Skip to comments.Iranian Alert - October 10, 2004 [EST]- IRAN LIVE THREAD - "Americans for Regime Change in Iran"
Posted on 10/09/2004 9:03:22 PM PDT by DoctorZIn
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Newsha Tavakolian/Polaris, for The New York TimesDespite growing right-wing antagonism in Iran toward foreign companies, appliances like these Korean-made refrigerators are still sold widely.
EHRAN, Oct. 9 - Iran's hard-line politicians who came to power in February are spearheading a drive to stop economic liberalization, just as they are cracking down on social and political freedoms.
In August, Parliament passed a bill that gave it the right to order the government to cancel government contracts with two Turkish companies, forcing the moderate president, Mohammad Khatami, to cancel an official trip to Turkey. The newspaper Iran reported that three foreign companies canceled other investment agreements with Iran after Parliament passed the bill.
"From now on the government will not be able to negotiate with any foreign investor because they will tell the government that it does not have the necessary authority," said Abdullah Ramezanzadeh, the government spokesman.
He said the moves by the hard-liners were aimed at paralyzing the government and shutting it out of international affairs.
The hard-liners took over Parliament in February after an election in which supporters of reform stayed home, angry that most of their candidates had been thrown off the ballot and disillusioned with the pace of change.
Parliament claimed that the two deals with Turkey threatened national security. One was with Turkcell to operate Iran's second cellular phone network. The other one was with a Turkish-led engineering consortium, Tepe-Akfen-Vie, to run Iran's new airport. Hard-liners contended that the deal with Turkcell would permit it to listen to cellphone calls in Iran, and they accused TAV of having business with Israel.
The Revolutionary Guards shut down the Imam Khomeini airport on its opening day in May and threw out the Turkish company's staff. The company said it had spent $15 million on staff training and equipment.
Parliament also tried to prevent the government from selling state-run banks, but that move was blocked by the supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameini, for reasons he did not explain. The government had hoped to sell selling $5.95 billion in state assets by next March, but Parliament has also rejected that plan, at least for now.
After the victory of the 1979 revolution, the government confiscated privately run industries. Most industries are outdated now and cannot operate at full capacity.
The hard-liners' actions come as Iran is benefiting from high prices for crude oil and a growing economy. The economy grew 6.7 percent last year but more than 80 percent of that came from oil revenues, and there has been double-digit inflation.
The official rate of unemployment is 15 percent, but the percentage among young people is higher. A million people are expected to enter the job market every year, and unemployment could grow to crisis levels.
"Only a modern and scientific method can resolve these problems," said Ahmad Zeidabadi, a journalist and political analyst in Tehran. "This group who has come to power is very traditional and relies on backward methods."
Mr. Ramezanzadeh, the government spokesman, said Mr. Khatami's government had been able to attract more foreign investments in the past two years than in the previous two decades. One of the largest contracts, for $460 million, was signed last October with Renault of France to start producing a car known as the L-90. Hard-liners oppose the deal.
Political analysts had predicted hard-liners would pursue a more open economic policy ahead of presidential elections in May 2005, to win support from an electorate frustrated with social and political repression. During the elections in February, newspapers close to the hard-liners suggested "a Chinese model," raising hopes that the new group might pursue economic prosperity.
"Instead they are implementing a North Korean model," said Hamidreza Jalaipour, a sociologist at Tehran University. "They are closing economic, social and political liberties."
Rahim Ostkui, an opposition economist, said Parliament's measures would damage economic development and production. "We should expect production to drop, unemployment, poverty and corruption to increase with these policies," he said.
A senior Islamic regime official denied, today, a yesterday's Reuters report, which had stated that the Mullahcracy would welcome Senator John Kerry's proposal for a 'great nuclear bargain' to solve dispute over Iran's nuclear program.
This evident one day flip-flop move follows most likely the sudden understanding, by the regime's strategists and its US based apologists, of the negative consequences for their Democrat protege's victory in the upcoming US Presidential elections.
Reuters had quoted Mousavian, head of the foreign policy committee at the regime's Supreme National Security Council, as having welcomed the proposal, made by Senator John Edwards. The Democrat VP candidate had said that John Kerry would be willing to supply Iran with nuclear fuel for power generation if Tehran abandons its own fuel-making capability.
In a fax sent to IRNA, Mousavian said, "Reuters news agency has filed a news as if I had welcomed Kerry`s proposal. "But we are rejecting direct negotiations with Washington about Iran`s nuclear program due to the United States` antagonistic policies."
Mousavian is the former Islamic regime's Ambassador in Germany. He had to return back to Iran following the scandal raised over the 1997 Mykonos trial of Berlin.
The accredited Ambassador was involved in the murders of several Iranian dissidents, on the German soil, by offering the necessary logistics to the regime's hit squads.
JERUSALEM - Somewhere between sanctions and air strikes lurks a third option for those who seek to stop Iran's atomic programme in its tracks: sabotage.
