TEHRAN - Deadly explosions at a military base about 60 kilometers southwest of
Tehran, coinciding with the suspicious death of the son of a former commander
of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in Dubai in the United Arab
Emirates, have triggered speculation in Iran on whether or not these are
connected to recent United States threats to resort to extrajudicial executions
of IRGC leaders.
General Hasan Moghaddam, a key figure in Iran's missile program, was killed
alongside 16 IRGC members on Saturday at a military site. The Guards said the
accident occurred while military personnel were transporting munitions.
The IRGC praised Moghaddam, saying it would not forget his
"effective role in the development of the country's defense ... and his efforts
in launching and organizing the Guards' artillery and missile units," the
linchpin of the country's conventional deterrence, according to the
semi-official Fars news agency.
Simultaneously, Ahmad Rezai, the young son of Mohsen Rezai, commander of the
IRGC guards during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1908s, currently the secretary of
the Expediency Council and a presidential contender, has been found dead at a
hotel in Dubai under "suspicious circumstances", according to official reports.
"If the dirty hands of foreign powers are found in any of these incidents, then
the government will come under popular pressure to avenge the death of those
martyrs," said a Tehran University political scientist who spoke to the author
on the condition of anonymity.
Already, in response to US threats of assassinations, an IRGC general, Amir Ali
Hajizadeh, has vowed to go after US personnel in the region if the US acted on
Depending on the outcome of Iran's investigation of the two incidents, the
chances are we are on the verge of a nasty new phase in US-Iran relations that
could easily aggravate the region's instability.
Another worrying development for Iran is the recent spike in attacks on Iranian
pilgrims to Iraq, principally by road-side bombs targeting bus passengers, such
as the one on Sunday that injured 13 Iranians in the Kadhmiyah area of north
There is no shortage of analysis in Iran that connects these seemingly
disparate incidents as parts of a systematic effort to destabilize Iran one way
Although the IRGC members were killed some 60 kilometers from Tehran, the
powerful explosions rocked the capital, thus adding to the popular anxiety
stemming from recent Israeli threats of military action against the country
over its nuclear program.
According to the daily Jame Jam, "The first thing that this explosion created
in public opinion is the threats of the past few days, an issue that is on
people's mind in the streets these days."
Iran is struggling to maintain a state of normalcy instead of emergency,
vividly reflected in the bustling urban life in Tehran, Isfahan, Meshed,
Tabriz, Shiraz and other cities and towns across the country led by a youthful
population that increasingly feels under siege by outside powers.
According to a Tehran political analyst at a Tehran think-tank, "Iran's enemies
are now engaged in full-scale psychological warfare that hurts Iran's economy,
just as recent Israeli threats caused a minor panic in Iran's stock market as
well as a declining rial [currency] value against the US dollar."
In other words, Iran is under the gun of economic warfare that is pushed partly
through the threat of hard power by the US and Israel.
How long this can continue without triggering a major economic crisis is an
important issue that relates to the country's nuclear diplomacy, in light of
the latest report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that accuses
Iran of certain proliferation-related activities, a charge flatly denied by
But, while the IAEA report has failed to ignite new momentum for further
sanctions against Iran, in light of a report from Russia casting into doubt
aspects of the report pertaining to a Russian scientist, the combined weight of
powerful jabs thrown at Iran in the form of blunt military threats, covert
action and the like may force Iran to adopt a new military doctrine, one that
shifts from the present purely defensive posture to a more aggressive offensive
"Tehran has exercised a great deal of self-restraint so far but if the enemies
continue with their multiple aggressions then there is little doubt in my mind
that we will see a brand new military strategy that relies on flexing muscles
and is not limited to simply reacting to contingencies introduced by Iran's
enemies," says the Tehran professor.
With respect to the death of the young Rezai in Dubai, should the investigation
conclude that it was due to foul play, this would have a disproportionate
impact in angering Iranians seeking revenge against the perpetrators.
There is strong suspicion of Israel's Mossad, which was behind the
assassination of a Hamas leader in Dubai recently, with some analysts
speculating that Israel's intention is to radicalize Iran and undermining
moderate voices such as those of Mohsen Rezai, who is a strong advocate of
By going after his son and causing "collateral damage", the perpetrators'
intention may have been to steer the IRGC toward a more confrontational
approach that would, in turn, add to the country's economic woes due to
potential capital flight, scaring away foreign investment, etc.
Still, one cannot rule out the possibility of a freak coincidence of the blasts
and Rezai's untimely death and the likelihood of a pure accident at the
military base alone suggests that the above-mentioned thickening speculation
may be a tissue of the war environment that Iran is subjected to nowadays.
That climate has now deteriorated and there is every expectation on the part of
many Tehran analysts of even more ominous developments.