Amir Taheri in Arab News details why it feels so much like 1938 these days:
Incredible though it may sound there are signs that Tehran may be preparing for a military confrontation with the United States, and has convinced itself that it could win.
The first sign came last June with the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president of the Islamic Republic, an event that completed the conquest of all levers of power by the most radical elements of the establishment.
Since then the revolutionary factions have conducted a little publicized purge of the military, the security, the civil service, and state-owned corporations and media.
The most significant purges have affected the military high command.
Among those replaced are the defense minister, the commander-in-chief of the regular army and his four deputies, 11 senior commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and five commanders of the paramilitary Mobilization of the Dispossessed. Some of the purged officers have been “parked” in a mysterious new organ called “The Defense Guidance Commission” attached to the office of the “Supreme Guide” Ayatollah Ali Khamenehi.
The minister of intelligence and security and the minister of the interior, who controls the police and the gendarmerie, have also been replaced.
Another sign that Tehran may be preparing for war is the appointment of military officers to posts normally held by civilians, such as governors, mayors and directors of major public corporations.
But, perhaps, the surest sign yet is the military build up under way in the five provinces bordering Iraq. The region, with a population of 20 millions, has been put under the control of the IRGC which has also taken over units of the regular army, including the 88th Division, and the border police. Iran is estimated to have 250,000 troops in the area, its biggest military build-up since the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988.
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