Politically deniable -- unlike failed diplomacy -- and much subtler than region-rattling military offensives, covert action of the kind used elsewhere by Israel and the United States could already be under way against the Islamic republic, experts say.
"Iran has been trying to go nuclear since the 1970s and has not yet managed," said Gad Shimron, a veteran of Israel's Mossad spy service who now writes on defence issues.
"Who's to say there has not been sabotage already, now proving its worth?"
Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper in August quoted Bush administration officials as saying sabotage tactics were being considered for Tehran. The Jewish state has said "all options" are kosher for preventing its arch-foe getting the bomb.
The United States and Israel accuse Iran of concealing a plan to build a bomb, but Tehran says its nuclear programme is dedicated solely to meeting electricity demand.
Independent experts question, however, whether any disruption of Iran's supply lines through sabotage or menacing of its nuclear scientists would have a lasting effect on a network that has resisted scrutiny from the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
"Historically, sabotage has served to delay programmes but has not been successful in terminating them," said Gary Samore, a former White House adviser on non-proliferation now with the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.
He cited a Norwegian heavy water plant struck by saboteurs between 1942 and 1944 to stop the Nazis getting the bomb -- a quest finally laid to rest by Germany's defeat in World War Two.
"Delay is good if, in the meantime, something conclusive happens -- either a change of regime or a successful war."
Some Middle East security experts say even delays have key strategic value in a region notorious for its instability.
COVERT CAMPAIGN PRECEDED OSIRAQ
The precedent usually cited for a military strike on Iranian atomic sites is Israel's 1981 bombing of the Iraqi reactor at Osiraq. That move drove Saddam Hussein's nuclear programme underground until it was uncovered by the IAEA in 1991.
Well before Osiraq, a quieter campaign was in full swing.
Nuclear components destined for Baghdad were blown up in a French port. An Egyptian nuclear physicist hired by Iraq was killed in his Paris hotel. Bombs exploded near an Italian firm supplying Saddam Hussein with laboratories for atomic testing.
Saddam blamed the United States and Israel for the sabotage spree. Neither country commented, but then Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin told an American interviewer he hoped France and Italy had "learned their lesson" for helping Iraq.
Tehran fears it could be next in line after U.S.-led forces toppled Saddam last year.
"The Iranians are very clear about what happened to the Iraqi nuclear programme and would have learned their lessons," said Alex Vatanka, an analyst with Jane's Sentinel Security Assessments. "In terms of supply lines and technology, they are extremely unlikely to use limited sources."
Among Iran's nuclear suppliers have been North Korea, Pakistan and China, all hard for Western diplomats to monitor.
Under its 1993 Counterproliferation Initiative, Washington claimed the right to act covertly against illicit weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programmes. But a later U.S.-led treaty, the Proliferation Security Initiative, includes Russia, which also openly provides Iran with nuclear know-how.
A QUESTION OF JURISDICTION
While no one accuses countries friendly to the United States of knowingly arming Iran, private citizens may not feel such constraint, a fact that could complicate sabotage attempts.
"The understanding in the intelligence world is that those individuals who help rogue regimes knowingly put themselves at risk of reprisal," said Shimron.
"An agency that wants to operate in a friendly country has to weigh the possible fallout, but usually there is enough coordination between governments to ensure that it all goes smoothly as long as no one is needlessly hurt."
Vatanka said several Iranians who acquired scientific training in the West had answered a call by Tehran to return and work on their homeland's atomic programme.
A German man is also under investigation for what national media charged was an attempt to supply Iran with components for nuclear weapons.
"If the Israelis believe sabotage is the only way of stopping Iran getting the bomb, I think they will go with it, even if this ends up harming relations with Europe," Vatanka said. "The Europeans have invested enormous diplomacy in Iran, but that means little to those planning Israel's self-defence."
A new report by the Dubai think-tank Gulf Research Centre says Tehran could retaliate for any sabotage on its atomic plans by ordering proxies to attack U.S. targets in the Gulf or stepping up support for Palestinian militants fighting Israel.
There are also risks if the secrecy around sabotage lapses.
In 1963, Swiss police nabbed an Israeli suspected of threatening the daughter of a German scientist linked with Egypt's missile programme. The ensuing trial clouded Israel's relations with West Germany and Switzerland and prompted the Mossad chief's resignation, although many historians believe it also served as a venue for publicising Egypt's military plans.
TEHRAN- An Iranian man convicted of armed robbery was publicly hanged in the southern city of Ahwaz, the official news agency IRNA reported.
The man, only identified as Mohammad D., was convicted of involvement in four armed robberies and "had terrified people by shooting and injuring them (and) stealing money and cars", a court statement said.
Murder, armed robbery, rape, apostasy and serious drug trafficking are all punishable by death in Iran.
According to reports in Iran's main newspapers and other media monitored by AFP, at least 80 people have been executed in Iran this year.
