Iran was an exception for quite some time, but no more. This past Wednesday, the Islamic State attacked Iran’s parliament building and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini – the two places personifying in quintessence Iran’s political sovereignty and ideological foundation; in other words, the parliament is a symbol of Iranians’ struggle against monarchy and the mausoleum is the symbol of revolution’s triumph. Before it could take place the attack on an unnamed third target was neutralized by the security forces. At least 12 people were killed and nearly 50 injured, while all the six attackers were also eliminated. Strangely, and much to the wonder of many who run amok to escape such murderous assaults, the Iranian parliament remained in session, eliciting Speaker Ali Larijani’s quip that the firing that ranged through the premises was a “trivial matter”. That indeed is an expression of high morale on the part of the Iranian parliamentarians. But the IS attackers too have succeeded in their own way: Their attack has triggered a nasty blame game. President Hassan Rouhani’s message, in line with his moderate temperament, was polite and balanced. He described the terrorist attack as a “global problem”, emphasizing that unity at regional and global levels to fight this curse is need of today’s world. But the Revolutionary Guards were much less inhibited: they blamed Saudi Arabia “after the meeting of the president of the United States with the leader of one of the region’s reactionary governments.”
The Islamic State is no one’s friend. It attacked Riyadh several times while this is their first attack in Iran. It is a case of chickens coming home to roost. It is the end-product of the proxy wars that Iran and Saudi Arabia waged across the Middle East and beyond, including Pakistan. If it says it would “conquer Iran and restore it to Sunni Muslim nation as before” what is it then its mission in the Sunni countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan and some others where its foot soldiers have shed far more innocent blood. Islamic State is a common enemy of Sunnis and Shias, as it is also of the religious minorities in the Middle East and Africa and Christians in Europe. Should its attacks on the Iranian parliament and the shrine of Ayatollah Khomeini succeed in raising the ante of a clash between the powers on the two sides of the Gulf it would have achieved its objective. IS is no more a proxy of anyone; over the years it has become the fighting arm of Abu Baker al-Baghdadi’s ‘caliphate’ and is out to secure its domination all over the globe. Its attacks seem to have thrown the Islamic Republic into a state of unease in a region which is already witnessing heightened tensions.