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Published on August 11th, 2010 | by Ali Gharib


More on Potential Iranian Reax To Military Strike

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Via Mondoweiss, Juan Cole’s excellent Informed Comment site is currently carrying an analysis by Middle East and terror expert Mahan Abedin that explores Iran’s likely options and fallout should the United States use bombers to attack the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. Eli addressed this scenario last week using Patrick Disney’s analysis, and this latest attempt at gazing into the crystal ball is no less sobering.

Abedin writes:

A top priority for the IRGC high command is to respond so harshly and decisively so as to deter the Americans from a second set of strikes at a future point. The idea here is to avoid what happened to Iraq in the period , when the former Baathist regime was so weakened by sanctions and repeated small-scale military attacks that it quickly collapsed in the face of American and British invading armies.

The range of predictable responses available to the IRGC high command include dramatic hit ad run attacks against military and commercial shipping in the Persian Gulf, the use of mid-range ballistic missiles against American bases in the region and Israel and a direct assault on American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. All these options are likely to be used within 48 hours of the start of hostilities.

What is less predictable is the response of the IRGC Qods Force, which is likely to be at the forefront of the Pasdaran’s counter-attack. One possible response by the Qods force is spectacular terrorist-style attacks against American intelligence bases and assets throughout the region. The IRGC Qods Force is believed to have identified every key component of the American intelligence apparatus in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan. They are likely to put this information to good use, especially since the Qods Force suspects that the CIA had a hand in last October’s Jundullah-organised suicide bombing targeting IRGC commanders in Iran’s volatile Sistan va Baluchistan province.

The IRGC navy will also play a key asymmetrical role in the conflict by organising maritime suicide bombings on an industrial scale. By manning its fleet of speedboats with suicide bombers and ramming them into American warships and even neutral commercial shipping, the Pasdaran will hope to close the Strait of Hormuz, through which nearly 40 percent of world crude oil supplies pass.

The combination of these asymmetrical forms of warfare with more conventional style missile and even ground force attacks on American bases in the region will likely result in thousands of American military casualties in the space of a few weeks. The IRGC has both the will and wherewithal to inflict a level of casualties on American armed forces not seen since the Second World War.

Even if the United States manages to destroy Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and much of the country’s military assets, the IRGC can still claim victory by claiming to have given the Americans a bloody nose and producing an outcome not dissimilar from the Israeli-Hezbollah military engagement in the summer of 2006.

The political effect of this will likely be even more explosive than the actual fighting. Not only will it awaken the sleeping giant of Iranian nationalism, thus aligning the broad mass of the people with the regime, it will also shore up Iran’s image in the region and prove once and for all that the Islamic Republic is prepared to fight to the death to uphold its principles. Suddenly Iran’s allies in the region – particularly non-state actors like Hezbollah and Hamas – would stand ten feet tall.

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About the Author


Ali Gharib is a New York-based journalist on U.S. foreign policy with a focus on the Middle East and Central Asia. His work has appeared at Inter Press Service, where he was the Deputy Washington Bureau Chief; the Buffalo Beast; Huffington Post; Mondoweiss; Right Web; and Alternet. He holds a Master's degree in Philosophy and Public Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science. A proud Iranian-American and fluent Farsi speaker, Ali was born in California and raised in D.C.

23 Responses to More on Potential Iranian Reax To Military Strike

  1. avatar Jon Harrison says:

    One problem with the Iraq war was that it was fought on the cheap (the original problem was that we fought the war at all, of course). We should’ve invaded the country with at least 500,000 troops. Every town should have been occupied and the Iraqis disarmed. Then we should have imposed a constitution and a government. Any insurgency should have been suppressed at once by whatever means necessary. (Please remember that I believe we never should have fought the war to begin with, especially since overthrowing Saddham could only benefit Shiite Iran. Here I’m simply outlining how the war should have been fought. But clearly we had no good reason to fight it at all).

    If we were to fight a war with Iran (which I don’t think we will) it would have to be done right. We’d need a million-man invasion army (which we can’t field unless we reinstitute the draft, itself a highly unlikely possibility), and an air campaign beyond anything seen since 1945. Civilian casualties would be enormous. I just don’t think it’s going to happen. On the other hand, while I agree the Iranians would not roll over and surrender, I get a little tired of hearing how two million suicide bombers would be headed our way, or how the mighty Iranian armed forces would kick us out of the Gulf. The Iranian military showed its ability to take very heavy casualties in the Iran-Iraq War, but it also showed very little operational skill. In a real war between the U.S. and Iran (and not some namby-pamby aerial campaign) the latter would be crushed. Iran is a great civilization with a great history and the Iranians are a fine people, but Iran is still a developing nation with a second-rate military. People are forgetting the real power of the U.S. military, sinply because we don’t fight total wars anymore. A real war between the two countries could have only one outcome.

  2. avatar SAMMYSEER says:

    Here’s the bottom line. Bombing Iran is far less risky than letting Iran have a bomb. This whole conflict is hardly noticeable to the vast majority of American people by design.If the Islamic regimes Unite that is a great thing,but trust me America is asleep at the wheel right now and will awaken and then what will the Islamic extremist do.I know what the American people will do.

  3. avatar scott says:

    To those who warn that Iran is weak, so was Iraq. Someone said, “look how that went” Indeed, look at it, look at Vietnam, South America, Mexico–we’ve occupied and enjoyed total military dominance, yet, we couldn’t control anything.

    No, I believe in the Declaration of Independence, gov’ts get their authority from the consent of the governed. Jefferson says that people are inclined to absorb injustice and usurpations against them, but “when a long train of abuses” results in tyranny, “it is their right, their duty to throw off the ties that bind them.”

    Jefferson isn’t writing a justification for American independence as much as he is describing the nature of men and men’s reaction to tyranny. Read the specific grievances listed at the end of the Dec. of Ind. compared to what Egypt, Palestinians, Iraqis, Afghanis have endured under our heel makes the Founding Father’s seem like whiners.

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