• 16 February 2010
  • Posted By Nayda Lakelieh
  • Diplomacy, Events in Iran, Persian Gulf, Sanctions, Uncategorized

Clinton: Iran’s shift towards Military dictatorship

The NY  times reports that Secretary of State Clinton  sparked more tension with Iran on Monday by suggesting Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards is shifting the nation towards a military dictatorship, as the IRGC is gaining more political, economic, and military power.

“We see that the government of Iran, the supreme leader, the president, the Parliament is being supplanted and that Iran is moving toward a military dictatorship,” Mrs. Clinton said.

Notably, Secretary Clinton impelled Iran’s political and religious leaders to stand-up against the IRGC, and “take back the authority which they should be exercising on behalf of the people”. This would be the closest any senior US administration official has come to encouraging political disturbance in the nation.

Iranian officials did not take the news lightly, and Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki promptly responded that the description of a military dictatorship could also be applied to America. Mottaki further accused the US of using “fake words” and “modern deceit” to mask Washington’s true intentions for the Gulf region.

“We are regretful that the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tries to conceal facts about the stance of the U.S. administration through fake words,” Press TV quoted [Mottaki] as saying.

Clinton’s comments possibly stem from Washington’s new strategy of characterizing the IRGC as responsible for the domestic unrest in Iran, eager to lodge animosity between ordinary Iranian citizens and the more entitled IRGC.  Sec. Clinton’s frank approach could also be an attempt to rally more Iran-ambivalent regional allies and to gain support for a new round of more targeted sanctions directed at the IRGC, as these carefully calculated statements came just across the Persian Gulf. Regardless of the motivation, Clinton’s sharp words definitely inflamed the Iranian government.

Posted By Nayda Lakelieh

    16 Responses to “Clinton: Iran’s shift towards Military dictatorship”

  1. Survivor's Guilt says:

    It is interesting watching the reaction to her comments. Most Iranians would agree that a military dictatorship has been going on for decades in Iran. The use of brute force has always been there and now it is displayed for the world to see. This geriatric regime has chosen to use its force on the people whenever possible. Clinton’s comments help shed light onto a regime that is consumed with suppresion via brute force.

  2. Publicola says:

    “a military dictatorship” ?

    some assumptions :

    A comparison of Iran with a European country might be helpful to find out, if the security forces and the military might be a structural obstacle to the realization of constitutionally guaranteed rights and to political overdue social change.

    • Iranian total population: around 74.000.000 inhabitants
    • The regular armed forces have an estimated 820,000 personnel (1,1 % of total population)
    • Law enforcement in Iran has 60,000 police personnel serving under the Ministry of Interior and Justice, including border patrol personnel (0,08% of total population)
    • The Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution, or Revolutionary Guards, has an estimated 125,000 personnel (0,17% of total population)
    • The Basij is a paramilitary volunteer force controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards. Its membership is a matter of controversy. Iranian sources claim a membership of 12.6 million, including women, of which perhaps 3 million are combat capable (4 % to 17% of total population)

    • Inhabitants: ca. 82,000,000
    • police force total: ca. 247.000 – 0,30 % (percentage of population total)
    • armed forces total (i.e. active plus reserve personnel): ca. 610.000 – 0,74 % (percentage of population total)

    There is no decisive difference (expressed in percentage-proportion to population total) between Germany and Iran when the calculation is restricted to the regular police and army forces.

    Differences: the number of purely functional police forces is considerably lower than the German figure.
    This difference is more than compensated, when adding the figures of the IRGC- plus Basiji-forces – law enforcement forces that don’t act on a purely functional basis, but in addition on ideological [fanatical] grounds.

    Thus differences emerge clearly when additionally taking into account the Iranian (ideologized/fanaticized) parapolice/paramilitary forces (4,2 % to 17,2%).

    [Independently of any possibly moderate voting behaviour and any possibly moderate political outlook of members of these forces they still are subjected to the principle of “command and obedience” when in service.]

    To be added is the considerable economic impact and power the IRGC are wielding.

    One difficult task of the “green” movement to cope with.

  3. Pirouz says:

    Mrs. Clinton makes these remarks right before she gets on a plane to visit the monarchial dictatorship of Saudi Arabia! A country with no effective representative form of government and with military spending far in excess of that of Iran.

