A Tool For Suppression? Neighborhood 'Strike Forces' Begin Operating In Iran
The Islamic Republic police recently announced an initiative to “crackdown on thugs and hoodlums”. The plan was implemented for the first time on Thursday in Tehranpars district of Tehran.
Deputy Chief of Police Ghasem Rezaee announced that the “task force for fighting thugs and hoodlums” has been formed by law enforcement. He said the goal of this initiative is to create “fear and terror in the hearts of people who undermine security and peace in society.”
But in reality the initiative is more likely to organize paramilitary forces at local, neighborhood level to be at the ready for possible protests. In a recent article, Iran International analyst Morad Vaisi argued that during last November's nationwide protests, security forces were not able to control the situation in some locations and found it very difficult to move units from one city to another. Now, they want to control protests at the very beginning of unrest at neighborhood level.
Vaisi also pointed out that the regime ran out of forces to suppress dissent and was forced to deploy the traditional army for the first time to protect key establishments, freeing up more "trustworthy’" forces like the IRGC to implement the bloodiest suppression in the 41-year history of the Islamic Republic.
According to Vaisi, the regime and the IRGC are now planning to close the security loophole by setting up neighborhood squads. These are intended to crush the initial nucleus of protests at every spot, particularly in Tehran, and prevent the protests spreading and therefore block the emergence of a nationwide uprising.
Vaisi believes that this initiative helps the IRGC to avoid dispatching forces from one province to another at a time of widespread unrest.
Some IRGC commanders have admitted that in the past they have used these “thugs and hoodlums” to suppress the protests in the streets.
This would mean that the initiative could also be used to recruit and organize these “thugs and hoodlums” to suppress future uprisings.
Hossein Hamedani, former chief of police of Greater Tehran, who was later killed in Syria, had admitted that they had used people referred to as “thugs and hoodlums” to suppress protests in 2009.