Iranian Revolutionary Guard/Quds Force could be planning attack in Turkey
In this Sept. 22, 2011 photo, members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard march in front of the mausoleum of the late Iranian revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini, just outside Tehran, during armed an forces parade marking the 31st anniversary of the start of the Iraq-Iran War. (Photo: AP)
Intelligence units have warned that the Quds Force, a special unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, plans to send a group to Turkey to carry out a series of demonstrations that may include a bomb attack on the Embassy or Consulate General of the United States.
The Turkish Security General Directorate (EGM) has warned police departments in all 81 Turkish provinces that they must be vigilant and remain alert to the existence of such a threat. The intelligence pertaining to the possibility of such an attack was delivered in a secret letter to the information department at Turkey's General Directorate of Security. The written statement indicates that a team linked to Iran's Revolutionary Guard will be sent to Turkey and that it may be planning to bomb the US embassy or consulate general in the country. The Quds Force is infamous for its role in attempting to export Iran's revolution to other countries through the instigation of chaos and by acting as the overseas branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp.
However, facts about the force are well-guarded and scarce. The statement further details that the team intends to stay in five-star hotels in the city where the plan is to be carried out and that as a result, caution should be exercised when dealing with non-Turkish individuals staying at such lodgings. The statement also noted that groups linked to the Lebanon-based Hezbollah may also take part in the plotted demonstrations or attacks.
Intelligence data regarding the plan have been assessed by Turkish security forces to be an effort by Iran to stir to action illegal Turkish political groups following Turkey’s decision to host a NATO early-warning radar system and recent developments in Syria that have seen the establishment of a training camp for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a step interpreted as a response to Turkey’s criticism of the Syrian regime for its brutal crackdown on anti-regime protests.
A number of Iranian officials pledged revenge on Turkey last year after the country approved the establishment of the NATO defense system on its soil, with prominent military and political figures saying that Turkey would be sorry for siding with the US. Iran has interpreted Turkey’s role in the international community as a threat against its interests, and is convinced the US and Israel are its archenemies seeking to destroy Iran. However, top Iranian officials, including Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, have assured Turkey that such threats coming from Iranian lawmakers do not reflect the official policy of the country and that Turkey should only consider information from senior Iranian authorities in office.
Salehi has also frequently expressed his concern over such “provocations” that may try to see the brotherhood of Iran and Turkey, which spans centuries, fall apart. He believes the countries should keep in close contact and cooperate regarding regional developments. Although Turkey and Iran are engaged in close cooperation when it comes to combating terrorism and sharing intelligence along their common border, the countries frequently disagree about developments in the region.
One such recent disagreement was sparked last month when US troops pulled out of Iraq and left the country to submerge into a sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Shiites. Turkey, a Sunni-majority country, claims to dismiss sectarian differences in its approach to the Middle East and urges Iran to work for solidarity among sects rather than allowing the Shiite bloc alone to monopolize power in the hands of the sect. Iran is also speculated to be leading a new rise of the Shiite Crescent in the region, supporting Shiite-backed political blocs in other countries, such as Syria, while creating chaos in those ruled by Sunni leaders, such as Bahrain. Iran vehemently refutes this role in both cases and denies having connections to recent arms shipments intercepted by Turkey allegedly on their way from Iran to Syria, where pro-democracy clashes run the risk of leading to a civil war.