Amnesty International has reported that at least 108 executions took place in 2003 and another 113 in 2002.
SMCCDI Note:The Islamic regime uses various labels, such as, Drug Smuggler, Spy, Rapist, Bandit or Hooligan in order to qualify its armed opponents in an effort to help its European and Japanese Collaborators in their effort to justify the continuation of their Economic relations with the Mullahcracy.
Russia urges Iran to heed IAEA's nuclear demands
10 Oct 2004 15:59:27 GMTSource: Reuters
TEHRAN, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Russia urged Iran on Sunday to heed the U.N. nuclear watchdog's call for it to suspend sensitive nuclear work that could be used to make atomic bomb material.
Iran, in turn, said it was ready to give whatever assurances were required to show that it will not use nuclear technology to make atomic weapons.
Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said that all Iran asked in return was for the world to accept its right to a peaceful nuclear programme to generate electricity.
Iran hid parts of its nuclear programme for nearly two decades, fuelling U.S. accusations that it is secretly developing atomic arms.
Iran denies this but has refused to comply with demands made by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it halt all activities related to uranium enrichment, a process that can be used to make fuel for power reactors or for bombs.
Visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged Iran to reconsider.
"As (Russian President Vladimir) Putin has suggested before, it is better if Iran listens to the agency's call. This is better for everyone," he told a joint news conference in Tehran with Kharrazi.
The United States wants Iran's case to be sent to the United Nations Security Council for possible sanctions if Iran has not complied with IAEA demands by the time of the U.N. watchdog's next meeting in late November.
Iran last week said it had converted several tonnes of raw uranium to prepare it for enrichment.
READY TO GIVE ASSURANCES
"Nuclear technology, including enriching uranium, is Iran's right and Iran will never abandon its right," Kharrazi said.
"But at the same time Iran is ready to review all the proposals with which it can assure the international community that Iran's nuclear programme has no military purposes."
In an interview with Reuters on Saturday, a senior Iranian official said Tehran was even willing to listen to ideas from the United States, such as one put forward by Sen. John Kerry's running mate Sen. John Edwards, to resolve the dispute over Iran's nuclear ambitions.
"Iran welcomes any constructive proposal from any American candidate," said Hossein Mousavian, Iran's delegation head at recent International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meetings.
Edwards has said a Kerry government would be willing to supply Iran with nuclear fuel for power generation if Tehran abandons its own fuel-making capability. If Iran refused the offer it would confirm it wants to make atomic weapons, Edwards has said.
Asked about Mousavian's comments Kharrazi confirmed the Iran was willing to listen to such proposals.
"We welcome any constructive proposal which preserves Iran's rights and also removes Western countries' concerns," he said.
Lavrov, whose country's technical support for Iran's nuclear programme has annoyed Washington, said Moscow and Tehran were in the final stages of reaching an agreement on the supply and return of nuclear fuel for Iran's first nuclear reactor which is being built with Russian help.
The Bushehr reactor in southern Iran is due to come onstream in late 2006.
TEHRAN (AFP) - Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said here Sunday that Moscow was opposed to seeing Iran referred to the UN Security Council over its nuclear programme.
"To start thinking of any scenario which is not constructive to our point of view is premature and could be counter-productive," Lavrov said at a joint news conference with his Iranian counterpart Kamal Kharazi.
"We will be expecting the cooperation between Iran and the IAEA to continue," Lavrov added.
He was responding to a question over whether Russia would use its veto power at the Security Council if Iran was referred to the body by the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
On September 18, the IAEA board called on Iran to "immediately" widen a suspension of enrichment to include all uranium enrichment-related activities.
Iran has so far refused to do so and is facing a November 25 deadline. It risks being referred to the Security Council, something the United States -- which accuses Iran of seeking nuclear weapons -- has been pushing for.
While Lavrov said it was "in Iran's and everybody's interest to suspend enrichment" activities, he gave no sign that Russia was willing to back away from a deal to build the Islamic republic's first nuclear plant and provide it with fuel.
On the provision of nuclear fuel, a deal that has been held up for several months amid a dispute over pricing and the return of spent fuel, Lavrov said he now expected a contract would be signed "in the near future".
And he said he saw "no linkage" between the deal and the November 25 deadline set by the IAEA.
For his part, Kharazi reiterated the regimes refusal to give up its work on the nuclear fuel cycle, but added Iran was "ready to accept all mechanisms to give proof that there is no deviation of the Iranian nuclear programme."
In this the first part of my own war gaming of Iranian responses to strikes against its nuclear program and presents an over-view of Iranian military history, assets, and capabilities. They are not exhaustive and in some cases been generalized in order to keep the size of the part down. The information presented are from open sources found on the internet and other reference books.
New reports recently indicated that the military has recently wargamed various scenarios involving conducting a preemptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities to stop or delay their efforts to create a nuclear weapon. Those reports indicated that their war games resulted in an expanded conflict with Iran that could not be contained.
