MENA Monitor focuses on the Middle East and North Africa region, analyzing the most important events happening in the area stretching from Morocco to Iran, their consequences for neighboring countries and their impact on the world’s situation.
Date: 30 May 2022 Author: Michał Przygoda
Iran. Assassination of Revolutionary Guard Colonel Hassan Sayad Khodayari
According to the Tasnim news agency, two people on a motorcycle shot Colonel Hassan Sayad Khodayari outside his home on one of Tehran’s best-guarded streets, which also houses Parliament. The attack is reminiscent of other killings in which the perpetrators used motorcycles, especially including those targeted at Iranian nuclear scientists.
A spokesman for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps reported that a colonel of this elite military unit, Hassan Sayada Khodayari, was assassinated in Tehran on Sunday afternoon. This is yet another attack on a member of this unit. In 2020, Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force special unit specializing in operations conducted outside the country, was killed in an air strike.
Iran’s press service described Khodayari as a “defender of the shrine” – a phrase coined for fighters combating the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, members of the elite Quds Force – a branch of the Revolutionary Guard Corps . Little information is publicly available about Khodayari, however, members of this elite unit are often involved in classified military operations aimed at assisting Hezbollah and the militia in Syria, Iraq and throughout the Middle East.
Sunday’s incident should be perceived in a wider perspective. In March, Reuters reported that the Biden administration was considering removing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations. This was supposed to be related to the international situation following Russia’s attack on Ukraine as part of ongoing negotiations to renew the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Five organizations were delisted last week, however, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was not among them.
A source close to the pending negotiations revealed to Reuters in March that officials in the Biden administration were considering removing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from the terrorist blacklist in exchange for a commitment from Iran to meticulously supervise all aspects of Corps’ operations. However, no detailed guidelines concerning this supervision were developed and ultimately the delisting did not take place.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps only made it onto the list of terrorist organizations under the Trump administration in April 2019. Officials cited analysis indicating that IRGC was directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths of 603 American citizens, both civilian and military, between 2003 and 2011. Earlier in September 2018, a U.S. federal court also found Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps responsible for the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing that killed 19 Americans.
Many experts believe the last Sunday’s attack on Khodayari and the previous one on Soleimani are part of a strategy to crush the unit’s command and its most valuable soldiers. This is also confirmed by another incident – as reported by the New York Post – the abduction of Mansour Rasouli, a member of criminal groups linked to high-ranking members of the Revolutionary Guard, which took place on April 30. During an interrogation held the same day, Rasouli confessed that he had received an offer to carry out a triple assassination. Iran was reportedly willing to pay more than $1 million to kill an Israeli diplomat in Turkey, a journalist in France and an American general stationed in Germany. According to the findings of The Times of Israel, Mansour Rasouli acted with the agreement and inspiration of Khodayari. However, Rasouli himself said in a statement that he was forced to make false statements by torture.
The decision to assassinate such a prominent Iranian military official coincided with efforts to lift some of the sanctions and embargoes on Iranian raw materials, which would lower prices on world markets. Interest in torpedoing these plans is very high, and this could indicate various factors that may potentially influence this decision.
The decision to assassinate such a prominent Iranian military official coincided with efforts to lift some of the sanctions and embargoes on Iranian raw materials, which would lower prices on world markets. Interest in torpedoing these plans is very high, and this could indicate various factors that may potentially influence the decision.
On the one hand, the ongoing war in Ukraine has led to a significant increase in oil and gas prices, and the uncertainty of supplies from Russia, have prompted the search for alternative sources of supply, and this automatically favors Iran, but only if the embargo is lifted. On the other hand, the continuing controversy over Iran’s nuclear program and the lack of agreement on the matter makes the situation very dynamic. Recently, many countries have been trying to secure contracts for Iranian oil, including the European Union. Such strengthening of Iran is regarded by some countries in the region as a deadly threat, hence the decision to eliminate a high-ranking official.
 https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/5/22/iran-irgc-quds-force-member-assassinated-in-tehran-state-media [Retrieved: May 24, 2022].
 https://nypost.com/2022/05/12/israels-mossad-says-it-stopped-iran-plot-to-kill-us-general/ [Retrieved: May 24, 2022].
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