Iran Crisis Update, October 13
Iran Crisis Update, October 13
Nicholas Carl, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, and Frederick W. Kagan
October 13, 5:30 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.
Expanding protests could strain Iranian state security services beyond their capabilities to respond in the coming days. Anti-regime protest organizations and social media accounts have called for protests in Khuzestan Province on October 14 and throughout the country on October 15. A group called the Youth of the Whole Country, which began tweeting on October 11, has repeated these calls and stated that it seeks to overthrow the regime. The group added that it has coordinated with local protest leaders throughout Iran. Numerous other Persian-language social media accounts with similar naming conventions are circulating on Twitter, claiming to represent Iranian protesters in cities across the country. The Youth of Tehran Neighborhoods tweeted that the October 15 demonstrations will be “the beginning of the end [for the regime].”
CTP cannot verify that the authenticity of these groups or their claims to be leading protests in Iran. The Youth of the Whole Country notably states that its members are inside and outside Iran. These calls for protests on October 14 and 15 will likely bring more Iranians onto the streets in any event.
Such a scenario would strain the regime’s capability to suppress protests in major cities and border regions at the same time. The regime relies on relatively small numbers highly ideologically committed and well-trained security units for protest crackdowns, which introduces a vulnerability in the security apparatus: Iranian leaders do not have enough of these forces to cover all of Iran. The regime has historically shuffled these elite security forces around the country to where they are needed most—typically the restive border regions. The regime has conducted brutal crackdowns on demonstrators in northwestern Kurdistan Province and southeastern Sistan and Baluchistan Province in recent weeks and is likely focused on preventing any insurgent groups from gaining traction in these regions. The regime may face the added pressure of trying to control protests in Khuzestan Province, where anti-regime violence is common, on October 14 and in major cities across Iran on October 15.
Simultaneous protests across Iran—in major cities and the border regions—could overwhelm security forces and prevent them from being able to control demonstrations in some locations. Such a scenario will not likely collapse the regime in itself, but it would certainly pressure it significantly.
- Expanding protests could strain Iranian state security services beyond their capabilities to respond in the coming days
- Anti-regime protests occurred in at least 17 cities in 12 provinces.
- The Iraqi parliament elected Kurdish compromise candidate Abdul Latif Rashid as president.
Anti-regime protests occurred in at least 17 cities in 12 provinces on October 13. Social media reports suggest that commercial and industrial strikes continued in cities throughout Bushehr, Hormozgan, Kerman, Khuzestan, Kurdistan and Tehran Provinces, marking four days since oil and petrochemical workers in Bushehr and Khuzestan joined strikes and anti-regime protests. CTP assesses with moderate or high confidence that protests occurred in the following locations:
- Karaj, Alborz Province
- Najafabad, Esfahan Province
- Ilam City, Ilam Province
- Kermanshah City, Kermanshah Province
- Ahvaz, Khuzestan Province
- Baneh, Kurdistan Province
- Marivan, Kurdistan Province
- Saghez, Kurdistan Province
- Sanandaj, Kurdistan Province (violence reported)
- Arak, Markazi Province
- Mirjaveh, Sistan and Baluchistan Province
- Tehran City, Tehran Province
- Boukan, West Azerbaijan Province
- Mahabad, West Azerbaijan
- Abhar, Zanjan Province
- Zanjan City, Zanjan Province
CTP assesses with low confidence that protests occurred in the following locations:
- Dehgolan, Kurdistan Province
The Iranian regime continues to violently suppress and arrest protestors, specifically in Kurdistan Province, as anti-regime demonstrations approach their twenty-first consecutive day. Social media users continue to report lethal violence used against protestors, and Amnesty International claimed that Iranian security personnel have killed at least 23 children since protests began on September 16.
A Kurdish human rights group reported that Iranian authorities have arrested more than 2,180 people in Kurdistan Province since September 16. Security and intelligence officials have additionally arrested over 30 oil and petrochemical workers participating in strikes and anti-regime demonstrations since strikes began on October 10. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei pardoned and or commuted 1,862 prisoners’ sentences, including 218 prisoners with “security-related” charges on October 13. His website framed the pardons as a commemoration of the Prophet Mohammad birthday and Imam Jafar Sadegh. Such pardons as part of commemorations are normal.
Senior Iranian officials rhetorically escalated against the US and its allies on October 13, echoing Khamenei’s comments blaming Iran’s enemies for ongoing protests on October 12. IRGC Commander Hossein Salami and IRGC Aerospace Force Commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh framed ongoing protests as an ideological war driven by the US, the UK, Israel, and Saudi Arabia in meetings with university professors on October 13. Hajizadeh added that Iran was monitoring its enemies’ military and defense capabilities. President Ebrahim Raisi similarly accused the US of pursuing policies aimed at destabilizing the regime at the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia member-state summit in Astana, Kazakhstan. An IRGC-affiliated newspaper accused British diplomat Simon Shercliff of aiming to incite further unrest in Iran on October 13. Politico similarly reported that multiple Iranian officials had privately warned the EU against imposing protest-related sanctions on Iran, stating that the ramifications would be “grave and that bilateral relations may not survive it.”
Axis of Resistance and Regional Developments
The Iraqi parliament elected Kurdish compromise candidate Abdul Latif Rashid as president on October 13. An Iranian proxy-affiliated Telegram channel celebrated Rashid’s election. Rashid selected Mohammad Shia al Sudani, who is Iran-aligned, as the prime minister-designate. The Shia Coordination Framework—the umbrella coalition for Iranian-backed parties in Iraq—previously identified Sudani as their nominee. Sudani is responsible for submitting a cabinet proposal to Parliament in 30 days. Iran will likely try to exploit Sudani’s potential premiership to expand its political reach into Iraq after former Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al Kadhimi sought to curtail Iranian influence.
The Syrian Foreign Affairs Ministry released a statement supporting the Iranian regime’s brutal crackdown on ongoing protests on October 13. The statement expressed support for Khamenei’s leadership and the regime’s ability to overcome demonstrations. Syria additionally warned against foreign interference and demanded that Western countries drop sanctions on Iran.
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