Since Iran could be the next target in the WOT, I wanted to give you an idea how IMHO Iran would/could respond and some of the wild card / variables that would have to be dealt with. The following scenario, with some modifications, could be seen if Israel conducts the preemptive strike OR if Iran conducts its OWN preemptive attack.
The historical background provides insight into potential actions by Iran and why. There are three key points that I think need to be examined.
1. Following the theocratic revolution of 1979, Iran wanted to be the defacto primary Islamic influence on not only the Persian Gulf but the larger world. The ability to make nuclear weapons would be the culmination of that strategic goal.
2. Religious ties to southern Iraq.
3. The Iran - Iraq war.
Irans efforts to influence world geopolitics started with the capture of our Embassy staff. It has since morphed into the active and covert support of terrorism throughout the world spreading the Iranian theocratic form of Shiite Islam. Its covert support of terrorism protected it from direct assault in the pre-9/11 world. Russia saw a natural ally against American influence in the middle east region and developed ties with Iran. But beyond opposing the Great Satan - America, the theocracy of Iran wants to destroy the nation of Israel and has vowed to do so at what ever cost. It is to this end that the development of nuclear weapons and long range ballistic missiles to carry have has become a priority. In the post 9/11 world, Iran has been squarely placed on notice that its support of world-wide terror has made it a target for American action. The world has generally said that Iran needs to stop the research and development immediately. This has increased the urgency of the Iranian effort to create the bomb.
The American liberation of Iraq has created an opportunity for Iran to try to thwart US plan for a democratic Iraq and in its place, to create a theocracy. A true democratic Iraq would threaten Iran who is already facing a growing pro-democracy movement that could topple the religious rulers. Iran has a ready made support base - the Shiite majority in southern Iraq. The most holy sites for Shiites are also in southern Iraq. Agents from Iraq have been identified and captured in fighting in Iraq and are believed to be scattered throughout the countrys south. Many believe Al-Sadr directives are coming from Iran. This permits agents and potential special forces to blend in with the local population and have a degree of support. These agent would provide exceptional and timely intelligence of current troop locations, command posts, and supply depots.
However, in the event of a preemptive strike, the potentially biggest concern would be the Iranian military. How the Iranian military would be used requires a review of its battles with Iraq, its previous encounters with the US military and watching first hand military operations in Iraq. In reviewing its war with Iraq during the 1980s two key items become apparent:
1. It recognized Iraqs limited seaport access.
2. It recognized the vulnerability of oil shipping in the Persian Gulf and the Straits of Hormuz
I expect that these two points will strongly influence Iranian military operations, tactical and strategic goals.
Iranian Military Capabilities
Although Iran has spent millions to upgrade its military forces, it is still not much better than when it fought with Iraq 20 years ago. Regular ground forces consist of approximately 4 armored, 6 mechanized and 2 special forces divisions and 14 independent brigade/groups. Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) consists of about 4 Armored, 16 mechanized divisions and 10-11 independent brigade/groups. IRGC divisions are smaller than the Regular divisions, sometimes equivalent to the strength of one brigade. IRGC units are the crack units, with the best trained, equipped and religiously motivated soldiers. These units became well known towards the end of the Iran-Iraq war for their human wave attacks.
There are approximately 1700 tanks of which only about 400 are a high quality T-72 series. The rest are a mixture of T-62, T-55 series, Chieftain and M-47/48/60 series. APC are a mixture of M-113, BTR50/60, MT-LB, BMP-1 and -2 for at total of about 1500. The artillery consists of about 3000 pieces including MRLs of a wide variety of self propelled and towed guns and howitzers. The army is also equipped with a mixture of soviet era anti aircraft artillery and surface to air missiles.
Iranian airpower is relatively limited and on the old side. Between 175 to 200 combat aircraft are believed to be available. Included are a limited number of F-14A and Mig-29 (94 total, 50 in service) and F-4, Mirage F1 and Su-24 and -25.
The Iranian navy is second only to the US navy as the dominant force in the Gulf. Iran has spent more money in its navy, second only to the strategic missile and nuclear developments. Its focus has been small, fast maneuverable vessels with anti-ship missile capabilities. Among recent acquisitions are Chinese Hudong fast patrol boats (Osa II design) and 25 light attack vessels from N. Korea. The missile boats are carrying newer Chinese C-802 anti ship missiles. The C-802 is a turbo jet powered missile and will eventually replace the older Silkworm missiles. Also included are torpedo boats, semi-submersibles and three Kilo class submarines. The Kilo class subs are armed with wake-seeking torpedoes. Iran has also developed a considerable capability in mine warfare particularly with the acquisition from China of the rocket delivered EM-52 rising mine that can be deployed in waters too deep for other types of mines.
