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IRGC ground forces commander dies in plane crash

| 19 Comments | 4 TrackBacks

Reuters and AP are reporting that an IRGC military plane has crashed, killing General Ahmed Kazemi, the commander of the IRGC's ground forces and former commander of its air force, and what looks like several other senior IRGC commanders. No word yet on whether or not Qassem Suleimani was among them, but I suspect we don't get that lucky.

In addition to the repercussions of General Kazemi's death, notably that this is going to be a lot more short-term power consolidated into the hands of IRGC's commander-in-chief Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi and his deputy General Mohammed Baqir Zolqadr (assuming that neither were on the plane, which I doubt since both are more prominent than Kazemi and would have been mentioned first), which seems to be part of a continuing trend in Iran. One thing I've noticed of late about the regime is that if you compare the frequency and prominence of current and ex-IRGC members in the current government to clerics you'll see that Iran looks less like a theocracy and more and more like a traditional military junta.

Oh, and it's worth noting what the US discovered the last time a plane full of IRGC crashed back in February 2003:

The tough line on Iran contemplated by the United States is partly driven by intelligence reports that Iranian revolutionary guards are sheltering al-Qaeda leaders at one of the former shah's hunting lodges, it has emerged. ... The trail of clues that led to a grand hunting lodge - now a military base - in the eastern highlands near the border with Pakistan and Afghanistan surfaced after an air crash in February outside the city of Kerman killed 200 soldiers from the revolutionary guards. A Washington source claimed the crash produced intelligence that the revolutionary guards were "hosting" the al-Qaeda leaders.

Definitely worth keeping an eye on.

UPDATE:

The other dead IRGC commanders killed in the crash have been identified as follows:

  • Hamid Azinpour, aide to General Kazemi
  • Mohsen Asadi, aide to General Kazemi
  • Brigadier General Hanif Montazer-Qaem, Director of Intelligence for IRGC ground forces
  • Brigadier General Saeed Suleimani, commander of operations for IRGC ground forces
  • Brigadier General Gholam-Reza Yazdani, IRGC artillery commander
  • Brigadier General Saeed Mohtadi, commander of the 27th (Mohammed) Division
  • Colonel Ahmad Elhaminejad
  • Colonel Morteza Basiri

Initial reports suggested that Brigadier General Qassem Suleimani was indeed among those killed in the crash, but IRNA is now saying that he wasn't aboard the plane and that the dead Brigadier General was Saeed Suleimani, the commander of operations for the IRGC ground forces. All in all, looks like a major blow to the IRGC.

For those who are curious about Kazemi, he was active in southern Lebanon in the 1980s and helped to orchestrate successful terrorist attacks against US and French troops during that time. Prior to being appointed as the head of the IRGC's ground forces, he was the commander of its aerial assets and supervised the development of Iran's Shahab missiles, including the Shahab-4, which is almost certainly capable of hitting Europe. I expect that all of the other commanders have similar histories, which goes back to my earlier point in the comments that anybody holding a high rank in the IRGC isn't a particularly nice person to begin with.

4 TrackBacks

Tracked: January 9, 2006 5:45 PM
Another Successful Iranian Mission from Vital Perspective
Excerpt: Winds of Change has picked up on a story that an IRGC military plane has crashed, killing Gen. Ahmed Kazemi, the commander of the IRGC's ground forces and former commander of its air force, and what looks like several other senior IRGC commanders. ...
Tracked: January 9, 2006 9:55 PM
Excerpt: OK - Good news? I just posted a comment over at Roger L. Simon's re Ledeen's NRO article. Here's an excerpt on a related Iranian thread on the planes falling out of the sky in Iran. *...
Tracked: January 9, 2006 10:01 PM
BREAKING - OSAMA BIN LEADEN DEAD! ??? from Rocket's Brain Trust
Excerpt: Osama Bin Laden died three weeks ago in Iran - Michael Ledeen (From NRO) [HT Dr. Zin - Regime Change Iran] I suppose this is worthy of my first post here. :--)
Tracked: January 10, 2006 3:11 PM
Excerpt: Rape victim to be hanged in Iran. IED at Starbucks. Is terrorism the new black? All the nuts are now following the lead of al Qaeda in Iraq, it seems. 17 terrorist scumbags arrested in Spain. British Muslims declare jihad...

