Thursday, September 21

Protests destabilize Iran’s borders

The Iranian authorities take a step in their measures to quell the riots and warn that “riots offer terrorists the best opportunity to wreak havoc in Iran”, in the words of the government spokesman Ali Bahadori Jahromi. After a week marked by suicide missile and drone attacks on the strongholds of Iranian Kurdish groups in northern Iraq, which left at least thirteen dead, violence broke out in Sistan-Baluchistan. After a Friday of serious demonstrations in this province in the south-west of the country, the government reported the death of nineteen people, including Hamid-Reza Hashemi, commander of the Revolutionary Guard, and three other important members of this all-powerful paramilitary group in the Islamic republic. Baluch activist groups raised the death toll to 58.


Jahroni explained that “some rioters, affiliated with terrorist and separatist groups, who are well known to the security forces, hid among the faithful during the sermon on Friday and at the end of the prayer they attacked security centers.” The streets of Zahedan, capital of the province, became a battlefield with clashes that have little to do with the images that arrive daily from other cities in the country where there are altercations, but not armed clashes.

Sistan-Baluchistan straddles the border with Pakistan and is a majority Sunni province in a country ruled by Shiism. In this border area it has been active since 2012 the Jaish al-Adl group (Arabic name meaning ‘Army of Justice’), a Sunni radical group that for seven years has defied the Tehran authorities with attacks and kidnappings. Jaish al-Adl took over from Jondolá (Army of God) eleven years ago at the head of the insurgency of the Baluchi minority and in 2019 he carried out his bloodiest action by killing forty members of the Revolutionary Guard in a suicide attack against the bus in which they traveled.

Tehran views with particular concern the instability on its borders, where armed militias from the Kurdish, Baluchi and Arab minorities have threatened the Government for decades and now join the mobilizations for the death of the young Mahsa Amini at the hands of the Police of the Moral.

Arrests of public figures

After two weeks of protests that have spread to the 31 provinces of the country, the silence of the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, is striking. In the absence of his words on the situation, the leader of Hezbollah spoke, Hasan Nasrala, who gave a speech in support of the Islamic republic. “The death of an Iranian woman in a situation that is not clear has been used by the West to get involved, but Iran is too strong to be shaken by this type of event,” said the Lebanese cleric.

In addition to the repression in the streets and the cut off of the Internet to complicate communication and information abroad, the regime fulfilled the threat of arresting public figures who have shown their support for the mobilizations. Among those detained in the last hours there are soccer players like Hossein Mahini, former Persepolis playerthe singer Shervin Hajipour, author of “For…”, a song that reached 34 million views in just 48 hours, the poet Sara Borzuei or the journalist Elaheh Mohammadi, whose crime was to cover Amini’s funeral in Saqqez.

The protests do not stop, but they lack leadership. Mir Hussein Mousavi, former prime minister and one of the leaders of the so-called “green revolution” of 2009, broke his silence. Mousavi addressed a letter to the armed forces asking them to join the nation and not the oppressors and reminding them that his duty is “to protect the people, not fight them.”

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