Sunday, October 16, 2022

Iran Crisis Update, October 16


Zachary Coles, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, and Frederick W. Kagan

October 16, 5:00 PM ET 

The Iran Crisis Updates are produced by the Critical Threats Project (CTP) at the American Enterprise Institute with support from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). To receive Iran Crisis Updates via email, please subscribe here.

The IRGC may resume attacks against targets in Iraqi Kurdistan in the coming days. IRGC and Lebanese Hezbollah (LH) media outlets blamed Kurdish militants’ presence in Iraqi Kurdistan for ongoing, anti-regime protests on October 16. LH-owned Al Ahed News recirculated an IRGC-owned media outlet article that claimed that Mossad agents have been working with Kurdish Komala militants to establish sabotage networks in Iran since 2021.[1] IRGC Telegram channels also posted an October 16 statement from the chief of the Iranian Armed Forces General Staff, Mohammad Bagheri, warning that the IRGC will resume attacks into Iraqi Kurdistan if the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) fails to “deport or disarm the local militias.”[2]

LH and IRGC rhetoric coincides with reports that the KRG refused Iran's demands to disarm and remove anti-Iranian regime militants from Iraqi Kurdistan.[3] Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian made the demand in a meeting with KRG Interior Minister Rebar Ahmed in Tehran on October 16. Iran International claimed on October 16 that KRG envoy to Iran Nazim Dabbagh admitted that the KRG had warned anti-regime Kurdish militants prior to IRGC attacks.[4]

Recent progress in forming an Iran-friendly government in Baghdad has lowered the risk that renewed attacks would harm Iran’s political influence over the Iraqi government. The IRGC paused attacks into Iraqi Kurdistan on October 8 likely in part to avoid undermining Iran-aligned Iraqi political factions’ efforts to form a government.[5] Iran-backed political factions made significant progress on government formation by installing officials favored by the Iran-backed Shia Coordination Framework as the new Iraqi president and the new Iraqi Prime Minister on October 13.[6] Newly installed Iraqi Prime Minister and Iran-backed Shia Coordination Framework official Mohammad al-Sudani announced that he expects to finish forming a cabinet weeks ahead of his November 12 deadline.[7]

Key Takeaways

  • The IRGC may resume attacks against positions in Iraqi Kurdistan in the coming days.
  • Anti-regime protests occurred in at least 14 cities in 12 provinces on October 16.
  • Iranian state-run outlets have struggled to cohere a unified narrative following reports of violence at Evin Prison in Tehran.
  • Iranian security forces are increasingly targeting high schools in an attempt to quell unrest, which could reinvigorate ongoing protests.
  • Iranian officials are increasingly describing ongoing protests as being revolutionary in nature and acknowledge that recent demonstrations target the foundation of the regime.

Anti-Regime Protests

Anti-regime protests occurred in at least 14 cities in 12 provinces on October 16. CTP assesses with moderate or high confidence that protests occurred in the following locations:

  • Karaj, Alborz Province
  • Ardabil, Ardabil Province
  • Shahr-e Kord, Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari Province
  • Tabriz, East Azerbaijan Province
  • Najafabad, Esfahan Province
  • Rasht, Gilan Province
  • Mashhad, Khorasan Razavi Province
  • Saghez, Kurdistan Province
  • Sanandaj, Kurdistan Province
  • Babol, Mazandaran Province
  • Tehran City, Tehran Province
  • Yazd City, Yazd Province

CTP assesses with low confidence that protests occurred in the following locations:

    • Esfahan City, Esfahan Province
    • Piranshahr, West Azerbaijan Province

    Iranian state-run outlets have struggled to cohere around a unified narrative following reports of violence at Evin Prison in Tehran. IRGC-affiliated Fars and Mashregh News Agencies reported that Evin prisoners had entered a minefield when fleeing a fire on the premises, thereby causing explosions documented by several Iranian social media users.[8] Several other state-affiliated outlets, including one affiliated with the IRGC, did not circulate this report, although most regime entities stated that the clashes involved prison wards seven and eight.[9] State-broadcaster IRIB similarly corrected its report that 40 Evin prisoners had died, lowering its estimate to four shortly thereafter.[10] Iranian state reports estimate that 61 prisoners were injured in the Evin Prison fire and clashes, 10 of whom have been hospitalized.[11] CTP cannot assess what transpired at Evin Prison on October 15.

