Iran's International Battle Heats Up

Nov.3 2011
The conflict between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his rivals within the Iranian government has come out into the open. This past week accusations that Iran's Treasury Minister, a close ally of Ahmadinejad, was complicit in Iran's largest ever banking scandal, was brought before the Iranian Parliament. A faction of the Iranian Parliament attempted to have the Treasury Minister removed from office.

While efforts to impeach the head of Iran's Treasury failed, it is widely perceived as an ongoing demonstration of the conflict between Ahmadinejad and Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. As part of this ongoing trend Khamenei recently spoke about the possibility of eliminating the position of the presidency altogether. Ahmadinejad also entered into uncharted territory this week when he admitted that international sanctions were badly damaging the Iranian banking sector,something that hasn't been admitted by Iranian officials in the past and is likely to stoke tensions further.

NPR foreign correspondent Mike Shuster spoke about the divisions at length on Talk of the Nation.


The US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control has placed sanctions on six Panama based companies that function as front companies for the Iranian regime. This is part of an ongoing effort to punish the Iranian regime for its support of international terrorism and its illicit nuclear program. More than 150 companies have been listed by the US Treasury Department as doing business for the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL).

According to a former Iranian intelligence official who defected to Germany: ""The cover businesses (in Argentina in the 90s) had two missions: generating income; and manipulating sources and providing them with ample cover," he said. IRISL "is a shipping company that is managed by the Revolutionary Guard and that coordinates all of Iran's illegal business activities. This includes tasks such as transporting people illegally from one country to another, issuing false shipping documentation, or altering commercial documentation by changing the designation of the goods listed on the documentation. They also carry out kidnappings."

You can read more about this story at the United States Institute of Peace's Iran Primer.


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced last week that they United States plans on opening a "virtual embassy". The program is part of an effort to offer Iranian citizens information about visas and study abroad opportunities. The announcement was made during interviews with BBC Persian service and Voice of America. According to Clinton:

"My goal in speaking to you today is to clearly communicate to the people of Iran, particularly the very large population of young people, that the United States has no argument with you. We want to support your aspirations."

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