid to do nothing until they are sent to kill on the streets. Since those they kill are not of their own nations, these mercenaries do so without compunction. The double edge has appeared when these same killers turn against one or another rival Ayatollahs, favoring the most radical and fundamentalist one, giving additional power to the strongest advocates of repression in the leadership. A similar situation arose right after Khomeini’s revolution. No Iranians wanted to execute their fellow countrymen, despite political differences, so Khomeini had to turn to Yasser Arafat and a couple of thousand Palestinians he brought with him to man the firing squads. Eventually, before deciding to leave, Arafat told his men to force Iranians to shoot down people or be shot themselves at the scene. After a while Iranians became inured and executed as required. Law enforcement and legal enforcement or sentencing consists of competing secular , military and religious bodies all vying for power. As (real) Ayatollah Shariatmadari said from the religious city of Ghom (Iran’s “Vatican)” prior to the revolution, “don’t give us clerics power. We don’t know how to run a modern country and will ruin all the progress already made. Specially as clerical leaders will soon be disputing with each other like whores in a brothel”. Supreme leader Khamnei has the strongest hold on the reins of power with the ability to send in the military and Revolutionary Guards to enforce his wishes and has influence by heading the Council of Experts. But powerful men like former President Rafsanjani, who currently prefers to use his also strong influence in making money, constantly jockey for political position, too. Rafsanjani, arguably the second most powerful figure in Iran, gets laws passed to favor his business ventures. An example is his specially legislated right as a private citizen to buy and sell oil – a national, government monopoly. At the same time he has tentatively offered to run for President again in the coming elections if another suitable “hard-line” candidate does not come forward. Current President Khatami, leaders of the “moderate or reformer” faction of the political spectrum has virtually no influence and never did, acting as the straight man for the Supreme Ruler to present a “democratic” mirage to the rest of the world. He failed a while back, to prevent the religious courts of the Ministry of Justice (Justice Department) from summoning his brother for remarks he made while a member and deputy speaker of Parliament. Legal decisions and sentencing, even death sentences which require approval of the Supreme Court, in practice depend on whatever influence comes to bear on any case or trial – the lack of any. Laws based on the Koran often clash – but win – over secular law of the land and a religious court can take over and change the verdict of any other court. The Head of the Ministry of Justice, a cleric, wields enormous power and usually sides with the Supreme Ruler if the latter involves himself in a matter. Otherwise he metes out justice as he pleases and in practice instructs all the courts on their final verdicts in more important cases, leaving the trials as window dressing. Even preventing lawyers from conferring with their clients or arresting non-compliant lawyers under some trumped up charge so they never repeat their actions. Trials in the provinces and outlying villages are held under the jurisdiction of the local cleric. Often a barely educated man who can quote the Koran but has no knowledge of jurisprudence – other than his personal opinion and preferences automatically becoming the law of his area. With the Supreme Court to which capital punishment cases have to be sent for final approval, rubber stamping these request to offer these clerics the maximum power and ability to instill fear and prevent dissent. A case in point was a mentally retarded teenage girl accused of adultery when she was raped by a married man and complained. After refusing to sleep with the local cleric/judge and openly defying him in open court, he condemned her to death by hanging, got it cleared with the Supreme Court and personally put the noose around her neck. Later stating that her sexual behavior had not deserved death but her being rude to him in court did. Because he had lied about her age (condemned teenagers have to wait to reach the age of 18 before they can be executed) he made her body disappear so it could not be used to obtain forensic evidence of her true age. Throughout the country, a verdict can be reached and carried out, for instance 100 lashes of a whip or thick stick for the most minor of crimes – in a matter of 15 minutes. Somewhat longer in larger cities. Within prisons even death can be meted out by internal tribunals and immediately carried out without Supreme Court sanctions. Nobody really cares and complaints from family members fall on deaf ears and rarely if ever reach higher judicial authority. Plus the complainer risks arrest, torture and imprisonment for daring to complain. With a failing economy - despite vast natural resources – the reluctance of foreign investment to come into the country (British Petroleum recently pulled out of a huge contract to the anger and consternation of the Mullahs) and staggering unemployment, pressure mounts daily against the present regime. The Islamic Regime’s efforts to become a nuclear power with weapons of mass destruction and achieving their ends by blackmailing the world has finally woken even the most patient of European nations to the dangers this would bring. And the fact that even on a conventional basis, Iran poses a threat throughout the Middle East through surrogates like the Hezbollah and Al Qaeda it funds and supports. A 40-page “operational contract” with Al Qaeda in Arabic was first discovered as a partial copy in Afghanistan a couple of years ago and a complete copy recently came to hand from Fallujah, Iraq operations. Careful translation, to ensure absolute accuracy and avoid dispute over the validity, is being prepared by the Dept. of Defense. In closing: this week, current President Khatami, in a speech made on the anniversary of the Khomeini revolution, stated that: any invader of Iran will be engulfed in the flames of hell. Obviously! Iran is a hell hole so what else can an outsider encounter other than the flames in which Iranians burn? Though blamed on a blizzard, instead of the hundreds of thousands who turn out for such national events, only some tens of thousands listened to the impassioned exhortations to gather in the streets around the country to show support for the regime.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Mullahs' Threat Not Sinking In

