Publications of experts CACDS - Southern Caucasus

Rauf Radjabov: "Iran is on the verge of a military confrontation with the United States"

The American-Iranian confrontation enters a new phase. The scenario preceding the US invasion of Iraq in March 2003 of the year is de facto repeated. US President Donald Trump aims to change power in Tehran. 16 August 2018 State Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the formation of a so-called "Iran Action Groups" (IAG) to coordinate and pursue Washington's rigorous policy towards the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI). Earlier in July 2017, John Bolton (now Assistant D. Trump on National Security), speaking to the delegates of the National Council of Iranian Resistance in Paris, said that D.Tramp should focus on the change of regime in the IRI and that by 2019, Iranian oppositionists will celebrate victory in teheran

At present the administration of the President of the United States, D.Tramp, in relation to the IRI uses a combined approach of external military-political and economic pressure. At the beginning of his presidency, Dr Thrum visited Riyadh, showing Middle Eastern and Middle Eastern countries that his policy will be concentrated on the Sunni part of the Muslim world, the leader of which is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), and is directed against the Shiite world, the leader. which is the IRI. Moreover, Washington has repeatedly stated its desire to conclude a new deal with Tehran and also meet with the leadership of the IRI, provided that the initiative will come from the Iranian side.

Probable scenario of the development of events

The administration of D.Tramp aims, at a minimum, to reduce the influence and military-political presence of the IRI in the entire Middle East region, and to the maximum, the change of regime in Tehran. Therefore, the US foreign policy is aimed at strengthening the confrontation with the IRI, since In the case of obtaining Tehran access to missile and nuclear developments, the IRI will become invulnerable to Washington's logic in the face of the threat of a US military option.

And in order to prevent the transition of Tehran to a state of invulnerability, Trump is ready to use force against the IRI. At that Washington, on the back of squeezing out IRI from the Syrian Arab Republic (SAD) and Iraq, takes into account the following factors: first, the Shiite Axis is confidently controlling TVDs in SAD and Iraq. Consequently, extrusion of IRI from the Middle East region will require additional military efforts by the Allies of the United States. Secondly, a military operation against the Islamic Republic of Iran should also cover non-state entities of the Shiite axis.

Under the aforementioned strategy, the United States and its allies are interested in a social blast in a tightening of economic sanctions in the IRI, and the country's population replaced Tehran's power without external intervention. Indeed, in the IRI there is a difficult socio-economic situation: from 2008 to 2018. incomes of Iranian families decreased by 15% -20%; the third of the 80-million population of the IRI lives below the poverty line; youth unemployment is 40%; there is a rise in prices and a decrease in pension payments.

But US calculations for a regime change in Tehran and the collapse of the economic potential of the IRI are not yet justified. The Iranian economy, under the conditions of high volatility of world oil prices, is not threatened by insurmountable difficulties. IRI's opportunities for trade with a wide range of countries are preserved.

If power in Tehran is to be replaced, then the arrival of a moderate president, Hassan Rookhani, is likely to be a conservative party. It is logical that in the IRI there is an increase in conservatives and opponents of the agreement with the United States. Although, according to Kh. Rouhani, Tehran can begin talks with Washington if sanctions against Iran are lifted.

In an environment surrounded by H. Ruhani, they realize that the hard rhetoric of the conservatives towards the US only strengthens the position of D.Tramp and the opponents of the nuclear deal in both houses of the US Congress. Even the Democrats are against the development of the Iranian missile program; violations of human rights in the IRI; Iranian sponsorship of the Hezbollah Lebanese movement, the Hamas Palestinian group, Husayts in Yemen, despite the commitment to the Joint All-inclusive Action Plan (SPS). The hypothetical actions of Tehran, like the blockade of the Strait of Hormuz, only lead to the start of a military campaign by the United States and their allies against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Especially since the US Navy and its allies are prepared to provide freedom of navigation in accordance with international maritime law.

The United States has not yet been massively hit by Iran's presence in SAD, Iraq, and Lebanon because of the prospect of a backlash from Tehran. In the radius of defeat of Iranian ballistic missiles (up to 2 thousands of km), not only US military bases and objects fall into the Persian Gulf, but also the territory of Israel, the KSA, the UAE and Jordan.

Therefore, the United States is trying to create an alliance with the Arab countries against the Islamic Republic of Iran. However, serious disagreement among the Gulf states should be taken into account. Qatar has already stated that it will not participate in the attack on the IRI, and Oman has taken a neutral position. In recent years, the IRI and Qatar have been supporting allied relations in the face of confrontation with the KSA and the countries that are part of the coalition headed by it. It is precisely the strengthening of the influence and support of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its supporting Qatar because of the tougher position of the Hamas movement, which it occupies with respect to Israel. By the way, Qatar and Kuwait signed an agreement on military cooperation with Turkey, since are more afraid of CSA than IRI.

