Iran offers prize to whoever finds its new enemy

Iran offers prize to whoever finds its new enemy
3 min read
23 November, 2016
Iran is looking for a new enemy and offering a cash prize to whoever spots its next adversary.
Salehi (centre) says Iran is looking for a new enemy [AFP]
With the threat from the Islamic State group fast dissipating, Iran is looking for a new enemy in its neighbourhood.

Ataollah Salehi, commander of the army, has asked troops to identify the next threat to the Islamic Republic and offered a cash prize for the best suggestion.  

"In the present we are facing new threats and we need to train to the new threats and move from traditional scenarios," he said. 

"IS and the takfirist will soon be annihilated and pack up but the enemy is seeking another threat and we've dedicated cash prizes for identifying it."

Salehi has suggested a $6,000 go to the winner.

"[The prize] will go to anyone in the armed forces who can identify and present to us what the next threat to our country, where it comes from and when."

Making enemies

The announcement comes as Iraqi forces take control of a third of IS-held Mosul, and move deeper into the city.

Iran has been assisting Iraqi forces in the fight, providing commanders and advisers from the Republican Guard.

Tehran is also believed to be arming, funding, and training Shia militias from the powerful Popular Mobilisation Forces group.

Meanwhile, Iran has also lost over a thousand fighters - likely Iraqi, Pakistani and Afghan recruits, plus some Iranian officers - while assisting the Syrian regime fight rebels.

Tehran frequently describes opposition forces as "takfiris" and said that its "volunteers" are there to protect Shia holy sites in Damascus and elsewhere.

Yet, Tehran also claims that the extremist group remains a threat inside Iran, as well as seperatists.

On Tuesday, Tehran said it had uncovered a "terrorist cell" in the east of the country, while on 15 November Iranian intelligence also discovered explosives at an IS hideout near the capital.

Analysts say that Iran's presence in the region has extended from its traditional support for Hizballah and Palestinian armed group to militarily backing and influencing regimes and state actors.

External threats

Tehran is believed to be arming Yemen's Houthi rebels in their fight against Saudi-backed government forces.

Tensions with regional rival Saudi Arabia have also been tense with the two countries pitched in proxy wars and propaganda battles across the region. 

Rhetoric between Tehran and Riyadh ramped up following the death of hundreds of Iranian pilgrims in Mecca last year.

But among the favourites to become enemy number one are Tehran's most notable foes.

Israel has been critical of the West's nuclear deal with Iran, and the right-wing government of Binyamin Netanyahu threatens to escalate tensions with Iran further.

There is also the "Great Satan" - the US - which Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's adviser Ali Akbar Velayati said could become more of a threat once President-elect Donald Trump enters the White House in January.

Some intelligence chiefs also view Iran as the biggest threat to US interests in the region.

"For us, 15 years seems like a long time, for them it doesn't… They'll be able to weaponise in 15 years. And then they'll be the dominant force in the Middle East," Michael Pregent, an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute told Business Insider earlier this year.

Outsiders have also entered the race with Afghanistan accusing Tehran of backing the Taliban this week.

But it is likely to be the US or Israel that will remain Iran's main adverseries for years to come.