Analysis: Iranian bus bombing reflects internal and external conflict

Iran concerned US and its allies are supporting ethnic minorities within Iran to topple government from within.

iran bomb 298.88 ap (photo credit: AP)
iran bomb 298.88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
Wednesday's bombing of an Iranian Revolutionary Guard transport that killed 11 was not the first attack of this kind by terrorist groups in Iran. Previous attacks by groups such as the Jundallah, the organization claiming responsibility for yesterday's attack, have specifically targeted Revolutionary Guard forces in the past, although past attacks were smaller in size. In the past, Iranian Leaders have accused Britain and the United States of directly supporting groups that carried out attacks on Iranian troops and terrorist attacks on Iranian civilians. Iran will likely place blame on the US and Britain for this attack, only intensifying the current conflict between their governments. The US has openly blamed Iraqi forces for orchestrating several roadside bombings against US troops and providing weapons to opposition forces in Iraq. The Iranian regime will probably claim that this bombing was orchestrated by the US in retaliation for those attacks. By blaming the US and the UK for the attacks, the Iranian regime will also profit on the domestic front - Iranian liberals and pro-democracy forces will not want to be perceived as "pro-western" while the regime fans the flames of a western terrorist attack on Iran. Zahedan, the city in southern Iran where this attack took place, is a haven for drug trafficking and is inhabited largely by Sunni Muslims, who make up only 9 percent of the population of Iran. The Jundallah, who claim responsibility for the attack on the Revolutionary Guard, is purported to be an Iranian Sunni organization, though it is not clear who is behind it or if it has links to al-Qaida. Iran is concerned that the US and its allies are supporting ethnic minorities within Iran to topple the Iranian government from within. If the minority opposition is strongly supported by American and British troops, as the Iranian government claims, they may rise up against the regime, causing an internal struggle. If the opposition feels, however, that it does not have the full support of the US and Britain, the Iranian Sunnis will be unwilling to rise up against the regime. Dr. Shmuel Bar is director of studies at the Institute of Policy and Strategy in Herzliya.