Three days ago, I wrote about how all hell is breaking loose in Iran. Inflation is near record highs, citizens can barely make ends meet, and the government morality police is beating to death citizens who do not conform to their rigid standards of dress. On September 13th, a 22-year-old woman was taken into police custody for wearing her pants too tight and her hijab improperly. On the way to a government “reeducation center,” she was allegedly beaten so severely that she had a brain bleed, fell into a coma, and died three days later.
This sparked rioting in the streets, primarily by students and millennial-aged Iranians outraged at the actions of their brutal government. According to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, along with other high-ranking Iranian government officials, have been blaming the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel of fanning the flames of discontent among their citizens, thereby contributing to the civil unrest.
An analysis conducted by the Critical Threats Project (CTP) at the American Enterprise Institute with support from the ISW was published on October 6th; it stated, in part, “Iran may attack the US, Israeli, and/or Saudi targets in retaliation for the role Iranian officials claim those countries have played in stoking the ongoing, anti-regime protests.” I don’t know about you, but this seems like pretty important news, and I’ve heard very little about it in the mainstream press.
Middle East Monitor (MEM) reports that, according to US military sources, this past Saturday, unknown forces launched a rocket attack on a camp in Syria hosting American troops. Reuters corroborated the report and stated that sources in the US armed forces told them a 107 mm rocket did not impact anything of value inside the Rumalyn Landing Zone US compound in northeast Syria. CENTCOM (United States Central Command) put out a brief statement noting that after an investigation, “Additional rockets were found at the launch site.” They would not speculate for the record who they thought was responsible for the unprovoked attack.
However, only two days prior, according to MEM, US helicopters launched a raid on a government-controlled village in northern Syria, killing an Islamic State militant. Hours later, a second US air strike killed two more ISIS members. They note that Washington has blamed Iranian-backed militias for attacks on US forces in Syria in the past.
ISW suspects that Tehran may use the current upheaval to launch attacks into Iraqi Kurdistan, placing the blame on Ankara. On October 8th, a rocket attack occurred in Mosul Province, Iraq. Liwa Ahar al Iraq claimed responsibility for the violence. There may be further upcoming attacks as intelligence reports put out by ISW state, “Iran may be preparing to conduct a ground incursion into Iraqi Kurdistan to attack anti-regime Kurdish militant groups operating there.”
In an interesting twist of events, the Critical Threats Project reports that some lower-level Iranian military and other security personnel may have flipped and joined the protesters’ side. Social media reports are stating the Iranian government has arrested officers from the Artesh Ground Forces 21st Hamzeh Infantry Division who were marching with protesters in Tehran. CTP could not say with certainty whether the arrested officers were participating in the protest or simply escorting those who were.
The following Twitter video purportedly shows protesters in Tehran shouting, “Death to the dictator!”. That is never a good sign.
Large day of protests throughout Iran today. Crowds in Tehran this eve chanting “Death to the Dictator”. Popular anger shows no signs of subsiding.
— Karim Sadjadpour (@ksadjadpour) October 8, 2022
As reported by The Hill, to date, there have been over 185 Iranians killed in the protests sparked by the death of Iranian Kurdish student Masha Amini. Nineteen of the dead were children. The Iranian government continues to maintain that the 22-year-old Amini died of a heart attack and not from a beating incurred while in police custody.
A Norwegian organization calling themselves Iran Human Rights (IHRNGO) has petitioned the United Nations to investigate the deaths and hold those responsible accountable. They state that the protests reached a fever pitch on September 30th in the city of Zahedan when people gathered in anger to protest against the alleged rape of a 15-year-old girl by the city police chief. They state that four citizens were killed in the city on October 3rd after being shot by a military helicopter as they drove in an open-roofed car.
Since fundamentalist hardliner Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi took office in 2021, the morality police have been ordered to crack down on dress code violations. Only Afghanistan, once again under Taliban rule, has similarly oppressive laws affecting women.