Image Courtesy of Ebrahim Noroozi/AP
Iran has been the subject of much discussion in our current world climate. Whether it’s their nuclear weapons or their involvement in the proxy war going on in Yemen, Iran is a very important country right now for good and not so good reasons. While the majority-Shi’ite country has been involved in violent conflicts in recent years in Syria, Iraq, and currently in Yemen, they have avoided major bloodshed within their country’s borders in recent years. However, this recently changed when twenty-seven members of the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRG) were killed in a suicide bombing which also wounded at least ten more members in the Sistan-Baluchestan province of Iraq near the Pakistani border.
This was a targeted attack by the terror group Jaish al-Adl (Army of Justice), a Sunni extremist group that operates in Southeast Iran and Pakistan. The group was formed as an incarnation of the terror group Jundallah who was responsible for the last major terror attack in Iran in 2009 which killed over forty people and six members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in the same area. Jundallah was essentially dissolved after the death of their founder Abdolmalek Rigi by Iran in 2010 which gave rise to Jaish al-Adl. The group was formed in 2012 by Salahuddin Farooqui a militant who strongly opposes Iran’s involvement in the ongoing Syrian civil war. They have become recognized for their attacks that primarily target Iranian security forces which makes this most recent act of terror on the Revolutionary Guard not all that surprising.
Jaish al-Adl is one of the biggest threats to Iran not only due to their terror but also because they are supported by regional rivals to Iran such as: Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Due to the recent attacks though, Iran has begun to crackdown on border security and has given Pakistan an ultimatum to do the same to prevent more terror attacks. The IRG Commander Mohammed Ali Jafari is quoted as saying, “If Pakistan fails to punish them in the near future, Iran will do so based on international law and will retaliate against the terrorists.” This statement was also reiterated by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani who deemed that “appropriate action” would be taken if Pakistan did not act. While the Iranian government does not solely blame Pakistan for the actions of Jaish al-Adl, they do believe that Pakistan’s negligence has played a significant role in the success of their terror attacks. The group is essentially using Pakistan as a form of protection and shelter by crossing into Iran to commit their terror attacks and crossing back over into Pakistan when they have finished their crimes. Iran believes that a more secure border between the two countries would save the lives of members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and regular civilians who have been caught in the crossfire.
It seems as though violent conflict may be on the rise between Iran and Pakistan due to the actions of Jaish al-Adl. Pakistan claims that they are not responsible for the actions of the terror group but Iran believes that Pakistan is secretly working on behalf of the Saudi and UAE governments. Jafari stated, “The Saudi and UAE should know that Iran’s patience has ended, and we will no longer stand your secret support for these Anti-Islam criminals…we will avenge the blood of our martyrs.” An armed conflict between Iran and Pakistan could have huge implications on the rest of the region and possibly the rest of the world due to the potential for other parties such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the US to get involved. If Pakistan does not respond to the requests of Iran it will be interesting to see how Iran responds. The leader of the IRG has already vowed to avenge the loss of their fellow soldiers. How many troops will they send in? Will they take the fight to Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan? How will Pakistan respond if they are invaded by Iranian troops? Do they call in outside help such as Saudi Arabia? The hope is that the conflict does not escalate any further than it has to, but the Iranian troops have already pledged vengeance unless Pakistan cooperates with their demands and vengeance can sometimes be the most powerful weapon of war.