21.01.2024 Author: Alexandr Svaranc

The Terrorist Attack in Kerman Jeopardizes the Situation in the Middle East

The Terrorist Attack in Kerman

In the military conflict in Gaza, where the number of casualties among Palestinians (almost 23,000 deaths) is growing due to extreme attacks of the Israeli Army, new bloody operations and new losses cease to be a surprise.

The IDF is fighting not only against HAMAS, which is considered a terrorist organization in Israel. Israel denotes Iran its main military enemy, because it is Tehran that indirectly creates additional military threat for Israelis and their allies through its Shiite proxy forces, such as Lebanese Hezbollah, Yemen’s Houthis, Syrian and Iraqi militias.

That’s exactly why during the last several weeks Israel’s intelligence service and military units have been carrying out active operations outside the combat zone in Gaza together with the US and Great Britain against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and pro-Iranian forces in Libya and Syria. In fact, there has been a series of planned and coordinated operations that resulted in military and subversive acts like the assassination of IRGC’s General Razi Mousavi and other IRGC’s officers in Damascus, as well as HAMAS Deputy Chief Saleh al-Arouri and other members of the Palestinian Organization in Beirut.

Moreover, the scale of such operations of Israeli intelligence services is not limited by Syria and Lebanon only. At the same time, according to the Turkish intelligence services, Mossad (the Israeli Intelligence Agency) planned a large scale operation in Turkey for kidnapping Palestinians temporary residing in Anatolia. But the Turkish counterintelligence service managed to precede the operations and detain 34 people in eight provinces, suspected in connections to Mossad. Still, about 13 people from the list managed to avoid the arrest and left Turkey. According to Turkish sources (e.g. Hürriyet), the operation on uncovering and detaining the Israeli intelligence service agents in Turkey has not ended.

The Turkish Government continues undertaking active diplomatic efforts to achieve a final ceasefire in Gaza and to implement the plan, put forward earlier by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan, on the formation of a Palestinian state with the capital in New Jerusalem, with Turkey having a mandate status as guarantor of peace between Palestine and Israel. Currently, Turkey is holding intensive consultations with the US on the after-war destiny of Gaza (in particular, this issue is one of the key topics of the visit of US State Secretary Antony Blinken to Ankara and his talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Fidan and President Erdoğan).

In the meantime, a cruel terrorist attack was carried out at a cemetery in Kerman, Iran, on January 3, where legendary chief of the IRGC’s Quds Force General Qassem Soleimani is buried. As a result, about 100 people were killed and over 200 injured with varying degrees of severity. As you may know, on January 3, 2020, the US security services carried out a special operation with the use of an unmanned aircraft, killing General Soleimani and leader of the pro-Iranian Kata’ib Hezbollah Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who was escorting Soleimani to the Bagdad airport.

It turns out that the terrorist attack in Kerman on January 3 this year, i.e. on the day of the annual memorial ceremony of the supporters of Qassem Soleimani, was a targeted and pre-planned operation by anti-Iranian forces. According to Iranian sources, there were two powerful explosions 15 minutes apart. The explosives were planted at the points of passage into the cemetery, i.e. in the viewing area, using a remote mechanism.

The very fact of numerous victims testifies to the failure of the Iranian security services: when holding such significant mass events to commemorate the symbol of the Iranian regime, the security services were obliged to carry out necessary operational and technical measures for prevention of such actions at the site of the commemoration ceremony and the routes to the cemetery. Nevertheless, it must be stated that a) coincidences happen and b) in a fight between security services one inevitably may have a success, and the opponent suffer a defeat. Also, some participants were victims of a subsequent stampede.

The Iranian authorities declared the accident in Kerman a terrorist attack, which is true and has been recognized as such by the UN and most members of the international community. Even the US agreed with it, whereas Israel dismissed all allegations of its involvement in the attack.

It is no secret that media all over the world assumed the possible involvement of the US and Israeli security services in the explosions in Kerman, as they are clearly interested in causing moral and physical damage to Iran due to its position and actions in regards to the ongoing military conflict in Gaza. At the same time the Iranian security services have not given publicly any assessment of the investigation so far, nor have they directly blamed the US and Israel in the involvement in the attack in Kerman.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi called the crime a terrorist attack, condemned its organizers and stated that they would face the most severe punishment as enemies of the Islamic state. Also, Iranian spiritual and supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei called the organizers and members of the evil act in Kerman the targets of the Iranian security services and called for the inevitability of retaliation.

