MESOP NEWS TOP OF T HE AGENDA : Islamic State Claims Rare Terrorist Attack in Iran / READ ALL RELEVANT SOURCES

The self-proclaimed Islamic State said it was behind twin attacks that left at least twelve people dead and dozens injured (FT) at the Iranian parliament, in Tehran, and the shrine to revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Four gunmen, including a suicide bomber, attacked the parliament, while a similar number of assailants were reported at the tomb complex (ISNA), about twelve miles away. The Iranian intelligence ministry said it had foiled a third attack (Guardian) and asked locals to avoid public transportation. If the Islamic State’s involvement is confirmed, the attack would be the first of its kind in Iran (WSJ).

ANALYSIS

“Such attacks are rare in Iran, which keeps a tight grip on domestic security. It has largely been spared from militant attacks, despite its heavy support of Shia militias in Syria and Iraq, which has increased sympathies among some of those countries’ Sunni populations for radical groups, such as Isis,” Monavar Khalaj and Erika Solomon write for the Financial Times.

“The Islamic State (IS) extremist group has recently expanded its campaign to recruit Iranians and disseminate its message to Persian speakers. In late March, IS published a rare video in Persian in which it called on Iran’s Sunni minority to rise up against the Shi’a-dominated Iranian establishment. The video was dismissed by Iran’s state broadcaster as ‘nonsense’ and an attempt by the group to cover up mounting losses in Iraq. Since then, IS has published four issues of its online propaganda publication Rumiyah in Persian,” Golnaz Esfandiari writes for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

“U.S. and Iran-backed forces are locked in a race to take Islamic State strongholds in southeastern Syria and seize a stretch of land that will either cement Tehran’s regional ambitions, or stifle them. The scramble for pole position in Deir al-Zour province is likely to be one of the most consequential fights against the extremist group in Syria, posing a regional test for President Trump as his administration turns up the rhetoric against Iran,” Louisa Loveluck and Loveday Morris write for the Washington Post.