Hack reveals peek into Iran's post-Gaza war and regional strategies

Hack reveals peek into Iran's post-Gaza war and regional strategies
Hacked documents allegedly reveal Iran's regional and domestic strategies, including post-Gaza war dynamics, international sanctions and brutal crackdowns.
4 min read
14 March, 2024
Since the onset of Israel's war on Gaza, Iran adopted a supportive rhetoric towards Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups in Gaza. [Getty]

Iran's judiciary and parliament experienced severe online attacks in late February, leading to apparently major information leaks. These leaks seemingly reveal documents detailing the establishment's strategies in navigating the regional power dynamics post-Gaza war and handling domestic issues such as suppressing the 2022 uprising.

The hacktivist group Edalat-e Ali, associated with opposition groups outside the country, and another group called Uprising till Overthrow, linked to the exiled opposition group the People's Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI), claimed responsibility for the hacks. They published the leaked information on their website and social media accounts.

Top confidential correspondences between high-ranking officials illustrated the establishment's designs to counter Israel's dominance post-Gaza war and tackle the potential blacklisting of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) by Western powers.

These disclosures underscored the credibility of an 8 March report by the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission, highlighting the brutal crackdown on the 2022 nationwide protests in Iran. The UN fact-finding mission stressed that the suppression of peaceful demonstrations and systemic discrimination against women amounted to crimes against humanity.

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Gaza war and international sanctions

Since the onset of Israel's war on Gaza, Iran adopted a supportive rhetoric towards Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups in Gaza. However, to avoid direct confrontation with Israel and the US, Tehran delegated military confrontations to its proxy armed groups in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

A confidential analysis by the parliament's research centre warned officials that no positive outcome from the Gaza war was foreseeable. The document, dated 2 December 2023, revealed a new strategy for Iran's proxy groups, emphasising presenting Hamas as the primary decision-maker regarding the future of Palestine and rejecting the two-state solution.

The analysis also highlighted renewed discussions about imposing more sanctions on the IRGC within the international community. The IRGC Quds Force serves as the leading source providing arms, training, and support to Iranian-backed groups across the Middle East.

While the US lists the IRGC as a terrorist group, the EU, Canada, and many other countries have so far refrained from blocking the organisation.

Moreover, a 14-page leaked document disclosed that the establishment had ordered governmental offices to assist sanctioned military and official individuals in changing or concealing their identities to bypass sanctions.

The document also revealed the establishment's provision of monetary, banking, insurance, tax and customs incentives to individuals who helped circumvent international sanctions and provided legal support to those operating outside the country.

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Crackdown on domestic dissidents and protestors

In addition to international and regional strategies, the leaked documents also seemed to reveal tactics employed by the Iranian authorities during the brutal suppression of the 2022 nationwide uprising.

That year, the demonstrations began in Tehran after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in Islamic morality police custody in September. Protests quickly spread across the country, particularly in the Kurdish region, Amini's hometown.

The leaked documents depicted Iran's intelligence service, police, and IRGC pressuring Amini's family to assert in a TV interview that her death was due to pre-existing health conditions, not beatings during her arrest.

This pressure persisted, leading to Amini's uncle, Safa Aely, receiving a five-and-a-half-year prison sentence and a ban from leaving the country in February for interviews regarding her death.

Furthermore, the documents highlighted the establishment's focus on protests in western provinces with Kurdish populations. Security forces were warned about potential public strikes in Kurdish cities and the mobilising power of non-governmental syndicates in the region.

These factors contributed to deadly confrontations between security and IRGC forces and demonstrators, resulting in at least 57 deaths in the region and over 551 across the country during the nationwide demonstrations.

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 Additionally, the establishment executed several Kurdish dissidents as a strategy to spread fear and pressure activists and protestors. One notable instance occurred on 29 January when Iran hanged four Kurdish members of the leftist opposition Komala Party despite international calls to halt the death penalty.

The volume of hacked documents from Iran's judiciary and parliament is immense, with ongoing analysis by experts and exiled Farsi media. So far, the documents have revealed details about a US$160 million budget for purchasing military and police equipment to suppress uprisings, exert pressure on Iranian journalists abroad, and widespread corruption within governmental offices.

Analysts anticipate further revelations as the data continues to be examined since mid-February. The leaks offer a sobering glimpse into the complex geopolitical landscape, prompting questions about accountability, diplomatic repercussions, and the future implications for both Iran and the international community.