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Radical Islamism and Jihad (08 Jun 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)


The Jihadists of Islamic State Hit Iran




The Economist

June 7th 2017









FOR years Iran, a predominantly Shia Muslim state, has battled Sunni extremists inside Iraq and Syria, making it a prime target for terrorism. Yet it had somehow gone several years without suffering a big attack. During his successful presidential campaign this year, Hassan Rouhani often celebrated this achievement. The jihadists of Islamic State (IS), though, may have seen it as a challenge. In recent months they have increased their propaganda efforts, hoping to incite Iran’s Sunni minority. And indeed, Iranian intelligence claims to have foiled several plots inspired by IS.

But on June 7th, IS claimed success. Assailants armed with assault rifles and suicide vests attacked two of the country’s landmarks. Four of them stormed the parliament in central Tehran, the capital, where heavy gunfire could be heard for hours. At least one of the assailants blew himself up, and the others were killed by security forces. Meanwhile two other assailants attacked the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Islamic Republic’s founder, also in the capital. According to reports, one attacker detonated a suicide vest and another was killed by security forces. In all, at least 12 people are dead and dozens more wounded.

The attacks come just over two weeks after a summit in Saudi Arabia, during which the kingdom and its Sunni allies, as well as America, blamed Iran for most of the region’s problems. Iran controls and finances militias in Iraq, where it supports the Shia-led government, and in Syria, where it backs Bashar al-Assad its support and direct action have been critical in the war against IS. But it is also accused of destabilising countries. In Yemen it has supported the Houthis, a rebel group fighting the government and its Saudi allies. In Sunni-led Bahrain it has backed the repressed Shia majority.

Iran, for its part, accuses Saudi Arabia of supporting extremists in the region, including IS. Many Iranians, including the powerful Revolutionary Guards, were thus quick to blame the kingdom for the attacks in Tehran, even as IS was claiming responsibility. Much attention has been focused on comments that Muhammad bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s powerful deputy crown prince, made last month. “We won’t wait for the battle to be in Saudi Arabia,” he said. “Instead, we will work so that the battle is for them in Iran, not in Saudi Arabia.” He then accused Iran of wanting to take control of Mecca, Islam’s holiest site.

Saudi Arabia appears to have been emboldened by the support of Donald Trump, America’s president. “From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms and trains terrorists, militias and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region,” said Mr Trump on a visit to Riyadh, the Saudi capital, last month. Just weeks later, on June 5th, the kingdom, along with the UAE, Egypt and Yemen, cut ties with Qatar, in part over its support for Iran.

But in examining the attacks on June 7th, a more important factor seems to be the state of IS. As the jihadists lose ground in Iraq, Syria and Libya, they are lashing out more abroad. Moreover, judging by its propaganda, IS really wanted to hit Iran. Its past failures were a source of some shame in jihadist circles. But the successful attack may not boost morale for very long. American-backed forces launched an operation to capture Raqqa, IS’s de facto capital in Syria, this week.

Source: economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21723081-parliament-building-tehran-comes-under-attack-jihadists-islamic

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/radical-islamism-and-jihad/the-economist/the-jihadists-of-islamic-state-hit-iran/d/111454




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