Wednesday, January 28, 2015
ISIS & The Iran Cauldron
U.S. Policy in Syria: A Recipe to Contain, Not Defeat, ISIS
- Andrew J. Tabler
The Assad regime's tacit agreement to avoid firing on coalition strike aircraft - juxtaposed with long delays in the Obama administration's train-and-equip program for the Syrian opposition and the president's October 2014 letter to Iran's Supreme Leader on cooperation against ISIS - is creating widespread perceptions that the U.S. is heading into a de facto alliance with Assad and Tehran regarding the jihadists.
If Washington continues this policy, it will merely contain ISIS, not "defeat" or "destroy" the group. Beyond the terrible optics of assisting a president who has used chemical weapons and Scud missiles against his own people, the Assad regime is financially and militarily crippled and therefore unable to retake and hold areas currently controlled by ISIS.
Instead of allowing the regime's strength to grow, Washington should weaken both Assad and ISIS by encouraging the fight between them, weakening Iran's foreign legions and the jihadists at the same time.
The writer is a senior fellow at The Washington Institute.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Iranian Weapons of War America Should Fear - Zachary Keck
With the possible exception of North Korea, no country in the post-Cold War era has sought to challenge the U.S. as much as Iran. Tehran has never missed an opportunity to antagonize the U.S. and limit its influence.
In any conventional military conflict, Iran wouldn't stand a chance against the U.S. armed forces. To compensate, Iran pursues a deterrent-based military doctrine premised on three types of capabilities: an expansive ballistic missile arsenal, asymmetric naval warfare (particularly the threat of closing down the Strait of Hormuz), and ties to non-state militant groups.
Perhaps Iran's greatest deterrent threat is its ability to threaten oil shipments in the Strait of Hormuz, which roughly 20% of global oil supplies must transverse on their way to markets. Iran has at least twenty 150-ton Ghadir-class midget submarines that would be especially deadly in any conflict. As Chris Harmer, an expert on Iran's military at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), explains, "The quietest submarine in the world is one that rests on a sandy seabed. That is how the Iranians would use the Ghadir - get it out of port, sink to the bottom of the shallow Persian Gulf, rest on the sandy bottom, and wait for a target to come to it."
With the benefit of hindsight, Iran's decision to infiltrate Lebanon seems like pure strategic genius, as Hizbullah has been the gift that just keeps giving. Time and again Hizbullah has proven to be the most versatile and usable "weapon of war" in Iran's arsenal. Iran used Hizbullah to carry out terrorist attacks like the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and successfully attacked Israeli tourists in Bulgaria in 2012.