Considering the number of victims 4 January was declared a day of national mourning. President Raisi had to postpone his official visit to Turkey for the second time during one month (according to official sources, the Iranian president had postponed his first visit to Turkey due to the meeting of the UN Security Council on the Gaza conflict).

Naturally, Tehran’s detractors understand quite well that after threats Iran will start acting. Iran has put up a flag of revenge. Who will become the target of Iran’s strikes? It might seem strange, but the US believes that the terrorist attack in Kerman was carried out by the Islamic State (ISIS) (the Islamic State is an international terrorist organization banned in Russia). ISIS (a terrorist organization banned in Russia) took the responsibility for the organization and carrying out the act, as General Soleimani had successfully resisted the ISIS militias in Iraq and Syria.

The results of the objective investigation by the Iranian security services will obviously prove whether this is true. The terrorist attack in Kerman will most likely add tension in the escalation of the ongoing conflict in Gaza. And who was behind ISIS and all the chaos in the Middle East, if not the US security services and the White House policy in the region?

The Middle East crisis keeps growing by virtue of the inadequate position of the Israeli Government, which seeks not only to occupy the Palestine enclave in Gaza, but a full destruction of the territory and forcing the Palestinian population into mass displacement. Considering the fact that such regional countries as Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, etc., for various reasons are not going to encourage the displacement of Palestinians from Gaza, let alone accept the refugees, Israel started negotiations with a number of African countries through the channels of the security services and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the issue of emptying Gaza.

For example, media outlets (e.g., The Times of Israel) leaked information that the Israeli authorities were holding secret talks with representatives of the Congo to receive thousands of migrants from Gaza as part of the so-called “voluntary resettlement” of the inhabitants of the Palestinian enclave.

“Congo will be ready to take migrants, and we are holding talks with other countries”, the newspaper states. Israel is actually working on the possibility of moving Palestinians out of Gaza after the military operation against HAMAS in the region is over. The plan for the gradual “voluntary resettlement” of Gaza inhabitants, which was endorsed by Benjamin Netanyahu on December 25, 2023 at a meeting of the parliamentary faction of the ruling Likud party, is becoming a “key” policy of the Israeli government. The only problem is finding countries willing to accept Palestinian refugees (apparently, Tel Aviv is ready to pay them to accept migrants from Gaza).

Netanyahu’s coalition allies, such as Head of National Security Ministry Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, also share the view that displacement of Palestinian civilians out of Gaza is the only way to resolve the conflict and create preconditions for stability and security in the southern part of Israel. And instead of the Palestinians, of course, Tel Aviv intends to bring Jews to Gaza and establish its settlements there that used to be in the territory before 2005.

Congo has been so far one of the countries that agreed to take Palestinians from Gaza. It caused a decisive protest from a number of Arab countries and from the Islam world in general. Basically, there is a targeted deportation on ethnic grounds going on. There have been appeals to the UN to condemn the Congolese authorities for their consent to Israel’s tyranny and ethnic cleansing.

Something similar happened relatively recently to the Armenians in the Nagorno-Karabakh region: almost the entire Armenian population of the Karabakh region was forced to leave the territory of their historical homeland on a mass scale after the latest military operation of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces on September 19-20, 2023 due to security concerns. Israel actively supported Azerbaijan in this conflict by supplying weapons. However, in the situation with Gaza, such a maneuver from Israel causes serious resistance from the Muslim world, as well as from other countries of the world community, including Russia and China. This forces the US to publicly criticize the Israeli government, in particular, Prime Minister Netanyahu.

The US Government publicly repels all accusations of supporting the ethnic cleansing of Gaza by Israel. These particular issues were discussed by US State Secretary Blinken with the Turkish Government during his visit to Turkey in January. Turkey also blackmails the US quite openly on the issue of the ratification by the National Parliament of the status of Sweden in NATO. In particular, the Turkish side links the issue to the US demands for a military deal on F-16 Block70 fighter jets, as well as keeping Gaza part of a united Palestine. The fate of the subsequent regional escalation in the Middle East largely depends on the outcome of the visit of the chief American diplomat.

Meanwhile, the terrorist attack in Kerman is gradually leading to a new escalation in the Middle East.


Alexander SVARANTS, Doctor of Political Sciences, Professor, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook

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