July 23, 2006


In Iran�s Streets, Aid to Hezbollah Stirs Resentment (MICHAEL SLACKMAN, 7/23/06, NY Times)

There is a huge amount of anger here about what is happening in Lebanon, but it is not all the result of Israeli bombs, missiles and artillery.

�Of course I am angry,�� said Hamid Akbari, 30, a deliveryman. �All our income is going to Palestine and Hezbollah.�

For decades, Iran has been Hezbollah�s prime patron, helping create it as a Shiite Muslim militia and then nurture it with money, expertise and weapons. But now that Hezbollah is in the midst of full-blown fighting with Israel, Iranian officials have been adamant in insisting that they had nothing to do with the events that set off the crisis.

Part of the reason may be fear, or concern, that the United States and Europe would punish Iran, if it were proved otherwise. But Iranian officials may have a wary eye on their public. In interviews in central Tehran Saturday, person after person said the same thing: Iran should worry about Iran�s problems and not be dragged down by others� battles.

�We Iranians have a saying,� said Ali Reza Moradi, 35, a portrait artist who works in a small booth downtown. �We should save our own house first and then save the mosque. A lot of people think this way. The government should help its people first, and then help the people in Lebanon.� [...]

Although Iran sits atop one of the largest known oil reserves, it cannot refine enough gasoline to meet its own needs � and so prices are rising. Mr. Ahmadinejad may have been elected on a populist economic message, but on the streets people report more pain, more unemployment and higher prices.

Mr. Ahmadinejad can't survive the next election.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 23, 2006 8:11 AM

If Ahmadinejad doesn't, it will be because the other regime members want to appease the public by giving them a new face, not because the people's votes are counted.

Posted by: pj at July 23, 2006 10:40 AM

It's a divided regime and they want rid of him. As do the voters.

Posted by: oj at July 23, 2006 11:32 AM

It's a time-honored political tradition of politicians in trouble to try and create some sort of external threat to rally the public to their support based on nationalism. The problem for Ahmadinejad is there's no adjacent state that's a threat to Iran now without the Iranians doing something to provoke it, like threatening to fire off nucelar missiles at Israel.

The Iranian public may like the nationalistic pride of having a nuclear arsenal like Pakistan, but they don't want Mahmoud to bring the wrath of the west and/or Israel down on their heads, and they certainly can't see what funding a proxy war against Israel in lieu of their president's threats to get into a Holy War against Israel while hinting that some new future chapter of the Koran that will be written based on his own exploits.

Posted by: John at July 23, 2006 12:00 PM

The beauty of Israel's war to finish off HB is that the IDF only has to provide the first push. The Lebanese public, the Iranian public, and the Sunni states will do the rest of the work until HB are smashed at the bottom of the cliff.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at July 23, 2006 12:39 PM

HB will run at least Southern Lebanon, though why they'd tolerate the Sunni and Christians in the North is beyond me.

Posted by: oj at July 23, 2006 1:42 PM

No, the Shia will govern southern Lebanon. But it won't be HB as it has existed.

Indeed, the problem is that HB as it has existed won't tolerate Christians and Sunni, tho these have always formed a substantial, if declining, part of the Lebanonese population.

That is why HB must be dealt with, and why I suspect many in Lebanon, and not just Christian and Sunni but responsible Shia as well, will be happy to see them go. This is the endgame of the Cedar Rev. For that Rev to finally succeed, HB must be smashed.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at July 23, 2006 3:23 PM

In fact they've been a repressive part of the state though the Shi'a are the plurality. The Shi'a may tolerate them when they gain power but it would be an act of generosity uncommon in history.

Posted by: oj at July 23, 2006 3:30 PM

Mr. Ahmadinejad will do all he can to ensure that there is not a next election. Isn't that the point of his cult? And his private armies?

Did you see the quote from Khatami yesterday (about Hezbollah): "You are the shining sun of Islam", and then going on about inspiration and holiness? All those mullahs seem to be getting a bit drunk lately.

Posted by: ratbert at July 24, 2006 3:12 AM

Yes, but he can't do much. One & done.

Posted by: oj at July 24, 2006 8:57 AM

You sound like a German businessman in 1932.

Of course, Ahmadinejad will never have a united nation, no matter how much he ratchets up the Jew-hatred, but he does have until Dec. 2009 to make all kinds of mischief (and not just in the Middle East).

Posted by: ratbert at July 24, 2006 8:10 PM

Ahmedinejad's Hindenburg is more powerful than he.

Posted by: oj at July 24, 2006 10:37 PM

Actually, I was thinking of the industrialists like Alfred Hugenberg, or even the foreign (English) observers who saw Hitler as a tool to use against the communists, but it doesn't really matter.

It is interesting to consider the possibility of an Ahmadinejad were Khomeini still alive. It seems clear that the "election" last fall would have been abrogated or ignored by religious decree, because Khomeini would not have permitted such impertinence (nor heresy).

Khameini's best move now is to cut his losses before Syria is punctured like an old tire. Iran will have no easy options left if the Ba'athists in Syria are removed. Of course, Ahmadinejad could always go to Belarus, as Chavez did over the weekend, but I wonder how much international travel the guy wants to make while his proxy army is under attack?

Posted by: ratbert at July 24, 2006 11:06 PM