An IRGC military parade in Ahvaz (Al Ahwaz) in Iran was attacked by several gunmen disguised as local soldiers Saturday afternoon. The regime claimed the number of killed at 29; Ahwazi sources have claimed the number of IRGC members killed to be well over forty. Ahwaz National Resistance Movement took responsibility for the attack; as did the Islamic State. However, the role of ISIS in this attack is dubious. The ANRM leadership denied ISIS involvement; likewise inside Iran, most have come to believe that the Ahwazi resistance is responsible. Two of the attackers were captured; two others were killed.
The Iranian regime claimed that the attackers trained in two Gulf countries and predictably placed blame on Israel and the United States for masterminding the operation. Reportedly, the day before the attack, members of the Movement congratulated Saudi Arabia on its national day. In past years, Saudi Arabia’s Defense Minister and now Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has met with the Ahwazi leadership in London, encouraging in resistance; however, the attack on the military parade is the bloodiest such attack since 2005. The lull in violent response to the regime oppression of the oil-rich Khuzestan province inhabited by Ahwazi Arabs, and once known as “Arabistan”; it has suffered decades of abuse and disenfranchisement, predating the Islamic Revolution; however, Khomeinist regime increased the pressure on the peripheral regions of the country, diverting rivers from these areas to serve the center of the country and creating an environmental disaster.
The Iranian regime has likewise cut off the ability of the locals to profit from the oil; other industries, such as sugar, feature discrimination, abuse, and underpayment of the Ahwazi employees. Ahwazis have been subject to arrests, torture, and execution for speaking Arabic, wearing national garb, or taking any other action to preserve ethnic identity and local cultures. During times of unrest, they are arrested and executed at disproportionate rate. Iran has allowed drugs to flow into peripheral region, intensifying the sense of despair among its inhabitants, and creating additional opportunities to execute the Ahwazis. Despite Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s outspoken stand on behalf of Ahwaz in the past year, the Iranian regime took no action to alleviate the misery pervasive in the region. The houses remain in ruin; sewage flows in the street; the suicide rate among young people is high; and unemployment and dire poverty are easily observable. After a series of nationawide protests which have been rocking Iran since New Year, and which included underreported but protracted protests in Ahwaz among other peripheral areas, it was only a matter of time before the population’s despair drove local activists to armed resistance.
No other hope or help appears to be forthcoming; the opportunity was ripe by September, because even the portions of the oppositions divided by the regime and suspicious of non-Persians, who overall comprise the majority of the Iranian population, but viewed as “separatists” by the regime and the Fars speakers, have become so fed up with the IRGC and the regime brutality that any intervention at this point may be seen as a blessing. Furthermore, the regime is under pressure from the United States, which has been pursuing an aggressive course of action against the Islamic Republic; designating IRGC wholesale as as a global terrorist organization, sanctioning various entities and individuals, withdrawing from the JCPOA, and pressuring European companies to cease business with Iran. Iranian rial is in free fall; the economy is in shambles. Even Iranian proxies, such as the Shi’a population of Iraq has recently turned against their former benefactors, as Iran diverted rivers from Iraq towards its own consumption, contributing to the drought plaguing Iraq, and leading to massive protests and Iranian flag burnings in Basra. Iran has also had to divert 750K of IRGC and other forces back to its own territory to deal with the widespread unrests, which signals weakness to the outside world and to its former subsidiaries.
This major development so far has not been deemed worthy of being mentioned on any major US network or print media.
And yet, it signals a turning point in the simmering conflict. The Ahwazi attack on the IRGC shows that the regime has lost any pretense of legitimacy in the eyes of its supposed constituents. The attack on the IRGC was not an act of wanton terrorism, but an act of war against a government entity, which has used all the power granted to it by the state to attack and oppress unarmed civilians, including women and children, to stage attacks against regime’s opposition in Iraq (recently attacking a Kurdish base and refugee camp with civilianss), to assassinate Ahwazi and Kurdish activists in Iraq and Europe, and to spy on and plan attacks against Europeans, Israelis, and Iranian opposition in different part of the world.
Local populations are no longer willing to tolerate this level of abuse and violence, nor are they willing to wait for a rescuer, who is not coming. The United States has been pressuring Iran on many fronts, including human rights – however, the Trump administration has moved away from discussing the possibility of assisting with regime change, at least in public, and moreover has tried to engage the regime to show its good faith in negotiating down some of the measures that present a security threat to the US and her allies.
These actions make sense from the standpoint of US interests: the top priority for the US is ensuring that Iran is no longer a danger; the US otherwise tolerates the continuity of many intolerant, authoritarian, and abusive regimes around the world, which are not only hardly pressured on their human rights issues, but are in fact, considered to be allies. However, there is no reason for Ahwazis and others residing in Iran to follow on the same philosophy\, as they are the ones suffering from the ongoing abuse. Targeting IRGC, the symbol of state power, turned against her own people, is the most clear signal of an oppressed group looking to throw of the yoke of that oppression.
To a great extent, Ahwazis knowing are unknowingly are doing the UNited States, and anyone threatened by Iran, a favor by being in the vanguard of armed resistance from within. Attacking a terrorist organization designated as such by the UNited States, makes Ahwazis valuable allies in the war against terror, which is fueled not by poverty or misery, but by state funding from rogue regimes such as the Islamic Republic. It gives hope to all the Middle Eastern and African countries suffering as a result of Iran’s violent and self-serving hegemony. At the same time, it provides a valuable opportunity to the Western and Gulf allies to pressure Iran, just as it is dealing with yet another distraction and internal threat.
