By : Zaffar Baloch
Iran’s IRGC multiple attacks in Sistan and Baluchestan’s Dozap (Zahedan) region that took place between November 17, 2021, and January 1, 2022, were strategic implications of the regime’s policies to contain the rebellious uprisings of February 2021 in Saravan and the capture of the IRGC’s base in Korin, Dozap (Zahedan). As a result, the battles between the Baloch fuel traders and IRGC have progressed into the present conflict almost a year later.
The February 2021 clashes between the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and the people of Saravan left at least 40 protesters killed and more than 100 wounded. In the aftermath of the massacre, rebellious youths in the Korin-Sarjangal area of Zahedan (Capital of Sistan and Baluchestan) took to the streets and targeted the IRGC base in the region. The spread of the uprising in Saravan, Zahedan, Iranshahr, Khash, Sarbaz, and elsewhere is of significant political importance as a national resistance force against the power centers of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Families members of the Baloch clan of Shahbakhsh in the Dozap (Zahedan) area who courageously attacked and captured the IRGC’s base in Korin on February 24, 2021, are being targeted and eliminated by the regime as a consistent policy of occupation force and ethnic cleansing.
The hostilities between the Baloch civilians and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards result from the regime’s persistent policy of oppression, discrimination, poverty, inflation, and unemployment in Sistan and Baluchestan. In addition to economic deprivation, the region has been flooded with narcotics, benefiting the regime’s IRGC top brass by reaping financial gains and indulging the youth in drug addiction, destroying society’s social and moral fabric.
The reigniting of the recent hostilities on November 17, 2021 – January 1, 2022, initiated by the regime’s IRGC Quds Force, combed the area and launched an intelligence-based operation aimed at eliminating the leading figures of the Shahbakhsh clan responsible for the February 2021 uprising and retaliations in Korin. However, the regime was in for a big surprise – the resistance was prepared to hit back. As a result, the IRGC Quds Force lost twenty of its experienced men, including two senior intelligence officers – a considerable embarrassment for Tehran.
November 17, 2021, the battle at Dasht-e-Samsor, 120 km north of Zahedan, the ground operation launched by IRGC Quds Force, faced fierce firepower by the Baloch compatriots – Gholam Shahbakhsh (leader), Malik Shahbakhsh (elder brother of Gholam), Mehrab Shahbakhsh (cousin of Gholam), and Hameed Hasanzahi. The hours-long shootout left twelve IRGC soldiers dead while Malik Shahbakhsh succumbed to injuries. Gholam, Mehrab, and other fighters escaped the scene.
December 26, 2021, two senior intelligence officers of the IRGC Quds Force, responsible for planning the entire intelligence-based operation, were killed in a shootout by Gholam Shahbakhsh. The official news media of the IRGC Quds Force announced that Officer Mehran Shoorizadeh and Officer Mohsen Keikhaei were killed in the attempt to capture Gholam Shahbakhsh and his men. This loss of intelligence base is considered debilitating, leaving a significant gap in IRGC networking in Sistan and Baluchestan.
December 28, 2021, Gholam Shahbakhsh, Mehrab Shahbakhsh, and their companions are tracked down and surrounded by the IRGC soldiers. Four IRGC soldiers are killed in the fierce shootout, and Mehrab Shahbakhsh gets fatally wounded by a volley of bullets and breathes his last.
January 1, 2022, District Korin, Zahedan: The house where Gholam Shahbakhsh and his compatriots are hiding is raided by a heavy contingent of IRGC Quds Force, surrounding a large area, sealing off all the entry and exit points. The gunfight lasts for hours, resulting in the loss of lives of compatriots Gholam Shahbakhsh, Mohammad Jan (father-in-law of Gholam Shahbakhsh), and Hameed Hasanzahi. In addition, four IRGC soldiers were killed and another four critically wounded. Furthermore, unverified reports from Korin claim unfortunate deaths of women and children of the family in the house.
With the drop scene of the final bloody chapter of the armed conflict, the region’s people feel deprived of courageous men who sacrificed their lives for others to live with honour. Gholam Shahbakhsh was seen in one of his recent video messages speaking against the sale of narcotics in Sistan and Baluchestan. He said this is the worst poison for our youths and must be stopped. One of the several reasons why Gholam Shahbakhsh came under attack by the IRGC Quds Force was his determination to stop the sale of narcotics in Sistan and Baluchestan.
Dark clouds are gathering over the region of Dozap (Zahedan), Khash, Saravan, Sarbaz, Iranshehar, and the Baloch people of Sistan and Balochistan. The occupation forces are claiming the elimination of Gholam Shahbakhsh as a victory over resistance. However, the regime will not stop here; the next step will be to further tighten the stranglehold over the people and deprive them of economic survival and resistance tools. All the social media platforms, news resources and, networks will be hit hard in Sistan and Baluchestan. In the final round, the regime will come after the weapons possed by the people for centuries to fight off foreign invaders. The Baloch tribes of the region have a history honoured even by their enemies. Whatever unfolds in the future, Tehran must understand and reread the people’s history before embarking on consolidating power and occupation over Sistan and Baluchestan.