Iran’s Military Drills: The Same Old Saber-Rattling

While mainstream media may provide wide coverage of Iran’s recent military drills on the ground and at sea, including a variety of missile test launches, they represent nothing new. A new administration taking the helm in Washington has engendered widespread reactions from inside the mullahs’ apparatus on how to respond. Senior Iranian regime officials have been discussing recent developments and rest assured they are weighing a variety of different scenarios on how to respond with the least possible collateral damage.

One scenario currently being evaluated is a possible foreign military attack against Iran, and the solution provided is similar to the policy Iran adopted regarding its nuclear program: giving in to negotiations with the international community and providing concessions in order to maintain their face while taking advantage of possible loopholes, to thus defuse or neutralize any military assault. The recent visit to Kuwait and Oman by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is evaluated in such a perspective.

A second scenario, pursued by the so-called “hardliners” in Iran and the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), is focused on the argument that the new U.S. administration, despite all its aggressive posture, is unable to launch a new military offensive due to the lack of appetite in the American society and the White House’s adherence to the U.S. bipartisan structure and strategy.

What is clear in Tehran’s decisions and policymaking is the current pursuit of saber-rattling by means of recent missile test launches and military drills scheduled for a variety of military forces, especially the IRGC.

Through missile tests and a colorful array of military maneuvers that merely showcases a force barely able to meet any true challenge against its Middle East rivals, Iran is desperately seeking to keep face, domestically speaking.

It is quite obvious to any realistic military analyst that if the United States and its Arab allies sought to respond to Iran’s unconventional methods, they would hardly have any tough planning to think about. However, the intention of this piece is far from advocating another unnecessary war in the Middle East. The only difference is that Iran continuously presses the pedal on propaganda warfare, and unfortunately enjoys the support of a conglomerate of pro-appeasement advocates in the West, which also must come to an end.

Such chest thumping by Iran was also seen during the George W. Bush administration, especially following the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, where Iran desperately sought to prevent a similar fate. To sum it up, Tehran resorts to saber-rattling in an attempt to quell any possible Washington military option, and to lift the spirits of a dwindling social base suffering from serious loss in numbers.

In this regard, IRGC Ground Forces commander Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour — before becoming famous for his ‘slap in the face’ remarks — had announced the ground drills staged from February 20th to the 22nd involving an initial phase of missile tests in Iran’s central desert lands, resembling a defensive scenario in the face of threats posed by foreign forces.

The second phase consisted of the IRGC special forces, known as the Saberin Unit, troops of the 5th Nasr Division and paramilitary Basij conscripts. The later forces were preparing for missions to quell popular protests, the prospect that Tehran fears the most.

As mentioned already, Iran’s military drills are focused only on creating a military boogieman out of nothing in comparison to the conventional forces of other states, focusing on keeping rivals and international correspondents at a certain distance.

However, these preposterous and truly ridiculous measures — such as speedboats firing rockets and sinking a mock U.S. aircraft carrier — no longer has anyone buying this story. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence recently issued a staunch reminder to Tehran:

“Iran would do well to look at the calendar and realize there’s a new president in the Oval Office. And Iran would do well not to test the resolve of this new president.”

Yet more important is Tehran’s desperate attempt to keep a straight face after the end of Obama’s presidency when it enjoyed too many concessions. Iran even boasts of using precision accurate rockets, that are in fact nothing but a remodeled version of the Russian 122mm Katyusha rocket (a WW II design) with a range of no more than 75 kilometers. Iran has even claimed of testing “anti-helicopter mines,” which deserves only ridicule in today’s world of advanced warfare.

To respond best to Iran’s measures is to target the mullahs’ Achilles Heel. The mullahs rely on the IRGC for their domestic crackdown, foreign warmongering, and their ongoing nuclear/ballistic missile drive. To this end, blacklisting the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization — under discussion as we speak in the White House and Congress — would be the silver bullet against the regime ruling Iran.

This is the right next step in a roadmap to bring an end to 38 years of misery both for the Iranian people and nations across the Middle East.

Oval Office. And Iran would do well not to test the resolve of this new president.”

Yet more important is Tehran’s desperate attempt to keep a straight face after the end of Obama’s presidency when it enjoyed too many concessions. Iran even boasts of using precision accurate rockets, that are in fact nothing but a remodeled version of the Russian 122mm Katyusha rocket (a WW II design) with a range of no more than 75 kilometers. Iran has even claimed of testing “anti-helicopter mines,” which deserves only ridicule in today’s world of advanced warfare.