Indications of radical changes in the dynamics of the 3-month-old Iranian government, politically, philosophically and in their potential to do irreparable global damage without flinching or concern has begun sending shivers down some analysts' spines. However, this has yet to reach policy decision makers or the mass media. Iran's Supreme Ruler, "ayatollah" Ali Khamenei's hasty revisions of the national ruling structure, delegating some of his own authority to the Expediency Council, chaired by rival "ayatollah" and former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, reflects unusual action to counter-balance the power-grab by newly inaugurated President Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad. The unannounced moratorium on policies and procedures of all Iran's government ministries has been equally attributed to Rafsanjani's efforts to take control of Judicial, Legislative and Executive bodies through the broadened Expediency Council powers - and to Ahmadi-Nejad's cabinet implementing new regulations that suit their views. Specially, after warnings to the Expediency Council from his hard-line allies in the Majliss (parliament), not to mess with the Legislative system. Persistent reports emanating from Tehran of solid rocket fuel capability and long range Shahab-3 missile tests, with emptied North Korean designed nuclear warheads, providing serious concerns, the nuclear component has begun taking second place to Iran's ability, even unintended, to damage global economies resulting (in worst-case scenarios) in worldwide financial meltdowns. The 27-year, overtly hostile but comparatively "reasoned" approach toward the Western world and foreigners by the previous generation of senior Iranian Mullahs, with their accumulated overseas personal financial interests – even overflowing bank accounts outside Iran, has clearly ended. This has yet to permeate onto the desks of leaders in the Western world. Analysis and evaluation based on prior status quo and parameters, with some adjustment for new players – as was the case with former changes of President and Majliss (parliament) deputies – no longer holds water. Any more than understandable, logical evaluations had a place with genocidal, paranoid Pol Pot of Cambodia. Greater and lesser indicators mentioned below of mindsets, policies and philosophy, show "C" note changes, particularly to SME's (subject matter experts) on what drives "neo-Iran". OVERVIEW Less than three months ago, on August 15, 2005, Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad took office as the new "selected" President of the Islamic Republic of Iran with huge doubts over validity of the elections.
· He immediately purged nearly all senior governing positions of older generation clerics and officials and replaced them with his military colleagues of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) – about 350,000 strong, in which, prior to becoming Mayor of Tehran, he had been a commander. · His neo-Islamic Republic, harking back to Khomeini times, has instructed all airports and domestic or international airlines operating in Iran to remove all foreign words or characters from their signs at ground locations across the country. In the same vein, clothing designers, hired for this purpose, have started creating a national Islamic style for everyone to wear. Strict imposition of restrictions on movies and audio, allowed to lapse to some extent by the previous President Mohammad Khatami, has been re-instated. · Bassiji paramilitary (anti-demonstration and Islamic enforcement strike forces) have had their authority widely expanded to suppress dissent without any restraints and for the past month, Revolutionary Guards have begun appearing at posts on street corners and in a highly increased number of patrols. (Still unclear was the showing up of only 1,400 Bassijis at an event when 20,000 should have appeared, though they have continued attacking students and by-standers with knives and clubs with their customary brutality). · Residents of Tehran and its outer suburbs of late witnessed unannounced military exercises that involved the use of live munitions and firepower – and on an almost nightly basis in the hills East of Tehran. Officials have tried to explain such activity as an eradication of communities and townships around Tehran, populated by criminal elements fleeing justice and becoming a threat to national security. · Brigadier-General Mohammad Kossari, head of the Security Bureau of the IRGC stated, "Iran intends to become a superpower and will drive all foreign forces out of our region". What was previously sheer hyperbole now has a basis in serious executive policy and planning in Iran's new government. · Hassan Abbasi, Head the Center for Security Doctrines Research of the IRGC has become Ahmadi-Nejad's prime advisor on Foreign Affairs. He lately announced, "We have a strategy drawn up for the destruction of Anglo-Saxon civilization". (An attitude supported by the tenets of Hojatieh - see below). · Ahmadi-Nejad has declared a plan to create an Oil Bourse (Exchange) in Iran to unlink oil pricing from the U.S. Dollar and use the Euro or barter instead, thus to break any grip the West and the Dollar have on oil supplies or trade and make Iran the top oil and natural gas broker within the region. (Unlikely to succeed but perhaps effective enough on a short-term basis to trigger a dollar crash which could destabilize global solvency). · Having studied Urban Development at the University of Science in Tehran, Ahmadi-Nejad has started drawing up plans to relocate 25 million rural residents to existing urban centers to facilitate less costly provision of utilities and services. (Grandiose Stalinist or Hitlerian methods, exhibiting simplistic disregard of unintended consequences and social side effects). · After his inauguration, Ahmadi-Nejad visited the grave of his hero, Ayatollah Rouhallah (soul of Allah) Khomeini then went to kiss the hand of his mentor and spiritual guide, Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, leader of the Hojatieh sect of Islam, who was instrumental in elevating Ahmadi-Nejad to his Presidential position.