    We won’t even mention US military expenditures (which are the highest in history) or the fact that America is currently engaged in multiple war efforts around the globe.

    Hey, at least Iranians are entitled to basic healthcare and higher education. What are Americans entitled to? Increased debt to fuel the military-industrial complex.

    Mrs. Clinton comments- what a joke.

  4. Publicola says:


    The Iran-Iraq War took place 1980 – 1988, the reason and start of the emergence and existence of the IRGC and Basiji. Let us assume that the main contingent of men fighting at that time might have been 18 to 25 years on average.
    Now, twenty to thirty years later these men, who are about 40 to 55 years old, presumably form the middle and upper ecchelons of the command structure within the IRG, the Basiji and possible further auxiliary paramilitary/parapolice forces.
    This generation and age cohort (age group), having fought for Iran, will presumably not be willing – now in the prime and at the peak of their active (working) life – to let go of their potential influence and power within society they have acquired with Ahmadinejad coming to power at the latest.
    It will last about at least 5 to – at the most – 20 years until these men who have direct fighting (and killing) experience at their disposal will leave active working life, will leave the ranks of the Basiji.

  5. Rob says:

    Interesting evaluation Publicola. So the Alpha dogs are intensifying their fights for dominance amoungst themselves, shall be an interesting (if not bloody)next 5-10 years

  6. Pirouz says:

    Are you folks on staff at NIAC familiar with “The Race for Iran” site by the Leverrets? (you probably are)

    “Why Chuckles Greet the Hillary Show” by Rami G. Khouri


  7. Iranian-American says:

    Facts can always be ignored by the delusional…

    Literacy rate:
    Iran: 82.4 %
    US: 99 %

    Life expectancy:
    Iran: 71.0
    US: 78.2

    Infant mortality rate: Deaths/1,000 live births
    Iran: 30.6
    US: 6.3

    Poverty: Percentage of population living below national poverty live
    Iran: 18%
    US: 12%
    Note this is the national poverty line. If you looked at the percent of the population under 2 dollars a day, Iran would be even worse off.

    Football: FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking
    Iran: 63
    US: 14

    Clearly, the only problem in Iran is the football team. Boy is the middle east funny sometimes isn’t it?!?

  8. stamboul says:

    Rami Khouri puts it well:

    “The US has adored military dictatorships in the Arab world, and has long supported states dominated by the shadowy world of intelligence services. This became even more obvious after the attacks of September 11, 2001, when Washington intensified cooperation with Arab intelligence services in the fight against Al-Qaeda and other terror groups.

    Washington’s closest allies in the Middle East are military and police states where men with guns rule, and where citizens are confined to shopping, buying cellular telephones, and watching soap operas on satellite television. Countries like Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Libya, as well as the entire Gulf region and other states are devoted first and foremost to maintaining domestic order and regime incumbency through efficient, multiple security agencies, for which they earn American friendship and cooperation. When citizens in these and other countries agitate for more democratic and human rights, the US is peculiarly inactive and quiet.

    If Iran is indeed becoming a military dictatorship, this probably qualifies it for American hugs and aid rather than sanctions and threats. ”


  9. Publicola says:


    To be emphasized is the exceptional, considerable economic impact and power the IRGC are wielding. The corps dominates both Iran’s official and black economies with a market share of a third to nearly two-thirds of Iran. It is impossible to gauge its market share, but western estimates range from a third to nearly two-thirds of Iran’s GDP. The IRGC is a corporation, a business conglomerate with guns.

    “The financial power of the Revolutionary Guards”, in: The Guardian, 16.02.2010


  10. Eric says:

    No $hit Mrs. Clinton! The blind followers like Pirouz will of course say that the U.S. is far worse, but the dictator and his little henchman’s days must be numbered at this point. Then Pirouz can watch old videos of unarmed women being beaten, or even better, videos of men being raped, and he will think of “the good old days” where “law and order” existed in Iran. Ha!

