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Iran - Persian Gulf monarchies: the conflict by US tune

The domination of the United States in the Middle East rests on a complex system of alliances. Israel is one of the main support points for the United States in the region. The other at the present time are the so-called. "Conservative monarchies" of the Persian Gulf with Saudi Arabia at the head. In terms of "conservative monarchies," the system would look perfectly perfect if Shah's Iran remained in the scheme. However, the Islamic revolution in this country 1978-1979 years, which overthrew the local version of the "conservative monarchy" in the person of the Shah, closed this prospect, although it created new opportunities for the United States to increase their level of military presence in the Middle East. After all, it was the Islamic revolution in Iran that forced the "conservative monarchies" of the Gulf to rally around the US politically. The Iran-Iraq war 1980-1988 put forward the security issues of the Gulf countries. The military policy of Saddam's Iraq with its attempt to liquidate Kuwait only confirmed the previously chosen course. In 1981, six Gulf states - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates - formed an alliance of the Council of Cooperation of the Arab States of the Persian Gulf (GCC), aimed at parrying threats from Iran.

American domination system in the Middle East is built through stimulation of conflicts and overcoming them with the direct or indirect mediation Americans. In this case, it is not difficult to see how with each new level of conflict US military and political presence in the Middle East is increasing. This is the general pattern of the process. In this regard, Iran with its Islamic revolution played a key role since the end of 1970-ies. After a confrontation with Iran strengthens US hegemony in the Middle East.

The official national security strategy of the Islamic Republic of Iran is aimed at eliminating the American power structure in the Middle East, which includes both the US and its allies in the region - Israel, Saudi Arabia and other Arab conservative Sunni regimes. This is, so to speak, the maximum program of Iran. Such a strategy generates opposition from the Americans. An additional American factor of pressure on Iran is NATO, which takes Iran into a "security arc", starting from Turkey in the west, and ending with Afghanistan - in the east.

Iran's actions also aim to influence the policies and actions of the big powers, which are present in the region - either as partners or as antagonists of US interests in the Middle East.

In addition, we can not but mention a purely traditional factor. At a new historical level, Iran reproduced the cultural breakdown of the core of the Islamic world between Persians and Arabs with an informal dispute over primacy. This fundamental cultural contradiction in modern Iran is covered by a new Islamic revolutionary ideology. Iranian Islamists quite rightly argue that the politics and economy of the countries of the Middle East region were distorted by Western interference and its economic domination. Both of these, from the point of view of Tehran, should be terminated. The creation of Israel, the Iranians believe, is another manifestation of Western intervention. Iranian leaders accuse the US allies - their Arab antagonists - in facilitating American efforts to structure the Middle East in the interests of the United States and Israel.

Iran's leaders, for example, directly accused the US of creating radical Sunni terrorist Islamist groups, such as the Islamic State (IGIL), and earlier - Al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda and IGIL are orthodox militant Sunni Muslim organizations that Iran has identified as a serious threat to its security. In Tehran's view, Saudi Arabia provokes inter-confessional tension and tries to isolate Iran from regional affairs. Iran characterizes its own revolutionary support for Shiite and other Islamist movements in the region as an aid to the "oppressed".

However, Iran's leaders are constantly correlated imperatives of revolutionary and religious ideology to the needs of Iran's national interests. At the end of 1990-ies Iran refused to export their version of an Islamic revolution in the region, as this led only to drag Iran to the growth and to its isolation. More moderate Iranian leaders, including the current presidentHassan RouhaniThey argue that Iran should not be "permanent enemies". They argue that the pragmatic foreign policy leads to a weakening of the international sanctions against Iran, which corresponds to the national interests of the country. "Irreconcilable" - Iran's supreme leader, AyatollahKhameneiand obey Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) are opposed to any compromise in terms of the main goals of Iran, but supports the reintegration of Iran into the regional and international policies on the basis of an agreement dated July 2015 years the Iranian nuclear program (INP).