    Iranians are reporting an increased security presence and violence in Iranian high schools. Ham Mihan Newspaper corroborated recent reports that Iranian security officials beat and detained Shahed High School students for chanting anti-regime slogans in Ardabil City on October 12. Ham Mihan added that Iranian authorities took the students to a regime-organized event without their parents’ knowledge or consent. Ham Mihan described one student as “unwell,” but was unable to confirm prior reports that she had succumbed to her injuries.[12] Another social media user purporting to be an Iranian student claimed that security forces targeted over 10 other schools in Ardabil City on October 12, allegedly beating and detaining children from other schools in the area.[13] CTP cannot verify this report. The Hengaw Human Rights Organization similarly reported that Iranian security forces raided two schools in an unspecified town in Kurdistan Province, arresting at least five students.[14] IRGC Commander Hossein Salami framed Iranian schools as an ideological battlefield and site of unrest on October 16.[15]

    The regime’s reported violence towards children—and denial of these acts of violence—could exacerbate ongoing protests. A security official claimed that 16-year-old Nima Shafigh Doust died from an infected dog bite following reports that Iranian security forces shot and killed Shafigh Doust in a protest in Ourmia, West Azerbaijan Province.[16] Regime-affiliated media outlets and officials similarly claimed that Sarina Esmail Zadeh and Nika Shakarami—two teenage protestors brutally killed by security forces—committed suicide several weeks prior. [17] Protestors chanted “we don’t want a regime that kills children” in Ardabil City on October 15, a slogan that may increasingly resonate with demonstrators and inflame unrest.[18]

    Iranian officials are increasingly describing ongoing protests as being revolutionary in nature. Tehran Governor Mohsen Mansouri acknowledged that recent unrest has evolved from focusing on the morality police and mandatory veiling to targeting the regime on October 16.[19] A provincial official in Semnan Province echoed Mansouri’s rhetoric that same day and implied that recent demonstrations aimed to overthrow the Islamic Republic.[20] Both officials blamed the US for inciting and directing anti-regime protests.

    Senior Iranian officials and an IRGC media channel accused the US and other western countries of inciting ongoing, anti-regime protests. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi criticized US president Joe Biden for expressing support for Iranian protesters on October 15. Raisi also blamed the US for stoking unrest.[21] Senior Iranian security official Hassan Karimi similarly claimed that foreign actors have incentivized Iranians to participate in protests on October 16.[22] An IRGC Telegram Channel claimed that security officials arrested a German national in Ardabil City on October 15 for attempting to facilitate communication between protestors.[23]

    Axis of Resistance and Regional Developments

    There was nothing significant to report.

    [1] http://alahednews dot com dot lb/article dot php?id=46770&cid=116


    [3] https://www dot rudaw dot net/english/kurdistan/16102022




    [7] https://shafaq dot com/en/Iraq-News/Al-Sudani-will-form-a-cabinet-within-two-weeks-leading-figure

    [8] https://www.asriran dot com/fa/news/862107/%D9%81%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%B3-%D8%AF%D8%B1%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%87-%D8%B5%D8%AF%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%81%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%87%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%AF%DB%8C%D8%B4%D8%A8-%D8%A7%D9%88%DB%8C%D9%86-%D8%AA%D8%B9%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%AF%DB%8C-%D8%B2%D9%86%D8%AF%D8%A7%D9%86%DB%8C-%D9%81%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%B1-%DA%A9%D8%B1%D8%AF%D9%86%D8%AF-%D9%88-%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%AF-%D9%85%DB%8C%D8%AF%D8%A7%D9%86-%D9%85%DB%8C%D9%86-%D8%B4%D8%AF%D9%86%D8%AF-%D8%AA%D8%B3%D9%86%DB%8C%D9%85-%D8%AA%DA%A9%D8%B0%DB%8C%D8%A8-%D9%85%DB%8C-%D8%B4%D9%88%D8%AFhttps://www.jahannews dot com/news/815634/%D9%BE%D8%B4%D8%AA-%D9%BE%D8%B1%D8%AF%D9%87-%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%AC%D8%B1%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%AF%D8%B1%DA%AF%DB%8C%D8%B1%DB%8C-%D8%B4%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%87-%D8%B2%D9%86%D8%AF%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%88%DB%8C%D9%86-%D8%AA%D8%B5%D8%A7%D9%88%DB%8C%D8%B1



    [9] https://www.mizan dot news/4476655/%d8%af%d8%b1-%d8%a2%d8%aa%d8%b4-%d8%b3%d9%88%d8%b2%db%8c-%d8%af%db%8c%d8%b4%d8%a8-%d8%b2%d9%86%d8%af%d8%a7%d9%86-%d8%a7%d9%88%db%8c%d9%86-4-%d8%b2%d9%86%d8%af%d8%a7%d9%86%db%8c-%d8%a8%d8%b1-%d8%a7/https://nournews dot ir/Fa/News/111138/4-%D9%81%D9%88%D8%AA%DB%8C-%D9%88-61-%D9%85%D8%AC%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%AD-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D8%A2%D8%AA%D8%B4%E2%80%8C%D8%B4%D9%88%D8%B2%DB%8C-%D8%B4%D8%A8-%DA%AF%D8%B0%D8%B4%D8%AA%D9%87-%D8%B2%D9%86%D8%AF%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%88%DB%8C%D9%86 dot ir/news/1426776/%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B2%D8%AF%DB%8C%D8%AF-%D8%AF%D8%A8%DB%8C%D8%B1-%D8%B3%D8%AA%D8%A7%D8%AF-%D8%AD%D9%82%D9%88%D9%82-%D8%A8%D8%B4%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D8%B2-%D8%B2%D9%86%D8%AF%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%88%DB%8C%D9%86-%D8%BA%D8%B1%DB%8C%D8%A8-%D8%A2%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%AF%DB%8C-%D8%A2%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%B4-%D8%AF%D8%B1






