'They kill a lot'
This is a terrifying read: Michael Ledeen, one of the smartest Iran experts, has a very entertaining piece on NRO about recent developments in Iran.
Let me quote him in full:
"A bit of background is necessary in order to get the full significance of the news. According to the Shiite faith, the 12th imam (the authoritative successors to the Prophet Mohammed) disappeared from this earth, and at the end of mortal time he will reappear, to usher in the Kingdom of Allah. The Iranian Shiites believe that the imam is hiding at the bottom of a well in Ifahan, known as the Jamkaran well, around which a magnificent mosque has been constructed. Okay? Now you can understand the story:
In a formal cabinet meeting chaired by Iran's new president’s first deputy, the ministers printed and ratified an agreement with the Shiites' 12th Imam. In his opening remarks, Parviz Davoudi, Ahmadinejad' first deputy suggested that the cabinet ministers should sign an agreement with 12th Imam, the same way they signed a pact with the new president. The ministers collectively agreed and so there is now an agreement between the two! The ministers then questioned how the 12th hidden Imam will sign the agreement!
The solution was resolved when the government's cabinet ministers agreed to ask Saffar Harandi, Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance how president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad planned to take the letter to the holy Imam. Next Thursday night, Saffar Harandi dropped the signed agreement to the Jamkaran well, a spot that Moslem religious groups believe is where the Shiite 12th Imam is hidden. This well is also the resting place for tons of letters and requests from Muslim pilgrims.
A short while after the cabinet ministers' collective agreement, the government spent 70 billion rials to feed the needy pilgrims of Jamkaran Mosque. At the Transportation Minister's suggestion, this money would be spent to reconstruct the roads leading to Jamkaran and to allocate large amount of money for other similar projects. There was strong criticism on this from all fronts and even Ahmadinejad seemed very offended. He said that this government was not in power to build roads and that it should be thankful to 12th Imam's blessing for being in power.
We are talking about some of the highest-ranking officials in the Islamic republic. So far as I know, this is not political satire, it’s reportage. And the point is obvious, isn’t it? We are not dealing with people like us (although a couple of the more hyper columnists at, say, the New York Times might well suspect that there are lots of evangelicals who secretly aspire to this sort of behavior).
The Iranian people are suffering enormously at the hands of this regime,
whose president "was not in power to build roads" and owes its legitimacy to a vanished religious figure at the bottom of a well in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
And for those who thought that Iranian "elections" somehow gave a form of democratic legitimacy to the president and his cabinet, read it again. It’s the 12th imam, not the people of Iran, who bestows power.
There are two groups of people who ought to be made to read this account several times: those European pseudo-diplomats who think that you can reach a rational modus vivendi with the mullahs; and the innumerable failed diplomats and elected officials (I am thinking, as I so often do, of Senator Richard Lugar and his buddies on the Foreign Relations Committee, who do not deign to take testimony from critics of the Iranian regime) in this country who keep on calling for normalization with Iran.
We’re talking about real fanatics here. Fun reading, yes, but they kill a lot."
Ledeen is writing a fascinating series of articles in the last couple of years. Read the piece yourself.