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memri
June 20, 2019 No.
8132

So Far, Iran's Policy Of Terror Attacks Is Successful

In recent weeks, Saudi and UAE targets, and most recently American targets, have been attacked by Iran and its proxies in the resistance front (see below).

During this time, the U.S. has taken conciliatory measures vis-à-vis Iran: delaying the entrance into the Persian Gulf of the aircraft carriers it had dispatched to the region, delaying the implementation of the sanctions on Iran's petrochemical industry, and the June 2, 2019 announcement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the U.S. was willing to negotiate with Iran without the preconditions that he had previously released.

These conciliatory U.S. measures have been presented by Iran as shows of weakness. For example, the delay in dispatching the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf was described by Iranian President Hassan Rohani as follows: "The same enemy who up to a year ago declared 'my aim is to destroy the regime of the Islamic Republic [of Iran]' announced clearly today that it does not want to do a thing against the [Iranian] regime. The same enemy who up to a few months ago stated that it is the greatest military power in the world, and that if it wanted it could break Iran's armed forces, announced today that it has no intention of fighting. Up to a few months ago, the Persian Gulf was a place where its aircraft carriers sailed freely, but today nothing is heard from its navy, and it has anchored in international waters, 300 and 400 miles [from the Persian Gulf]."[1]

On June 2, 2019, Gen. Yahya Safavi, advisor and aide to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and former commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), said: "America is only boasting politically and militarily, and in fact two weeks ago it began to retreat. We are ready for war. Today we are the superpower in the Middle East."[2]

Even after U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton's announcement, on May 5, 2019, that "[a]ny attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force" and that "[t]he United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or regular Iranian forces,"[3] Iran has continued to carry out attacks in the region against the U.S. and its allies.

The following are Iran's main operations against the U.S.'s and its allies' forces in the region:

  • May 12, 2019: Iran attacked four oil tankers at Fujairah port in the Gulf of Oman, near the Strait of Hormuz.[4]
  • May 14, 2019: The Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen used weaponized drones to strike strategic oil pipelines at Yanbu in Saudi Arabia.[5]
  • May 19, 2019: A rocket landed near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad's Green Zone.
  • May 20, 2019: Two Houthi missiles aimed at Mecca were intercepted above Jeddah and Taif in Saudi Arabia.[6]
  • May 31, 2019: Four American service members were wounded by a car bomb in Afghanistan; four Afghan civilians were killed and others were wounded.[7]
  • June 5, 2019: Houthi spokesman Yahya Saria announced that 20 Saudi outposts on the Saudi-Yemen border had been attacked and taken over.[8]
  • June 9, 2019: The Houthis announced that they had attacked Jizan airport in Saudi Arabia using drones.[9]
  • June 12, 2019: The Houthis announced that they had attacked Abha civilian airport in Saudi Arabia, 200 km from the Saudi-Yemen border, with a cruise missile, wounding 26.[10]
  • June 13, 2019; Iran attacked a Japanese and a Norwegian oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman, during a Tehran visit by Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo.
  • June 15, 2019: Mortar bombs were fired at Balad Airbase in northern Baghdad, where U.S. troops are stationed; Katyusha rockets were fired at the Al-Jadriya neighborhood in central Baghdad, near the U.S. Embassy; a missile was fired at another base near Baghdad's international airport.[11]
  • June 17 and 19, 2019: Saudi Arabia announced that it had intercepted Houthi drones en route to it.[12]
  • June 18, 2019: Two mortar bombs were fired at Al-Taji base in northern Baghdad, where U.S. troops are stationed.[13]
  • June 19, 2019: A Katyusha rocket was fired at the Presidential Palace complex in Mosul, northern Iraq; U.S. military advisors are stationed in the complex.[14]
  • June 19, 2019: A Katyusha rocket was fired at the complexes of the ExxonMobil, Shell, and Eni SpA oil companies in Basra, southern Iraq.[15]
  • June 19, 2019: The Houthis fired a cruise missile at the water desalination facility in Al-Shaqiq in the southern Saudi province of Jazan.[16]

