How Should We Anticipate and Approach Iran’s Next Move?

by | Jan 20, 2020 |

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is calling for unity and says that his country is facing ‘unprecedented’ pressure as the U.S. continues to ratchet up sanctions. Tehran said last week it will no longer comply with portions of the nuclear agreement, an agreement which the U.S. left last year, while several European countries still remain committed to the deal. Iran’s threat to no longer comply is widely seen as an ultimatum meant to pressure European countries to convince Washington to back off any further increase of sanctions demands as President Trump suggested would occur. European countries have indicated they will reject any ultimatums.
The nature of U.S.-Iran hostilities has changed, so what happens next? In the wake of Major General Qasem Soleimani’s killing, Iran will likely attempt to double down on the doctrine most closely associated with him that has served it so well⏤continuing its asymmetric warfare.
Iran’s missile attack on U.S. targets in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of General Soleimani may be the end of at least this round of hostilities.
Behind the visible tit-for-tat, Iranian rhetoric and doctrine suggest that this exchange marks for Iran a new phase of hostilities with the U.S. Regardless of who drew the knife first, the nature of the fight has now changed. 

The Trump Administration is likely to continue with its attempts to isolate and pressure Tehran through non-military means first, but with a clear readiness to use lethal force if necessary. But the question that remains is what will Iran do next?

Consider as I noted, Iran’s asymmetric use of effective force. Tehran’s performance in other theaters in the region is relevant. Over the past four decades, Iran has developed a doctrinal method of fighting. It relies on a combination of third parties⏤its Shiite militias, i.e. Hezbollah, etc., along with strategic calibrated escalation, and minimal exposure to casualties for Iranians. First, while Iran has been heavily outmatched by its principal adversaries in terms of conventional arsenals, this capability, highly adapted to complex regional conflicts and so far without any successful counter measure, has tipped the balance of effective force in Iran’s favor. Further, it will not be straightforward to use this against the U.S. directly, not least to avoid catastrophic escalation, but it has become Iran’s weapon of choice.
It is important to realize that General Soleimani took this capability to a new level and while his death will perhaps temporarily impair Iran’s strategic efforts, if not operational, performance. But the machine Soleimani built is bigger than him. It was determined as much by the hard facts of Iran’s cultural and strategic position, its experiences of the war with Iraq, and the ongoing low-level confrontation with Israel, as by any central design. Both because it has been successful in multiple theaters and because it is a function of Soleimani’s and the Quds Forces doctrine and nature of the Islamic Republic, Iran is unlikely to abandon it. Despite the shock of Soleimani’s killing and the clear message it has sent about U.S. tolerances, Iran is more likely to double down on the asymmetric doctrine most closely associated with him.
Secondly, consider Iran’s confederated effort across the region. Again, Iran relies on an outer cordon of partnerships to defend its interests and project its power regionally and to some extent internationally. In Lebanon, Yemen, Syria and Iraq it has armed partners ⏤it’s proxy forces, aka Shiite militias with whom it shares a range of interests⏤from the immediate to the profoundly cultural, and who are used to operating with the support and in some cases direction of Iranian IRGC officials. This strategic and operational compatibility makes ‘Iran’ now more of a confederation, than a single state. Not all of its partners will respond unquestioningly to commands from Tehran, but few will refuse to take the fight to the U.S. both over the assassination of Soleimani, their patron and military leader, but also for their own strong, local reasons. Public demonstrations of grief and defiance have already taken place in Sana’a, Yemen. An assortment of militia flags already flanks Iranian officials when facing the media.
To better understand Iran’s asymmetric approach, Iran prefers political-military campaigns to operations. Although Iran will certainly mount high-impact operations when necessary, its preference and aptitude is for campaigns run over time during which it can steadily accumulate strategic influence through ‘persistent presence and strategic messaging.’ It does not expect rapid, decisive outcomes from operations. Instead it sequences operations within its campaigns for long-term strategic benefit. As an example, Hezbollah’s low-level operational campaign against Israel for the past 40-years.
We can certainly expect that it is more than likely that Iran will embark on a new campaign focused on achieving a long-avowed objective to remove the U.S. military presence from the Middle East. In practice, the scope of such a campaign would likely cover Iraq and the Levant, but perhaps could⏤should opportunities arise, extend to the Gulf. What will be new, and warrant watching is the deployment of IRGC resources against this objective over a long period of time. Of course, President Trump’s relentless economic sanctions against Iran has had a paralyzing impact on the regimes ability to provide external asymmetric support to its proxies. Given U.S. historic resolve not to be dislodged, Iran may aim and settle for less, such as a campaign of low-level operations, including demonstrations and threats that raise the ambient alert level to the point where the U.S. presence is limited to fixed locations and its non-official presence disappears. 
As noted, one of Iran’s key ability to project its strategic messaging. Iran is highly adept at exploiting its victimhood, Tehran will seek to use its narrative as a call to arms within its Shia communities and across the Islamic world more widely, where existing anti-U.S. sentiment provides a fertile recruiting ground. Iran will also seek to draw support away from the U.S., many of whose strategic partners will be at least ambivalent about the killing of Soleimani, to include the U.S. Democrat Party, its new found partner.