Iranian core strategic assets consist of SCUD-C and Chinese CSS-8 ballistic missiles. With the assistance of N. Korea, Iran has accelerated its internal ballistic missile program with the development of the Shehab-2 (Scud-D variant) and Shehab-3 missiles. While the other missiles give the Iranians the capability to strike any country in the Gulf, the development of the Shehab-3 missile is a significant development for the Iranians. This is the first asset that the Iranians have that can strike any where in Israel and they allege that it can even strike England.
Warheads for these missiles consist of conventional high explosives as well as chemical (nerve and blister) and potentially biological. However, the Shehab-3 is probably designed to be nuclear - tipped. Iran reports that the Shehab-3 is operational and if so, is probably equipped with either a HE or potentially chemical/biological warhead pending development of a nuclear warhead.
Part 1 Observations and Conclusions
Iran has a military that has not been degraded after 12 years of airstrikes and Desert Storm. However, it is still a force that cannot be dismissed too easily as it has the capabilities to inflict severe damage and as will become apparent in follow-on parts, can really mess things up for the US in Iraq for a while. However, in the long term, absent nuclear capability, the country would not be able to sustain a long-term campaign against the US.
Internal challenges to the ruling religious leaders consist of the growing democracy movement. The theocracy must maintain enough loyal forces to contain any protests while supporting any combat actions against the US.
In the next part of this series, I will evaluate the potential theater of conflict, potential Iranian military and political goals of the attack. And in the final part I hope to outline the development of the potential conflict in a relatively chronological order to whatever the end may be.
In this part I want to evaluate the potential military and political goals and the theater of operations of any Iranian military response to an attack on its nuclear weapons development infrastructure. This will provide a clue as to any perceived weakness that the US and its allies or Iraq may have that could be exploited to their advantage. Iran knows that any military response against the US or its allies could have potentially devastating effects upon its own regime. However, there is also an islamic fervor of invincibility as the true Islamic state with allahs favor resting upon them.
However, before I go further, Id like to cover an issue that has come out very recently concerning Iranian military doctrine - asymmetrical warfare. The completion of their recent wargames was suppose to be a demonstrations of these capabilities. So what is asymmetrical warfare? Asymmetrical warfare is in the simplest of terms warfare that applies comparative advantages against an enemys weaknesses. This is not a new or particular revolutionary concept. The U.S. military attempts to engage in asymmetrical warfare whenever we meet an enemy on the modern battlefield. The implicit premise is that asymmetric warfare deals with unknowns, with surprise in terms of ends, ways, and means. The more dissimilar the opponent, the more difficult it is to anticipate his actions. Any competent enemy will do the unexpected, if he believes it will work. This may provide a tactical or strategic advantage until it is countered. Therefore, Irans announcement that it has a doctrine of asymmetric warfare indicates that it is trying to develop a degree of sophistication in its military that it can counter anything that the US / allies or Israel may do to it. Part of the recent Iranian news release pointed to the military maneuvers and the integration of close air support, airlifting of heavy armor, use of new tanks, and missile capabilities. So much of this parts discussion naturally looks at Iranian advantages in the theater and how they may exploit them.
The political goals of an attack by Iran will likely focus on the following:
1. Rally support from the rest of the arab world against the US and Israel. This would be particularly true if a first strike is conducted against Iran by either Israel or the US. It would be much harder to obtain world support if Iran launches its own preemptive attack.
2. Embarrass the US and its allies militarily under conditions that cause them high casualties and / or tactical stalemate.
3. Deter further escalation of combat against Iran through the deployment of its forces and the preparation of defensive positions against a ground assault.
Attacking Israel is one of the tried and true means of gathering support of the arab world as well as to some degree some European nations. Just as Saddam was quick on the trigger to launch against Israel during Desert Storm, Iran will be quick to do the same. Propaganda broadcast by arab networks like Al-Jazera will further their cause to sway world opinion. There would be a lot of calling to jihad to fight the Christian crusaders. Any success against the US or Israel would naturally enhance their prestige and position of leadership for the arab cause and their bargaining position.
If Iran is able to successfully accomplish its military goals and place allied forces at a disadvantage, though probably temporally, would work to sway opinions in the US and allied nations. Already Iran is well aware of the divisive nature of the current operations in Iraq due to the current election campaigns. If they could inflict a single big time defeat, such as damaging or sinking an aircraft carrier, they could use that in an attempt to turn public opinion. If their special operations forces are successful in triggering wide spread disruptions of allied operations away from any point of attack, it would further show their superiority against the Great Satan. The ultimate goal would be to leverage their successes so that they could negotiate from a position of power.
Once their initial objects were achieved, the Iranian military would prepare for any potential counter attack that may be mounted. They realize that although the US has substantial forces in Iraq, they would have difficulty organizing a major counter attack and would need to be reinforced from the US, a process that could take weeks or months to get ground forces to the theater. By this phase of their political plans self survival of the theocracy would be foremost, especially if their initial operations are less than successful.