Iran's national security policy is most focused on the Middle East region. It is completely independent, and this fact causes discontent in the United States. Iran uses various instruments to conduct its national security policy. Some Iranian political devices are common to most countries: traditional diplomacy, promotion of Iran's values ​​and interests through "soft power". Iran provides financial support to regional politicians and leaders. But within this policy, the greatest concern for the United States and Israel is that Iran provides direct material support to armed groups, some of whom use violence to intimidate or retaliate against Israel or other regional opponents of Iran. Iran supports such groups as Lebanese Hezbollah, Palestinian Hamas, Husit rebels in Yemen and Shiite militiamen in Iraq. Iran back in January 1984 year was placed by the Americans in their list of sponsors of international terrorism. In the next report of the State Department on International Terrorism for 2015, Iran is again defined as "the most important sponsor of terrorism" in the Middle East.

Iranian foreign policy has a characteristic feature. The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) remains a key instrument of foreign policy and the projection of Iran's power, especially in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain and Yemen. IRGC are military and internal security forces created after the Islamic Revolution, which began to act in foreign policy. Iran's operations in support of the allies related to the supply of weapons, the provision of advisers, training and funding are carried out by the special unit of the IRGC, al-Quds (Jerusalem), headed by the generalQasem SoleimaniWhich apparently directly subordinate supreme leader Khamenei.

It should be noted that the American policy towards Iran is fairly consistent. The changing presidential administrations define Iran as the key problem of US national security in the Middle East region. The danger for the US is the development of advanced military capabilities of Iran, in particular with regard to its nuclear and missile program. Iran is a party to all major non-proliferation conventions, including the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Iran insists that it fulfills all its obligations under these conventions. But the US and its allies after 2003 year assert that Iran does not fulfill all its obligations under the NPT and it needs to prove that the Iranian nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes. Negotiations between Iran and the "international community" on this issue began in 2003 and ended in July 2015 with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Washington does not especially hide that Iran's nuclear program is one of the most important problems in the US, in part because the possession of operational nuclear weapons by Iran will close the possibility of external military pressure on it.

US military experts claim that Iran has the largest missile arsenal in the region, and this poses a potential threat to the US allies, as well as for deployed in the region, the US Navy. At a strategic level, Iran is developing various types of ballistic missiles. At a tactical level, Iran either acquires, or itself develops many types of short-range ballistic and cruise missiles. Iran's missile cooperation with North Korea is extensive. The only current Security Council resolution on Iran remains Resolution 2231 from 20 July 2015, "calling" Iran not to develop or test ballistic missiles intended for the delivery of nuclear weapons. Iran has conducted four missile tests since the signing of the INP in 2015, which provoked the wrath of the Americans. The US has consistently sought to build with its allies regional missile defense systems to counter Iran's missile potential. The United States and Israel have a broad program of cooperation in the field of missile defense. The United States also for a long time tried to organize a coordinated anti-missile defense system of the GCC, based on individual capabilities and purchases by each country of the association. The newest American Patriot system, PAC-3, was sold to the UAE, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The most modern of the US-exported anti-missile defense systems - THAAD is already supplied and deployed in the UAE. In September of 2012, the United States installed an early warning radar for a missile attack in Qatar that operates in a single system with radars in Israel and Turkey.

As for the prospect of a big war using conventional weapons, the US military forces of Iran are assessed as "unable to defeat the United States in the classic military confrontation". But the armed forces of Iran are already assessed by the Pentagon as "potentially capable of causing significant damage" to the US armed forces in the event of a direct military conflict. Iran itself is already able to protect itself from any aggression from its Arab neighbors. But he does not have the opportunity to deploy his armed forces on distant approaches or seas. The Americans also note the inability of the modern Iranian armed forces to force the Persian Gulf to invade Saudi Arabia and its allies in the GCC.

In the US, watching what is happening in Iraq and Syria, acknowledged that Iran is able to project power, including against the allied interests of the USA and the United States itself in the region, not directly, but in the "proxy-mode" by supporting friendly governments and forces through IRGC activities.

