Friday, July 16, 2010

Iranian Regime Compared to South American Dictatorships, Sepah Retreats from South Pars Oil Field, Bazaar Strikes Continue

The Wall Street Journal reports: "The engineering arm of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps said Friday it was pulling out of projects in a giant Iranian natural-gas field in the Persian Gulf, blaming mounting sanctions from the West.
I discussed this news with an American Liberal, Jeannette Hanna, whom I met on the Cultures of Resistance page on Facebook.
Hanna: I didn't realize that the Rev. Guard was also a business consortium. Do you believe it?

Jigsawnovich: Iranian friends have told me that the Revolutionary Guards are in control of all major industries in Iran. And I've read articles claiming that although Ahmadinejad has been "privatizing" many national Iranian businesses, in reality he is reportedly selling them to individuals who are fronts for the Revolutionary Guards, a subset of the Iranian government. My understanding is that by doing this, he puts more economic power under the Revolutionary Guards' control, while regulatory aspects within the Iranian government lose control.

I hope the US and UN sanctions are successful in reducing the power of Revolutionary Guards who have reportedly violated Constitutional rights of Iranians since the election, especially IF the Revolutionary Guards might be moving towards nuclear weapon development and might show the same disregard for others' human rights that they have shown for their own people. But whether sanctions can do this with minimal adverse impact on pro-democracy, pro-human rights, secular, Liberal Iranians, remains to be seen. The Revolutionary Guards have reportedly so deeply infiltrated the economics of Iran that friends tell me it is hard to hurt them without hurting Iranian people that international supporters of true democracy and freedom don't want to get hurt.

Hanna: Where do the religious stand on this? They wouldn't want the Rev. Guard in charge unless the Guards promised to keep them in some kind of effective role...

I suppose that one way to keep the secular elite under control would be to have them be the ones whose names are on the companies being privatized for the then involves them, too.

Jigsawnovich: The Iranians I know who are sincere and practicing Muslims want a secular government, not a theocracy, because they believe that their government is corrupting and abusing the religion. But my friends seem to be more intellectual and more creative than some of the religious people who do support the regime.

The Revolutionary Guards and Basij characteristically recruit people who are willingly obedient to all the religious rules and people who are economically disadvantaged.

Decadent, rich Iranians reportedly bribe police and security forces when they throw wild parties and break Islamic laws. Enjoying freedoms they can afford to purchase would make them unlikely to try to force regime change. And I've been told that most of the top business owners already have a relationship with the RG. The Revolutionary Guards have seen to that in their efforts to prevent the kinds of strikes that lead to the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

That's why the bazaar strikes are significant. The bazaar merchants apparently still have some power.

Homylafayette blog reports that: Pro-regime, anti-Ahmadinejad site publishes photos of bazaar strike
And here is footage from the early part of the strike, July 13, 2010

Hanna: How is it possible to be Pro-regime and Anti-Ahmadinejad? Who/What is The Regime, then?

Jigsawnovich: pro-regime = supports the current form of government in Iran
anti-Ahmadinejad = against policies enacted during the Ahmadinejad administration

Hanna: OK, thanks. Pro-regime=Approves the STRUCTURE of power, whoever is in the President's position. Anti-Ahmadinejad….Really then, policies were enacted during his admin, but he wouldn't have had the power to pass them himself. It is more of a historical description, like "during the time of Ahmad." Well, without changing the STRUCTURE....or at least the rigidity of the Supreme Leader by getting a different one, there can be no change.

I understand that even if Ahmadinejad had been allowed to lose the election to a moderate....things couldn't possibly have really changed as long as the RG was in place to follow through on the wishes of the Supreme Leader....and with their economic power....that pretty much sews things up. Am I getting it?

Jigsawnovich: It may be possible the Revolutionary Guards could become so powerful that they stop taking orders from the Supreme Leader. Iran could become a military dictatorship unrestrained by either the Supreme Leader or the Iranian Parliament, and only retaining Islam as a tool for recruiting people and keeping them under control. Ahmadinejad could be kept as the frontman, so that it looks like they still have a President instead of a military commander.

Hanna: That is exactly what I was thinking as we were writing back and forth. It was starting to look an awful lot like Chile and Argentina under military dictatorships....they didn't even have to bother with a front man. That is also how they and the top 2 % of the population ripped off the wealth of the country...privatization...and that top 2 % was complicit in the murders, economic chaos, resultant desperate poverty, destruction of the intellectuals, ownership of the media, etc.
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