As you may have read, there was a humungous explosion at a Revolutionary Guards base outside Tehran over the weekend that is reported to have killed 17 soldiers and wounded 16. One of the dead was Brig. Gen. Hassan Moghaddam, identified by The New York Times as a "top commander in Iran's ballistic missile program." This explosion follows on the heels of three explosions in the Iranian energy sector at the end of October that may or may not be connected.
Michael Ledeen has an interesting piece up at Pajamas in which he analyzes this recent spate of explosions. He dismisses, first of all, the rampant theorizing "sucked from the thumbs of pundits who feel they must write quickly" that this is obviously the work of the Israelis or the Americans. In Ledeen's view, "the operation [this past weekend] was planned and carried out by Iranians from the opposition-that-does-not-exist."
He notes that the whopper explosion was actually several. According to his sources,
- There were two explosions at the RG base at Bidganeh, one smaller, the other very large;
- At almost the same time, there was an explosion at another military base in the west, in Luristan. The explosions seem to have been coordinated;
- The area around Bigdaneh is a military zone, with various facilities including two air fields, thus questions like “was it a munitions depot or a missile base?” are best answered “yes. both.”
According to Ledeen, these most recent explosions indicate that at long last, the Green Movement has turned away from its policy of non-violence and is taking on the mullahs in a language they understand. The mullahs seem to be listening: Ledeen cites an unsubstantiated report that two leaders of the Green Movement, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, have been plucked from house arrest and spirited away, presumably as hostages to restrain the Greens from taking further violent action:
This bespeaks a high level of anxiety within the regime, suggesting that they feared an all-out assault was under way...Whether or not the rumor is true, its existence suggests that Khamenei et. al. take a more serious view of the opposition than some of our own expert analysts.
Now, even The New York Times has called President Obama's response to the IAEA's recent report detailing evidence of Iran's push to construct a nuclear warhead "strikingly muted." Tantalizing as this potential new development is, the odds of Obama taking the opportunity to push for assistance to the Greens (and thereby erase the memory of his obliviousness to their cause in 2009) remain slim to nil. If there is to be any stepped-up Western support for the Greens, it is more likely to come from France than the US.