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Timeline of U.S. moves sheds light on Iran threat
There are a lot of moving parts with the recent back-and-forth dynamic in developments between the U.S., regional nations, and Iran. Without essaying a comprehensive treatment, it is at least illuminating to look at when some of these events occurred and consider them in sequence.
The most recent developments, on Wednesday 15 May, were the announcement of a major personnel drawdown at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad – along with a stringent travel warning to Americans about Iraq – and the U.S. decision to curtail all remaining commercial flights between the U.S. and Venezuela. As we’ll see, the latter is probably related to the ongoing tension with Iran.
The natural starting point for the most pertinent events in the timeline would be the reported defection of a senior IRGC general officer, Brigadier General Ali Nasiri, in April. According to the Islamic State of Iran Crime Research Center (ISICRC), in a 22 April report, Nasiri sought refuge at a U.S. embassy in the Persian Gulf as early as 12 or 13 April, following an 11 April blow-up with Ayatollah Khamenei’s representative in the IRGC.
Nasiri commanded the IRGC’s Protection Bureau, which provides security for the regime. Prior to receiving that command in 2017, he commanded the Seyyed al-Shohada Guards unit in Tehran Province, the command that handles security in Tehran. This is a high-level defector, in other words. It isn’t clear what kind of information he may be able to provide, but ISICRC says this of him:
Nasiri is said to have gone to a US embassy in one of the Persian Gulf countries while carrying important strategic documents, seeking political asylum. The I[R]GC’s Protection Bureau was established in 1984, to oversee aviation and flight security (hijacking and bombing), as well as protection for regime and government officials, and foreign dignitaries visiting Iran.