1. Iraq’s downward spiral, again:
[recent attacks resemble the] intense sectarian strife that brought Iraq to the verge of civil war in 2006-2007. … The civilian death toll so far this year is nearly double last year’s, up to over 5,700 from at least 3,200. In July 2013 alone, 1,057 people were killed—the deadliest month for Iraqis in five years.
2. The “Death to America” Conference.
[S]everal hard-line groups have announced plans for a “Down With U.S.A.” conference next month, highlighted by “The First Major International Award of ‘Down With America’ ” for the best photograph, poster, video, song or caricature…. On Nov. 4, the anniversary of the takeover of the United States Embassy in 1979 by Islamic students, an event that led to the severing of relations between the countries, hard-liners are planning a “Grand Day of Death to America,” ” Revolutionary Guards commanders have told local news media. Usually the anniversary is attended by a couple of thousand people, but commanders have promised the slogan will “echo across the nation.”
Ponder the temerity of even “a couple of thousand people” commemorating that attack, 34 years later. Though the article paints the “hard-line groups” as somehow marginal and out of step with the regime, it’s important to note that commanders of the Revolutionary Guards Corps are remarkably powerful, and the Corps itself controls important industries.