19 Comments

Just thinking, is it possible that this crash wasn't all that accidental?

What would be the effect of picking off a few of the junta's aircraft, now and again, hoping we got lucky? It might be a good strategy.

all depends on who is doing the picking off and who is being picked off.

are we causing attrition of irannian military leadership or the hardliners eliminating more moderate elements in their own military.

DEBKAfileís Tehran sources note the high importance of the dead commander who was appointed only three months ago. Another of the victims was head of the RG intelligence branch.

Kazemi, for six years chief of the RG air force, was one of the fathers of Iranís aggressive military doctrine. Our Iran expertsí first premise is that the crash was engineered by opposition factions to president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad within the regime in an effort to stem the increasing encroachments of state institutions by his backers, the radical Revolutionary Guards.

It seems as if the Iranians have serious maintenance issues with their aircraft. One can only hope that quality of maintenance extends to other things -- like antiaircraft defenses.

OBL died three weeks ago in Iran

Makes you wonder with all these planes falling out of the sky, is the hand of Allah involved?

Just whose hand is in the works?

BTW Dr. Ledeen is leading at NRO that OBL died three weeks ago in Iran. Dr. Zin is linking at:

Link

Just what other AQ high value targets are sunning in Iran :--)

Countdown to the claims it was 'an evil Zionist plot':

Four ... three ... two ...

What is worrisome about the Ledeen article is the news of Khameini's possibly impending death.

Hitler invaded Poland in his fiftieth year when he began feeling his mortality.

Stalin launched the first collectivization campaign at the same point in his own life.

If Khameini feels the reaper, it just increases the odds of Iran making it's move very, very soon.

Not that we needed further proof that Iran will do something stupid this year.

Guys, nobody in the IRGC would be considered "moderate" in anything resembling our understanding of the word or the internal politics of the Iranian regime - that's sort of a precondition for getting into the IRGC in the first place. I'm skeptical of the Debka account since Ahmadinejad is one of the ex-IRGC members involved in "the increasing encroachments of state institutions."

One very common misconception with Iran is to lump in Ahmedinejad with the Mullahs. The Mullahs are nasty, reactionary dudes, but in fact Ahmedinejad isnt one of them, and is more radical than they are. So you have the reformers who have pretty much gone underground after Ahmned plucked them all out of government, and the Mullahs who are starting to wonder if this guy is even too crazy for their tastes and overly ambitious for their power to boot. If this was an assassination, it could have come from either party, or even some other disgruntled element of Iran (there are many). It would make more sense for the Mullahs to carry it out though. The president getting the IRGC in his pocket gives him essentially absolute power in Iran. Then again, sometimes the old man is just an old man and the sea is just the sea. Planes do crash.

Why were so many important IRGC together in a single plane? Where were they going that required the presence of all of them? It is all very curious.

If one man (Ahmadinejad) is the problem, then surely assassination is the answer, not nuking the whole country. He doesn't keep in hiding like Saddam, does he?

If one man (Ahmadinejad) is the problem

...then you haven't been paying attention.

An Iranian investigative journalist "Nourizadeh" claims that these guys opposed the rule of Ahmadinejad by writing a letter to the supreme leader of the regime and the letter may be the cause of their sudden death

"more moderate" does not mean they are "moderate." But given sufficient time, in all revolutions some will become disillusioned, and more moderate, even having attain position of power.

speculations thus are:
1. simple accident
2. western intervention
3. iranian government intervention
4. iranian opposition intervention

Chuck,

There is a simple answer to your question. It may or may not be what happened, but it sure is simple.

Put all your bad eggs in one basket.

Drop the basket.

First there is a supposed assassination attempt on President Ahmadinejad

Then a group of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Generals, plus their aides, die in a mysterious plane crash.

These Iranian factional fights are starting to look like a Chinese Tong War.

You don't know who the winners are or even who all the players are...but you sure as hell know the losers by the bodies they leave behind.

Sometimes fortune smiles upon us.

Can we possibly hope that ALL of the Revolutionary Guards, all of the Mullahs and all of the Fanatic President's people (Ahmadinejad) are ELIMINATED?

It might happen, but is probably just wishful thinking. Ahmadinejad and the Revolutionary Guards seem to be the two greatest dangers at the moment.

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