Neither the Europeans nor the Gulf states will want to see, let alone be party to a hot war with Iran. Tehran also knows, it will be supported by Russia in building international opposition, if not condemnation, of the U.S. 

For the U.S.⏤creating a coalition for escalation against Iran may be difficult. That may not concern Washington in the short term, but in the long term it may deepen its own isolation rather than that of Iran: a policy of ‘maximum pressure’ that includes targeted killings may just be too much. However, the Trump administration has proven to be equally adept in its ability to convince its allies that it is serious and means business when dealing with the world’s terrorists. Particularly with Iran as a nation being the world’s leading sponsor of international terrorism.
For Iran, on the topic of campaign driven operations, a key feature of its campaigns led by the IRGC Quds Force is “popular mobilization” beyond the borders of Iran, using its Popular Mobilization Forces (MPFs) has continued to use the concept, adapting it to local situation and circumstances within Iran and beyond, as seen in both Syria and Iraq in recent months.
The significance and reason to monitor is this has operational value in increasing Iran’s available manpower and geographic reach, as well as propaganda and strategic influence value in making its agenda appear to be a shared one with other regional actors. Understand the value of strategic inference operations boosts appeals over the heads of governments to the wider Iran-affiliated communities across the Islamic world which could, as Iran will intend, result in operational and asymmetric initiatives, i.e.; attacks against U.S. targets that are not directed directly by Iran and would certainly provide, technically at least, a degree of plausible deniability for Tehran. This could reach as far as and include low-level attacks in Europe and Asia against U.S. persons and or assets.
Iran and its Quds Forces and other surrogates always measures and assesses risks and calibrates its operations to fall below the threshold that would trigger retaliation and endanger the survival of the regime, or its most valued assets, such as Hezbollah in Syria and Lebanon. That has been most evident in its long skirmishing with Israel. This restraint will be complicated by the strength of emotion over General Soleimani’s killing and by the difficulty Tehran may have in controlling responses amongst its partners, a role ironically that Soleimani played, particularly his popularity and frequent visibility in both countries. But Iran will, despite the fiery rhetoric, draw edges around its campaign. It will fight, but it will aim, above all, to survive.
The recent events in the Gulf region and the killing of General Soleimani have had an impact, but Iran is still a formidable, asymmetric adversary. Iran has demonstrated a number of hard war-fighting capabilities in the past five years.
The IRGC and its Quds Forces have operated in multiple theaters simultaneously through a range of partners, from Russia to the para-state of Hezbollah, to small local MPF militias in Iraq. Its role in successful military operations, as well as its ability to mobilize indigenous groups, such as the Houthis in Yemen, and other groups in the Horn of Africa, has left Iran with a reserve of military power of far less technical potency than that of the U.S., but of more practical use in fighting asymmetrically. Certainly, Iraq is critical right now. I will be addressing that in my next article later this week. 
That said, whatever Iran’s next move, the need to find the elusive combination of techniques, capabilities, and diplomacy to counter its formidable powers has suddenly become more pressing and fluid for the U.S. and its regional policy. Stay tuned.

Avatar

Jim Waurishuk is a retired USAF Colonel, serving nearly 30-years as a career senior intelligence and political-military affairs officer and special mission intelligence officer with expertise in strategic intelligence, international strategic studies and policy, and asymmetric warfare. He served as a special mission intelligence officer assigned to multiple Joint Special Operations units and with the CIA’s Asymmetric Warfare Task Force and international and foreign advisory positions. He served as Deputy Director for Intelligence for U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) during the peak years of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Global War on Terrorism.

Waurishuk is a former White House National Security Council staffer and a former Distinguished Senior Fellow with the Atlantic Council, Washington, D.C. He served as a senior advisor to the Commander U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) and served as Vice President of the Special Ops-OPSEC.

Currently, he is the Chairman of the Hillsborough County (FL) Republican Executive Committee and Party and serves on the Executive Board of the Republican Party of Florida.

Use the code ‘OUTLOUD’ and save 15%
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Disclaimer: The information contained in this website is for educational, general information, and entertainment purposes only and is never intended to constitute medical or legal advice or to replace the personalized care of a primary care practitioner or legal expert.

While we endeavor to keep this information up to date and correct, the information provided by America Out Loud, its website(s), and any properties (including its radio shows and podcasts) makes no representations, or warranties of any kind, expressed, or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability, or availability with respect to its website(s) or the information, products, services or related graphics and images contained on the website(s) for any purpose.

The opinions expressed on the website(s), and the opinions expressed on the radio shows and podcasts, are the opinions of the show hosts and do not necessarily represent the opinions, beliefs, or policies of anyone or any entity we may endorse. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.

At no time, nor in any event, will we be liable for any loss, or damage, including without limitation, indirect or consequential loss of data or profits arising out of, in an association of, or connection with the use of this website.

