|There are hundreds of similar Iranian images on the web. This AP photo|
was originally published in The Guardian.
As the Arab spring flourishes throughout the Middle East, Iran, one of the region's most prominent targets on Amnesty International's watch list seems to be an "island of calm". The reason, according to Iranian human rights groups, international watchdogs and country experts is that Tehran is pursuing a campaign of public intimidation and covert killing to subdue political opposition and quell turbulence caused by the region's revolts while claiming that it is cracking down on drug trafficking and other criminal activity. According to Amnesty International, Iran has admitted executing 190 people between January and the end of June this year; an additional 130 reported executions have gone unacknowledged. These figures put Iran on course for a record year for capital punishment. In 2010, 252 people were executed, according to official figures, with 300 more also believed to have been killed... Iran's execution "average" is running at almost two people per day in 2011, making the regime the world's number two executioner after China.The entire article is here.
Israel's head of Military Intelligence Maj.- Gen. Aviv Kochavi spoke to a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting this week. He addressed [report here] some additional aspects of Iranian mischief in the area. Some highlights:
- The Iranians are attempting to influence the political process in Egypt via their connection with Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood is pressing for elections to take place as soon as possible, because they are “the only group that’s ready for elections.”
- Iran will be able to produce a nuclear explosive within two years.
- Iran has recovered from the last wave of economic sanctions imposed by the west. The international consensus surprised them, but they got over it and are undamaged.
- There are signs of closer relations between Iran and Turkey. These are mainly focused on trade, but they include military matters.
- The current upheaval in the Middle East is being leveraged by Iran to deepen their infiltration into states and organizations in the region including Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Bahrain, Sudan, Yemen, Iraq and Gaza.
- Iran continues to work on its nuclear project.
- It continues to transfering weapons and radical Islamic ideology throughout the Middle East.
- The potential for an Iranian cyberattack is growing, and will become a larger threat than Iran’s other weapons.
- Iran took and active role in planning Nakba Day and Naksa Day provocations against Israel at Lebanon's border with Israel. (We wrote about them here and here.) They wanted more trouble (read: deaths) at the border crossings and were disappointed with the moderate outcome.
- Iran's Hezbollah client in Lebanon has an active partnership with the Syrian regime in oppressing democracy protesters. Iran supplies the Syrians with crowd-dispersal equipment, knowledge and technical aid.
- The mullahs of Iran have a deep fear of the Syrian demonstrations and the threat to their partnership with the Bashar al-Assad family regime. The IDF view is they have little to fear so long as Assad’s regime manages to prevent mass protests in Damascus and Aleppo. So far, they are succeeding in this. The Syrian army remains loyal to Assad, especially high-ranking Alawite officers. And that's the key.