Thursday, January 7, 2010

Some interesting links on Iran I've run across lately:
  • The left-wing National Interest's article The Revolution Will Be Mercantilized, on the business dealings of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Some highlights:
    The new “military” organization of the IRGC was to be something quite different: a brotherhood of the Iranian sansculottes, an organic military force that shunned all the normal paraphernalia of the regular armed forces. It was a haphazard entity, making up for its lack of organization with revolutionary zeal...

    The oil income provided by Rafsanjani gave the IRGC access to hard currency (dollars) and the Guards, along with others in similarly privileged positions, were able to make a hefty profit by simply taking advantage of the subsidized exchange rates, and the cheap dollars this afforded them, to import goods and sell them to the Iranian public at the market rate for a huge profit. When this was coupled with political access and a network that spanned the entire Islamic Republic, competition proved increasingly easy to sideline and profits easier to make...

    Biding their time, the Guards expanded their portfolio of economic enterprises in order to increase their financial independence from the government and to avoid any unnecessary scrutiny of their activities...

    The Guards themselves became involved in similar schemes to do with satellite dishes, which were periodically outlawed because of the access they allowed to corrupting influences from the outside world. The Guards, however, took matters to another level entirely. It was widely suspected that they were involved in the illegal importation and even production of satellite dishes, which they would then sell, seize and resell. Similar suspicions abounded about the distribution of drugs, in particular opium, the traditional leisure drug of choice in Iran.
  • The soft line Hooman Majd writes in Foreign Policy downplaying the significance of the Green Revolution.
  • Finally, the very interesting three part Secrets of Khamenei's Life. Written by Mohsen Makhmalbaf, a filmmaker and opposition spokesman, it provides an interesting look at the reclusive Ayatollah Khamenei. Some elements are certainly exaggerated, such as the claim attending daily prayers costs $500,000.
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