As far as I'm concerned, the carefully calibrated observations spouted by professional Iran experts on news channels are about as valid as the opinions of the Shiraz-born proprietors of the Shalom Chai pizza parlor on Manhattan's Lower East Side. Unfortunately, David and Chaim were far too busy serving customers to field questions. Similarly, the Iranian-born ex-wives of two friends couldn't be reached for comment.
In attempt to elicit authentic if official Iranian views on the recent events in Tehran, I emailed queries to Iranian embassy VIPs in North America, Europe, India, Australia and New Zealand. These efforts have been fruitless as well.
That leaves me and my own ruminations -- as useful, I suppose, as anyone else's.
So here it goes: the Iranian mullacracy won't go away.
Government-backed motorcycle gangs have successfully smothered the desperate street protests; like those of '99 and '03, these too will soon be forgotten, Twitter, Facebook and Youtube notwithstanding. Rest assured: European officials and businessmen will be commuting to Tehran in a mere few months time, begging for business as usual.
And despite President Obama's firm, if lukewarm denunciations of the crackdown, the Americans won?t be far behind: at some future venue in Geneva, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will present Manouchehr Mottaki, her Iranian counterpart, with a toy 'reset' button just like the one she handed the Russian foreign minister last March. This gadget, recall, was meant as a metaphor for the Obama Administration's desire to diplomatically paper over Russian bullying of its neighbors.
International bleating to the contrary, when it comes right down to it, precious few worry about internal repression or oppression within dictatorially ruled countries. The Iranian government will get away with it, just as Chinese, Russians, Burmese, Venezuelan and Arab dictators have and do. And they all can, because it's not about human rights -- it's all just business.
The mullahs will never give up power. Like the dictators in Beijing, Havana, Yangon, Pyongyang, Riyadh, Moscow and Caracas, the Iranian military-mullah complex will endure because three decades in power has made the ruling elite fabulously wealthy and they?re not about to give all that up.
For the ascendant clique of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in particular, the money is a vital means to a far loftier mission - accelerating the arrival of the Muslim Shiite Messiah, known as the Twelfth Imam.
As it happens, this messianic End of Days worldview is held to a greater or lesser extent by all members of the Islamic political elite whatever their flavor, be it the hygienically challenged Ahmadinejad, his nemesis and corrupt billionaire power broker Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, or former thug-turned Gandhi-like media darling, Mir Hossein Moussavi.
First the money; in wake of the 1979 Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini and his tough henchmen known as the Revolutionary Guards seized from the wealthy class thousands of lucrative properties and income producing businesses and placed them in so-called Islamic charitable foundations known as bonyads.
Over the decade that followed, the bonyads supposedly redistributed to the poor some of the wealth stolen by the Khomeini gang. But once the grand ayatollah died, the mullahs and Revolutionary Guards disregarded the bonyads? mandate of wealth redistribution, shifting their efforts instead to self-enrichment and intensified financing of jihadi terrorist organizations.
According to an influential 2003 article in Forbes Magazine, bonyads boast lucrative investments in disparate industries such as oil, real estate, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, shipping, construction and resorts. Freedom House estimates that the bonyads collectively control perhaps 20% of Iranian GDP, or over $100 billion. Bonyadic tentacles also reach into every small Iranian town where local operatives regularly extort local businesses. So much for justice.
As Vladimir Putin himself reportedly noted in 2007, the Iranian ruling clique is delusional. This is of course isn't unusual for autocrats: inhabiting bubbles and surrounded by trembling sycophants, dictators of all sorts are invariably prone to a megalomaniacal sense of destiny. Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser, Libya's Muammar Khaddafi and Iraq's Saddam Hussein each expected to unite the Arab world under their respective flags. Hugo Chavez is certain that he was born to lead the entirety of Latin America into a new socialist utopia.
Ahmadinejad has made it eminently clear in many public pronouncements that he sees himself as an agent put on earth to hasten the Twelfth Imam?s arrival; the archives of MEMRI.org provide ample record of these declarations.
It follows that any domestic or foreign opponent of the Iranian regime and its policies would be viewed by Ahmadinejad and his ilk as an obstacle to the Imam's eventual return, and as such, an intolerable foe. This holds true even when the foe happens to be a loyal son of the Islamic Revolution such as Moussavi.
Make no mistake -- Ahmadinejad and his ruthless clique will do whatever is required to hasten the arrival of their venerated Imam even if it takes the spilled blood of the very last unarmed Iranian.
The mullahs won't go: this isn't just about the power and the money -- it's about the coming of their Messiah.
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