It is long past time to put Iran on the defensive, to put her on the run from the areas it has overran with its trained militias. Economic pressure alone is not enough, for Iran can always find ways to circumvent sanctions or find other sources of doing business, even if it will initially take time for the regime, dizzy from all the bad news, to recover and invest into those new ventures. The Kim dynasty in North Korea, however, as we can see has survived and prospered for decades in near total isolation, lacking even the basic infrastructure necessary for communications with the outside world. While the Iranian population thus far is far more sickened with the regime, far more open-minded, and educated about the outside world than the enslaved North Koreans, for the sake of its own survival, the regime may eventually turn the country into a gigantic concentration camp if the need arises, while continuing to pursue its hegemonic ambitions.
Unrest, however, keeps that from happening, and ultimately serves to draw other Iranians’ attention to the cycle of lies and abuse perpetuated by the top leaders and their underlings. The popular discontent is such that the regime has had to resort to importation of foreign thugs to keep the Iranians in check. And that is a sign of its weakness and illegitimacy. Any power that engages in terrorizing civilians, at home and abroad, that disrespects even the basic international norms, and that sows chaos around the world, has lost its authority. It is the right of her citizens to choose their own destiny. Admittedly, the majority of violent uprisings and revolutions around the world fail. New governments best succeed when they are voted out of office.
However, the elections in IRan have been fraudulent, and until the regime fears for its own existence and may then be reasoned enough to step down and leave the country, there can be no talk of peaceful transition of power. The matters are too far gone for this to happen, and the corrupt leadership has been clinging onto to its ill-begotten riches for far too long. That toxicity needs to be excised entirely from Iran’s body politic; nothing less will satisfy any of the portions of opposition, however otherwise disunited at this point in time. There is no other solution than the regime change; everyone who is serving the current regime is hated wholeheartedly by everyone who is not benefiting from that corrupt, abusive, and divisive system. There can be no talk of reform, for the Khomeinist regime was built on revolutionary radicalism which afforded no possibility of compromise or respectful diversity of views.
Those who decry the possibility of chaos brought about by the efforts of the counterrevolutionary ignore the chaos and utter disaster that Iran has brought about everywhere that its presence its felt. One can hardly imagine worse chaos than what Iran helped created by interfering in the civil war in Syria; or the humanitarian disaster in Yemen, where millions of people have been affected by the famine, and where the Houthis managed to create hell on earth. Beirut, once the Paris of the Middle East, is now a gathering of factions; violent clans in Bekaa Valley have been enabled by Iran-backed Hezbullah to elevate banditry to the level of governance.
Even civil war where the regime is forced to flee for its lives may be preferable to Iran’s destructive tentacles ruining everything they touch, and now even creating insecurity and instability in Europe, not that the greedy European governments mind. What’s to them when some Ahwazis, Kurds, or Iranians are abducted, assassinated, or even massacred? These governments, despite their feel good talk about racial equality, and diversity, look down on anyone who was not born and European. They do not think that Ahwazis or others are entitled to the natural rights, civil rights, human rights, which have been the bastion of Western civilizations. On the one hand, they claim the superiority of the Western world; on the other, they will deny when non-Westerners seek to bring in the same boons and values into their own homes.
This hypocrisy, however, is coming to an end – no thanks to the belated Western civilization, which can no longer isolate itself from the effects of what transpires in the rest of the world, but to the efforts of the rest of the world seeking the same quality of life than the Europeans and Americans. The US and Europe have two choices in the matter: they can either side with those who seek to emulate European nation-states, and free themselves from greedy abuse by hypocritical theocrats, they can either help bring about the necessary and inevitable changes with some semblance of order, that will ultimately integrate the region and benefit in the world – or they can stand by and gawk, flapping about helplessly, and clutching their pearls, while the victims of Iran’s violence and terror throw off their victimhoods and move to freedom in whatever way they can, no matter what it brings.
They can work together with Gulf States to help united the Iranian opposition around a common goal with a common vision, help work out the difficult details of transition and governance, lead by example, and contribute experience and knowledge to the process – or they can condemn and ignore, as they have up until this point, and then be forced to deal with the wreckage if and when the resistance moves to its next, necessarily bloody stage. They can help with coordinate attacks on legitimate targets of Iran’s illegitimate power, or they can later complain when innocents suffer casualties as a result of poor planning. That is the choice we are faced with today. But standing by, and hoping that regime will collapse onto itself quietly of its volition is no longer an option.
IRGC is a US designated terrorist organization. Anyone who attacks a terrorist organization is doing US a favor. The Iranian regime has no legitimacy or authority; it supports terror, abuses its citizens, and violates international norms. It has mixed conscripted soldiers with the IRGC scumbags in a parade. It is unfortunate that people who have been drafted into the military services not by choice of their own died as a result of a targeted attack against the IRGC. Unfortunately, when you serve in the military of an illegitimate regime, you suffer the consequences whether you want to be there or not. Any conscripted soldiers serving for the Iranian regime who do not wish to be there, should lend their services to the opposition instead. They should also work with other oppressed nations to undermine the regime and attacks its designated terrorist forces in a coordinated way simultaneously, causing the regime to stretch its resources even further.
The war has finally come.