Iran. A power struggle between the country’s two conservative leaders, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei, escalated in the spring. Ahmadinejad tried to strengthen his position by dismissing various ministers and appointing himself the appointed minister of oil, something that Khamenei, the powerful Guardian Council and even the parliament determined to contravene the constitution. In July, the situation stabilized when Rostam Qasemi, with a background in the Revolutionary Guard where Khamenei had part of his power base, was appointed new Minister of Oil.
In solidarity with the protests in the Arab world, large crowds, especially in Tehran, demonstrated in February and March and later again on the two-year anniversary of the June 12 presidential election. Police attacked the protesters and several were reported killed. Two opposition leaders and challengers from the disputed elections, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, were later arrested and placed under house arrest.
According to Countryaah official site, a large number of human rights violations were attracted international attention. Jafar Kazemi and Mohammad Ali Haj Aghaei, two activists convicted for their participation in the protests in 2009, were executed on January 24. Several human rights lawyers were sentenced to long prison sentences for, among other things, have spread propaganda against the regime.
Iran’s relations with the outside world were in many cases strained. The conflict surrounding the nuclear fission program escalated. The UN Atomic Energy Agency in the spring demanded clarification on those parts of the nuclear fission program that were not considered to fulfill any civil purpose. The agency reported November 8 that Iran was engaged in data simulation of a type that is relevant only in the development of nuclear weapons. The EU, like the US, the UK and Canada, then tightened its sanctions on Iran. Tensions escalated as Iran downgraded its diplomatic relations with Britain and the British embassy in Tehran was stormed by excited crowds on November 29. Britain closed the embassy, called home its diplomats, forced the Iranian embassy in London to close and expelled all Iranian diplomats.
In October, the United States arrested a US-Iranian suspect who, on behalf of a branch of the Revolutionary Guard and with the help of a Mexican drug cartel, had planned to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s US Ambassador Adel al-Jubair. Iran dismissed the charges. Iranian Majid Jamali Fashi was sentenced to death on August 28 for allegedly murdering one of Iran’s most prominent nuclear physicists, Massoud Ali Mohammadi, on behalf of the Israeli intelligence service Mossad 2010. Several other Iranian nuclear physicists have also been murdered.
The Arab Spring also affected Iran’s relations with the Arab countries. Egypt’s new leader has shown some kindness towards Iran at the same time as Iran’s relationship with its ally Syria has cooled and Iran has criticized President Bashar al-Asad for his bloody offensive against democracy activists. In October, Iran and Turkey conducted a joint offensive against Kurdish guerrillas on Iraqi soil.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported in June that Iran’s economic growth was higher than expected. Falling oil prices in 2009-10 had been offset by a record crop, and inflation was on the decline. One of the world’s largest saltwater lakes, Orumiyeh in northwestern Iran, was reported to have dried out and drained to half its original size. 60 people who demonstrated to save the lake were arrested in September.
Following the conquest of Libya in October 2011, Britain and the United States escalated the war rhetoric against Iran. Britain expelled several Iranian diplomats. This move was followed by an Iranian storm at the British embassy in Tehran, after which Britain expelled all Iranian diplomats. Israel, which has been planning attacks on Iran for several years, announced in December that it had set up a new military terror organization – the “Depth Corps” – which will, among other things, carry out terrorist operations in Iran. In 2010, Israel and the United States were behind the development of an advanced computer virus, Stuxnet, that destroyed a large number of uranium centrifuges in Iran’s nuclear reprocessing plants.
In November, the IAEA published a strong critical report on the Iranian nuclear program, accusing Iran of developing nuclear weapons. Critics pointed to a drastic change in the IAEA’s stance on Iran. The United States had been unable to pressure the former Secretary-General of the IAEA, Mohamed El-Baradei, to make reports that served the superpower’s interest, but in December 2009, Baradei was replaced by Japanese Yukiya Amano. In November 2010, the British daily The Guardian revealed telegrams from the US Embassy in Vienna. The telegram had been intercepted by Wikileaks. The telegram from the Embassy to Washington told of a meeting between the new IAEA Secretary General and a North American ambassador. During the meeting, the Secretary-General states that he is “100% on the US team on all strategic issues, from the hiring of senior figures to the handling of Iran’s alleged nuclear program.” (Nuclear Wikileaks: Cables show cozy US relationship with IAEA chief, Guardian 30/11 2010). Therefore, most observers considered the IAEA report purely ordering work on the part of the United States.
In January 2012, the United States escalated the war rhetoric as it unilaterally passed new sanctions on Iran, a few days later followed by an EU decision to halt Iranian oil purchases. Iran renewed its threats in the event of a military attack to close the narrow strait of Hormuz, where a large part of the oil from the Arabian Peninsula is transported.
The United States, the EU and Israel’s goal of increasing pressure on Iran is to replace the clergy with a pro-Western dictatorship – like the pro-Western dictatorships in the Arabian Peninsula. A similar process is underway in Syria, where the same states want a pro-Western dictatorship deployed. For the United States, the perspective is also a military encirclement of China, which from the beginning of the 21st century has developed into the greatest geopolitical threat to the superpower. If the maneuver is successful, the United States will have an unbroken array of countries from Turkey in the west to India in the east that can be used in the game of superpower against China.