War options with Iran

Confrontation fronts with Iran and its major allies have increased. The ballistic missile, which the Houthis launched on the Saudi capital, is a dangerous military development that cannot be separated from the regional conflict with Iran in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.

Diplomatic means have failed due to the Iranians’ continuous rejection to pull out their forces and militias from Syria. They have previously refused to exit Iraq where they militarily operate, and the last battle they’ve led is their march towards the Kurdistan Region.

Iran manages battles from afar in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. The region’s countries and the US have failed at adopting a strategy that suits Iran’s strategy of expanding and controlling areas via its agents.

The Americans who paid a high price due to Hezbollah’s violent activities and assassinations settled with confronting the agent itself by kidnapping or assassinating party leaders or men involved in it. Meanwhile, Egypt and the Gulf settled with politically and economically restraining Hezbollah.

Two scenarios

Iran thus forces rivals to adopt one of two policies: directly confront the source itself, which is the Iranian regime, or create regional proxies and engage in proxy wars. It is unlikely for the first option, i.e. a war with Iran, to happen unless in the case of defending oneself if Iran launches a direct armed attack.

However the latter scenario does not match Tehran’s approach in managing its crises as even when Iran lost eight diplomats and others in an ambush by Taliban in Mazar-i-Sharif in Afghanistan in the end of 1990’s, it did not engage in a war there but it patiently and persistently established local militias there.

The option of a direct military confrontation with Iran is something that no one wants. After eliminating this option, it seems the only approach would be strengthening local militias in countries witnessing unrest

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Despite the clear Iranian domination in arenas like Iraq, the Iraqi army cannot confront armed local powers in support of Iran considering the diversity of political leaders and Iran’s dominant influence. It’s clear that Iran has a major role in directing Iraqi forces, the Popular Mobilization in particular, to eliminate the Kurdish presence in Kirkuk and other areas.

It is an important regional battle, and not just an important Iraqi one. This does not absolve the Kurds from the fact that they committed major political and military mistakes in the crisis as a result of the independence referendum. The Iranians exploited these mistakes to march to vital areas that are significant for their strategic location or because they are rich in oil.

Countries will have no choice but resort to achieving balance via conflicts between militias. Syria is now entering the phase of arranging governance and controlling the situation on the ground. Iranian militias are executing a lot of people in areas they control.

Most of these areas opposed the regime in the past. The aim is to be in control of security considering the Syrian regime does not have enough military and security capabilities to impose its influence.

A massive project

Amid these circumstances, regional countries will realize they are confronting a massive Iranian project that uses Syria to control Syria itself, Iraq, Lebanon and areas beyond these borders. In response to this policy, there is no means to get Iran out or weaken it no matter how much the Russians or the Syrian regime promise otherwise. In this case, Syria is expected to transform into a state of militias.

For the Iranians, the proxy policy is profitable as they view their investment in Hezbollah, which has been their most expensive and longest project as it costs them around $700 million a year, as an advanced army. Their proxies in Yemen, i.e. the Houthis, cost less as the fighter there only costs $2 a week.

ANALYSIS: New US policy pushes Iranian regime to the brink

Confrontations are expanding with Iran’s expansion and amid the absence of a deterrent. They have become more dangerous as they have succeeded in weakening the Hariri camp in Lebanon and in strengthening the Houthis’ missiles’ capabilities which threaten the heart of Saudi Arabia.

The option of a direct military confrontation with Iran is something that no one wants. After eliminating this option, it seems the only approach would be strengthening local militias in countries witnessing unrest.

This article is also available in Arabic.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed.

Last Update: Tuesday, 7 November 2017 KSA 09:25 - GMT 06:25
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.

Send to a friend

War options with Iran
Friend's name:
Friend's Email:
Sender's name:
Sender's Email:
Captcha Code
How are we doing?

How are we doing?

Name Name *
Email Email *
Country Country
Message Message *
Maximum 550 words allowed