Military Objectives - Ground
As presented in Part 1, Iran has adequate forces to conduct ground operations against the US and its allies. However, because of the risk involved, Iran will carefully apply their forces where they could best obtain their objectives. Should they choose to attack into Iraq, they have two general options. The first consists of an attack into northern Iraq where there are limited resources and a hostile Kurdish population. The second, more likely option is to attack into southern Iraq where they may find sympathic Shiites, the bulk of Iraqs petrochemical facilities and the supply lines supporting the US and its allies.
Their main thrust would be relatively small section of Iraq between Basrah and the Persian Gulf and southward to control crossing points between Iraq and Kuwait. This strike would cut off the supply lines for the US and allied forces, creating a blockade. Iran is familiar with this territory as it was fought over during the 1980s war with Iraq. This was very effective until the US became involved in securing the Gulf and protecting shipping, allowing Iraq once again to receive supplies and material. It would be to Irans advantage to maintain the blockade as long as possible since it would significantly impact the US and allied forces in a similar manner.
I would also expect a supporting attack further north towards Amarah would serve to threaten the flank of any allied counter attack by units coming south out of Baghdad.
Military Objectives - Special Operations
There are significant numbers of Iranian special operations forces operating in Iraq right now. Their objective would be to stir up trouble and tie down US and coalition forces through multiple guerrilla attacks upon strategic targets such as logistic and command centers. Wide spread attacks would force the allies to either allow the terrorists to take over for a short time while they organize a counter attack or try to suppress the uprising and wait on the counter attack. Either way, the special operations forces have achieved their objective. If the allies organize right away for an attack, rear area operations will become difficult again as logistic and any supply lines would be hit. Freezing the allied attack would give ground forces time to consolidate their positions so that any counter attack would require a substantial troop build-up to be successful while maintaining the peace throughout the rest of Iraq.
Military Objectives - Sea
The main objective of Iranian naval forces would be to deny the use of the Persian gulf to the US fleet or to make it very costly. This would include attacks against any carrier battle group stationed there as well as trying to close the straits of Hormuz to all shipping. The goal is to develop a blockade of Iraq by sea long enough for ground forces to achieve their objectives. It would be very dangerous for the US to underestimate the Iranian capabilities. Our capital ships are vulnerable to shore-launched missiles as was apparent during Desert Storm when one of our amphibious assault ships was struck shortly after the ground assault began. Irans smaller, fast attack missile boats could launch hit and run attacks and with the newer chinese missiles could inflict some serious damage. Iranian submarines could do one of two things. First would be to try to inflict a first strike against the carrier group. Success is problematical since if a first strike against Iran is carried out by the Israelis or US, they would be alert too the threat. A more likely scenario would be to deploy the subs to attack undefended oil tankers and supply ships along shipping lanes coming into the Persian Gulf. This would send oil prices sky rocketing and inflict terror in the region. Unless US naval assets keep close tabs on their movements, US naval assets would initially be hard pressed to find them while at the same time dealing with the hit and run tactics and shore missile attacks. Finally, the occupation of US naval forces will divert support from ground troops to the fleet for a period of time, helping Iranian ground forces achieve their objectives.
Military Objectives - Air
Although their weakest asset, the recent wargames have indicated that they have developed a degree of close air support capability that could be used to support the ground assault. The best of the airforce would likely be held close to Tehran to protect the government, however, they would have a period of time to act while US naval air assets are dealing with the Iranian navy hit and run attacks and USAF assets are providing ground support to suppress guerilla attacks. Some assets could also be diverted to the east for counter shipping operations.
Military Objectives - Strategic Assets
Coalition difficulties in finding Scud launchers during Desert Shield / Storm will be exploited by Iran for counter attacks in the theater. Baghdad Green Zone housing the coalition and Iraqi headquarters would be one of their first targets. Oil facilities in the north would also be vulnerable as they may want to keep the facilities in the south somewhat intact for their own potential use. The longer range Shehab-3 missiles will likely be launched mostly at Israel to garner support of the arab countries with some potentially being launched towards England, Italy, or other european country to develop dissention in Europe against the US/Israel in support of stopping any prolonged operation against Iran for fear that they may be struck again. Other conventional targets would be the oil facilities of any Gulf countries supporting the coalition, again to raise terror, gain world support for a negotiated settlement of the conflict or black mail them into denying more support to the US for any counter attack.
Absolute worse case scenario would be that they use chemical / biological warheads. This is assuming that they dont have the nuclear warheads yet. This could be the wild card if Iranian objectives are not being adequately met. The most likely target would be Israel because if they respond with a nuclear strike there would be a great deal of pressure on Israel to justify the strike. Any justification would be generally rejected by many arab nations as a Zionist lie and would be viewed with skepticism by many in Europe.
A chemical/biological strike against US / coalition forces could work to increase anti-war opinions among the allies due to casualties or could back lash into a severe and potential nuclear strike by the US. However, because of close Russian ties, a nuclear counter strike by the US would be very dangerous and could pull Russia in on the Iranian side. That of course could fuel anti-war sentiment in the US and allied countries and gain more support from arab countries. However, this would also result in a major escalation of hostilities and the direct attack of Iran by US and coalition forces.
