Saturday, June 16, 2007
Iran is in the middle of a sweeping crackdown against dissent of all sorts, whether political, religious, cultural, or economic.
The recent detentions of Iranian American dual nationals are only a small part of a campaign that includes arrests, interrogations, intimidation and harassment of thousands of Iranians as well as purges of academics and new censorship codes for the media. Hundreds of Iranians have been detained and interrogated, including a top Iranian official, according to Iranian and international human rights groups.
The move has quashed or forced underground many independent civil society groups, silenced protests over issues including women's rights and pay rates, quelled academic debate, and sparked society-wide fear about several aspects of daily life, the sources said.
Few feel safe, especially after the April arrest of Hossein Mousavian, a former top nuclear negotiator and ambassador to Germany, on charges of espionage and endangering national security.
The question, of course, is whether the new repression is evidence that the mullahs are nervous that the popular discontent of recent years will weaken them or drive them from power, or proof that it will not.
Michael van der Galien wonders whether this isn't blowback against American policy:
The US should also think about whether or not its support for pro-democracy movements is productive or counterproductive. $75 million in support for these movements is nice and all, but if that $75 million leads to the arrest of thousands of pro-democracy activists / students / professors, the US might reconsider. Sometimes, the best way is not to influence the situation directly, but, instead, to put pressure on a (the) government through, for instance, the UN and letting pro-democracy movements do what they do best. Sometimes they are best of left alone.
I doubt that American money as "led to the arrest of thousands" of people. The Islamic regime might carp about that money to stoke ancient Iranian paranoias over foreign influence, but the mullahs will only act against dissent if they believe that repression is in their interest. That calculation is independent of the impact of American aid to democracy groups, which the mullahs will either deem to be a threat, or not.
Iran fears a stable and free Iraq #1, and the possibility of us wiping thier military off the map #2.
#1 is why they are involved in Iraq. They don't want their citizens getting any silly ideas about freedom.
#2 should be self explanitory considering we have two carrier groups in the area. Can you say smoldering craters?