If there is one thing that highlights how little civic progress has been made by the religious militants that have run the affairs of the state of Iran since the 1979 revolution, it has to be the ransacking and destruction of the Saudi embassy in Tehran by a mob on January 1st. That so little has been learned by the mullahs in the intervening 36 years and two months since the shah’s overthrow and the subsequent sacking of the U.S. embassy on how to conduct themselves in world affairs would be astonishing in most contexts. Unfortunately the involvement of the Iranian “government” over the four decade period in state-sponsored terrorism has provided more than ample proof of this lack of understanding, or even interest. The Saudi embassy sack just provides a large exclamation point on the whole sordid narrative.
Of course there really isn’t any such thing as a government in Iran, any more than there is a government in Somalia or Libya. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard and the mullahs that are in charge of it run the state of Iran. Yes, there is a parliament of a sorts, filled with Guard-approved politicians that mouth Guard-approved speeches. Heads of government are periodically appointed by mullahs, through the auspices of Guard-controlled government bodies and functionaries. There are police, fire departments, courts, and the Iranian armed forces–all controlled by the Guard. And there is a civil service of the “government” of Iran, which is of course is completely vetted by the Guard.
The Guard controls other things too. Like the proxies that fight for Iran in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. Like three-quarters of all commerce inside of Iran. The Guard controls Iran’s oil industry. And best of all, the Guard runs the nuclear weapons development program.
Calling the organization that runs the state of Iran a “government” is a ridiculous fiction. The term is at its worst a fig leaf applied so that other states will conduct commerce and engage in negotiations with Iran on matters of international and state interest. The term is at best a term used in polite company, like referring to a wayward colleague at a company holiday party as having “one drink too many” rather than as a “boisterous ass that is urinating in the hallway and puking on the appetizer table”.
The Iranians are understandably upset that the Saudis executed, with little real due process, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a Shiite cleric that was based in the Wahhabi Sunni-controlled Kingdom. That political and religious prisoners of many nationalities are regularly executed in Iranian prisons and by Iranian proxies seems to hold little irony for the citizenry of Iran, or at least those in control of the Guard. It is sanctimoniousness taken to its end game, where any and all actions are justified by the offended, and all other parties are condemned as kafir. So the cauldron of blood and violence that is the Middle East continues to boil over, while the rest of the world looks on with a mix of revulsion and amazement.