The wobbly apex

On all sides there is sporadic discussion of the doctrine of Velayat-e-Faqih (Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists), the Khomeinist doctrine that there should be a Supreme Ruler, at present the underqualified Ali Khamenei.

Supporters of pluralism and democracy, on the other hand, saw the doctrine as a façade for religious despotism.

Amir Taheri describes here how this perception of the benign impartiality of the arbiter has been irrevocably compromised – by the Great Donkey himself:

Over the past few weeks, Khamenei, emerging from his reclusion, has been outspoken. Rather than calming spirits and fostering consensus, his frequent interventions have deepened existing divisions and fanned the fires of opposition to the regime.

It’s all rather reminiscent of the theory of surplus value and the public ownership of the means of production. Yawn.Green flags

King Rat is snubbed

The reporting of the early morning parliamentary inauguration of the Rat on 5 August makes it clear that he thinks he has been snubbed. Paranoid mutterings against foreigners have risen in volume. However, evidence of actual diplomatic slighting is hard to come by, except for the glorious exception of Chancellor Merkel:

Klaus Vater, Merkel’s deputy spokesperson, told reporters that “in view of his controversial re-election, the chancellor won’t be congratulating” Ahmadinejad, reports Deutsche Presse-Agentur [DPA].

The US simply says shame-facedly he is the “elected leader”. They could have said “official leader”.

Chomsky onside

The great linguist, Leninist and astute intellectual of the last century, Noam Chomsky, is interviewed on affairs Iranian here:

It’s a clerical, military regime … the whole structure of the regime is oppressive and authoritarian and undermines basic civil and other human rights; and protesting against it is not only honourable, but courageous, because it faces extreme violence … [T]he fundamental core of the protests against keeping political prisoners, against repression, against torture, against narrow clerical, military control, sure, that should be opposed. Actually I think we should oppose it in the United States, too.

Had to get that bit in, in the interests of scientific impartiality.

Which side has the more IQ points?

A delightful pair of politically apathetic techies in San Francisco have been electrified by the Iranian election protests and have devised a software application, Haystack, that enables Persian internet users to secure anonymity and evade government filters. First, Austin Heap devised a list of proxy servers and provided instructions on how to set them up and use them:

Traffic to his site grew from a few dozen users a day to more than 100,000 in 24 hours … “I missed three weeks of work. No vacation. No Paris. I now work on this about 90 hours a week, from when I get up until I go to bed some days … We want to make the world a better place and make sure the people who died there didn’t die in vain … [Haystack] is designed to honestly uphold human rights via technology … That means whenever someone inside the country gets a page saying ‘access denied’ when they try to use Twitter or Facebook, if they run Haystack Twitter is back, Facebook is back … It’s completely secure for the user so the government can’t snoop on them. We use many anonymising steps so that identities are masked and it is as safe as possible so people have a safe way to communicate with the world,

explained Mr Heap.

How effective are the Iranian government forces of digital suppression, with their Nokia-provided technology and deep packet searching?

From our perspective it has looked as though Iran has struggled with the technology and the capacity to do the filtering. Folks are still finding their way around the filters.

Internet traffic to Iran

Hard not to reach the same conclusion just watching television and scanning YouTube. Strenuous government efforts don’t seem to have made much difference – perhaps a reduction of 30-40% in internet traffic overall.

Axis of rockets

According to ‘Reza Kahlili’, a former CIA operative who infiltrated the Revolutionary Guards in the 1980s,

With the help of North Korea, the [Revolutionary] Guards are working on long-range ballistic missiles in tests that are concealed by their space project. The Guards have also accelerated their production of Sejil, solid fuel missiles, and are working nonstop to improve the range of those missiles. Today they can strike Tel Aviv, Riyadh, US bases in Iraq, and the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet headquarters in Bahrain. Their goal is to be able to target all of Europe.

I hope Bill Clinton had something to say about this on his recent visit to Pyongyang.

Recognition where recognition is due

Hassan Nasrallah, the Hizbollah leader, sent the Iranian president a personal letter.

Your re-election represents a great hope to all the oppressed people, holy warriors and resistance fighters who reject the powers of arrogance and occupation.

This story is appropriately titled Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah Opens First Iranian Comedy Club by, a satirical site.