IRGC General Mohammad Karami has been appointed as the new governor of Sistan-Baluchistan province, one of Iran's most volatile and problematic areas in Iran.
Like most provincial governors under the Raisi administration, now Sistan and Baluchistan province also has a military man on top of its administrative system. Karami replaced Hossein Modarres Khalili one of the very few civilian provincial governors.
According to Rouydad24 website, Khalili, a man with a background in economic affairs failed to make Ebrahim Raisi's promise of developing the province come true. Raisi, a hardliner, had made the promise in return for the votes the people in the province cast in his favor in the 2021 presidential election. Four years earlier, voters in the poverty-stricken region had cast their ballots mostly for reform-minded candidates.
As the commander of IRGC's Quds Headquarters in southeast Iran, Karami has been the most powerful man in Kerman and Sistan-Baluchistan provinces for several years. The government naturally expects him to help pacify the volatile security situation after months of unrest marked by the IRGC's bloody attack on protesters in Zahedan, the capital of Sistan-Baluchistan on September 30, that killed more than 80 people.
The government also hopes that Karami's past experience will help him to succeed in development projects to alleviate poverty in the region. The former governor's inability to do so led to complaints even among government supporters.
Smoke rising in Zahedan on September 30 when more than 80 Sunni protesters were killed
On the other hand, Karami has paid lip service to equality between Shiite and Sunnis. This could be part of the formulaic rhetoric aimed at Sunnis, the number of times he has made such statements may indicate his interest in pacifying the Sunnis who traditionally live in the Baluchistan part of the province as opposed to the Shiite populated Sistan. Considering the consequences of the attacks that have killed over a hundred Sunnis in the past 3 months, he might need many more gestures.
Karami said in the aftermaths of IRGC attack in Zahedan and Khash as "scenes where the blood of Sunnis and Shiites mixed to support Islam against terrorism," the IRGC's Tasnim news website quoted him as saying. Meanwhile, local newspaper Asr-e Hamoon quoted Karami as saying that "Iran's enemies wish to sow discord among Iran's Shiites and Sunnis."
However, the difference between Karami and other officials who have said the same things is that he always makes a comment or two about the region's desperate need for economic progress and improvement of health and education systems.
In another development, ultraconservative daily Vatan Emrooz welcomed Karami's appointment and described his it as "a choice in favor of security." The daily wrote that one of the reasons for Karami's appointment was the escalation of “Takfiri terrorist activities” in the province and the ensuing insecurity in the region. Nonetheless, the daily observed that in his mandate for Karami, President Raisi stressed the need to improve the people's livelihood.
The daily also pointed out Karami's comment at a recent conference in the province, during which he said that "the enemies are taking advantage of the province's economic problems to sow discord between Muslim sects," a remark that highlighted both his missions, strengthening security, and improving the economy.
According to Rouydad24, the former governor's biggest weakness was his inability to control the security situation in the province. Obviously, the government can be sure that even if the new governor cannot do anything about the economy, his ability to crack down on protests is a certainty.