Currently in the Gulf region mainly to contain Iran placed about 35 thousand US troops. Most of these forces are stationed at military facilities in GCC countries: four in Saudi Arabia, four - in Kuwait, two - in Bahrain, two - in Qatar, two - in the OAU and four - in Oman.

Among US allies in the region, namely the GCC states play a key role in countering Iran. The United States has formal agreements on cooperation in the field of defense (DCA) with Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE, the access agreement with Oman and memoranda of understanding with Saudi Arabia. All these agreements aimed at Iran. In February 2010, the then Secretary of StateHillary ClintonIt raised the issue of possible expansion of the American "security umbrella" for the GCC countries.

Strategic partnership between the US and the Gulf countries, including the "US Strategic Dialogue-GCC", was launched in March 2012. In passing, US arms sales to the Gulf countries improved the air and sea potential of the GCC countries and their interaction with US forces, as well as security at the border and at sea. With the exception of the case with Bahrain after 2011, the US approved almost all applications for the purchase of modern US weapons by the GCC states, including the latest weapons such as fourth-generation combat aircraft, high-precision combat ammunition, warships, radar systems, communications and command and control systems at the tactical level on the battlefield.

The US is trying to consider GCC countries as a single military-political bloc. Nevertheless, suspicions and disagreements between the countries of the Persian Gulf slow implementation of this concept. After 2012 years on each of the GCC summit participants supported the proposal of Saudi Arabia to the formation of a unified command structure of the armed forces of the GCC. However, for the execution of this decision, nothing is done. Apparently, in the GCC can not think of a direct military conflict with Iran without US participation in it.

When considering the military development of the GCC is not difficult to see that it proceeds on the basis that the GCC countries collectively, as a military unit must exceed Iran. In addition, separately and Saudi Arabia without its allies in the GCC should be militarily superior to Iran by major weapons.

Next, we present performance of the armed forces of the GCC, including Saudi Arabia, and in brackets next to give a figure for Saudi Arabia alone.

The total number of armed forces of the GCC countries: 366 thousand (including 225 thousand for Saudi Arabia);

The Army and National Guard: 270 thousand (Saudi Arabia 175 thousand);

Tanks: 1733 units (600);

Armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles: 6418 (3011);

Artillery: 2043 (771);

Air defense weapons: 2155 (1805);


Number: 25 thousand (13,5 thousand);

Frigate: 11 (7);

Subs: 2;

Patrol boats 409 (83);

Amphibious ships: 13 (8);

Air force

Number: 35 thousand (20 thousand);

Fighter-bomber: 498 (261);

Attack helicopters: 89

By the number of advanced weapons GCC clearly superior to Iran. However, the combat value of the armed forces of the GCC, and their ability to conduct offensive operations today remains an unknown quantity. US experts often cast doubt on the level of training and experience of the armed forces of the Gulf, as well as the extent to which they depend in personnel terms of Pakistanis and other Arabs serving in the armies of the GCC on the contract.

Similarly, should look at the Iranian armed forces. In the recent past they had combat experience of the Iran-Iraq war, 1980-1987 years, which, however, there were few positive points in the operational art. Iran-Iraq war has turned into a long-term position bloody conflict without crushing the enemy.

The total strength of the armed forces and the security forces of Iran is about 475 thousand. A feature of the "revolutionary military construction" of Iran was the division of its armed forces into the armed forces themselves and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The latter are the guarantor of the "Islamic revolution" and its values ​​in Iran. The IRGC has become a key organization for maintaining internal security. But at the same time, for example, Iran's missile programs are exclusively run by the IRGC. In November 2009, the reconnaissance units of the IRGC received powers superior to those of the intelligence service of Iran. The Special Operations Division of the IRGC-Quds has approximately 10-15 thousand people who advise, support and organize arms transfers to pro-Iranian political factions or leaders in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, the Gulf States, Gaza and the West Bank, Afghanistan and Central Asia. IRGC is also increasingly involved in the Iranian economy under the sanctions, acting through a network of contracting enterprises that it created.