Part 2 - Conclusions and Observations
As you can see from Part 2, the Iranians have the capability to conduct asymmetrical warfare against the US and allied countries by focusing their strengths against our weaknesses in the region and they have a chance to succeed in the goals Ive listed. Iran would hope for quick success and the gaining of world opinion for a negotiated cessation of hostilities before the US and allies can effectively counter attack. Iran knows that once US military forces are marshalled, its days are numbered and could increase the chance that Iran could use more desperate measures. Israel will be attacked no matter what with a high possibility that chemical and biological weapons could be used. The US response would need to be carefully balanced and measured to prevent Russian intervention of behalf of Iran and to bring the conflict to a swift conclusion.
In Part 3, I will look at a couple of more detailed scenarios that I think could occur and their potential outcomes.
October 10, 2004
Agence France Presse
TEHRAN -- Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said the military exercises held last month by the Revolutionary Guards Corps were a success, state television reported Sunday.
"The success of Ashura-5 manoeuvres obliges me to thank you and other senior commanders," the all-powerful leader was quoted as writing to Guards commander Rahim Safavi.
"Abilities in planning, command and logistics could be perfectly seen in this big collective operation," Khamenei wrote of the exercises, held in the northwest of the country.
The week-long exercises kicked off on September 12, and were reportedly aimed at testing out new equipment and maintaining the Revolutionary Guards' "spirit of Jihad (holy war) and defence" and its status of being the "biggest deterrent power in the region".
The Revolutionary Guards, one of Iran's most powerful institutions, were set up in the wake of the 1979 Islamic revolution and have a separate command structure to the regular armed forces.
ERUSALEM One of the major winners of America's war on terrorism has been nuclear-bound, terrorism-supporting Iran, and it is giving the Israelis nightmares.
Israelis have been targets of terrorists since long before American cities were struck three years ago - a fact driven home last week by bombings that killed dozens of vacationing Israelis at three resorts in Egypt. But the nightmares about Iran are of another dimension.
Iran - large, ambitious and run by radical clerics committed to the destruction of the Jewish state - is seen by Israelis as the most obvious and urgent threat today to Israel's very existence.
The overthrow of the Taliban in Afghanistan eliminated one of Iran's main fundamentalist rivals to its east, while the overthrow of Saddam Hussein to its west eliminated Iran's main military rival in the Persian Gulf. Not only is Mr. Hussein gone, but much of Iraq is in disorder, presenting opportunities for Iran to meddle in Iraq's heavily Shiite south, even to create a kind of Iranistan there.
So the Israelis who plan for this country's security confront a paradox: While they are relieved that the American invasion of Iraq removed a sworn enemy, they are increasingly nervous about the opportunities that the same invasion has opened for another. And they see the Middle East moving from conventional military rivalries to far more dangerous nuclear rivalries.
That is why Israeli officials have been threatening for months to take "the necessary steps,'' as Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz puts it, to prevent Iran, his birthplace, from developing nuclear weapons.
Behind that threat is a hope that the rest of the world can persuade Iran, with threats and diplomacy, to drop the parts of its nuclear program that could be used for armaments. But Israeli officials say they have not had great success so far in encouraging a preoccupied Washington, a conflicted Russia and a divided Europe to do much about Iran except talk anxiously about it.
Iran's program - which its leaders maintain is for peaceful purposes - is far more sophisticated and widespread than the single Iraqi nuclear reactor Israel bombed in 1981, and Israeli officials make clear that they do not want to act alone against Iran.
Iran, however, has an increasing number of cards to play in the region. According to the Israeli military, it has strong influence over the radical Palestinian group Hamas and over the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, which has been financing and organizing most of the attacks against Israelis from the Palestinian West Bank. Iran is gaining influence with the Shia factions jockeying for power in southern Iraq. Officials in Washington have said Iran is helping to foment anti-American resistance there. Most important, perhaps, Iran has increasingly sophisticated Shahab missiles that could hit the outskirts of Tel Aviv.
Iran's leaders do not acknowledge ambitions for nuclear arms, but they are building reactors and there is logic for them wanting a bomb: their neighbors India and Pakistan have nuclear arms, Israel is presumed to have them, and American troops are on their borders.
Yuval Steinitz, chairman of the Israeli Parliament's foreign and defense committee, argues that Iran is a clear danger for the entire West, since it is working on an intercontinental missile that could threaten Europe and NATO. "The Iran nuclear program is so ambitious that after producing a first bomb, they could produce 20 bombs a year," he said. "It's up to the Americans and Europeans to solve Iran," he added, "not little Israel."
Mr. Steinitz's concerns are expressed as well by senior Israeli political, military and intelligence officials who spoke on the condition that they not be quoted by name. Israel has been pushing Washington to deal with Iran's nuclear program since the mid-1990's.
