Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Questions about Iran

In a particularly good post, Marc asks a number of questions about Iran that seem quite relevant for anyone wishing to report on or pontificate about the current civil unrest there.  Here are some of them:
Does Iran manufacture its own small arms?
Does Iran manufacture its own electronic equipment?
If not, who provides the small arms and electronic equipment most essential to the success of the current crackdown?
What is the relationship of the Iranian Army to the Iranian police? Are they separate bodies? Do they have complementary motivations? What are the factions inside the Iranian police and military structure? Are there cracks?
Why are militias active? Does the Iranian government feel it necessary to distance themselves from the crackdown in this way? If not, what is the relationship of the militias to the uniformed security forces?
How many police are there and how heavily armed are they?
How hard is it to get a gun in Iran? Has the opposition made any statements regarding its opinions on force or violence?
Is the Iranian military clearly loyal to the current government?
[...]
How does health care work in Iran? Is a person involved in the crisis likely to go to a hospital if injured or ill, or avoid it to avoid authorities?
How are Iranian Kurds responding? Iraqi Kurds?
If electronic communication is unavailable is there evidence of efforts to communicate by traditional means like telephones or physically delivering information across borders?
Who, other than Mousavi and Ahmadinejad, is important in this story?
Marc admits he doesn't know the answers to these questions, but we begin to understand things by first knowing what questions to ask.  These seem like a good starting place.  Before the armchair warriors start issuing their own simplistic demands for what the U.S. should be doing, they might try asking and answering some questions along these lines.

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