The unusual assassination of a colonel in the influential Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (known as the Revolutionary Guard) has shaken Tehran in the past 24 hours.
Colonel Hassan Sayad Hodai was shot dead in front of his home yesterday by unidentified assailants (probably two) on a motorcycle. Iran has not had such a major security breach since the fall of 2020 when influential nuclear scientist Mohsen Fahrizade was assassinated.
During the assassination attempt in broad daylight – in the center of Tehran – the colonel was shot five times (according to the Iranian agency IRNA). Iranian media circulated photos of him falling from his unarmored car not far from parliament.
For Hodai, Israeli media reported on planned killings of Israeli citizens and Jews around the world and involvement in the preparation of assassinations.
According to the guard, he acted mainly in Syria (where, according to state television, he was “famous”; Arab media quoted him as having smuggled weapons into Syria). Several Iranian publications mention his influence in the country’s military-industrial complex, especially in the field of drones. The slain was part of the Quds Division (Al Quds is the Arabic name for Jerusalem) for foreign operations of the Guard, especially active in Iraq and Syria.
Who is behind the attack?
The foreign ministry saw a connection to Iran’s “sworn enemies”, a reference to the United States and Israel. President Ebrahim Raisi has vowed revenge on the Islamic Republic.
The Revolutionary Guards were accused of “global arrogance”, the elements of which were related to a “criminal terrorist act in the name of” counter-revolution “(probably referring to the United States or Israel) and whose” guidelines “probably acted on suspected otherwise known robbery abductions. and acts of vandalism.
By the way, the expression “global arrogance” appeared in the statements of all three mentioned institutions. “It seems that agents of the Israeli Mossad service are involved,” said military journalist Hossein Daliryan (last year, Iranian officials and the media linked him to the Mossad and a cyber attack on a nuclear facility).
Al-Arabia quoted Iranian officials as saying that “Israeli cells” were at the heart of the attack.
This accusation, as well as the style of the audacious attack, raises the possibility of linking it to other motorcycle killings in Iran that have already been attributed to Israel. Similar attacks have been carried out on Iranian nuclear scientists, such as in November 2020, when scientist Mohsen Fahrizade was assassinated. Iran has blamed Israel, and an unproven link to Mossad has appeared in The Jewish Chronicle, which said the preparations involved eight months of monitoring.
Fahrizadeh, unlike Hodai, was driven by an armored car and a permanent guard because of his key role in Iran’s nuclear program.
An analysis by the Jerusalem Post notes that the killing could be part of an acceleration of Israeli operations under the so-called war between wars (a campaign by which the country strikes at the military-industrial complex and other sectors of countries that have declared it an enemy and carrying out operations that authorities say threaten its security). The text does not call into question that Israel is behind the attack.
Another heavy loss for the guard
The colonel is the second high-ranking al-Quds official to be killed in just over two years. The first was its leader, the elite General Kasem Soleimani, the driving force behind Iran’s policy of spreading influence over governments in Syria (whose ally is Tehran in the 2011 war) and Iraq.
Soleimani was killed by a drone from the United States, and the killing raised tensions between Tehran and Washington for a while. It is possible that Hodai was close to Soleimani.
The Revolutionary Guard is the ideological unit of the Iranian army. Estimates of the United States suggest that the guard may have concentrated on its hand’s assets equal to 10-15% of Iran’s gross domestic product.
Removing it from the US list of terrorist organizations is among Tehran’s main demands, which have stalled months of talks to return to a 2015 agreement on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. Al Monitor notes that the killing coincided with a stalemate in negotiations. The United States withdrew from the agreement in 2018 (under Donald Trump), restoring sanctions on the Iranian economy lifted by the nuclear deal. President Joe Biden has begun talks to return to the agreement, but it has been going on for two years.
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