Regular ground forces of Iran are about 350 thousand people. IRGC ground - about 100 thousand people. IRGC naval fleet is about 20 thousand people. A regular Navy - about 18 thousand people. Regular Air Force has about 30 thousand soldiers. Security forces in the order of 40-60 thousand law enforcement officers. 600 thousand Iranians is a volunteer militia "Basij". "Basij" controlled IRGC permeates virtually all Iranian institutions.

Armed ground forces of Iran and the IRGC is about 1650 tanks, including T-480 72 Russian production.

Fleet comprises 4 corvettes, patrol boats 18 Chinese production controlled IRIS several hundred small boats. 3 has a Russian-built submarine boat class "Kilo", consisting in the Navy. In addition, Iran has several small submarines, possibly acquired from North Korea. These boats are in service with the Navy of the IRGC.

Iran's Air Force are armed units 330 aircraft and helicopters, including MiG-25 29 30 and 24-Su. Armed with the shah's era still consist American F-4, F-5 and F-14, the fighting capacity of which is in doubt.

Russia delivered to Iran in January 2007 30, the anti-aircraft missile complexes 9K331 "Tor M1" totaling over $ 1 billion.

Iranian Defense MinisterHossein dehgansvisited Moscow in February 2016 and discussed the prospect of acquiring new conventional weapons worth $ 8 billion, including T-90 tanks, Su-30 aircraft, attack helicopters, anti-ship missiles, frigates and submarines. The sale of most conventional weapons to Iran was banned by the UN resolution 1929. The Iranian defense budget is about 3% of GDP, or about $ 15 billion. In arms supplies, Iran cooperates with Russia, China, Ukraine, Belarus and North Korea. The case in August 2016, when Russian bombers were allowed to use the Iranian airbase in Hamadan to attack Syria, was the first when the Islamic Republic allowed foreign military use of Iran's military facilities.

In the military confrontation between Iran and the United States, there is a strategically sensitive moment. Iran has an 1800-kilometer coastline in the Persian Gulf and the Omani Gulf of the Indian Ocean. The Iranian fleet, like the rest of its armed forces, is divided into two parts. In connection with this division, the IRGC naval forces and Iran's regular naval forces (IRIN) have different zones of responsibility. The Iranian Navy has the Gulf of Oman, and the IRS of the IRGC has the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. This testifies to the essential nuances of naval planning in Iran in the event of a major military conflict in the Persian Gulf zone. Naval Forces of the IRIS with their mosquito fleet are intended for mining and blockade of the Strait of Hormuz. US and GCC officials view Iran as the only real threat to the free flow of oil from the Persian Gulf to foreign markets. The Iranian government has repeatedly warned that in case of aggression against Iran, the latter will block the Strait of Hormuz, through which currently swims in tankers about 17 million barrels of oil. This amounts to 35% of the total oil transported by the sea and 20% of all oil sold worldwide.

At the end of the year 2016 the rebels in Yemen in the Strait of Bab el Mandeb struck warship UAE Iranian anti-ship missile. Deliveries Iranian anti-ship missiles to the rebels in Yemen Huthis were perceived as an attempt to Tehran to project military power to another key point - the Strait of Bab el Mandeb at the approaches to the Suez Canal. In January 2014, Iran for the first time in its history, sent several warships in the Atlantic Ocean, to show the flag.

Trump's new presidential administration has not yet been formulated, it will respond to demonstrated naval maneuvers of Iran in the Persian Gulf.