  11. Iranian-American says:

    I’ve been reading the Iranian government’s response to Clinton’s comments. It is interesting to see how defensive the Iranian government and it’s supporters are on this issue. Khamenei himself directly responded to these comments. The defensive nature of his response (something to the effect of “lies, they are all lies, and no one will believe them anyway, because they are America and remember? we all hate America, remember?, am i right?”) reflect desperation and weakness.

    The Iran government has historically done a good job at convincing people in the region (e.g. the Arab streets) that it is their champion. This is demonstrated by the fact that countries like Saudi Arabia, which despise the Iranian government, have until recently, had to remain somewhat quiet in their contempt of Iran. Typically, Iran’s position would be strong enough to not have to respond to such questions, or at least dismiss them quietly.

    It seems like this is no longer the case. It is very clear that the US and Saudi Arabia are standing together against Iran. This is only possible now because Iran is no longer what it used to be in the Arab streets.

    One indirect effect of the Green Movement seems to be that everyday Israel, the US and Iran’s Arab enemies are looking stronger and Iran is looking weaker. I know this must enrage those with a sense of irrational Iranian pride, but, in the end, they have no one to blame but the increasingly brutal, often incompetent and always corrupt Iranian government. A free Iran would be a much stronger Iran.

    It is worth noting that the Green Movement is only part of this. The Iranian government’s meddling in Iraq and Lebanon have also lead large portions of those populations (non-Shia’s in Iraq and Lebanon) to despise the Iranian government.

    The Iranian government is losing the soft-war against the US and Israel. At the same time it continues to establish itself as an enemy of the Iranian people. We can only expect to see more desperation and weakness as it will become increasingly difficult for the Iranian government to distract from their own shortcomings by pointing to “foreign enemies” and playing the champion card.

  12. Iranian-American says:

    Yet another example I stubbled upon after writing my last post:

    It looks like even Iran’s biggest Arab ally, Syria, is doing the smart thing and hedging its bets against and increasingly weak Iran.

  13. Pirouz says:

    Iran’s biggest Arab ally is Iraq (thanks to Bush Jr.).

    “Every Iranian is a Revolutionary Guard” -President Ahmadinejad. (even I smiled over that one)

    Can you imagine being in the audience and listening to Mrs. Clinton’s remarks? That there was detectable gasps and episodes of laughter is understandable, given the history and setting. Khouri’s essay put it well, for both the arab street and intelligencia.

  14. Publicola says:

    Reading the statistical data presented by Iranian-American finishing off with the conclusion drawn
    “Clearly, the only problem in Iran is the football team. Boy is the middle east funny sometimes isn’t it?!?”

    I nearly died laughing.

  15. Saman says:

    Again this comes amid more and more tensions between the US and Iran. Its not surprising to hear Sec. Clinton say such a thing but I think its not particularly productive for her to say it in public. The comments seemed to be directed toward the Iranian people, but I think they are factually innacurate.

    While it is true that there has been an increase in police, Revolutionary Guard and Basij in the streets (as is clear by both official Iranian footage, and opposition footage) this does not mean the military has or will taken over the country. The Supreme Leader has the final say on all state matters, and it is on his orders that the security forces have been increasing in number in the streets.

    It seems to me that the US has chosen an interesting time to finally start speaking out about human rights issues in Iran. With the nuclear compromise out the window, I predict this will be the first in a series of harder statements from Washington. Iran’s reaction will most likely be even stronger, as they are known for their political posturing with their statements against the US.

  16. Iranian-American says:

    “Iran’s biggest Arab ally is Iraq (thanks to Bush Jr.).”

    Fair enough. Though I think it has less to do with Bush Jr. and more to do with history (both ancient and recent) and religion. Iran’s biggest Arab ally is Iraq because Iraq currently has a new Shia-dominated government, of which many members lived in Iran to escape persecution during Saddam Hussein’s rule.

    Most Sunni Iraqis, and even many Shia Iraqis, despise the perceived interference by the Iranian government (much of that perception is accurate).

    As you rightly point out, how the people feel does not change the fact that Iraq is Iran’s biggest Arab ally. But given that Iraq is something like a democracy (more so than Iran is), I expect the people’s bitterness towards the Iranian government’s meddling in its affairs to put a strain on this new and somewhat immature alliance. The alliance between Syria and Iran, on the other hand, is quite mature.

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Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
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Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.



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