Michael Ledeen responds: We underestimate Iran’s weakness
We keep forgetting, if we ever knew, about Iran’s weakness within. I’m told by Iranian business people that they can’t get government money to pay for basic staples: wheat, barley, etc. The money isn’t there. Some of them say that every bank in the country is broke. Oil prices are terrible for the regime. It’s Norouz, and the cost of food for the celebration is way up, chicken prices by 30% in less than two months, for example. So the disgruntlement of the people is intense and getting worse. Watch to see if the subsidies are renewed next month.
When I ask, “so where do they get the money for all those foreign operations?” I am told that it’s Khamenei’s money (remember he gets a VAT on all commercial transactions). If true, it increases the stress on the leader and his family.
Meanwhile, quite aside from the family budget, the very nasty fight for the succession to the suffering supreme leader is quite hot. The rising tempo of executions and arrests bespeaks the insecurity of the ruling class, and, as I have been saying for quite some time, Iran is in a pre-revolutionary condition. As the regime’s behavior shows us.
So now comes the Sunni assault on Yemen. An Iranian defeat would be very threatening to the regime in Tehran, especially if Iranians were killed in meaningful numbers (there is already widespread public anger at Iranian casualties in Syria and Iraq), and if Iran were seen to be retreating from the battle of Tikrit (I won’t even attempt to sort out all the information/disinformation on that one, but I’ll bet you that Obama’s NSC guys are consuming a lot of aspirin these days trying to figure out WTF is going on).
The Divine Sense of Humor is very much at work: just as Obama totally collapses in response to Tehran’s mounting demands, the Islamic Republic suddenly faces a potentially existential crisis. All the dramaturgical elements are there, from hubris (Suleimani, Zarif, Rouhani) to personal tragedy (Khamenei).
Outcome needless to say quite unpredictable. What if some rocket hits a US Navy ship?
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