Iran’s Deceptive Show of Force Demonstrates Its Insecurity

In recent years, writes Farzin Nadimi, “Tehran has been quick to show off the offensive and defensive capabilities of its drone fleet,” in the hope that doing so will effectively deter its enemies. Iran has indeed made significant advances: its drones have been widely used by its proxies in the region since at least 2004, posing a pervasive threat that is difficult to track. However, Nadimi argues, there is evidence that Iran has been exaggerating its capabilities, likely in an attempt to counter mounting evidence of the nation’s obvious weaknesses.

On May 29, Iranian state television aired a report about a new “top-secret underground drone base” operated by the conventional army, called the Artesh, somewhere in western Iran. In the footage, a young reporter boards a Bell 214 helicopter that reportedly takes off from Kermanshah’s 1st Army Aviation Base for a 40-minute blindfolded ride to the secret location. . . . When inside the large underground tunnel network—which looks very similar to an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) missile base—the reporter is shown rows of drones, including almost every significant model in the Artesh service.

Since the report aired, great speculation has surrounded the location of “Drone Base 313.” Some observers point to Dalahu, a mountainous region about 100 kilometers west of Kermanshah, based on a name stenciled on firefighting equipment seen in the video. Others point to the Shahid Asiaei 2nd Army Aviation Base in Masjed Soleyman, more than 300 kilometers southeast of Kermanshah. Both are unlikely.

To operate and maintain the diverse collection of drones displayed in the Iranian television report would be a headache for any Iranian operator or technician, requiring a range of different—and incompatible—control stations, equipment, and vehicles. It clearly points to a hastily set-up demonstration.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Intelligence, Iran, Middle East, Technology

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy