Thursday, February 15, 2007
Iran: Bombing in Zahedan
February 14, 2007 07 43 GMT
An explosion occurred in the southeastern Iranian city of Zahedan on Feb. 14, killing 18 people. The bomb, reportedly hidden in a car, exploded as a bus belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) passed by. It has not yet been determined whether those killed were IRGC guards.
Zahedan is the capital of Sistan and Balochistan, a southeastern province where Iran's oppressed Baloch minority is concentrated. The Balochis are mainly Sunni Muslims who share anti-Persian and anti-Shiite sentiments with the Ahvazi Arab separatists in southwestern Khuzestan province. Though the lawless desert province of Sistan and Balochistan is overrun with drug smugglers and bandits who regularly clash with Iranian security forces, this latest attack against IRGC guards was likely carried out by armed Baloch nationalists who have received a boost in support from Western intelligence agencies.
In December 2005, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was in Zahedan delivering a speech when alleged local rebels mounted an attack in the region. As Stratfor indicated at the time of that attack, the United States would have a strong interest in using ties to the Baloch insurgency to destabilize the Iranian regime and undermine the confidence of the ruling clerical establishment in dealing with Iraq and the nuclear issue.
The Baloch militant campaign is led by a group named Jundallah, which likely has ties with the Baloch insurgency in neighboring Pakistan. On Feb. 5, Jundallah claimed responsibility for an attack the previous night in Zahedan that had killed four Iranian security officials. The attack, according to a statement by Jundallah, was carried out in commemoration of the 28th anniversary of Iran's 1979 revolution. In June 2005, Jundallah militants abducted a group of Iranian security and intelligence officers traveling in a convoy along the Pakistani border. Three weeks later, they released a video showing the execution of a man they claimed was an Iranian intelligence officer. The group was also involved in the abduction and assassination of Iranian security officials, IRGC members and Islamic Red Crescent aid workers in March 2006.
The U.S.-Iranian standoff over Iraq has reached a high level of intensity. While the hard-line rhetoric and steps toward negotiations absorb the media's attention, a covert war being played out between Iran on one side, and the United States and Israel on the other, will escalate further. While Israel appears to be focused on decapitating Iran's nuclear program through targeted assassinations, the United States has likely ramped up support for Iran's variety of oppressed minorities in an attempt to push the Iranian regime toward a negotiated settlement over Iraq.
From World War 4 Report
Iran has long been accused of sponsoring the Baluch insurgency in Pakistan as a strategy to destabilize the key US ally in the region. But Baluch ethnic nationalism may now pose a threat to Tehran's control of its own internal Baluch population. A unified Baluchistan would threaten Iran and Pakistan alike, and the fact that the Baluch are a Sunni minority in Iran is a further complicating factor. The US and unsavory organizations like Mujahedeen Khalq already seem to be exploiting separtist unrest in Iran's western Khuzestan province, home to the country's Arab minority. Iranian Baluchistan may be straw waiting to burn...
From Belfast Telegraph
Al-Qa'ida group blamed for bus bomb attack on Iranian guards
Thursday, February 15, 2007
By Angus McDowall in Tehran
A Sunni group calling itself the "soldiers of God", with alleged links to al-Qa'ida, has claimed responsibility for the bombing of a military bus in which at least 11 people were killed in a lawless region of Iran close to Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The US has in the past accused Iran of sheltering senior al-Qa'ida officials, including Osama bin Laden's son Saad. Iran denies those charges and says Jundollah is itself part of the al-Qa'ida network and is intent on fomenting sectarian strife.
Its leader, Abdolmalek Rigi, is a Baluchi, an ethnic group from the south-eastern corner of Iran.
Shia clerics quickly appeared on television yesterday to say that Sunnis should not be blamed for the bloodshed. Senior Iranian figures have been warning against heightened Shia-Sunni tensions.
Posted by Jesus Reyes at 11:40 PM