Iran War: Tracking the Threat of War with Iran

 

 

Iran Flag

Iran Flag

 

For the past several years, the possibility of a war involving Iran against one or more Western nations (plus Israel) has remained within the realm of possibility. Iran's quest for nuclear power, and, many experts believe, a goal of acquiring nuclear weapons, has worried many nations.

Who would go to war with Iran, and why? Here is a look at several nations that may go to war with Iran in the near future:

The United States and its traditional allies (Britain, France, Germany, etc.) are increasingly worried about a nuclear Iran, especially given the tense relationship Iran has with most Western nations since the Iranian Revolution of the late 1970s. Ever since President Bush declared that Iran was part of an "Axis of Evil," the threat of conflict increased. Many believe that the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States has increased the risk of war between Iran and the U.S.

Israel, which is the world's only Jewish majority nation, has a long history of conflict with the Muslim world, and the leaders of Iran since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, has made acted belligently toward Israel and the Jewish people, and Iranian politicians frequenlty state that they believe Israel should exist. In addition, Iran strongly supports impacable Israeli foes such as Hezbollah and Hamas, and are a very important supporter of the Assad regime in neighboring Syria througout the bloody Syrian Civil War.

 

Conservative Arab nations, such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf States. While it is very unlikely that any of the Arab nations would attack Iran, they may very well aid and abet any attack by the West and/or Israel. Historically Persian Iran has been in conflict with the Arab-speaking nations. This is partly due to the fact that Iran is dominated by the Shiite sect of Islam, while most Arab nations are controlled by the majority Sunni sect of Islam. The Saudis and other minor Sunni states have engaged in proxy wars with Iran in Syria, Yemen, and Iraq over the past several years.

Below are new accounts related to the tensions between Iran and other nations that may lead to the feared Iran War.

Ongoing Ethnic Unrest:

Iran is far from a homogenous nation. The Islamic Republic has many ethnic and religious minority groups, and many of them chafe under Tehran's rule. The Baluchis of southeastern Iran (like their ethnic kin across the border in Pakistani Baluchistan), want freedom from the central government, and are conducting a guerrilla/terrorist war to achieve their goals.

Iran's ethnic and political unrest escalated on October 17, 2009, with a suicide bombing that killed at least five commanders of Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. The bombings also killed and wounded dozens of others left dead and injured in two the restive Baluchi region of near Iran's southeastern frontier with Pakistan.

The coordinated suicide bomb attacks mark an escalation in hostilities between Iran's leadership and one of the nation's many restive ethnic and religious minorities, in this case the Baluchis. Many terrorist attacks, mostly directed at the Iranian military and at the Revolutionary Guard have plagued Iran's southeastern region, Sistan-Baluchistan, and in April the government put the elite but brutal Revolutionary Guards Corps in control of security in the Baluchi region in an effort to stop the escalating violence.

Iran, predictably, has accused its foreign enemies of supporting the insurgents in the past, and repeated that charge the day after the latest attack. By midday, news reports from Iran said that 31 people were killed and at least 28 injured.

Iranian Weapons to Hezbollah

In early November, 2009, Israeli forces seized a cargo ship containing large amounts of weapons supplied by Iran to arm Israel's Lebanese enemies, Hezbollah. Israel and Hezbollah fought a month-long war in the summer of 2006.

Iranian War Games

Iran held war games in late November, 2009, claiming that these military exercises were preparation to repel a possible Israeli attack. Iran's war games caused a slight increase in world oil prices, as many analysts saw the exercises and the accompanying Iranian propaganda as inflaming the situation.

2010

Two recent developments in particular shows that Israel is growing increasingly concerned. First, the Israeli cabinet decided to fund a program to provide gas masks to all Israelis. This is an obvious preparation for the possibility of missile attacks on Israel from Iran and/or Iranian allies Hamas, Hezbollah, and Syria.

Second, on January 12, 2010, a leading Iranian nuclear scientist was assassinated by a remote-controlled bomb in Tehran. It is widely assumed that Israel is behind this killing in an apparent attempt to delay the Iranian nuclear program.

In late January, 2010, news media reported that the U.S. was quietly upgrading defensive missile systems, including Patriot missiles, in the waters of the Gulf, as well on the territory of several allied Arab nations. This move was due to clear concern about tensions with Iran and the deteriorating state of talks on the nuclear issue.

Israeli Drone Fleet

In late February, 2010, Israel unveiled a new potential weapon in its growing arsenal. The Heron TP, which is a second-generation Israeli-manufactured pilotless aerial drone capable of staying in the air for 20 hours, and with a range that can take it into the skies over Iran.

The drone is believed to have seen action in the recent Gaza War.

