Who is really fighting the covert war against the regime in Iran?
Whoever is behind the attacks on Iranian infrastructure that have been ongoing since 2010, we can be sure that these events aren’t happening without a great deal of involvement by Iranians themselves
Writing in The Guardian last week, Seumas Milne claimed that America and Israel have been waging a clandestine war against the Iranian regime. Naturally, Milne sided with the Iranians and chastised Israel and America with the claim that their alleged actions threaten us all and that America and her allies have not learnt their lessons after ‘a decade of blood-drenched failure’.
Apparently any efforts to prevent the Islamic Republic going nuclear are more dangerous than the mullahs actually getting the bomb itself.
Many will have disagreed with Milne’s analysis while accepting his basic premise that it has been a US-Israel initiative that has been behind a series of bombings and assassinations targeting the infrastructure and personnel of Ahmadinejad’s regime.
Now, however, it is being reported in the Arabic media that Tehran is making arrests and among those arrested have been senior leaders of the Revolutionary Guard.
Iran’s leaders are not usually ones for missing an opportunity for making accusations of a Zionist conspiracy. Yet reports from news channel Al Arabiya would indicate that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei clearly believes that the 12thNovember explosion at the Bidganeh weapons depot was not only an assassination attempt against him but that it was masterminded by his own.
His suspicions have been fed by the fact that several of the senior figures now under arrest had invited him to visit the depot on the day of the blast.
The explosion that killed 17, including the head of Iran’s ballistic missile program, had been assumed by many in the Western press to have simply been the work of foreign agents. Remarkably however, along with the members of the Revolutionary Guard arrested, Mojtaba Khamenei, Ayatollah Khamenei’s son, has reportedly also been put under arrest.
Even if this is simply paranoia or an excuse for dispensing with rivals, signs of such fractures at the top will hardly surprise observers. For some time now there have been reports circulating of disagreements and clashes between President Ahmadinejad, Supreme Leader Khameni and certain figures in the Revolutionary Guard.
Yet there is another group that must be factored into this combustible mix, Iran’s Green Movement; the grassroots Iranian opposition movement that grew out of the 2009 demonstrations against Ahmadinejad following the almost certainly fraudulent election of that year.
One crucial indication that some of these bombings may have been carried out by internal opposition groups, rather than Western Governments, is revealed by the places that have been targeted.
On the 28th of November a blast took place at what was reported to be a nuclear facility in Isfahan. However, as military analyst J.E Dyer has pointed out, this was not a site used for uranium enrichment but rather uranium conversion and so would have been relatively lower down the list of sites that a Western operation would have targeted.
Similarly, in the past, other observers such as Leonard Spector have raised the possibility that the Green Movement might be behind the attacks on the nuclear programme and for some time now Michael Ledeen has been arguing that the Iranian opposition have collaborators going right to the top, hence their ability to target with such precision.
Indeed a series of explosions, including three at Revolutionary Guard bases, have claimed key figures among the dead including Major General Hasan Tehrani Moghaddam. If the Bidganeh depot explosion was also an attempt on the life of the Supreme Leader then it must carry chilling echoes for Iran’s rulers. After all, it was only back in May that another bombing, this time at the Abadan oil refinery, coincided with a visit by President Ahmadinejad.
It is of course still perfectly possible that Western governments have been coordinating with opposition groups in an attempt to cause the regime the greatest disruption possible and indeed incidents such as the cyber-attack on the Iranian nuclear program almost certainly came from outside the country.
What all of this does point to however is that attempts by sections of the British media to try and portray a US-Israel alliance going it alone with nothing but a small cabal of Mossad agents acting on its behalf are almost doubtlessly a fiction.
Indeed, if anything, the Obama administration appears to be lagging behind European states such as Britain and France when it comes to implementing sanctions outside of the UN or responding decisively to Tehran’s various diplomatic offenses.
Whoever is behind the sharp increase in attacks on Iranian infrastructure that have been ongoing since 2010, we can be sure that these events aren’t happening without a great deal of involvement by Iranians themselves.
Tom Wilson is a political analyst and a doctoral student at University College London
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