Despite all this, U.S. President Trump is maintaining his policy of not responding to Iranian aggression, while publicly accusing Iran of carrying out attacks and reiterating that he "does not want war" with Iran.[17] 

The Iranian interpretation of the U.S. moves as weakness has led Iran to escalate its provocations of the Americans, to the point of shooting down a U.S. MC-4Q Triton drone above the Persian Gulf today. Although it was brought down over international waters, Gen. Hossein Salami, commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), said that it had been downed because it had crossed into Iranian airspace, and called the interception "a message" to the U.S. He said: "The guardians of Iran's borders will respond forcefully to any foreign attack on this soil. The borders are our red line. Any enemy who attacks these borders will not return [home]. We hereby declare: We have no war with any state, but we are ready for war, and today's incident was a clear message. The enemies must... respect the sovereignty, the national security, and the interests of the Iranian people."[18]


IRGC commander Salami (Source: Tasnimnews.com, June 20, 2019)

In Iran's assessment, President Trump will not dare to act against it since war with Iran will ensure that he will not be reelected. Therefore, it can use force without fear, because Trump has no option but to submit to its demands.

In this matter, see for example, statements by Hosssein Sheikh Al-Islam, advisor to the foreign minister and former Iranian ambassador to Syria, who said on May 15, 2019 that "Trump wants to do something so that he is reelected" but that he knows that "if he participates in funerals of U.S. soldiers in Washington he certainly will not be reelected. We will respond to every attack, and Trump will have casualties, and he will have to bring them back to America." Sheikh Al-Islam added that the memory of U.S. President Jimmy Carter's failed 1980 hostage rescue attempt "at Tabas, and the charred corpses of the American soldiers there, are [still] standing before Trump.".[19]

Sheikh Al-Islam also said, on April 10, 2019, that "any clash in the Persian Gulf will increase the price of oil, and this will make Trump lose the reelection."[20]

[1] President.ir/fa, June 1, 2019.

[2] Farsnews.com, June 2, 2019.

[3] Whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/statement-national-security-advisor-ambassador-john-bolton-2, May 5, 2019.

[4] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 8062, Editors Of Iranian IRGC-Affiliated Newspapers: Iran Is Behind Fujairah And Yanbu Attacks; Possibility Of Additional Attacks In Red Sea, Golan Heights, May 14, 2019.

[5] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 8062, Editors Of Iranian IRGC-Affiliated Newspapers: Iran Is Behind Fujairah And Yanbu Attacks; Possibility Of Additional Attacks In Red Sea, Golan Heights, May 14, 2019. ]

[6] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), May 21, 2019.

[7] Whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/statement-national-security-advisor-ambassador-john-bolton-2, May 5, 2019.

[8] Almasirah.net, June 5, 2019.

[9] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), May 21, 2019.

[10] Almasirah.net, June 5, 2019.

[11] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), June 15, 2019.

[12] 'Okaz (Saudi Arabia), June 18, 2019; Al-Jazirah (Saudi Arabia), June 20, 2019.

[13] Farsnews.com, June 18, 2019.

[14] Farsnews.com, June 19, 2019.

[15] Farsnews.com, June 19, 2019.

[16] Alriyadh.com, June 20, 2019.

[17] Thehill.com/policy/defense/449109-pompeo-at-centcom-trump-does-not-want-war, June 18, 2019.

[18] Tasnim (Iran), June 20, 2019.

[19] Operation Eagle's Claw, known in Iran as Operation Tabas, in April 1980, was aimed at rescuing the 58 American hostages being held in the U.S. Embassy in Tehran following the November 4, 1979 takeover of the embassy. The operation's failure was a major element in the failure of Carter's reelection campaign. Tasnimnews, May 13, 2019.

[20] Tasnimnews, April 10, 2019.