Debka is reporting here that the embassies of France, Italy and possibly Holland have been attacked in Tehran. This is confirmed by al Arabiya here. Debka’s interpretation of the reasoning behind the attacks is
The Iranian regime has a long score to settle with French president Nicolas Sarkozy and his ministers. They are the most outspoken of any Western critics of Iran, often citing intelligence input to prove Iran is running a military nuclear program and building a nuclear bomb. Sarkozy also warns that Israel will not stand by and let this happen without resorting to a military offensive that will generate a major war drawing Middle Eastern and other nations into the conflict.
Al Arabiya is reporting
Italy has traditionally been one of Iran’s main trading partners in Europe but Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s close ties with Israel, and diplomatic pressure over the nuclear dispute with Tehran, have led to a sharp reduction in Italian investments in Iran. On a trip to Israel last week, Berlusconi said his government would block new investments in the oil and gas sector — where Italy’s ENI is active. Iranian media later condemned Berlusconi as “a slave of Israel”. Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency said hard-line students protested outside the French and Italian embassies, but there were no reports of violence or attempts by the students to attack the embassies.
Analysis. Besides the Iranian government’s displeasure at the actions of France, Italy and Holland, the theocracy is in very serious trouble with the Iranian people. This has been documented here with continuing reports from inside Iran since the last presidential election. I believe that these attacks on foreign embassies are a serious raising of the ante over both Iran’s nuclear program and the continuing existence of the mullahocracy.
Throughout history, attacking a nation’s embassy has been considered a prima facie declaration of war. In these days of nuclear weapons, such actions are taken a bit more lightly and don’t automatically create a state of war. It is also interesting that the embassy of the United Kingdom was not attacked as far as we know. So what are the Iranians doing taking such a major chance that somebody might actually take serious umbrage at this action?
I estimate that the mullahs believe that the celebrations of 22 Bahman will turn into massive anti-government demonstrations and end in the overthrow of the current government. They also know that if they can goad somebody, especially Israel, into attacking them or one of their proxies, they can use the state of war to ruthlessly suppress the Iranian people. Also, the Iranian people will have their attention diverted to start reconstructing whatever has been destroyed by any attacks on Iran. This will allow the mullahs, they believe, to maintain power and also trump any possible attempt of the regular Iranian military to join the revolution on the side of the Iranian people.
The mullahs must also believe that they are safe from retaliation over these embassy attacks by their threat to close the Straits of Hormuz and the threat that poses to the World economy and especially the economy of the People’s Republic of China. So far they have been correct. The PRC has protected them from increased UN sanctions. The United States has passed an Iran sanctions bill that would punish countries and companies that supply Iran with refined products. As mentioned above, Italy is blocking any Italian investment in the Iranian oil and gas sector. This investment is critical to the continued production of Iranian crude and to the continued increase in refinery capacity that would make Iran self sufficient in gasoline and other products.
To all of this must be added the religious underpinnings driving this entire effort. The mullahs in charge are part of a faction that is dead set on bringing back the Hidden Imam in their lifetimes. For them war is desirable as the chaos they believe is required to cause the Hidden Imam to appear out of the well inside the Imam Hussein mosque in Karbala, Iraq. Remember the continued statement of Islamic fundamentalists who preach that “they love death as much as others love life”. The closest experience we have to this mindset is the Japanese mindset during World War Two. While the philosophical reason between the two peoples is different, dying for the Emperor is functionally no different than dying to see Allah.
Depending on what actually happens on 22 Bahman (11 Feb.), we may well be within days if not a few weeks of major war in the Middle East.