Another sensitive point counter Iran by the US and its allies, Syria remains. In late August, a special office 2016 UN special envoy in SyriaSteffan de MisturaHe said the Ambassador of Iran appreciated the assistance of Syria, including military and economic, totaling approximately $ 6 billion a year. Iran provides Syria additional credit lines for the purchase of Iranian goods. In Syria, Iran believes PresidentBashar al-Assadits key ally, despite the secular ideology of the Syrian regime. Hostile forces Iran indicate that this tendency is due to the dominance when Assad Alawite community, which allegedly practiced version of Islam, Shiism close. Iran, apparently afraid that the "Islamic State" and other Sunni Islamic extremists come to power if the current Federal authorities in Damascus falls. Assad's regime for many years was a close ally of Iran in the Arab world.

Another point. The Iranian presence in Syria is linked to the struggle with Israel and the support of Lebanese Hezbollah. Tel-Aviv is especially fond of this factor. In the case of a peaceful settlement in Syria, Iran will almost certainly seek to continue using Syria to supply and protect Hezbollah, which is in exhausting confrontation with Israel. Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei has repeatedly identified Israel as a "cancer tumor", which should be removed from the region. In his September 2015 speech, Khamenei stated that, most likely, Israel would not exist in 25 years. Khamenei's deadline for Israel coincides with the end of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Running placement of the regular armed forces of Iran in Syria is important, because in the modern period, they were never deployed outside the borders of Iran. In addition, since the end of 2015, Iran has significantly increased its direct military cooperation with Russia in Syria.

Apparently, it is the continuing presence of Iran in Syria and Israel, a negative position on this issue make a new presidential administration Trump look for opportunities to review the previous American policy towards Iran. During the presidential election campaign in the United States in 2016, the then candidate Trump was very critical of in relation to the "advanced Obama" a comprehensive Joint Action Plan of the INP. February 1 2017, the new administration in the form of statements by then-national security adviserMichael Flynnwarned Iran in connection with the ongoing testing of ballistic missiles and "malicious" regional activities. However, representatives of the National Security Council explained then that any US response would be separated from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. True, further President Trump warned that "all options remain open" to respond to the tests of Iranian ballistic missiles and the "malicious actions" of Iran. The threats of the Trump administration to Iran in February of the year 2017 and the subsequent diplomatic contacts with the Saudis suggest that the US and Trampe are inclined to deepen their defense ties with the GCC states.

19 2017 April, the US Secretary of StateRex TillersonHe said that the review of relations with Iran, which he announced a day earlier in a letter to Congress, will cover not only the nuclear deal, but also Iran's actions in the Middle East. Tillerson accused Iran of undermining US interests in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen. However, it is unclear what specific action against Iran could take the United States. After the unilateral US withdrawal from the agreement on the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan will not mean the automatic restoration of the regime of international sanctions against Iran.

For the entire 2016 year, US experts discussed whether the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan could change Iran's national security policy, and if so, in what way and in what direction. On the one hand, it was recognized that the exemption from sanctions would increase Iran's financial capabilities to support regional allies and proxies. On the other hand, Iran has also received an incentive to avoid actions that could provoke new sanctions. Since the beginning of 2017, Iran has obviously sought to ease tensions in relations with the GCC countries, using the mediation of Kuwait and Oman. In this regard, it is unclear how the latest American threats can affect the relationship in the Iranian leadership. The possible defeat of Roukhani in the presidential election of 19 May 2017 may lead to the fact that the positions of the "reformists" in the Iranian leadership will be shaken, and the new Iranian government will become less committed to the principles of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. On the other hand, Washington hopes for the case, that is, for the rapid and "sudden" withdrawal from the political arena of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, which can dramatically change Iran's foreign policy, depending on its successor.

And because all of these turns are problematic, then the United States, in addition to threats against Iran, is one way - the extension or the institutionalization of a coalition of Sunni Arab states that can succeed in proxy conflicts in the victory over the movements and governments, supported by Iran. Consequently, conflicts in Yemen, Syria, and Iraq must continue, and Iran is not afraid of this form of confrontation.

A source: EADaily

Tags: Iran, USA, Middle East, Politics, Research, Israel, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, nuclear weapons, Syria, missile defense, war in the Middle East, Army