The saber rattling coming out of Iran this week is growing louder and becoming very reminiscent of some other authoritarian rulers we’ve come to know. In case you missed it, there was a terror attack in Iran this morning in the western city of Ahvaz and it was a significant one. A military parade was being held to commemorate the anniversary of the end of the Iran-Iraq war when a group of terrorists opened fire on the gathering, killing or injuring nearly eighty people. As CNN reports, it was over fairly quickly, but the carnage was significant.
At least 24 people were killed and 53 others injured in an attack on a military parade in Iran’s southwestern city of Ahvaz on Saturday, Iran’s state news IRNA said.
The dead and wounded were both military personnel and civilians including a journalist who were watching the parade, IRNA added.
“Terrorists began shooting from a long distance while inside the park, at the armed forces as well as civilians watching the parade,” Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarch, a spokesman for the Iranian armed forces told MEHR, another Iranian news agency.
There wasn’t much question as to who did it. The Patriotic Arab Democratic Movement in Ahwaz claimed responsibility almost immediately. That group is widely understood to be backed and funded by the Saudi Arabian government. This Arab separatist group is largely composed of Shia Muslims of various ethnicities who are seeking independence from Iran. This makes them natural allies of Suadi Arabia, a nation with very little affection for Iran.
In that regard, it wasn’t too surprising for Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammad Javad Zarif to quickly blame the Saudis. And he did just that. But rather than sticking with that line of attack, Zarif quickly piled on some accusations about “foreign regimes” funding and arming the group, and he wasn’t just talking about Saudi Arabia. He also spiced up his remarks with a bit of “fire and fury” for good measure. (Associated Press)
Iran will respond “swiftly and decisively” to an attack on a military parade in southwestern Iran, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said, holding agents of a foreign regime responsible.
It takes a while to sort through the various translations coming out of foreign media, but Zarif went on to imply that the United States was involved. These events unfolded only one day after the Foreign Minister gave a speech blasting the United States’ “sense of entitlement” and blaming both Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo for the disintegrating state of relations between the nations involved.
When Zarif says that Iran will respond “swiftly and decisively” he’s clearly threatening military action. In the speech I just referenced, he talked about how no amount of pressure will get Iran to abandon their nuclear ambitions and they would, in fact, be increasing those capabilities “day by day.”
Is any of this sounding familiar? It’s eerily similar to the language that Kim Jong-un fired off on at least a monthly basis until President Trump extended a bit of an olive branch. That’s led to at least a period of calm in that region, though we still don’t know if it will last. Is Iran trying to provoke Trump into making another offer? That doesn’t seem likely because Trump already put that offer on the table (without preconditions) less than two months ago.
So if Zarif isn’t fishing for an offer of a deal, what are they up to? Iran isn’t going to launch an attack on Saudi Arabia, though they definitely have the capability. A first strike of any type would open them up to a counterattack from many enemies. Iran doesn’t have too many allies in the region and Iraq isn’t strong enough or crazy enough to jump into a war on their side. Turkey has been friendly with Iran lately, but it’s nearly impossible that their friendship would extend to that sort of military support. In the end, this may turn out to be little more than bluster and frustration with a domestic terror group. It’s worth keeping an eye on, though.