However, after a recent assessment of the effectiveness of US sanctions policy against the IR in the administration of D.Tramp, he is increasingly inclined to conduct a military campaign against Tehran. The administration of D.Tramp came to the conclusion that the US "maximum pressure" campaign on the IRI did not achieve any of the goals set: to force Tehran to re-engage in the SFOR; change the Iranian politics in the Middle East. Although US sanctions seriously damaged the IRI's economy, Tehran has bypassed this format of American pressure. And since economic sanctions are imposed unilaterally by Washington, some countries in Europe, Asia, as well as the Russian Federation, the People's Republic of China, and Turkey are looking for ways to bypass them.

Against this backdrop, despite the fact that in recent years Israel has undertaken a series of hostilities against Iran's infrastructure in SAD, Tehran does not refuse its presence here. Moreover, Tehran is able to compensate for all of its ATS and the destroyed Israeli military equipment in a very fast and high volume. Military transport aviation, for which the Iraqi sky is open, can do it in a few hours. In addition, Tehran simultaneously strengthens and broadens the military-political presence of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Iraq, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, to threaten the United States and Israel from there. The main sources of concern for Israel are: Iran's project to convert low-precision missiles to high-precision missiles; Iranian supplies to the Hezbollah movement of long-range missiles and improvement of its air defense.

In other words In the case of the United States of America, the so-called North Korean scenario, which in case of Tehran is unlikely to work. Tehran's compliance with the "five" agreement on the USSR, the creation of a mechanism to circumvent the US sanctions, export Iranian oil to the PRC and other countries - indicate that pressure on the EU, the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China will have to be strengthened for the economic weakening of the Islamic Republic of Iran. But, given that the US is already conducting "trade wars" simultaneously with China, the EU, the Russian Federation and the Islamic Republic of Iran, Tehran maintains socio-political and socioeconomic stability.

It is hardly possible to rely on the overthrow of power in Teheran as a result of student appearances. The majority of the population of the Islamic Republic of Iran supports the government, and the pro-Western intelligentsia is a minority. The hopes and betrayal of part of the Iranian general will not be justified. Unlike Libya and Iraq, the military elite in the Islamic Republic of Iran is devoted to the Iranian clergy. There are actually two armies in the Islamic Republic of Iran, namely the Sun and the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (KSIR), which also includes all types of armed forces and very militant units.

It should also be borne in mind that the IRI is preparing for a long-term program of complementary comprehensive measures to confront both attempts to organize mass demonstrations and attempts to undermine the integrity and stability of Iranian society. Moreover, during the years of isolation and sanctions Tehran has developed and implemented a multifactorial economic system, and today the economy of IRI only on 20% depends on external influences. For example, the ban on using the US dollar on the domestic market, Tehran offset the conversion of the rill to the euro, the Turkish lira and the Russian ruble.

However, the high dependence of the Iranian economy on oil exports against the backdrop of an American strike in this area can be very sensitive to Tehran with all the ensuing consequences.


First, the if Tehran withdraws from the agreement, Washington will announce the legitimate right to attack the IRI. Therefore, Tehran will not leave the SVPD. The FRG, France and the United Kingdom ignore the threats of Washington, which has promised that transactions conducted through the EU-designated Special Purpose Financial Mechanism (SPV) for the IRI will also be the target of US sanctions. As a consequence of European policy on IRI, the pressure of the United States and its allies on Tehran is broadly weakened, because the Iranian side receives an opportunity for political and diplomatic maneuvering. For Tehran this is a good opportunity to get additional investment and markets in Europe.

In the event of further degradation of the conditions of the SVPD, Tehran can also refuse it. Tehran fears that, under pressure from the United States, EU member states and a number of other countries will cut their purchases of Iranian oil. Europe is the second trade and economic partner of the IRI after the PRC. European countries buy 40% of oil exported by Tehran. In this case, in the region of the Middle East with the only unofficial nuclear power, Israel, the process of uncontrolled development of nuclear programs will start not only from the IRI, but also by the KSA, Egypt and a number of other countries. Therefore, much depends on the EU and the position of European countries regarding economic sanctions against the IRI and the implementation of the military scenario.

