A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Clumsiness or Sabotage?: Iran's String of "Accidents"

November was a crazy month, with MEI's Annual Conference, elections in Morocco and Egypt, and other diversions, so much of the rest of the Middle East has been largely ignored in this blog. Including the curious string of "accidents" plaguing Iran.  As The Washington Post has noted,
At least 17 gas pipeline explosions have been reported since last year, compared with three in 2008 and 2009. At the same time, nearly a dozen major explosions have damaged refineries since 2010, but experts say it is complicated to determine the cause of such incidents. 
And then, on  December 12, at a missile facility on the Shahid Modarres base 30 miles west of Tehran,something blew up. The blast was felt in the capital. After initial reports of 27 dead, the Iranian media revised that to 17, blaming a "misprint."  Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Commander Hassan Tehrani Moqadam, said to be a missile expert for the IRGC, was among the dead. The BBC ran a satellite photo showing the damage:

Go to the BBC link for the "before" version. There's not much left.

Now, there seem to be only a few possible explanations for this string of accidents:
  • People in Iran are getting really clumsy, in which case maybe we needn't worry about the nuclear weapons program, though perhaps Iranians should;
  • They're telling the truth and they're have a really, really bad string of accidents.
  • It's Israel.
  • It's the US.
  • It's some internal dissident group.
What I find particularly interesting is that the Iranians keep insisting that this is not sabotage. Since they usually blame the US, Israel, or Britain for everything that goes wrong, one wonders why they're not blaming us here. Perhaps, as the first WP article above suggests, because they don't want to admit how vulnerable they are to sabotage?

The attack on the British Embassy yesterday is presumably unrelated. (Isn't it?)

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