Iran’s internal resistance scene is evolving and is ripe for ISIS and anti-regime insurgents to weaponize it against the regime. Unorganized Iranian protests have grown and expanded to various socially- and economically-marginalized demographics throughout Iran since the initial outbreak of anti-regime protests in late December 2017. Sunni Baloch in southwestern Sistan and Baluchistan Province, Kurds in the northwestern provinces of West Azerbaijan and Kurdistan, and Ahvazi Arabs in southwestern Khuzestan Province have all participated in recent protests.
Deadly engagements between Iranian security services and separatist Kurdish and Salafi-jihadist militants have grown in frequency in recent months. Both ISIS and anti-regime separatists have indicated that they are able to take advantage of internal cleavages in Iranian society, particularly among minority communities, to attack regime security personnel. Elements operating in Kurdish areas likely benefit from the regional mobilization of Kurds fighting in Syria, Iraq, and Turkey.
Increased IRGC extraterritorial operations against ISIS and separatist groups will endanger U.S. and Coalition forces regionally.