Iran Threat “Unlikely” to Extend Beyond CENTCOM Area, Report Says
Iran’s “full-scale” attack on US partners or allies “seems distant” as Iran has shown a “clear reluctance” to engage “conventional” forces in direct combat, according to a new report from the United Nations. Rand company. As a result, any threat posed is “unlikely” to spread outside the Central Command area.
The report, funded by the US military, is designed to inform military planners under what conditions Tehran might intervene in another country and to what extent Iranian leaders might commit their armed forces. The research conducted an analysis of what motivated Iranian military actions and interventions since the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979.
Ultimately, the researchers found that Iran is historically reluctant to engage directly in foreign interventions, having done so eight times since 1979. If Iran chooses to intervene in a conventional manner outside of its borders, Tehran prefers to use naval or air assets in “small-scale and targeted actions.” »Strikes that support his interests. Experts said in the report that these small-scale attacks, facilitated by Tehran’s drone and missile programs, are expected to continue and that partner countries will benefit from US training to prepare them for such an attack.
Instead, Tehran has “relied primarily on indirect involvement,” working through, with and through agents. In every foreign intervention identified by the researchers, an Iranian “co-identity group” within that country was present. Examples of the report include the large Shiite population inside Iraq, which provided natural incursions into Iran after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, and with the rise of ISIS in 2014.
According to the report, these groups allow Iran to strengthen its influence through “advice and assistance” missions while “limiting the costs associated with foreign involvement”, both in terms of human capital. and financial.
Analysis of the report identified three key factors that push Iran to become militarily involved in another country.
The first is the presence of an aforementioned co-identity group, as each intervention identified by the report contained this commonality.
In addition, regional stability and the maintenance of a balance of power are important factors in Tehran’s decision-making process. The report states that Iran is “a conventionally weak, Shiite-majority, Persian-majority nation existing in a region largely dominated by Sunni Arabs.” Decades of sanctions against Tehran by the West have left the Iranian military short of equipment such as tanks and modern airplanes and unable to compete with the modern military. As a result, Tehran considers itself “fundamentally vulnerable”.
Finally, the researchers found that threats external to Iranian sovereignty are “an important factor” in initiating military intervention.
According to the report, the US invasion of Iraq met all three criteria for Iranian involvement. Iraq’s large Shiite population provided natural “co-identity group” forays while neighboring Iran has become destabilized and “increasingly chaotic”. Moreover, according to the report, Iran has sought to increase its influence and influence to deter a “dreaded US attack on Iran using these same forces.”
This combination of factors in Iraq has provided fertile ground for both Iranian influence and military operations. The report claims to have been both more numerous and more successful since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
An example of how this capability was shown in a January 2020 attack on Al-Asad Air Base in Iraq, which at the time housed around 1,000 US troops. Iran, in retaliation for the Jan. 3 strike that killed Quds Force Commander Quassem Soleimani, injured more than 100 US soldiers with a barrage of missiles.
Ultimately, the report suggests that any threat posed by Iran is best addressed by strengthening the relationship and capacity of partner countries, as Iran views large-scale fighting as “undesirable.” Stronger regional governments with capable armies are likely to deter a regional confrontation or confrontation with Tehran.
“Overall, ethnic or sectarian tensions associated with weak governments seem to facilitate Iranian interventionism. As a result, strong and inclusive central governments are likely to constitute an important bulwark against Iranian activities in the region, ”the report said.
James R. Webb is a rapid response reporter for Military Times. He served as an infantryman in the US Navy in Iraq. In addition, he worked as a legislative assistant in the US Senate and as an integrated photographer in Afghanistan.