A separatist group from Iran’s southern province of Kuzhestan has claimed it has bombed two pipelines in the oil-rich province, warning more attacks will follow.
The Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz, which says it fights for the independence of the Arab Ahwazi minority, said the attacks were carried out by its armed division called the Brigades of the Martyrs al-Nasser Mohiuddin and that it led to “massive fuel loss”.
One of the pipelines, according to the militant group, was a facility operated by Iranian state company Aghajari that transports 440,000 bpd from the Maroun field. The other, which the group claims to have completely destroyed, transports 60,000 bpd from the Baharkan field. The attacks have not been confirmed by official sources.
Attacks on Iran’s oil infrastructure will increase this year, the Ahwazi movement also said, as it seeks “to protest at the continuing occupation” of Ahwazi land by the Iranians. The bombings coincided with an announcement by Tehran that it has picked 29 foreign companies to take part in new oil and gas tenders.
This is not the first time the world hears about the Ahwazi insurgents: last summer, another group of militants blew up two pipelines in Kuzhestan. At the time, the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz warned it would start targeting foreign oil companies launching operations in Iran and those investing in oil projects in Kuzhestan.
A 2013 analysis from Reuters noted that Kuzhestan used to be known as Arabistan because of its predominantly Arab population, and that the fight of parts of this population against the government in Tehran is seen by the militants as a larger struggle between the two main Muslim denominations in the Middle East: the Sunni Gulf states and the rebel groups against Assad’s Syria and Shi’ite Iran. Interestingly, the Ahwazi rebels are mostly Shi’ite themselves.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com