Iran: Revolutionary Guard commander assassinated

A commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards died after an ambush on Sept. 20 by Ahwazi militants. Mehdi Bayat was killed near the Revolutionary Guards base in Hamidiyah, near Ahwaz City in western Khuzestan province, where Iran’s Ahwazi Arab minority have launched a struggle for autonomy or independence. Bayat was a commanding officer responsible for training members of the Bassij militia in Khaffajiyah. The town of Khaffajiyah has witnessed a number of disturbances by Ahwazi Arab groups which have been brutally put down by the Revolutionary Guards’ elite Ashura Brigades.

A number of assassinations and attempted assassinations have been carried out in Ahwaz in recent months with members of the Revolutionary Guards, the police and clerics targeted. In June, militants assassinated Hisham Saimeri, the imam of Zahraa mosque in the Hay al-Thawra district of Ahwaz City, which has experienced the highest levels of Arab unrest. The provincial governor blamed “saboteurs, evildoers and Wahhabis.” (click here for further details)

At the time, the Canada-based Hizb al-Nahda al-Ahwaziya (Ahwazi Renaissance Party (ARP) welcomed the assassination and warned Hijazi of “the consequences of continuing the criminal policies committed against Ahwazis.” The ARP has also welcomed the assassination of Bayat, stating that “Ahwazis have proved through this heroic act to the Persian invader authorities that their repressive practices and executions would not stop their struggle to regain their usurped rights.”

It is unclear what, if any, links the ARP has with the assassins. It is a separate group from the Harkat al-Nedhal Alarabi (Arabic Struggle Movement for Liberation of Al-Ahwaz-ASMLA), which has claimed responsibility for a number of bomb attacks in Ahwaz City.

Iranian officials claim a group called Jebheyia Khalghi Al-Ahwazyeh (Ahwazi Nation or People Front) was responsible. No group has claimed responsibility for the killing. (Al-Ahwaz News, UK, Sept. 26)

On Sept. 26, the US Senate approved a resolution urging the Bush administration to designate the Revolutionary Guards as a foreign terrorist organization. The White House is considering whether to label the entire Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group or to take a narrower step focused only on the Quds Force, an elite unit of the corps. (NYT, Sept. 27)

See our last posts on Iran and the struggle in Khuzestan.

  1. 1953 coup down Iran’s memory hole?
    Headline should have read “Pot Calls Kettle Black.” From CNN, Sept. 29:

    Iran’s parliament votes to label CIA, U.S. Army ‘terrorist’ groups
    The Iranian parliament on Saturday voted to designate the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Army as terrorist organizations, IRNA, the country’s state-run news agency, reported.

    The CIA and the U.S. Army “trained terrorists and supported terrorism, and they themselves are terrorists,” the parliament said, according to IRNA.

    The Iranian parliament said the condemnation was based on “known and accepted” standards of terrorism from international regulations, including the U.N. charter.

    The parliament said it condemns the “aggressions by the U.S. Army, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan” and calls on the United Nations to “intervene in the global problem of U.S. prisons in Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and secret jails in other countries,” IRNA reported, quoting a statement from Iranian lawmakers.

    The Iranian parliament also decried the CIA’s and U.S. Army’s involvement in the 1945 bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II, U.S. involvement in the Balkans, Vietnam and the U.S. support of Israel.

    Is it possible the statement failed to mention the CIA’s 1953 coup in Iran that ousted Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq and established the dictatorship of the Shah? Yes, it is possible. Mossadeq is an “unperson” in Iran today—because he was a secular nationalist who adhered to such dangerous ideas as women being allowed to go bare-faced. The fact that he was also an anti-imperialist makes him all the more inconvenient to the ruling mullahs, who would pose their Shi’ite totalitarianism as the only alternative to the decadent West. The icon for the Iranian state today is not Mossadeq but Khomeini—who was originally encouraged by the Shah precisely to undercut the Iranian left!

    Does anyone have the text of the Majlis’ statement? If it invokes the ’53 coup, we will consider this a glimmer of hope. But we doubt it.