Sunday, June 24, 2007

Iran Cracks Down on Dissent

Iran is in the throes of one of its most ferocious crackdowns on dissent in years, with the government focusing on labor leaders, universities, the press, women’s rights advocates, a former nuclear negotiator and Iranian-Americans, three of whom have been in prison for more than six weeks.
The shift is occurring against the backdrop of an economy so stressed that although Iran is the world’s second-largest oil exporter, it is on the verge of rationing gasoline. At the same time, the nuclear standoff with the West threatens to bring new sanctions.

The hard-line administration of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, analysts say, faces rising pressure for failing to deliver on promises of greater prosperity from soaring oil revenue. It has been using American support for a change in government as well as a possible military attack as a pretext to hound his opposition and its sympathizers.

This report shows the extreme strains within Iran. It should be viewed as a good sign by the United States. The worst thing that the United States could do now is attack Iran. It would immediately galvanize the people against the United States and strengthen the current unpopular government of Iran.

The problem is that our foreign policy has been wrong at every turn and it would not surprise me in the least if we used this as reason to start military action. The biggest problem with that decision would be that the middle and upper classes of Iran, who are so disenchanted, would flee as they did in Iraq.
Iran’s sophisticated middle class wants to be connected to the world, and grumbles that the country’s only friends are Syria, Belarus, Venezuela and Cuba. But it might play well with Mr. Ahmadinejad’s main constituency.

“They are the poor, the rural,” said Vali Nasr of the Council on Foreign Relations. “They don’t travel abroad, they don’t go to conferences. He is trying to undermine the social and political position of his rivals in order to consolidate his own people.”

What would remain in Iran would be loyal to the current government and we would be looking at another Iraq. Another war at this time would most certainly throw the entire region into conflict.

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