Iranian plane buzzes the USS Eisenhower

On April 21, 2010, an Iranian navy Fokker F27 turboprop reconnaissance plane flew to within 1,000 feet of the American aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower in the Gulf of Oman. This flyby occurred toward the beginning of Iran's military exercises in the Gulf. This encounter came as the rhetoric between the U.S. and Israel, on one side, and Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah on the other side, began to heat up over several issues. Perhaps the potentially most dangerous point of contention is the alleged transfer of powerful new Scud missiles from Syria.

Iranian navy plane flies near USS Eisenhower in Gulf of Oman--CNN, April 28, 2010

Russia to supply fuel rods for Iranian nuclear reactor at Bushehr

Russian sources associated with that nation's assistance program with Iran's nuclear program announced that by August 21, 2010, the fuel rods necessary to power the Bushehr nuclear reactor will be installed. Some analysts, such as John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., believe that announcement creates a deadline by which Israel will attack the Bushehr reactor. According to Bolton, an Israeli strike at the Iranian reactor must come before the nuclear material is installed, otherwise, an attack could spread radioactive material throughout parts of the Middle East.

Also, in August, 2010, an article was published by The Atlantic magazine which presents facts and opinions on the possibility of an Israeli strike at Iran. The Atlantic article concludes that there is a 50 percent likelihood that Israel will strike the Iranian nuclear program by July, 2011.

On August 21, 2010, Iran, with Russian aid, began inserting the fuel rods into the Bushehr reactor. Some analysts believed that Israel would not risk an attack after August 21 for because of the risk of serious nuclear contamination throughout the Gulf region if the reactor were to be destroyed. However, other analysts see evidence of war preparations by Israel, Syria, and Iran. Clues these analysts see include:

--Ongoing publicity and concern in Israel over the Gallant Scandal, which some Arab sources see as a smokescreen to deflect attention away from war preparations by Israel.

--The presence of Iranian Revolutionary Guards chief Gen. Mohamed Ali Jafari in Damascus, apparantly for discussions on coordinating Syrian, Hezbollah, and Iranian military responses to an Israeli strike.

--Statements made by Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas saying that direct peace talks with Israel were not in the likely because "a big military surprise awaits the Middle East."

 

 Sept. 26, 2010--Iran appears to be the victim of a concerted cyber-war attack through the so-called Stuxnet computer virus. This virus, though found in other countries, is concentrated in Iran, and is targeting industrial sites, in particular the controversial Bushehr nuclear plant. Analysts believe the virus to be the work of a "nation-state" with the resources to create and launch this complex virus. Obvious culprits include Israel and the United States.

Tags: Iran. Links: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/sep/26/iran-stuxnet-worm-nuclear

Sept. 26, 2010--Iranian forces crossed the border into northern Iraq to strike at a Kurdish Iranian rebel group in retaliation for a bombing inside Iran that killed 12 in a military parade in the town of Mahabad. Iran claimed to have killed 30 rebels on the Iraqi side of the border.

Tags: Iran, Iraq, Kurds. Links: http://warandconflictjournal.com/2010/09/iran-crosses-into-iraq-to-hit-rebels//

July, 2011--Former CIA officer Rober Baer says that Israel will attack Iran in September of 2011, prior to a Palestinian vote, citing former Mossad chief Meir Dagan's warnings of an Israeli attack on Iran as "no bluff." Dagan had warned that an Israeli attack on Iran would be foolish, and that it would start a war that would send thousands of Iranian and Hezbollah missiles at Israel.

December, 2011

Amid heightened war tensions, Iran announced the capture of an American Drone over Iranian skies. When Iran provided video footage of an apparantly undamaged drone, speculation arose as to a possible Iranian cyber-attack on the drone (i.e. Iran hacked the code and/or communications of the drone to order it to land).

2011-Present

As the Syrian Civil War developed and grew, Iran increased aid to the embattled Assad regime, first with weapons, money, and training, but, by 2013, thousands of Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops were fighting inside Syria. Also, Iran supports Hezbollah, the Shiite Lebanese militia that also sent thousands of troops to fight for Assad. Iran also recruited foreign fighters from Shiite minority groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan, trained and armed them, and sent them to Syria to fight alongside the Syrian forces and the other Shiite forces.

Throughout the Syrian War, Israel has conducted a campaign of targeted air strikes on Iranian, Syrian, and Hezbollah forces and installations in Syria. The fear of the Israelis is that Iran is supplying Hezbollah with weaponry that can threaten Israel, and that they are using the chaos in Syria to establish bases near Israeli military positions.

2015-The Obama Administration reaches a deal with Iran on Iranian nuclear weapons development.

May, 2018-The Trump Administration backs the U.S. out of the Iran Nuclear Arms deal.

September, 2018-A rocket attack is made on the U.S. Consulate in Basra. The U.S. blames Iran and Iranian-backed Shiite forces in Iraq. Soon after, the U.S. closed its Basra consulate.