MAJOR NEW COMPONENT The newest and most dangerous component that lends credibility to the potentially mindless chaos and destruction that Ahmadi-Nejad and his clique could trigger comes from a look at his mentor, Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi and his sect's deep-rooted beliefs. The Hojatieh philosophy, considered by mainstream Shia Moslems as a lunatic fringe, was too much even for extreme hardliner Ayatollah Khomeini, whose disapproval sent them into underground, clandestine status in 1983, some four years after the Islamic revolution in Iran. Censure from a man as ruthless and radical as Khomeini, who insisted that the Prophet Mohammad had not completed Allah's work in the world and that he (Khomeini) was born to finish the job of bringing Islam to its rightful place (as the only religion and to destroy unbelievers) - indicates how far off the Islamic radar the Hojatieh function. Ahmadi-Nejad, a Khomeini adherent throughout his adult life, transitioned to his present, previously unpublicized role of acolyte to Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, himself a pseudo-Khomeini supporter, though not of Khomeini's Islamic revolution, in total concealment. (The Hojatieh took no part in the 1979 Khomeini revolution). Nicknamed the "crocodile" and often referred to as the "crazy" Ayatollah, Mesbah Yazdi echoes Khomeini saying, "Islam permits spilling the blood of anyone who insults Islamic sanctities and no court is needed". After his 1979 return to Iran, in early days, a companion asked Khomeini how he wanted the Ministry of Justice restructured and he replied, "Anyone who is against me is against Allah and must be killed where they stand. No other justice system is required". HOJATIEH Understanding the abruptly dominant Hojatieh philosophy becomes essential for any current analysis. Formed in the 1950's at the time of the late Shah, the group's primary motivation was to eradicate the Bahai faith and all its members in Iran over a philosophical clash about Imam Mehdi - the Lord of all Time and 12th descendant of Prophet Mohammad. Shia Islam believes that the 12th Imam, a child named Mehdi, hid down a well 1,300 years ago and disappeared but will return to redeem the world. The Bahai religion, which declassified documents from the British Foreign Office appear to indicate Britain founded and organized artificially to splinter and weaken Iranian clergy influence, consolidated against British presence in Iran, claims their Prophet, Sheikh Baha'ollah, as the 12th Imam, who has already returned. As devotees of the 12th Imam, the Hojatieh firmly believe he will return only when the world contains enough oppression, misery, tyranny and sorrow to warrant his coming. To hasten and facilitate the return, they believe in spreading evil, tyranny and misery and argue that standing in the way of all these delays his coming and their redemption. Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, the power behind the scenes now helps formulate Iran policy, through President Ahmadi-Nejad, his submissive and a man called Mojtaba Somreh Hashemi, the President's mentor without whom, much to their chagrin, nobody in senior government can make a decision. Nor start a Cabinet meeting or access the President himself. Hashemi represents Ayatollah Mesbah Zadeh and had the same role when the new President was still Mayor of Tehran. The Hojatieh receives full co-operation of belligerent, military Revolutionary Guard commanders - suddenly in positions of national executive authority as Cabinet Ministers. They brook no half measures, instantly ready to suppress any internal resistance – clerical or otherwise - including removal of Supreme Ruler Khamenei himself. The neo-Iran status presents a very different scenario from what we faced, uncomfortable as it was with the Ayatollahs in general, for the past quarter century. A recent cabinet meeting evidences the unconventional mindset of the new players running Iran and now addressing the world stage from their eyes: President Ahmadi-Nejad's first deputy, Parviz Davoudi, submitted and the cabinet ratified in a formal meeting, an agreement between the cabinet ministers and the Shia 12th Imam, Mehdi, Lord of All Time, in a similar fashion to the pact they had all signed with Ahmadi-Nejad upon taking office. The question then arose how to obtain the long dead Imam's signature on the document for ratification. Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Saffar Harandi finally dropped the agreement into the Jamkaran well into which they believe Imam Mehdi descended 1300 years ago, where it joined tons of letters and requests from pilgrims over the centuries. A large number of Ahmadi-Nejad's close allies are talking about preparing the grounds for the hidden Imam's imminent manifestation. Any hope for logical international policies from these leaders may be too much to expect – or for them to understand. Total disregard for the well-being of the world community, so incredible a concept, even impossible to digest for Western minds (as was Pol Pot), has become a readily acceptable philosophy of Iran's new active rulers. With the reverberations of religious tenets of "ultra-conservative" Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, preaching apocalypse to his choir, encompassing everyone and everything. The semi-clandestine nature of the Hojatieh over time, in no way hampers Mesbah Yazdi's influence in today's Islamic Iran. Apart from long roots in the poorer, superstitious populace through his Khomeini Institute, he was one of only two Ayatollahs to support Supreme Leader "ayatollah" Ali Khamenei in his bid to succeed Khomeini when every other Ayatollah, except Iraqi born Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroodi, the current Chief of Judiciary, rejected Khamenei's theological credentials. To become Supreme Leader has a prerequisite of being a Grand Ayatollah (Emulation Source for Shiite faithful). As reward, Mesbah Yazdi requested and received funds to found and run the Imam Khomeini Institute to spread the teachings of Khomeini – providing a vehicle to gain support and standing in conventional Islamic circles – while strengthening the radical Hojatieh network. AHMADI-NEJAD The new Iranian President's personality profile provides another important input to the Iranian challenges the world could inevitably face, unless, as one SME notes, circumstances change dramatically or a nuclear take-out of the Islamic Iranian regime occurs. Israel seems increasingly willing to undertake action against Iranian facilities and despite denials, U.S. military strategists appear to have a massive conventional bombing plan of some 5,000 specific locations on their charts.
1. Still in his mid-teens when Khomeini took over, Ahmadi-Nejad is a product of post-revolutionary Iran and has no perception of the West except as an enemy to be confounded and defeated. Studying Urban Development and rising to Mayor of Tehran did not provide him grounding for even national level concepts, nor has he any foreign affairs experience at all. His idea to move 25 million Iranians from rural areas to existing urban locations indicates simplistic, linear thinking. 2. Coming from impoverished circumstances, where his coppersmith father provided only a minimalist life, the new President has lived off very little all his life, including a meager military salary. Unlike most senior Mullahs and their entourages, who over the past 25-years have acquired riches, invested in overseas real estate and other projects and often have sizeable accounts in offshore banks, consequently a stake in keeping global economies steady, Ahmadi-Nejad has nothing to lose or to gain by factoring in "time wasting" and unfamiliar international components. 3. His strong proclivity to Ayatollah Khomeini's Valiate-Faghi guiding principles, which propound Islamic clerical rule and dominance of the world and his dedicated religious conduct as a daily part of his military lifestyle in the IRGC, easily puts him in the category of a religious fanatic, though secular in official title.
