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Iran's "Stunning" Punch Likely a Wrist-Slap

Tehran's bluster aimed at protesters, not the West.

2:20 PM, Feb 9, 2010 • By JOHN NOONAN
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Iran's Supreme Leader raised some eyebrows yesterday, claiming that Tehran would deliver a "punch" that would leave Western powers "stunned."

Iran's "Stunning" Punch Likely a Wrist-Slap

Unlikely. Here's why:

These statements are generally for internal consumption. That's particularly true in this instance, as Iran is expecting a massive flood of protestors to inundate official government anniversary ceremonies. Khamenei's speech was simply a rehashing of old propaganda with a slightly more bombastic spin, giving Western media outlets something else to talk about besides Iran's coming civil unrest.

Still, that doesn't mean the Mullahs will keep their fangs tucked on Thursday. Iran tends to use external provocation to mask internal distress. I think worst case scenario is that they punch another satellite into orbit, prompting the usual discussions about potential ICBM capabilities. Large scale military air, land, and sea exercises are also fairly steady headline grabbers, so we'll see the usual feathers puffed in the Persian Gulf. And it's generally a safe bet to count on Iran's proxies to stir the pot during internal unrest -- Hezbollah and Hamas might want to fire off a few salvos at Israel, at least before the IDF can get their Iron Dome batteries networked and online.

All this, coupled with their announcement of further uranium enrichment, seems to be part of a grand public relations campaign spanning Iran's 10 Days of Dawn festivities. It's wholly targeted at their internal populace, which makes the Tehran government more nervous than the U.S. or Israel.

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