Second, the tightening of anti-Iranian sanctions is hardly possible today, since The United States does not yet have broad support from the international community. Therefore, the United States was faced with a choice: either to independently build up anti-Iranian sanctions, or to increase the number of US troops in the region, which ultimately would lead to a direct encounter with the Iranian military and its allies, or to form a broad anti-Iranian coalition. Moreover, the United States is actually engaged in hostilities in the three countries: the IRA, Iraq and SAD. At the same time in Washington, it is taken into account that the military forces of the pro-Russian forces are assisted by the Russian Federation, as well as members of the "Shiite axis" - Damascus, Lebanese Hezbollah, and pro-Iranian groups of SAD and Iraq.

Third, The United States will strive to achieve the signing of a US-European treaty. Washington's resumption of the sanction regime against the IRI is not in a position to radically change the situation around Tehran, since The United States does not have enough support from the international community. The EU has said that Brussels will comply with the nuclear agreement with the IRI until Tehran continues to meet its conditions. In addition, Brussels is trying to create a special mechanism for paying settlements with Tehran. This mechanism should bypass the trading system SWIFT and will facilitate the payment of transactions between the EU and the IRI, excluding US control. Against this backdrop, Tehran is busy with the solution to the complex economic challenges associated with the reanimation of the Iranian strategy of "Resistance Economics" due to new sanctions in the United States.

In the event of the victory of D.Tramp in the presidential election of 2020 of the year, a powerful solution to the Iranian question may be possible. Especially since US National Security Adviser D. Bolton in the 2018 year instructed the Pentagon to prepare a plan of hostilities against the IRI.

However, the main events ahead of the US and its coalition allies in Iran will unfold in Iraq. On the one hand, Tehran, through pro-Iranian political forces, will exert pressure on Washington to withdraw American troops from Iraq, and on the other, Washington intends to resist Baghdad's demand for the withdrawal of US troops. The loss of a military base in Iraq minimizes the US ability to squeeze IRI from Lebanon, SAD, Yemen, and Iraq.

Fourth, IRI neighbors - Azerbaijan, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Armenia, and military-political ally of official Tehran in the SAR-RF do not accept the power option against Tehran, because they are not interested in destabilizing the socio-political situation in a neighboring country against the backdrop of well-known events in Iraq, SAD, Libya, Afghanistan and Yemen. Obviously, the deterioration of the military-political situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran will, among other things, lead to an increase in Kurdish separatism in the Islamic Republic of Iran, which will only strengthen the positions of the Iraqi, Syrian and Turkish Kurds. In turn, the official Moscow is interested in continuing the current policy of the official authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran in SAD. Otherwise, official Damascus will not stand on TVD without ground Shiite armed formations.

Fifth, the official authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran will intensify economic reforms in the country, including, with the participation of Turkey, a number of European countries (first of all, the FRG and France), the PRC. In addition, official Teheran will strengthen regional trade and economic policy, which is in line with the national interests of all the Caspian littoral countries. Moreover, the assistance of the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China to the Iranian side can be decisive in solving such tasks as the development of the country's energy and transport infrastructure, including the IRI rail system.

Sixth, the official authorities of the IRI are likely to try, within a short timeframe, to strike a balance between current foreign policy in the Middle East region and socioeconomic policies in the country against the possible withdrawal of the US from the USSR. Obviously, the top leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran will take certain steps towards clearing the ruling elites from the dissenters. Otherwise, events of the end of December 2017 of the year and beginning of January 2018 of the year will be repeated with all the negative consequences for the official authorities of the IRI.

Seventh the situation in the Persian Gulf will be balanced on the brink of war, but a large-scale conflict between the IRI and the US is unlikely in the near future. For this purpose, the United States and its allies must have at least 600-thousand military contingents for the purpose of conducting ground operations in the Iranian territory. Otherwise, the US will not be able to force Tehran to sign an agreement under American conditions.

At the same time, official Tehran, subject to the consideration of the national and regional interests of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the SAR, Iraq and Lebanon, can go on a satisfactory deal with the United States. The fact is that official Tehran, under the conditions of known socio-economic problems in the Islamic Republic of Iran, and with the new tough sanctions, can not simultaneously conduct two hybrid wars in Yemen and SAD. The IRI and the United States are not in a position to achieve the realization of their geopolitical and geoeconomic interests in full.

However, Tehran will not engage in negotiations with the US on the following issues: the IRI's internal political system and the political regime in Tehran; military-technical cooperation with SAD and Iraq; IRI missile program and other measures of the Iranian side, directly related to the defense and security of the country. For this, the interests of both Israel and Saudi Arabia will be taken into account.

Rauf Radjabov Orientalist, Head of the Analytical Center 3RD VIEW, Baku, Azerbaijan