• 2021-10-27

    Iran president says cyberattack not the first, won’t be last. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi visited gas stations in Tehran a day after a cyberattack, presumably from a foreign country, caused long delays at the pump. Raisi said that this cyberattack is neither the first time nor will it be the last and asked people to be prepared for more. At a cabinet meeting, Raisi also said that the attack's purpose was to “disrupt the lives of people.” Officials did not become entangled in the problem and they quickly resolved it, Raisi said. He also noted that the Iranian people did not allow “others to take advantage” of the situation, meaning they did not make the attack into a reason for anti-government protests, which Raisi assumed was the intent.

  • 2021-10-26

    Questions about the viability of the Iraqi security forces—brought into sharp focus by the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan—require a data-led analysis of where the forces are today and what mix of U.S., NATO, and European efforts can help them thrive in the future. The August collapse of the Afghan National Security Forces shook the world’s faith in U.S. security cooperation, prompting hard questions about similar arrangements with Iraq. In a country where the United States has been training forces for two decades, officials need straight answers. How resilient are today’s U.S.-supported Iraqi security forces, and could they operate with gradually reduced American support? What kind of near-term Iraqi force development should the coalition credibly expect to see? And how should U.S.-led security cooperation evolve after the December “transition of mission” to a non-combat role? In this urgently applicable Policy Focus, longtime ISF watchers Michael Knights and Alex Almeida provide a data-led analysis of where Iraq’s security forces are today, how they will look tomorrow, and what mixture of U.S., NATO, and European efforts can ensure the best result commensurate with American interests. The roadmap they outline shows how Baghdad can ultimately achieve enduring victory over the Islamic State and overmatch the domestic opponents of a sovereign, stable, and democratic Iraq.

  • 2021-10-22

    This study builds on a series of CTC Sentinel articles since 2019 that have charted the evolution of the self-styled, Tehran-backed resistance (muqawama) factions in Iraq that direct attacks on the U.S.-led coalition.

  • 2021-10-22

    The hope for de-escalation of tensions between Iran and Azerbaijan following last week’s phone call between their foreign affairs ministers, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and Jeyhun Bayramov respectively, has so far proved to be short-lived. At a meeting of the Commonwealth of Independent States a few days after the call, Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev accused Iran of using the Nagorno-Karabakh region for drug trafficking to Russia and Europe, without producing any proof. Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs pushed back against what it called “Aliyev’s astonishing claims.”

  • 2021-10-22

    Ties between Iran and Russia have been close, especially when it comes to the joint military operations while fighting terrorists in Syria. But the relationship has been taken to a higher level with the recent visit to Russia by the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Major General Mohammad Bagheri. Major General Mohamed Bagheri has urged development of the country's defense ties with Russia. General Bagheri, who made the remarks during a visit to Russia, said the ties between the two countries are deepening further and growing stronger in all areas.

  • 2021-10-18

    While the US officials continue to project that Iran is refusing to return to JCPOA, the fact remains that the deadlock is not an outcome of Iran’s refusal to revive the JCPOA, but its insistence on reviving the same agreement that was agreed in 2015 and lifting all sanctions the US has imposed, or failed to lift right after the deal after the deal. In refusing to lift sanctions, the Biden administration is essentially following in the footsteps of the Obama administration, which, while it did make the deal, continued to delay the lifting of all financial sanctions and unfreezing of the Iranian assets as well. Therefore, the roots of the “Plan B” are impossible to find in the Iranian intransigence. It must be found in the US withdrawal from the treaty and its illegitimate insistence on negotiating a new deal, a demand that the other signatories of the deal – especially, China and Russia – do not support. A military action against Iran will thus be an avid example of how both the US and Israel have been staging wars to consolidate their regional and international dominance, respectively.

  • 2021-10-15

    After increasing talk by Israel about its willingness to strike Iran by itself as a last resort to halt the country’s nuclear program, Tehran has sent a letter to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) warning Israel against a “military adventure” against the Islamic Republic. Delivered on Thursday and printed in Iran’s Tasnim News Agency, the letter comes as Iran makes preparations to return to Vienna for negotiations on reviving the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) next week.

  • 2021-10-14

    American withdrawal, coupled with the need to diversify Gulf state economies away from oil, is driving efforts to dial down regional tensions. They fear that the emerging parameters of a reconfigured US commitment to security in the Middle East threaten to upend a more-than-a-century-old pillar of regional security and leave them with no good alternatives. The shaky pillar is the Gulf monarchies’ reliance on a powerful external ally that, in the words of Middle East scholar Roby C. Barrett, “shares the strategic, if not dynastic, interests of the Arab States.” The ally was Britain and France in the first half of the 20th century and the United States since then.

  • 2021-10-14

    The shift in America’s strategic focus from fighting terrorism in the Middle East – specifically in Afghanistan as well as Iraq and Syria – to competition with China has led to a focus on possible confrontation with China in military terms, including dealing with Taiwan and the South China Sea. At the same time, the increases in U.S. domestic natural gas and oil production have led many to believe the U.S. has far less need to ensure the smooth flow of energy exports from the Gulf and the MENA region.

  • 2021-10-13

    A visit last week to Israel by Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, the commander of US Fifth Fleet, included hammering out new details of operational cooperation between the US and Israeli navies operating in the region. During the visit, Cooper met with Defense Minister Benny Gantz, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi, Commander of the Israel Navy Vice Adm. David Saar Salama, and other high-ranking officers of the Israeli Navy. The focus of the meeting, military sources say, was a coordination effort around the evolving threats mainly posed by Iran in the Gulf and Red Sea. The two navies, the sources add, now have plans in place for joint action against Iranian threats — including how to counter Iranian use of manned and unmanned fast attack boats — but would not go into further details.