    [11] https://www.mizan dot news/4476655/%d8%af%d8%b1-%d8%a2%d8%aa%d8%b4-%d8%b3%d9%88%d8%b2%db%8c-%d8%af%db%8c%d8%b4%d8%a8-%d8%b2%d9%86%d8%af%d8%a7%d9%86-%d8%a7%d9%88%db%8c%d9%86-4-%d8%b2%d9%86%d8%af%d8%a7%d9%86%db%8c-%d8%a8%d8%b1-%d8%a7/

    [12] https://hammihanonline dot ir/news/society/%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%AA-%DB%8C%DA%A9-%D8%A7%D8%AA%D9%81%D8%A7%D9%82-%D9%BE%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%A8%D9%87%D8%A7%D9%85



    [15] https://www.irna dot ir/news/84913847/%D8%B3%D8%B1%D9%84%D8%B4%DA%A9%D8%B1-%D8%B3%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85%DB%8C-%D8%AA%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%B4-%D8%A2%D9%85%D8%B1%DB%8C%DA%A9%D8%A7-%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%AC%D8%A7%DB%8C%DB%8C-%D8%B5%D8%AD%D9%86%D9%87-%D9%86%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%AF-%D8%A8%D9%87-%D9%85%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%B3-%D9%88-%D8%AF%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%B4-%D8%A2%D9%85%D9%88%D8%B2%D8%A7%D9%86

    [16] https://www.khabarfoori dot com/%D8%A8%D8%AE%D8%B4-%D8%A7%D8%AC%D8%AA%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B9%DB%8C-158/2966666-%D9%BE%D9%84%DB%8C%D8%B3-%D9%86%DB%8C%D9%85%D8%A7-%D8%B4%D9%81%DB%8C%D9%82-%D8%AF%D9%88%D8%B3%D8%AA-%D8%A8%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D8%AB%D8%B1-%D8%B3%DA%AF-%DA%AF%D8%B2%DB%8C%D8%AF%DA%AF%DB%8C-%D9%81%D9%88%D8%AA-%DA%A9%D8%B1%D8%AF-%D9%86%D9%87-%D8%A7%D8%B9%D8%AA%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%B6%D8%A7%D8%AA;

    [17] https://www.mehrnews dot com/amp/5603744/https://www.hamshahrionline dot ir/news/710534/%D8%AF%D9%88-%D9%81%D8%B1%D8%B6%DB%8C%D9%87-%D8%AF%D8%B1%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%87-%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%AA-%D9%81%D9%88%D8%AA-%D9%86%DB%8C%DA%A9%D8%A7-%D8%B4%D8%A7%DA%A9%D8%B1%D9%85%DB%8C-%D9%81%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D8%B2-%D8%AF%D8%B3%D8%AA-%DB%8C%DA%A9%DB%8C-%D8%A7%D8%B2-%DA%A9%D8%A7%D8%B1%DA%AF%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86


    [19] https://www.mehrnews dot com/news/5606869/%D8%AD%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%A8-%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%B9%D8%A7%D8%AF-%D8%B3%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B3%DB%8C-%D9%BE%DB%8C%D8%AF%D8%A7-%DA%A9%D8%B1%D8%AF%D9%87-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%AE%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%AF-%D8%A8%D8%A7-%D8%B3%D9%84%D8%A8%D8%B1%DB%8C%D8%AA%DB%8C-%D9%87%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%B9%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%AF

    [20] https://www.mojnews dot com/%D8%A8%D8%AE%D8%B4-%D8%A7%D8%AC%D8%AA%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B9%DB%8C-5/

    [21] dot ir/fa/140200

    [22] https://www.farazdaily dot com/%D8%A8%D8%AE%D8%B4-%D8%A7%D8%AE%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B1-3/54862-%D9%81%D8%B1%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AF%D9%87-%DB%8C%DA%AF%D8%A7%D9%86-%D9%87%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D9%88%DB%8C%DA%98%D9%87-%D9%85%D8%A7-%D8%A8%D9%87-%D8%B5%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%AA-%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%88%D9%86%DB%8C-%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B4%DB%8C%D9%86-%D9%87%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%AE%D9%88%D8%AF-%D8%B1%D8%A7-%D8%B1%D8%AF%DB%8C%D9%81-%D9%85%DB%8C-%DA%A9%D9%86%DB%8C%D9%85-%D8%AA%D8%A7-%D8%AA%D8%A3%D8%AB%DB%8C%D8%B1-%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%86%DB%8C-%D8%AE%D9%88%D8%AF-%D8%B1%D8%A7-%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%B4%D8%AA%D9%87-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B4%DB%8C%D9%85