Iran File

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 8 Iraq Crisis Update

The Iranian regime is signaling its preparedness to send significant security forces into Iraq to help suppress the ongoing protests there. Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) Special Units Commander IRGC Brig. Gen. 2nd Class (equivalent to a US brigadier general) Hassan Karami *announced on October 8 that 11,500 LEF special forces will deploy to protect Iran’s Arbaeen pilgrims going to Iraq. These forces will reportedly accompany Iranian pilgrims traveling to Iraq. Iranian media did not report this in its *English-language coverage of Karami’s interview. Parts of these forces specialize in protest suppression, dispersing crowds, and non-lethal tactics and participated in the regime’s crackdown on Iranian demonstrators during the 2017-2018 Dey Protests. The LEF may augment Iranian proxies in Iraq to violently suppress protests. The LEF also deployed forces to assist the Syrian Assad regime as early as 2011.

Iran has used the LEF to support general logistics and security for the Arbaeen pilgrimage in recent years but not to the extent Karami has suggested. Past LEF efforts *have included processing passports and clearing roads after flooding.

Separately, Islamic Propaganda Organization Director General for Lorestan Province Hojjat ol Eslam Saeed Mehdavi Amin *announced on October 8 that clerics and propagandists will accompany Iranian caravans traveling to Iraq for Arbaeen. Mehdavi Amin also indicated there will be “spiritual training” workshops leading up to Arbaeen. Lorestan is predominantly Lurish speaking and impoverished. Ethnically-Lur Lordegan city in neighboring Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari Province is seeing *protests over government incompetence. The regime likely intends to use these individuals accompanying the caravans to counteract the potential spread of anti-Iran sentiment among Iranian pilgrims traveling to Iraq.

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Oct '19