Late spring 2007 finds the Iranian "revolutionary government" facing an extraordinary range of internal and external problems.
There's a war inside Iran -- several wars, actually. Minority Baluchis, Azeris, Kurds and Arabs are restive.
The mullah's core problem is the Iranian people. Under-30 Iranians have had it with the mullahs' failed revolution.
A recent visitor to Iran described a twenty-fold increase in "the standard bribe" Tehran bureaucrats demand for a building permit. Call it indicative rumor, supporting the assertion that Iranians now believe their current government is more corrupt than the Shah's. Moreover, Iranians are aware of Iraq's political progress. There's a war in Iraq, yes, but also an emerging Arab democracy -- and that irritates Iranians who regard themselves as being more sophisticated than Arabs. The latest U.N. sanctions resolution increases political and economic pressure. It also freezes the economic assets of 28 people and organizations -- so the sanctions are tailored to hit specific Iranian actors (bad actors). The resolution passed unanimously, meaning the mullahs cannot count on China and Russia.
Confronting these problems, Iran's Islamist hardliners take Western hostages.
"These people have to be released," Britain's Tony Blair said on Monday. At the moment, Britain and its allies are pursuing diplomatic means. If they fail, Blair says, "then this will move into a different phase." Two U.S. aircraft carrier groups are now operating off Iranian shores. They are not small, open boats.
Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
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