The Iran File is a biweekly analysis and assessment of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s strategic efforts domestically and abroad.
Notice: The Critical Threats Project frequently cites sources from foreign domains. All such links are identified with an asterisk (*) for the reader's awareness.
October 10 Iraq Crisis Update
The IRGC confirmed that it is working with security services in Iraq ostensibly to protect Arbaeen pilgrims. IRGC Spokesperson Brig. Gen. 2nd Class (equivalent to a US brigadier general) Ramezan Sharif *announced that the IRGC Quds Force is cooperating with Iraqi security services and the Popular Mobilization Forces to protect Arbaeen pilgrims “on Iraqi soil” on October 10. Sharif added that the IRGC will provide ambulances and medical services to pilgrims. Sharif’s announcement coincides with large-scale popular protests in Iraq, which have have been primarily fueled by economic and anti-government grievances. Some Iraqis have also expressed anti-Iran sentiments.
Sharif stated that outside intervention from Iran’s enemies is fomenting the unrest to disrupt the Arbaeen pilgrimage and the unity between Iran and Iraq. Iranian officials *have accused the US and Saudi Arabia of instigating the riots. The IRGC Quds Force will likely facilitate or assist the PMF’s violent crackdown on Iraqi protesters under the pretext of providing Arbaeen security and defending Iraq against foriegn aggression.
Arabic-language Iranian media denied reports that Iran’s Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) would deploy to Iraq. Mehr News Agency *published an abridged and modified version in Arabic of a recent interview with LEF Special Units Commander IRGC Brig. Gen. 2nd Class Hassan Karami on October 9. Karami announced in Persian that 11,500 LEF special forces would deploy to protect Iranian pilgrims traveling to Iraq for Arbaeen on October 8. The Arabic article stated foreign media misrepresented the interview by suggesting that the LEF would deploy into Iraq to kill protesters there. The article reported that these LEF troops are meant only for security in Iran and around the border. The original Persian article did not specify that the forces would be used only in Iran. Karami's failure to offer such specificity was not likely an oversight considering the length of his interview and the details he gave about the deployment. Nor are there currently protests or other threats in Iran large enough to justify the deployment of this many LEF special forces troops, whereas there are such threats in Iraq. The regime likely intended to assuage Iraqi concerns over any Iranian intervention into Iraq through targeted Arabic-language media.