Newsweek reports in Cash From Chaos:
The hard-line mullahs of Iran, however, are awash in cash. "Up through last year, they had come up with something like $20 billion extra they did not have to spend [on the regular budget]," says Azadeh Kian-Thiebaut, author of several studies of modern Iran. "They are rich," she says. And prices have jumped dramatically since then. At the same time, Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his close allies have marginalized, brutalized and eliminated whatever was left of the democratic and reformist spirit that flourished in the country during the late 1990s.
Resentment of the mullahs' corruption is still widespread. But money helps buy quiet. A reign of fear is returning under the Revolutionary Guard Corps, or Pasdaran, now in de facto control of all major ministries. But protest and unrest are also subdued because of patronage: windfall billions channeled through the mullahs' charitable foundations. "The major problem is Iran's youth unemployment," says Kian-Thiebaut. The Iranian leadership can pump money into the black economy, where little is accounted for, but where most young people earn their living. In rural areas and in many slums, says Kian-Thiebaut, "there are people who really do survive only because of what they get from the government."
If Iran has a medal for service to its cause, George W. Bush should win it.
I wrote this post for a laugh. Then I read this.