Eight Dead in Iran Bombing
A government office in Ahvaz, the Sunni Arab-majority capital of the Khuzestan province, was bombed followed shortly by a blast in the streets in front of a nearby bank, killing eight and wounding upwards of 40 others. This tactic is reminiscent of those used in Iraq and Israel, where the second blast is coordinated to kill and maim both the victims fleeing the original blast and first responders racing toward the scene. The local government denied rumors of a third explosion at the Pars Hotel. The Iranian state-run news agency IRNA quickly reported the victims as ‘martyred’, never to let an opportunity to fuel perceived religious conflict pass by unused.
Iranian Arab separatists claimed responsibility for two bombings in Khuzestan in June and October of 2005. A video from the Moheddine Al-Nasser Martyr Brigades responsible for the June bombing shows them observing the blast from a car, then pulling through the streets admiring the carnage and mayhem they inflicted. Note that the camera has been mounted inside to the back deck of the car as it shakes once for the bomb, and then again as at least two people get into the car, first the passenger, then the driver, who were observing from outside the vehicle as the mounted camera rolled. Today’s bombing is likely the work again of Iranian Arab separatist terrorists, possibly the same group.
Iranian President Ahmadinejad was scheduled to visit and speak in the city today, but canceled yesterday citing sandstorms as the cause. It appears the planned attacks were carried out regardless, and were reportedly not close to where he was expected to deliver a speech. In biting irony, President Ahmadinejad condemned the attacks as acts of terrorism, saying, “Iran has always been a victim for terrorist attacks and the sworn enemies of Iranians are continuing with their crimes and blind terrorism.” Perhaps Ahmadinejad prefers ‘terrorism with a vision’ over ‘blind terrorism’, such as that practiced by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah, who enjoy support from Iran to the tune of $110 million per year.
The Khuzestan province in Iran is home to Iran’s largest oil fields and part of the second largest known reserves in the world. It is also a Sunni Arab majority province. Only 3% of Iranians are Sunni, and most live in the Khuzestan province, the only Sunni Arab majority province in Iran. The anti-mullah groups (including terrorist groups, such as the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization [MEK]) and their attacks on the Iranian regime present a moral dilemma for the United States. Does the United States and her allies support the anti-mullah resistance in Iran, even when they resort to terrorist tactics? The answer to the dilemma is quite simple. While democratic opposition to the Iranian regime should have been attentively fostered and materially supported by the United States decades ago, no group that carries out bombings targeting civilians in the streets should receive any degree of support from the US whatsoever.
The MEK, who has reportedly not conducted any attacks inside Iran since 2001, was placed on the State Department’s Terrorist List by President Clinton as a gesture to Iran after the ‘moderate reformist’ Mohammad Khatami was elected president. It is also worth noting that Saddam Hussein played off the sectarian and ethnic differences of the area by housing displaced Khuzestan Sunni Arabs in Iraq (including members of the MEK). This has led to altercations and increased tension between the Shi’a and Sunni in the southern region of Iraq. While the Iranian regime is criticised for its inhumane treatment of Arabs in Khuzestan (see Human Rights Watch), the development of terror organizations and tactics similar to those used by al-Qaeda in Iraq and other insurgents - perhaps related to them - remains a possibility and just as wrong a tactic, again pointing to a fundamental question of the belief system necessary to turn to such a means of combating a perceived injustice.
The current lack of palatable alternatives for the West (and specifically the United States) to employ to challenge the Mullahcracy in its undeniable quest for nuclear weapons is directly borne of the lack of support given to Iranian internal democratic opposition over the past two decades.
The price to be paid for past inaction is a choice between bad and worse. But choose we must. With alacrity.