pril 25, 2010: The conflict between Iran and most of the world is all about trends. Decades of sanctions, and a number of new sanction efforts in the last few years, have left the Iranian economy crippled. The official unemployment rate is 12 percent, but the real one is over 20 percent. The government prints money to try and keep the unemployed quiet, but this has created persistent inflation (now running at over 20 percent a year.) Reforms are difficult, because of corruption among the Islamic clergy, and their families, that dominate the economy. Over a third of the economy is owned or directly controlled by the senior clergy and their families. Via control of the government, the clerical families exert great control over the entire economy. This is widely resented. In the last few years, that has led to a growing number of well educated technocrats, working for the government (on weapons and industrial program) to flee the country, or spy for the United States and other foreign nations. Despite the police state atmosphere, the resistance grows. Most Iranians want prosperity and economic freedom, not revolution. But resentment against the government turns more Iranians into active opponents each month.
One area of vulnerability is gasoline imports. Sanctions have blocked the importation of equipment needed to build refineries, so about a third of gasoline (petrol) has to be imported. Gasoline rationing, which began three years ago, has cut sharply into the $5 b… >>>