The Iranian Death Spiral Speeds Up
The picturesque city of Chabahar is right on the Gulf of Oman , and was supposed to become Iran’s biggest and most important naval base. As with so many grand projects of the fanatical buffoons who rule the Islamic Republic, this one didn’t work out so well, but its strategically important location of course remains intact, on sea and land as well. Its significant geography is not limited to access to the Middle East’s most important sea lanes; Chabahar is in the region of Sistan-and-Baluchistan, whose borders are shared with Pakistan and Afghanistan.
It is therefore not at all surprising that the regime would go all-out to maintain control over the area, which it has attempted via a Stalinist ethnic policy. The people there are mostly Sunni, and mostly unhappy with their treatment by the theocrats in Tehran (Sunnis -- around 15% of the Iranian population -- are excluded from high office, and there are virtually no Sunni mosques in the big cities)). The regime’s strategy has been to transfer Shi’ites into the region, and move out Sunnis. The strategy has been predictably unpopular, and over the last dozen years there has been more and more violence, with the security forces and the Revolutionary Guards/Basij killing, arresting and torturing local activists, and the locals—most famously the members of the Jundullah movement, which operates in Pakistan as well as in Iran. It's a textbook case of a vicious circle.
Last week there was a big suicide bombing in Chabahar, on the occasion of the Ashurah religious celebration, when Shi’ite men publicly lash themselves with chains and knives to recall the slaughter of Mohammed’s grandson, Hossein, at the hands of his political enemies. Contrary to the claims of the regime—routinely repeated and accepted by Western news media and political leaders including President Obama (who decried the murder of "innocent civilians") and Secretary of State Clinton ("terrorists using cowardly methods to inflict pain and fear on innocent civilians") -- the terrorist attack was not aimed against “women and children,” but against the symbols and enforcers of the Shi’ite regime: Revolutionary Guards, Basij, and Quds Force fighters. More than sixty were killed, and a large number wounded.
The regime blamed both the usual suspects -- us, the Brits, and the Israelis -- plus the Pakistanis (the second time this year that the Iranians have accused the Paks of sponsoring terror attacks), and even the Saudis. This stuff comes from the official Iranian media; perhaps some of the Sy Hersh crowd will wonder if the CIA, or Special Forces, are organizing a replay of the anti-Soviet mujahedin campaign in Afghanistan back in Charlie Wilson's day, by enlisting the Sunni nations to sponsor an Islamist campaign against a common enemy (the Soviets back when; the Iranians nowadays). I don't subscribe to such fantasies (I don't think the Obama Administration is organizing much of anything against the Iranian regime except sanctions), just trying to be helpful to those who do...
The only encouraging note from Obama and Hillary was that they didn't send condolences to the rulers, but to the Iranian people. But it's not nearly what they should be doing, for the terror attacks in Sistan-Baluchistan are not nearly as dreadful as the regime's systematic murder of its own citizens. Tomorrow (Monday the 20th) alone, a dozen prisoners in Kermanshah are scheduled to be executed. All are accused of terrorism; but Iranian human rights activists point to numerous executions of people with no conceivable connection to terrorism.
Elsewhere, the regime's slaughter of the innocents continues apace, and the mullahs have expanded their campaign against family members who dare to stand vigil at the gates of the prisons where their loved ones are often refusing food or liquid. And the "Center to Defend Families of those Detained and Slain in Iran," the very existence of which speaks eloquently to the state of Iranian affairs, reports that even those who go to pray at the graves of their murdered relatives are harassed by security forces.