Anti-government group claims deadly attack on military parade in Iran

Remigio Civitarese
Settembre 24, 2018

"The sponsor of all these small mercenary countries in the region is America".

"America wants to cause chaos and unrest in our country so that it can return to this country, but these are unreal fantasies and they will never achieve their goals", said Rouhani.

The Emirati charge d'affaires was summoned to the foreign ministry over the advisor's "blatant support" for Saturday's attack in the city of Ahvaz that killed 29 people, said the ministry's spokesman Bahram Ghasemi.

US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert on Saturday referred to the attack as "terrorism", saying, "We stand with the Iranian people against the scourge of radical Islamic terrorism and express our sympathy to them at this bad time".

Early Sunday, Iran summoned diplomats from Britain, Denmark and the Netherlands over allegedly harboring "members of the terrorist group" that launched the attack.

The Iranian elite force, in a statement on Sunday, said that those behind Saturday's attack will face a "deadly and unforgiving revenge in the near future".

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the attack had been carried out by "terrorists recruited, trained, armed & paid by a foreign regime". Iran will respond swiftly and decisively in defense of Iranian lives.

This picture taken on 22 September 2018 in the southwestern Iranian city of Ahvaz shows an Iranian soldier carrying an injured comrade at the scene of an attack on a military parade that was marking the anniversary of the outbreak of its devastating 1980-1988 war with Saddam Hussein's Iraq. It said gunmen were dressed in Guard uniforms and targeted a riser where military and police commanders were sitting. State TV hours later reported that all four gunmen had been killed.

Such attacks tend to unite Iranian reformers and hardliners despite sharp differences over domestic and foreign policies.

Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, also called the attack a "continuation of the plots of the regional states that are puppets of the United States".

US-Iran relations deteriorated after Mr Trump took office and then withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal under which Iran limited its nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief. "The fact that they are angry at our missiles shows that these are the most influential weapons Iran has".

Both countries have been struggling for regional political and religious dominance for decades, and are engaged in a number of proxy wars around the region, backing rival factions in Yemen and Syria.

Arab separatists have carried out a low-level insurgency in recent years that has seen gunmen attacks on security forces and bombings. The province has a large ethnic Arab community, many of them Sunni, the Muslim denomination to which IS adheres and which is a minority in Shiite Iran.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph today, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf Al Saud, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United Kingdom, underscored the vitriol between the two regional powers in a reference to the "destabilising and malign influence of Iran".

Scott Lucas, an Iran specialist at Birmingham University in Britain and editor of the EA World View website, tells RFE/RL that Tehran's blaming of regional foes and the United States for domestic unrest is not new, while adding that it is "accentuated now by USA withdrawal from the nuclear deal, imminence of comprehensive sanctions, and worsening of the Iranian economy".

Rouhani was referring by abbreviation to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the landmark nuclear deal that Iran signed with world countries, including the U.S., back in 2015.

Since then, the USA has brought sanctions back into place, despite opposition from European Union partners, China and Russian Federation, and warned that anyone trading with Iran would also be punished.

Three Arab activists told Reuters that security forces, especially the intelligence branch of the Revolutionary Guards, had detained more activists in Ahvaz.

"On behalf of #PADMAZ organization we reject all accusations and we insist that PADMAZ organization is a civil political movement and has nothing to do with what happen today in #IranMilitaryParade attack", the group said on unconfirmed Twitter and Facebook accounts. Reuters could not immediately verify this account.

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