2019-Tensions rise in the Gulf region as the war of words between the U.S. and Iran heats up.

-The U.S. increases economic sanctions against Iran.

-Iranian military officials threatened that they had the ability to close the Gulf to all seaborne traffic (a threat to the movement of oil from the Gulf nations to the rest of the world).

May, 2019

Bahrain ordered its citizens out of Iraq and Iran due to tensions with Iran.

ExxonMobil evacuates staff from Basra.

American government sources indicate a fear that Iran has green-lighted their proxies in the region (in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere) to attack U.S. forces in the Middle East.

The U.S. ordered more aircraft carrier and other naval forces to the Gulf.

 

American Patriot anti-missile batteries were deployed to the Mid-East, along with B-52 bombers sent to bases in the Gulf States.

May 12-Four oil tankers are sabotaged at the UAE port of Fujairah. It should be noted that Fujairah is on the west coast of the United Arab Emirates, and that oil sent there via oil pipeline from the Gulf side of the UAE, circumvents the need to ship that oil through the dangerous Strait of Hormuz. It is believed that Iranian forces (or perhaps proxies) conducted the sabotage in response to the anti-Iran sanctions, and also to show that Iran could strike at oil shipments that did not go through Hormuz.

 

June, 2019

June 13-Two more oil tankers are attacked, this time with limpet mines that the U.S. says are of Iranian origin. The blame is put on Iran's Revolutionary Guard.

 

June 18-A rocket attack on an operations headquarters of several global major oil companies, including American oil firm, ExxonMobil, near the Iraqi city of Basra. This part of Iraq is near the Iranian border, and is largely inhabited by Shiite Iraqis and is dominated by pro-Iranian Shiite Iraqi militias. Three people were injured in the attack.

June 20-Iran shot down an American Global Hawk surveillance drone. The Global Hawk is packed with the latest technology, and costs about $210 million. Iran claims the drone was in Iranian air space, while the U.S. says it was over international waters. Regardless, the shooting down of the drone sharply escalated tensions between Iran and the United States. President Trump ordered retaliatory air strikes on Iran, but changed his mind about ten minutes before the attacks were to have taken place. Tensions remain high. However, there are reports that the United States Cyber Command (CyberCom) did launch cyber-attacks on Iranian spy groups and cyberwarfare units. For the past several months it was reported that Iranian cyber-attacks on U.S. government and industrial targets by Iranian hackers were increasing. Whether or not the U.S. and Iran have an actual military conflict, the ongoing cyber combat will likely continue.

 

July 2019

July 4-The UK seized an Iranian tanker at Gibraltar. The British claimed the tanker was on its way to Syria with a load of oil, in violation of sanctions on Syria.

 

July 11-The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is accused of harassing a British merchant vessel in the Persian Gulf. The presence of a British warship in the area is believed to have saved the ship from a possible takeover or attack.

 

July 13-The Panamanian-flagged oil tanker Riah, which is based in the UAE, disappeared from ship tracking systems after approaching Iranian waters. It is believed to have been seized by the IRGC.

 

July 15-Saudi forces find a remote-controlled ship, called a Blowfish, filled with explosives in the Red Sea, in the path of the oncoming UK destroyer, HMS Duncan. The Duncan was heading to the Gulf to reinforce the British naval presence there in the ongoing Iran crisis. It is believed that the “bomb boat” was placed there by the Yemeni Houthi Shiite group that is engaged in a civil war in Yemen. The Houthis are long-time allies of Iran.

 

 

Strait of Hormuz  and Fujairah-2019

Strait of Hormuz and Fujairah-2019 (from Google Maps-edited by Historyguy.com)

Recent Iranian Political and Military History:

1953-Military Coup overthrows anti-Western government in Iran. The coup was backed arranged by the U.S. and the UK

1979--Iranian Revolution-The pro-American Shah of Iran flees, and Ayatollah Khomeini sets up the Islamic Republic, which instutitued a strong Shiite Islamic regime

1979-1981--U.S.-Iran Hostage Crisis-Iran and the United States nearly went to war. From this date, America and Iran have considered each other to be enemies

1980-1988- Iran-Iraq War. Began with an Iraqi invasion of Iran in Sept. 1980

1987-1988-"Tanker War" with the United States

2009-2010- Unrest and civic protest due to allegations of fraud in Iranian Presidential Election

2011-Present-Iranian intervention in the Syrian Civil War.

2012-Increased tension with Israel and the United States over the Stuxnet computer virus attack, the assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists, and the terrorist attack on Israeli tourists in Bulgaria.

2014-Present-Iranian intervention in Yemen Civil War. Iran backs the Shiite Houthi forces, while a Saudi-led coalition has directly intervened in Yemen against the Houthis.


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