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Deadly explosions at Soleimani event in Iran a sign of internal problems

Jan 4

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On Jan. 3, in the Iranian city of Kerman, explosions killed dozens of people near the burial site of the late IRGC Commander Qasem Soleimani. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which took place during a ceremony honoring the fourth anniversary of Soleimani’s death, caused by a U.S. drone strike in Iraq.

Straight Arrow News contributor Peter Zeihan contends that, regardless of the party responsible for the explosions, Iran’s susceptibility to events similar to this one stems from its own domestic security issues.

Excerpted from Peter’s Jan. 4 “Zeihan on Geopolitics” newsletter:

There’s been a bombing in Iran that targeted the gathering for the four-year anniversary of Qasem Soleimani’s death. The attack resulted in at least 100 deaths and another 100+ injuries.

Given the nature of the attack, I doubt there is any U.S. or Israeli involvement; however, the more likely culprits are one of the local ethnic groups in the region. Rather than focusing on who carried out this specific attack, it’s a reminder of how vulnerable Iran is.

Iran has a highly complex ethnic composition, and individuals like Soleimani played a critical role in ‘putting out the little fires’ as they popped up throughout the country. Despite Iran’s broader importance and influence in the region, internal problems will continue to plague the country.

Hey, everybody, Peter Zeihan here coming to you from Colorado. It is Wednesday, the third of January. The news today is that there’s been a terror attack in Iran, specifically targeting a group of people who was commemorating the four year anniversary of the death of a guy by the name of Qasem Soleimani. Now, for those of you who don’t follow Iranian internal politics, like it’s a soap opera Soleimani was a military commander, paramilitary commander, that the Iranians would dispatch around the region for the last 20 years to basically not so much stir up trouble, but find sectarian groups that were unhappy with how things were going in the neighborhood, and armed them, frightened with intelligence and guidance, and maybe even a few irregular troops from the IRGC. That’s the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, in order to stir up trouble and foment revolutions, he was very, very successful throughout the entirety of the war on terror, because basically, what the United States did is he went into the Middle East and knocked off and tried to prop up certain governments that were not necessarily popular. And so there was always some sort of disgruntled group who was willing to work with the Iranians. And so Soleimani kind of became a celebrated personality, kind of a cross between an American general who’d be in charge of special forces, and Norman Schwarzkopf. So he was very, very, very popular in Iran, and very, very, very unpopular everywhere else. And he’s conservatively responsible, personally for the death of hundreds of people. And in terms of his operations, 10s of 1000s of people. So not a nice guy, unless you happen to be opposed to whatever the current order in your back yard happens to be anyway, someone set off a couple of bombs in the vicinity of these gatherings and killed at least 100 people with at least another 100 injured, I’m sure his information becomes more and more available in the days to come, they’ll turn out to be a lot worse than it sounds. Let’s start with the the obvious suspects are probably not very likely. And then talk about some of the underlying stuff. I’m everyone’s Of course, in Iran is pointing their fingers at the Israelis and the United States. If the United States is going to bomb someone, you’re going to know it, because what we’re gonna use either a drone, or an air explosive, which is going to kill a lot more people in the US so definitely wasn’t the United States. As for the Israelis, they have demonstrated assassination capability that’s pretty robust. And to be perfectly blunt, they’re not going to target a crowd unless there was someone in it who was really important. And from all intents and purposes, it looks like that was not the case here. This is just a bunch of locals who happened to like somebody who was from their hometown, it was in the town of Kerman, specifically, other more likely possibilities, you’ve got the blue cheese, which are an ethnic group in eastern Iran, who have never been happy with Persian rule of their territories, you’ve got the Arabs in southwestern Iran, who are probably the most put upon minority in Iran, and then you’ve got the Azeris, I think others Johnny’s in the North, who make up about a quarter of the population who, from time to time, get rest of all of these are legitimate suspects, I’d say the below trees are probably the highest of that threat. But rather than pointing fingers and who done it, I think it’s more useful to talk about how this is just part of what Iran looks like. And it kind of belies not so much that Iran has feet of clay, but it has a vulnerability that most people don’t appreciate. Now, the Persians are a Shia religious group in a sea of Arabs, ethnicity and Sunnis religion across the region, they’re definitely in the minority in both fronts, and that has in the past made them a relatively reliable American ally up until 1979, when they had a revolution, because United States has always tended to back the smaller group against the larger group, thinking that the smaller group is going to be more strategically dependent upon you. And they’re always going to be willing to bleed for the cause. Because if they don’t, they’re just going to get swallowed up. And until 1979, that was Iran. Now after 1979, with the revolution, things have changed. We’ve had fractures across the Arab coalition that are only now beginning to heal, and that has allowed Iran to be the larger power. It also means that personalities like Soleimani had been very, very useful for the Persians because while you do have a majority Sunni Arab group, ruling most of the Middle East, there are all kinds of small groups here and there. And folks like Soleimani were excellent at driving wedges between those groups and whoever the majority group happened to be. Now, the reason that so many exists the reason that he was good at this the reason that Iran is good in this is because back at home, Iran is not a monolith. It is made up of dozens of ethnic groups, each of which have controlled history. only one or two specific valleys. And it’s only after literally millennia of conquering ethnic cleansing and intermarriage, that the Persians are actually now 51% of the population of modern day Iran, it’s taken them that long to get to that low of a number. So Ceylonese expertise exists because it is needed at home. The Iranians have a million man army, and it basically is responsible for occupying its own territory. And groups like Soleimani are responsible for detecting fissures within the political system at home and working to keep them under control. One of the reasons why the Iranians are so good at stirring up trouble beyond their borders is because they have to be aware of those exact sort of splits within their own country. So they basically cut their teeth on keeping their own system under control. And then they go out into the broader region in order to stir up trouble with exactly the same skill set. So it means they’re very, very, very, very good at driving those wedges between different chunks of society. But it also means that Iran as a state is always going to be vulnerable to a degree because it has those same fissures at home, which make up 49% of its population, which is a much higher percentage than what you’ve got and much of the rest of the Middle East. So it makes them good at stirring up trouble. But it comes from a vulnerability at home that has taken them 1000s of years to get to this point of stability, and we’re not going to get much further anytime soon, at least certainly not in the next few decades.

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