Home/Daniel Larison/The Ahvaz Terrorist Attack and the Administration’s Feeble Response

The Ahvaz Terrorist Attack and the Administration’s Feeble Response

There was a terrorist attack on a military parade and the assembled crowd earlier today in Ahvaz in southwestern Iran:

Gunmen ambushed an Iranian military parade Saturday and killed 25 people in a brazen attack that authorities in Tehran blamed on “terrorists” backed by Saudi Arabia, fueling tensions between the regional rivals.

The attack in the southwestern city of Ahvaz, about 50 miles from Iran’s border with Iraq, is the largest of its kind in the country since Islamic State militants assaulted Tehran’s parliament and a mausoleum in June 2017.

The parade was commemorating the start of the Iran-Iraq war, and many civilians were killed and wounded in the attack. The most recent reporting puts the casualties at 29 killed and 57 wounded. It was an outrageous attack that claimed the lives of dozens of innocent people, including a four-year old child, and it should be condemned unequivocally. If such an attack happened at a similar event almost anywhere else in the world, we would not hesitate to describe it as terrorism. Unfortunately, because the attack was directed against Iranian civilians and conscripts Western news reports are not describing it this way. Americans should remember that countless Iranians publicly showed their solidarity with us seventeen years ago, and we should be capable of doing the same for them.

A local Arab separatist group claimed responsibility for the attack:

An Iranian ethnic Arab opposition movement called the Ahvaz National Resistance, which seeks a separate state in oil-rich Khuzestan province, claimed responsibility for the attack.

It should be quite easy to condemn all uses of such abhorrent tactics no matter where they take place, but when it comes to Iran the Trump administration has tremendous difficulty doing this. Many governments around the world including Britain and France strongly condemned the attack and offered condolences to the victims and their families. Our own government offered up this feeble and insulting response:

In Washington, National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis said: “The United States stands with the Iranian people and encourages the regime in Tehran to focus on keeping them safe at home.”

At best, this is an inadequate and hollow response to an appalling attack, and at worst it sounds like a not-so-veiled threat. If our government cannot explicitly call this attack terrorism and express sympathy for the victims, its claim that it “stands with the Iranian people” is devoid of meaning. Our government’s response to this attack is so weak that it does nothing to dispel the suspicion that the administration has no problem with what happened.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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