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July 27, 2016 6:36 am

Mideast Analyst: Iran in Throes of Domestic Battle as Ethnic Groups Carry Out Attacks Against Regime Targets

avatar by Lea Speyer

The Iranian flag. Photo: Wikipedia.

The Iranian flag. Photo: Wikipedia.

Iran is in the throes of a domestic battle, with ethnic opposition groups carry out increasing attacks against the regime, a Middle East expert wrote on Sunday.

In an analysis published by the think tank the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, IDF Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall cited recent cases of such attacks, perpetrated by ethnic groups operating both within the Islamic Republic and along its borders.

Early in June, for example, a Sunni group known as Suqour al-Ahvaz (Hawks of Ahvaz) blew up the Bou-Ali-Sina Petrochemical Complex in Bandar-E Mahshahr, Khuzestan. According to a statement published by the group following the sabotage attack, Iran had “crossed a red line” with its occupation of Arab lands. The bombing, the group said, was a “a reaction to Iran’s repressive policy against the Arab minority in Ahvaz, including ongoing arrests, trials, executions, and expulsions of young people in the area.”

On July 11 and 17, the group targeted gas and liquid pipelines in Khuzestan and the Johar as-Sabaa’ district, forcing Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to set up a security cordon around a nearby pipeline.

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All three attacks, according to the group, were part of a new strategy to hurt Iran’s economy.

In eastern Iran, near the Pakistani border, the IRGC and Border Guard Command forces continue to come under attack by jihadist groups, Segall wrote, with dozens of Iranian security officials reportedly killed.

Kurdish oppositionists, Segall wrote, have also stepped up their activity. In June, the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) attacked IRGC patrols operating along the Iran-Iraq border, killing several officers.

Numbering around six-seven million within the country, Kurds are a “distinct” minority in Iran. With the Middle East in flux and once-stable regimes now teetering on collapse, the Iranian Kurds are attempting to take advantage of this regional instability, Segall explained, adding:

The KDPI has long striven for independence in the Kurdish regions of northern Iran. The increased activity stems from growing awareness of possible Kurdish independence in Syria along the Turkish border, and of the freedom and relative independence enjoyed by Kurds in northern Iraq…

According to Segall, all the attacks on the Iranian regime have far-reaching consequences.  

“The Arab Sunni fighters’ targeting of the oil facilities, if it gains momentum, could pose a problem for Iran just as it is trying to renew its oil exports after the lifting of sanctions,” he wrote. “Attacks on energy infrastructure for gas and oil could foster an unsafe, unstable environment for international energy companies.”

“It is clear,” Segall concluded, “that the Iranian regime, which so far has been spared the regional repercussions of the Arab Spring — or the Islamic awakening as the regime calls it — is now starting to feel its effects.”

Last week, as reported by The Algemeiner, Iran announced the discovery of a secret tunnel that was to be used to carry out sabotage attacks in the country. The tunnel was discovered in the eastern region in the country by security forces and led to the arrest of 40 people.

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