More on Potential Iranian Reax To Military Strike

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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Ali Gharib

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.



  1. I think most here have a hidden (or not so hidden) desire to see the US and Israel get a bloody nose. That’s understandable considering the damage they’ve done and continue to do, their insidious war mongering, their insulting attitudes toward the rest of the world, blatant hypocrisy and bullying of weaker nations and peoples, etc. I hear you. But know this, Iran is in no position to punish the likes of these two vastly superior military powers. US and Israeli interests will barely be touched, regardless of what the wargames show. Iran will suffer huge losses, both civilian and military, it will set them back decades. It will illustrate the hideous, bullying and evil nature of the US/Israeli war machines and the cruelty of the respective cultures which condone this murderous behaviour, but it will be Iran and Iranian men, women and children that will do ALL the suffering. If you care about regular folks just struggling to live a decent life, you will expunge the wish for this confontation from your consciousness. Peace.

  2. I think Russia and Turkey should both get involved. Putin must warn Israeli zionists that if it attacks Iran, Israel will turn into ashy desert land.

  3. It is so sad that there is so much talk about a possible war that is so unnecessary.

    One would think that the leaders in US and Israel are well aware of where Iran stands, what is it capable of and what not, and most of this rhetoric is just for propaganda and domestic consumption.
    One would believe they attacked Iraq because it was a sitting duck and they wouldn’t attack Iran because the cost is way too high. But again these are criminals sitting on their comfortable chairs and playing god with ordinary people’s life.

    I personally think there will be no attack because Israel is just fine with the current situation, which is to demonize and isolate Iran and continue to occupy without a resolution in sight.

  4. As Fidel Castro said: “Obama has it in his power to stop this madness”. Will he do it?. Will he relinquish Israeli-AIPAC protection against his enemies on the right in order to win a second term and to become the Wall Street lawyer and banker he has always wanted to be? Only time will tell!

  5. I recall watching a news program just before the first Gulf War. I am not sure but I think it was the PBS Newshour or whatever Jim Lehrer’s one-hour news program was called then. Anthony H. Cordesman was the military ‘expert’ holding forth on how the Iraqi army that was in Kuwait would fight the Allied forces. He had gone into details of how tiny groups of Iraqi soldiers, sitting is below ground enclaves would fight; how they would swing out on some sort of equipment, hit the allied forces/aircraft and instantly swing back and disappear in their dugouts. Listening to him the Iraqis appeared to me super-advanced Aliens from outer space, that only a few of whom would be able to frustrate the combined might of the US and its many allies. I was stunned and thought that there was no way any earthly military force could dislodge such a perfectly planned defensive posture by this super-human army.
    We all know what happened.

    Given that experience, I am extremely skeptical of the purported expertise and capabilities of the Iranian Defense forces as being portrayed here.

    Perhaps we should remember that Iran is a developing country under sanctions for many years. It could not produce its own gasoline for lack of expertise in building fractionators and distillation columns (a relatively old and basic technology). It is unable to upgrade its aging refineries due to lack of spare parts which it neither has access to due to the sanctions nor could manufacture itself. Given that refining technology is about hundred years old, that tells one how technologically capable the Iranians really are.

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