"If Iran develops nuclear weapons, there will be a new Middle East,'' said Gerald M. Steinberg of Bar-Ilan University. "It would lead to a lot more brinkmanship and tension, with higher stakes for Israel's survival and pressure on other countries, like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria, to develop nuclear weapons of their own.''
Amatzia Baram, a scholar of Iraq, thinks Israel and the region are safer for now with Mr. Hussein gone. But the euphoria Israelis felt following his quick defeat has dissipated, Mr. Baram says, and has been replaced by anxiety over the possibility of American failure in Iraq.
"So far, with the American Army in Iraq, things are O.K., if not very stable, and in the best case, Iraq will settle down, a net gain for Israel,'' said Mr. Baram, a professor of Middle Eastern history at Haifa University. "But worst case, the Americans decide to go," he said, and that would mean: "There's no central control, growing anarchy, western Iraq becomes a no man's land, like a little Afghanistan. Iran will be a power broker in southern Iraq, and then Jordan is under threat and there's more terrorism in the world."
"The jury's still out" on what will happen, he said, "and the stakes are very high.''
Iran's nuclear ambitions began under Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi in the 1970's, a time when the United States, France and Germany competed to build reactors there and Iran and Israel were proto-allies against a hostile Arab world. But the shah's overthrow in an Islamic revolution in 1979 changed the Middle East.
Israel later watched with some relief as Mr. Hussein's Iraq fought a war with Iran at such a bloody cost that both countries were weakened for years. But both regimes survived, with their animosity intact.
In the short run, Israel has gained enormously from the ouster of Mr. Hussein, said Michael B. Oren, a historian and senior fellow at Jerusalem's Shalem Center.
Not only did Mr. Hussein sent $25,000 checks to the families of suicide bombers and promise to wipe Israel off the map, but his huge if indifferent army was the focus of the old Israeli specter of a massed invasion by Syrian, Jordanian and Iraqi armies moving together against Israel's narrow waist. "That was our nightmare, and it's over, buried,'' Mr. Oren said.
But in the long run, the situation in Iraq "is very uncertain, hazardous and possibly catastrophic,'' he said. Even an American success in democratizing Iraq "will almost definitely entail majority Shia rule, linked to a rapidly nuclearizing Iran, causing upheaval and increased expectations among Shias throughout the Gulf.'' He imagines a Shiite belt from the Persian Gulf through southern Lebanon, organized against America and Israel. "That's scary, because the raison d'être of the Iranian regime is to export holy war,'' he said. Also, Mr. Oren said, "there's a genuine fear here that if America withdraws precipitously from Iraq, the initial message, that the West will stand up to terror, is not only lost, but supplanted by: 'You shoot at Americans and Westerners long enough and they'll retreat, so don't stop shooting.' ''
For Dan Schueftan, a senior fellow at the National Security Studies Center at Haifa University and at the Shalem Center, the situation is deeply worrisome, but not yet a crisis. Mr. Hussein's fall, he said, has been a clear benefit to Israel, which would have had Iran as an enemy in any case. The improbability of a big land war means that Israel's army can start renovating itself in earnest - mothballing armor, cutting its size and acquiring high technology like precision weapons, drones and anti-missile defenses that will help deter Iran.
Iran presents a global problem "already recognized by the United States and Europe, which is within missile range,'' Mr. Schueftan said. "So we feel less lonely vis-à-vis Iran than we did with Iraq in the 80's.''
But, he said, he worries about what Iran could do with nuclear weapons, and their impact on the region.
A nuclear Iran would embolden Syria and Hezbollah to feel protected by an Iranian nuclear umbrella, he suggested. Egypt and other Arab countries would feel pressure to develop nuclear weapons, and other radical regimes could come into being. Egypt is under pressure from Islamic radicals. A change there, he said, "would change the region completely.''
Mr. Baram also makes the point that Iran's regime is less secure internally and more unpredictable than the Soviet regime that the United States faced in the cold war. "In Iran, I can imagine some commander, acting out of ideology, like some Dr. Strangelove, shooting off a nuclear bomb against Israel,'' he said.
There would be deterrence of a kind between Iran and Israel, he conceded, based on the old theory of mutually assured destruction, or MAD. "But then everything hangs on MAD, and MAD in an area that is mad enough is a big problem,'' he said. "And an existential one.''
Iraqi Women: "Thank You USA" + Swift Vets - 7:00 PM Eastern (4:00 PM Pacific) TODAY (Sunday)
A very special three-hour event takes place TODAY - Sunday, October 10, 2004 from 7:00PM - 10:00PM [Eastern] ... 4:00PM - 7:00PM [Pacific]. "Moving America Forward" is a radio program orgiinating from KRLA 870 AM Los Angeles and simulcast LIVE on the Internet which rallies Americans to support our troops and the fight against terrorism. The program is a benefit event for the group, MOVE AMERICA FORWARD.
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