The underpinning to the problem is Iranian in nature, but the ability for Iran to do serious harm stems more from a combination of global weaknesses. World currency markets, oil unlinking radically from the dollar (potentially to some extent through the Iranian Oil Bourse plan) and the political and personal ambitions of leaders in Europe, Russia, China and the Islamic world, combine to become a serious peril. Significantly, terrorist groups have also begun switching from purely bodily or property harm to attempting to destroy the financial well being of target countries. Viewed in perspective, emerging anxiety about "neo-Iran" ponders a bizarre situation, far from wild conjecture, that will require drastic action to prevent. Existing dynamics might, at best, bring far reaching doldrums and financial pain to Europe and advanced Western nations, similar to that encountered in the USA during the Jimmy Carter administration, intertwining with aspects unrelated to Iran's intentional efforts to cause harm. CURRENCY The U.S. Dollar plays the role of the world's primary currency and nothing else can presently substitute for the dollar's mandatory use for oil purchase and oil trading, which has to be in dollars. Nevertheless, based on supply and demand principles, U.S. money is about 40-50% overvalued. Central Banks find themselves crammed with a surplus of dollars, which they hold beyond logical considerations just to maintain equilibrium in world trade and commodities – mostly out of self-interest and self-preservation. Quite to the contrary, Ahmadi-Nejad and his clique have neither such compunctions nor personal wealth to protect. A negative run on the dollar would change the economic face of the earth and delight the Hojatieh mindset and religious aims of spreading misery. A glut of dollar holdings by Central Banks and among Asian lenders (China reportedly has hundreds of billons in U.S. Treasury bonds) plus the current low interest rate offered to investor/lenders by the USA has been putting the dollar in jeopardy for some time. Including, potentially, by some inexperienced Third World central bank employee, who seeing an over stock of dollars in the bank's currency portfolio, decides to diversify their holdings. Were that person to offer several billion dollars on the market, they would trigger a panic sell-off by everyone else. A twitching finger on currency's hair-trigger can shoot down the dollar without any purposeful ill intent. Most estimates place the likely drop to "floor levels" at a rapid 50% loss in value for a presently 40% overvalued Dollar. Not too long ago, a mid-level official of the Korean Central bank casually mentioned currency "diversification" at an obscure lunch. The U.S. Stock Market fell by 100 points in 15 minutes, because of an implied desire for Korea to decrease its dollar holdings. What would the drop have been had he actually sold dollars? When a group called "Long Term Capital Management", a hedge fund of derivatives – something fully understood by probably less than half a dozen people in the world – failed, U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman, Alan Greenspan had to help bail it out to save the dollar and the U.S. economy. This fund had Nobel Prize winning economists writing their trading algorithms and top-drawer traders involved and still went down in flames. What about the expertise level of other hedge funds trading daily in the USA - some 8,000 of them? About $6,000 Billion (easier to conceptualize as "huge" instead of a mere "six trillion") worth of derivatives trade on the international market – daily - so the already built-in prospect of disaster surpasses all possible defensive safety measures. Compare this daily volatility to the annual USA national budget of approximately $1,900 Billion (less than two trillion) of revenues and $2,350 Billion (2.35 trillion) in expenditures. While economists scoff at the currency market being unable to right itself in the face of fluctuations, if left to its own devices, introduce into this at best "delicately balanced" economical environment, a hostile "Hojatieh" Iran's lack of any desire or motivation to help prevent global economic mayhem. OIL BOURSE While a regional Oil Exchange attempted by Dubai failed, partly because they play by international rules and monetary exchange norms, Iran's Bourse, in Euros or in barter trade agreements and Hojatieh willingness to sacrifice the world and its own people to achieve its religious ends of bringing back their 12th Imam, presents a special set of givens. Specifically in the area of damage to world financial stability, as opposed to a conventionally deemed "successful", venture for Iran. Experts from the International Petroleum Exchange (IPE) and New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) have apparently already confirmed the feasibility of the project, bearing in mind Iran's much greater reserves of petroleum products with which to operate and weight the market. Realistic argument posits that the Iranian oil fields are old and require huge investments to continue production or to keep them at anywhere near current levels. New oil fields will take time to come online and hamper the speed of Iran's negative activity. In addition, Iran's natural gas fields, the second largest reserve in the world after Russia, have yet to be developed fully and cannot provide a big enough supply to make a significant immediate difference in the markets. Because U.S. sanctions on the sale of American technology to Iran, the most modern systems for effective, large scale liquefaction of natural gas have been denied to Iran and hampers their ability to bring important liquid natural gas prominently into the mix. While the Bourse may be wishful thinking as a constructive revenue source for Iran, according to Western standards of logic and assessment of success, missing from the equation of production targets and capability is that oil-currency - not oil or natural gas itself - is the principle fulcrum and danger factor. If the Euro became the reserve currency and choice of oil producing countries, the U.S. would have to purchase Euros to purchase oil, the reverse being the case today with countries having to pay a "Dollar Tax" to buy oil in dollars. Experts agree the effect over only a very few years would be devastating to the status of the dollar globally. Then, Euros (in their role as petro-currency) would affect the U.S. Dollar, U.S. economy and the interest rates America must offer to attract buyers. Former U.S. Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker has already placed the likelihood for a Dollar crash in the next five years at 75%. The Iranian Oil Bourse's trade in Euros instead of dollars could possibly hasten the crash and the percentage of likelihood. Some feel Volcker was unable to assess Federal Reserve matters knowledgeably but with experts like George Soros and Warren Buffet putting their own billions into betting against the dollar, Volcker's comments gather strength. If major oil and natural gas supply and trade quantities become easily available only in Euros or barter, Central Banks will have ever less reason to overstock their portfolios with U.S. currency and will eventually begin replacing unwanted Dollars with necessary Euros, unleashing a dollar decline of great proportions. Any crash would bring Iran, with a wealth of oil and natural gas reserves with which to barter with China, Russia, India and Far East nations, to the fore as a new superpower, in a future scenario where money or devalued currencies might have much less, little or even no value. The latest flavor of Islamic Republic would suffer only tangentially and try to obtain all their needs through barter or exchange. Their life styles would remain similar to what they had until very recently as military men and whether the populace is unhappy – preferably so for the Hojatieh – means little or nothing in their big picture. At very best, the USA would enter another Carter administration era financial pattern:
1. Interest rates were so high nobody could afford to finance a house, so this market sector, like many other big-ticket items such as automobiles, slowed to almost a halt in some instances. 2. Grocery items had multiple superimposed price stickers as the cost of goods rose faster than customers bought them. Imported retail merchandise normally sells or distributes through national chains like Walmart or food chains, so a drop in the dollar makes these more expensive for the buyer and leads to layoffs as the retail chains find their sales volumes and profit margins eroded. 3. The price of energy shot up so much people resorted to wood burning stoves to stay warm at a price they could afford. The quality of life went down. 4. People on fixed incomes could no longer afford to live and the more solvent could not keep abreast of rising prices and interest rates. A drop in the dollar immediately cuts into the value of saved money. 5. Running a business became almost impossible as the price of goods and materials skyrocketed. Sales to a greatly less solvent market plummeted and marketing assumptions needed for advertising, budgeting and planning became wild guesses at best.
What might happen if the dollar devalued rapidly? Global ruin. With economies so interdependent and interwoven, a global not just American Depression would occur with a domino effect throwing the rest of world economies into poverty. Markets for acutely less expensive US exports would never materialize. The result, some SME's estimate, might be as many as 200 million Americans out of work and starving on the streets with nobody and nothing able to rescue or aid them, contrary to the 1920/30 Great Depression through soup kitchens and charitable support efforts. Iran would most likely intentionally sabotage any return to stability and market balance/adjustment with their fossil fuels; their newfound nuclear deterrent probably discouraging use of force against them until too late. A close look shows Ahmadi-Nejad holds the key to throwing the world into the tribulations of the Weimar Republic of Germany after World War I. High inflation and interest rates drove the value of the Mark into the ground and allowed Hitler to present himself as a savior. To provide an adequate cash flow to the working class, Hitler promised to pay them once a week, then twice a week, then once a day. When this failed, he allowed workers two hours off work every day to trundle wheelbarrows full of German currency, which barely sufficed to buy a loaf of bread. Iran succeeding in unlinking the Dollar as the primary currency for oil purchases, were it to occur, creates the same outcome for the USA and consequently within short time frames for the rest of the civilized world. To deny history repeating itself with Ahmadi-Nejad's Hojatieh minded governing group filling in for Hitler, suggests a refusal to face and counteract an indescribable menace beyond the reach of Western logic but totally in alignment with this specific brand of Islamic fervor to intentionally create an apocalypse. Then to impose Islamic rule on a shattered world. CONCLUSION Apart from the use of nuclear arms by the West to bring down the new regime in Iran, only an internal effort by the old-guard Ayatollahs to overcome Ahmadi-Nejad and his allies, at the clear risk of a civil war they would lose, has a hope of preventing a potential global Depression. Few other counter measures come to mind. Mostly because of the shortcoming of the global "family" of nations to withstand mindless nihilism and an untrammeled desire to destroy in the name of their 12th Imam. When Iran's lately announced pull back from subsidizing refined gas prices domestically and import of this fuel takes hold on the population, who will suddenly be unable to afford to operate vehicles, the dissatisfaction could translate into riots and open a new window to remove the Islamic regime of whatever flavor. In-depth bombing, specifically of all Iranian military and nuclear facilities at that time – possibly the 5,000 locations mentioned above – would weaken or remove any government ability to suppress the riots and allow a smooth overthrow of the current regime. The unanswered question – as was the case in Gulf War I with Iraq and Saddam Hussain – will be with what or with whom to replace it. November 4, 2005