COUNTERINSURGENCY IN SISTAN-BALUCHISTAN: EVALUATING IRANIAN EFFECTIVENESS IN COUNTERING ETHNIC INSURGENCY
Elliott, Matthew G.
Ostovar, Afshon P.
Johnson, Thomas H.
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Iran supports insurgent and counterinsurgent groups across the Middle East in opposition to the United States’ interests. Therefore, it is important to understand the strategy and approach of Iranian insurgency and counterinsurgency (COIN). Iran's expertise in insurgency and counterinsurgency comes from its experience battling opposition groups inside its borders. Since 1979, Iran has frequently combatted insurgencies in peripheral territories. One of Iran’s most problematic regions has been the south-eastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan, where for almost 20 years Iranian security apparatuses have struggled against violent ethno-sectarian insurgency from Baluch rebel groups like Jundallah. This thesis examines Iran’s COIN strategy in Sistan-Baluchistan from 2003 to 2020, and the degree to which that strategy has been successful. Initially, Iran’s COIN was ineffective. However, Iran has revised its approach to the Baluch insurgency, tailoring its strategy to meet the circumstances, with better results. There are two factors that have driven the improved Iranian COIN performance against Baluch insurgents. First, the insurgency has fragmented since Jundallah’s demise. Second, and more significantly, the improved COIN performance in Sistan-Baluchistan is a result of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ increasingly active and authoritative involvement in controlling the COIN campaign.
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