Iran’s Kurdish Region a Hotbed of Anti-Government Activism
Gen. Rajabi most likely was referring to the Islamic State, whose fighters have captured the town of Jalula, 14 miles west of the city of Khanaqin on the border of Iranian Kurdistan.
“No enemy can influence our security and we have the means and capability to fight at equal and even with more power the threats posed by the enemy as we believe maintaining security is our religious and revolutionary duty,” Gen. Rajabi said.
The Iranians have in the week since the Islamic State overran Jalula on 11 August, have issues declarations similar to Gen. Rajabi’s, probably showing their concerns of a possible ISIL’s move to capture Khanaqin, which will put them only 19 miles from the Iranian city of Qasr-e Shirin. Since the very first year of the founding of the Islamic Republic in 1979, Iranian Kurdistan, with predominantly Sunni population, has been a hotbed of anti-government activism and low insurgencies. The presence of the advancing Islamic State nearby could create serious security issues in Iran’s Sunni lands.
The Iranian military has extensively supported the Iraqis in their fight against ISIL, including organizing, directing, financing and arming Shia militias. But Islamic State’s possible move toward Khanaqin could trigger a more serious response by Iran, as General Rajabi was alluding to today. The Islamic State also knows this; yet any move against Iran, inside or close to its territory, could break the tacit coalition of all regional governments against ISIL. The Islamic State leadership might believe that in the event of direct operations against the Iranians, they could get the backing of the Persian Gulf countries, particularly the Saudis. Iran is signaling that they would instead face Iranian forces.
Photo credit: IRGC General Mohammad Hossein Rajabi (Fars News Agency)