Iran Reeling from Sense of Impending Doom
Deadly explosions at a military base about 60 kilometers southwest of Tehran, coinciding with the suspicious death of the son of a former commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, have triggered speculation in Iran on whether or not these are connected to recent United States threats to resort to extrajudicial executions of IRGC leaders.
General Hasan Moghaddam, a key figure in Iran’s missile program, was killed alongside 16 IRGC members on Saturday at a military site. The Guards said the accident occurred while military personnel were transporting munitions.
The IRGC praised Moghaddam, saying it would not forget his
“effective role in the development of the country’s defense … and his efforts in launching and organizing the Guards’ artillery and missile units,” the linchpin of the country’s conventional deterrence, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.
Simultaneously, Ahmad Rezai, the young son of Mohsen Rezai, commander of the IRGC guards during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1908s, currently the secretary of the Expediency Council and a presidential contender, has been found dead at a hotel in Dubai under “suspicious circumstances”, according to official reports.
“If the dirty hands of foreign powers are found in any of these incidents, then the government will come under popular pressure to avenge the death of those martyrs,” said a Tehran University political scientist who spoke to the author on the condition of anonymity.
Already, in response to US threats of assassinations, an IRGC general, Amir Ali Hajizadeh, has vowed to go after US personnel in the region if the US acted on its threats.
Depending on the outcome of Iran’s investigation of the two incidents, the chances are we are on the verge of a nasty new phase in US-Iran relations that could easily aggravate the region’s instability.
Another worrying development for Iran is the recent spike in attacks on Iranian pilgrims to Iraq, principally by road-side bombs targeting bus passengers, such as the one on Sunday that injured 13 Iranians in the Kadhmiyah area of north Baghdad.
There is no shortage of analysis in Iran that connects these seemingly disparate incidents as parts of a systematic effort to destabilize Iran one way or another.
Although the IRGC members were killed some 60 kilometers from Tehran, the powerful explosions rocked the capital, thus adding to the popular anxiety stemming from recent Israeli threats of military action against the country over its nuclear program.
According to the daily Jame Jam, “The first thing that this explosion created in public opinion is the threats of the past few days, an issue that is on people’s mind in the streets these days.”
Iran is struggling to maintain a state of normalcy instead of emergency, vividly reflected in the bustling urban life in Tehran, Isfahan, Meshed, Tabriz, Shiraz and other cities and towns across the country led by a youthful population that increasingly feels under siege by outside powers.
According to a Tehran political analyst at a Tehran think-tank, “Iran’s enemies are now engaged in full-scale psychological warfare that hurts Iran’s economy, just as recent Israeli threats caused a minor panic in Iran’s stock market as well as a declining rial [currency] value against the US dollar.”
In other words, Iran is under the gun of economic warfare that is pushed partly through the threat of hard power by the US and Israel.