This time the suicide bomber took on a far more worthy target. The man in "tribal costume" (to quote the LA Times) penetrated the gymnasium where five high ranking commanders of the much feared Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps were holding a "solidarity" meeting with a view to bringing the Baluchi Sunnis and the Persian Shia together in harmony. When the man pushed the clicker he took the five heavyweights and a number of others with him.
At nearly the same time a second bomber took out a vehicle containing another bunch of Revolutionary Guard thugs.
The televised images of the carnage at both sites reportedly rocked Iran. The event(s) must have rocked the Revolutionary Guard even more as it showed their vulnerability at the very time they have been riding very high in the saddle.
Not surprisingly the first reaction of the regime in Tehran was to blame the US and the UK for the twin bombings. Being completely unable (not to mention unwilling) to acknowledge that the Baluchi of Iran, not unlike their ethnic and religious fellows in Pakistan and Afghanistan, are pursuing the goal of an independent Baluchistan, the Iranian elite went instantly to the default position: The Great Satan did it.
There can be little if any doubt that the US government is quietly pleased with Iran's discomfiture--up to a point. While anything which weakens the regime's hold on power is to be welcomed, the timing of today's incidents is disquieting. Iran is scheduled to hold yet one more round of talks with the US and its partners in the P5+1 tomorrow. The potential exists for the Iranians to use the twin bombings as an excuse for further delay. As if they really need one.
A State Department spokesman did the expected. The US deplored and condemned the attack and denied any connection with the Soldiers of God. The Brits have probably done the same.
The geographical, political, and social realities produced both the insurgency and its latest expression of political will and military capacity. The lines on the map which split the Baluchi into three national jurisdictions were made without regard for the desires and self-identification of the local inhabitants. For a mort of years this did not matter. More recently, say in the past thirty or forty years, it has not only mattered greatly, it has inspired resistance to all three national governments.
The Baluchi are a readily identifiable nationality. They are ethnically and, to a large extent, linguistically distinguishable from the other peoples inhabiting each of the three states. The Baluchi are also religiously distinguishable in Iran from the majority Shia. The Baluchi in all three countries but particularly in Pakistan and Iran believe with good reason that they have been discriminated against by the governments.
The combination of political disaffiliation and a developing national consciousness gave rise to the pursuit of a state of their own: A unified Baluchistan under the sole control of the Baluchi. As established states are not known for their willingness to voluntarily disassemble, an insurgency of the defensive sort was inevitable.
The existence of hydrocarbon deposits as well as other extractable resources assures that an independent Baluchistan would be economically viable at least in the near- to mid-term. Unlike many independent nation-states of the "decolonised" world, a Baluchistan would have both an economic reason to exist and the means by which existence would be assured. In this way as in features of self-identification, tripartite division, and a resort to defensive insurgency, nascent Baluchistan is identical to another latent state, Kurdistan.
The geopolitical realities of the Baluchi like those surrounding the Kurds presents the US with a set of seemingly irresolvable problems. The ancient, more honored in the breech than in the observance American policy of "self-determination of nations" would seem to require Washington to support fully the aspirations of Baluchi and Kurds alike. At the same time the existence of American agreements with the governments of Turkey, Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan make support impossible.
Justice as much as such exists in the international arena is on the side of the Baluchis as it is with the Kurds. Both are identifiable nations, both have long standing aspirations for statehood, both have been mistreated, discriminated against, and generally ignored by the sundry national entities, and both have waged long insurgencies for the same reason the American colonials did. But, none of this matters.
As Turkey, Iraq, and Iran cannot continence the amputation of their Kurdish components, Pakistan and Iran cannot admit of losing their Baluchi majority provinces. Nor can the US or any other power give assistance either open or covert to the insurgents.
This means that no matter how much the US might like to contribute to the dismemberment of Iran, it cannot do so. The insurgencies of Kurd and Baluchi alike are not fungible. That means we cannot support an anti-Iran effort without simultaneously supporting the insurgencies directed at our "allies," Pakistan, Iraq, and Turkey.
There is no practical way to assure that any assistance granted to the Soldiers of God in Iran would not translate into aid to their counterparts in either Pakistan or Afghanistan. Our personnel turn a blind eye to movement of arms, drugs, or men across the Afghan-Iranian border only at the risk the same will ultimately flow to anti-Islamabad fighters in Pakistan.
The best, most determined efforts to control an insurgency will finally fail. We have learned that lesson before. There is no need to repeat it, particularly given the instability resident within both Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The pooch in Baluchistan or, to err on the side of accuracy, Sistan-Baluchistan Province, is one which the Tehran regime will and have been screwing--royally. The Persians are a bare majority in Iran. While the Kurds are only seven percent of the sixty-six million and the Baluchi a mere two percent, they are quite set upon their goal of national independence. It may be only a matter of time before the other ethnic and linguistic minorities take the road pioneered by the more factious Kurds and Baluchi.
The regime in Tehran cannot tolerate any dissent. The mullahs and their stooges have shown that repeatedly. The US government might hope that disaffiliation and dissent continue and grow as such might have positive policy implications, but there is nothing that Washington can do directly to foster or support separatist movements.
That is an unfortunate but very real ground truth. And it will remain the truth unless and until the US is willing to embrace the Wilsonian notion of "self-determination" even at the expense of critical countries such as Turkey, Iraq, and Pakistan.
The presence of this governing reality does not, however, preclude discrete applause for the Baluchi bombers of the Soldiers of God. It does not prevent saying of the dead and maimed members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, "It couldn't have happened to a more deserving bunch of guys."