Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Alienation in the Iranian Republic

Some sophisticated technocrats in Iran are not enamored with the theocracy or the aggressive nationalism of the government. The clerical and military elites are as suspicious as they are dependent on the expertise of the technocrats. An analysis in the Washington Post highlights reasons for the fears of the Iranian governing elites.

Iranian technocrats, disillusioned with government, offer wealth of intelligence to U.S.
Iran's political turmoil has prompted a growing number of the country's officials to defect or leak information to the West, creating a new flow of intelligence about its secretive nuclear program, U.S. officials said...

Some of the most significant new material has come from informants, including scientists and others with access to Iran's military programs, who are motivated by antipathy toward the government and its suppression of the opposition movement after a disputed presidential election in June…

In recent weeks, U.S. officials have acknowledged that an Iranian nuclear scientist defected to the West in June… [He] has provided spy agencies with details about sensitive programs, including a long-hidden uranium-enrichment plant near the city of Qom…

But sources said there has been a spate of other recent defections by diplomatic and military officials, some of which have not been made public…

[An] Iranian diplomat who defected, Mohammed Reza Heydari, said in a telephone interview from Norway that he represents thousands of young, educated Iranians who are increasingly discouraged by developments in their country.

"I personally had a good situation, both in Iran and as a diplomat, but my conscience would no longer allow me to work for the regime," Heydari said. "I was upset that the regime was repressing and killing people, simply for asking the question 'Where is my vote?'"

Some observers say the Tehran government has been unnerved by the defections and point to the death of an Iranian physics professor more than three months ago as a sign that it has begun a crackdown designed to frighten would-be spies.

The professor, Masoud Ali Mohammadi, was killed Jan. 12 when a bomb planted on a motorcycle exploded as he passed nearby. Iranian officials accused Israeli and Western intelligence operatives in the killing, but news accounts indicated that Mohammadi had been sympathetic to the opposition movement and had attended anti-government demonstrations. The day before his death, Iranian intelligence agents had searched his home and confiscated documents and notes, according to a report by the the National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI)…

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