To respond best to Iran’s measures is to target the mullahs’ Achilles Heel. The mullahs rely on the IRGC for their domestic crackdown, foreign warmongering, and their ongoing nuclear/ballistic missile drive. To this end, blacklisting the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization — under discussion as we speak in the White House and Congress — would be the silver bullet against the regime ruling Iran.

This is the right next step in a roadmap to bring an end to 38 years of misery both for the Iranian people and nations across the Middle East.

Originally published in American Thinker

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ANALYSIS: Iran feeling US policy shift after Obama

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, known to lead a regime based on a mantra of “Death to America,” has been cautiously silent ever since US President Donald Trump took the helm in the White House.

With a recent medium-range ballistic missile test launch backfiring severely, both politically and substantially–the vessel exploded during reentry into Earth’s orbit–the regime leader, who has the final word on all national security and foreign affairs, is maintaining a low profile.

The new White House lashed back with a series of measures Tehran has not been used to, especially after enjoying eight years of the Obama administration’s highly flawed appeasement policy.

Tensions escalated last week following Iran’s missile test confirmation, triggering US National Security Advisor Michael Flynn using his first public appearance to lash back a staunch warning, placing Tehran “on notice.” Trump has been very active, to say the least, taking to Twitter and warning Iran about the high contrast between he and his predecessor. “Iran is playing with fire – they don’t appreciate how “kind” President Obama was to them. Not me!

Iran is playing with fire – they don’t appreciate how “kind” President Obama was to them. Not me!

And his administration wasted no time before the weekend by slapping a new slate of economic sanctions targeting 25 Iranian individuals and entities involved in Iran’s missile program, while suggesting the possibility of more to come. “President Donald Trump’s press secretary suggested Friday afternoon that more sanctions, and even military action, could be on the way,” reports indicate.

Khamenei’s silence

And to add insult to injury, US Defense Secretary James Mattis, in his first foreign visit, labelled Iran as the world’s “biggest state sponsor of terrorism.”

Despite Fridays traditionally providing a platform for senior Iranian officials to voice positions over foreign affairs and pump back the spirit lost among their dwindling social base, Khamenei remained silent. And this is a time where his Revolutionary Guards and paramilitary Basijis are in most need of his so-called guidance.

These are all signs of the Iranian regime establishment being caught off guard after trekking into uncharted Trump waters. With its ballistic missile Tehran was actually testing the new Trump administration. The mullahs are now highly regretting such a poorly calculated measure.

Interesting is the fact that the pro-appeasement camp is continuing their old tactics of warning how Iran may do this and that. “…terrorist attacks against Americans, attacks by Shiite militias against the thousands of American troops in Iraq, or pressure on the Iraqi government to deny the United States access to the bases where it trains Iraqi security forces,” wrote Philip Gordon in The New York Times. Gordon was Obama’s White House coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf region from 2013 to 2015.

After leaving the entire region in mayhem by handing Iraq over to Iran in a silver plate and cowardly failing to take any meaningful measure against Syrian dictator Bashar Assad after declaring a so-called chemical attack “red line”, any individual in any way even merely affiliated to the Obama Doctrine is not in any position to make any comment about how the new White House should blueprint its Middle East policy.

The golden era

Iran understands very well that the Obama “golden era”, as one figure close to former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani put it, is over. And the recent saga, from Tehran’s January 29th missile test to the sanctions imposed by the Trump White House on February 3rd, forecasts stormy weather conditions for the mullahs.

As the Trump administration weighs various measures vis-à-vis Iran, there are a few issues worth keeping in mind. The past 16 years have proven that foreign military intervention and an appeasement/engagement/rapprochement approach have failed miserably. And yet, there is a third option for the US to consider: standing alongside the Iranian people in their struggle to establish freedom and democracy in their country.

Considering its significant role in domestic crackdown, foreign military intervention and most significantly the involvement in Syria, and Iran’s nuclear program and ballistic missile drive, the first and very effective step forward in this roadmap is to blacklist Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

To this end, all deals and trade with IRGC-affiliated companies will be banned, as proposed by Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi, President of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

Welcoming the new US sanctions on Iran, the NCRI is an alliance of dissident organs, including the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), best known for first blowing the whistle on Tehran’s clandestine nuclear weapons program.

After Obama turned its back on the Iranian people back in 2009 and sold them out to the mullahs’, the Trump administration placing the IRGC in its crosshairs sends a message to the Iranian people that this new administration stands shoulder to shoulder in their efforts to be free.