Through this website, users can link to other websites that may be listed. Those websites are not under the control of America Out Loud or its brands. We have no control over the nature, content, or availability of those sites. America Out Loud has no control over what the sites do with the information they collect. The inclusion of any links does not necessarily imply a recommendation, nor does it endorse the views expressed with or by them.

Every effort is made to keep the website up and running smoothly. However, America Out Loud takes no responsibility for, nor are we, and will not be liable for being temporarily unavailable due to technical difficulties beyond our control. America Out Loud does not sell, trade, nor market email addresses or other personal data.

Take a Look at the Positive Side of Anarchy

Take a Look at the Positive Side of Anarchy

The only way to achieve liberty and peace is to restore law and order. And the only way to restore law and order is to literally crush the forces of evil. When that begins to happen, we do actually see the positive side of tyranny and anarchy. Conflict is a bedfellow of oppression. Therefore we must end the conflict and, in doing so, end the tyranny. Here’s the positive side of this war…

It’s a LONG-HAUL with COVID-19

It’s a LONG-HAUL with COVID-19

The context is that about 50% of those hospitalized with COVID-19 develop post-COVID symptoms. Severe outpatients also are affected. Characteristic symptoms include headache, hearing loss, tinnitus, loss of olfactory function, sleep disturbance, muscle aches, weakness, fatigue, and chest or abdominal pain…

Be the One.

Be the One.

Be the one — no longer willing to huddle together in the helpless band — the one who dares to join the fight. Another will follow you and then another, and in a flash of time, that bleeding hulk of our nation — once the great light of liberty to the world, now barely flickering — will rise again to throw off the wolves like it has done before, sending them scurrying for safety…

Major Medical Mystery: Why Some People Despite Exposure Don’t Get COVID

Major Medical Mystery: Why Some People Despite Exposure Don’t Get COVID

A small fraction of Americans have escaped COVID infection. CDC uses a figure of 60% for those infected, while the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington says that 76% have been infected. The remainder may have escaped exposure or been exposed but escaped infection. The latter people are the subject of the medical mystery…

Correcting America’s Course Back to the Constitutional Rule of Law

Correcting America’s Course Back to the Constitutional Rule of Law

The US Constitution must scrupulously be followed, especially by the judiciary. It is not for judges to make laws; it is for them to observe and rule on the constitutionality of issues before them. Their oaths, taken upon their confirmations, should include the understanding that their failures to follow judicial protocols would end in their termination…

Does Joe Biden Aspire to be America’s Last President?

Does Joe Biden Aspire to be America’s Last President?

Most ominously, no American administration has ever seemed so entirely unconcerned about hemorrhaging political capital. And that lack of concern about voters’ approval can only mean that this administration no longer believes it relies on political capital (the consent of the governed) for power. We can only assume that this Marxist-aligned administration intends to authorize itself with whatever power it requires to achieve its ends…

Criminal Intimidation Led By Schumer and Pelosi are America’s Domestic Terrorists

Criminal Intimidation Led By Schumer and Pelosi are America’s Domestic Terrorists

The SCOTUS leak was explicitly designed to tip the balance back to Progressivisms demands and rally the Democrat base to intimidate conservatives, political and business leaders by threats of violence because the country is in a Biden mess, one he created in January 2021 to reflect his party’s image as one that clings to the failed philosophy of Marx and Engles…

Pennsylvania Races Plunge to Swampy Politics 

Pennsylvania Races Plunge to Swampy Politics 

The establishment has money and counts itself as power brokers. They love the status quo, the “don’t rock the boat” mentality. They pronounce, “This is our guy!” and expect the masses to get in line. However, many are standing up and deciding to vote conscience over party or affiliation – regardless. But aren’t those the same “stand up” attitude and actions that formed this great nation?

America Out Loud 6 years

Celebrating 6 incredible years fighting to restore liberty and justice to our beloved America.

Your Source for Free Speech, Talk Radio, Podcasts, and News.

 

Here we take on the challenges of our generation so that we can preserve future generations. Please consider making a contribution in the fight for liberty!

iHeartRadio

The APPS are free; the mission is priceless!

Free APP
Healthycell

Podcast Networks

Apple Podcasts
Google Podcasts
Spotify
Pandora
Tunein
iHeart
Stitcher

Subscribe and Listen on Your Favorite APP

Our Columnists and Show Hosts

Truth For Health

Apple Podcasts

COVID Solution Summit

Apple Podcasts

Evacuating Americans & fully-vetted Afghan's at Risk - Help Us!

Apple Podcasts

Empowering and mentoring conservative trailblazers from Generation Z to win!

Apple Podcasts

Turning Point Action is Recruiting Precinct Chairs - Become a Grassroots Warrior Today!

Apple Podcasts

URGENT - KEEP NINE
Please join us to protect the Supreme Court:
Sign the Petition!

Apple Podcasts

The LATINO USA EXIT from the Democrat Party, click for details...

Apple Podcasts

Fighting corporate censorship and ensuring voter integrity...

Apple Podcasts

Support wounded and fallen police officers. The Wounded Blue.

Wounded Blue
Share via
Copy link