Small Wars Journal

Middle East

The Perils of Seeking an American "Victory" over Iran

Thu, 01/09/2020 - 11:59am
Following recent events in Iraq, most notably the US assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleiman, President Donald Trump is apt to seek some sort of larger or longer-term “victory” over Iran. Though his favored operational stance is more likely to be incremental than sudden – that is, than some substantial “bolt-from-the-blue” war-initiating strike - there will still be multiple dangers of an uncontrolled escalation.

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A Hyper-Mobile Defense: Iran’s Novel Strategy to Sustain Proxy Conflicts in the Middle East

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 12:29pm
A hyper-mobile defense’s goal is to shock, not destroy, the enemy through rapid, repeated, multi-directional engagements. The fixed objectives serve to lure in vulnerable tanks, helicopters and armored personnel carriers along pre-planned routes, making them easy targets for the small strike teams. While this shock technique did not entirely destroy the Israeli force, it did disrupt the attacker’s central strategy of a swift, air-covered, armored penetration. The desire of achieving a quick, comprehensive strike for effect has long been the linchpin of effective urban conquest.

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The Prospects for Advancing US-Saudi Defense Alliance in the Shadow of the ARAMCO Attacks

Wed, 09/25/2019 - 12:16am
Following the recent attacks on Saudi ARAMCO oil fields, which according to US and Saudi intelligence assessments, involved both drones and cruise missiles, and most likely originated in Southern Iran, the future of the US-Saudi alliance has come into question as President Trump has been taking time to assess the nature of the threat and to decide on reasonable next steps that would deter Iran from further aggression in the region.

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Oil and Rentier States: How Falling Oil Prices Will Affect the Middle East

Wed, 09/18/2019 - 4:06am
Less than a decade after weathering massive geo-political upheavals from the Arab Springs, the Middle East is on the verge of yet another crisis; the plummeting price of crude oil. “Rentier states” in the Middle East, have for several decades, secured their status-quo by building an overwhelming portion of their economy dedicated to the sale of crude oil. While the rentier system has been successful in propping up Middle Eastern governments for decades, the downside to this system is the economic and political uncertainty created by the rapidly changing value in a single commodity.

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The Arab Coalition Must Put Aside Differences, Rethink Strategy on Yemen

Sun, 09/01/2019 - 11:27am
Two major recent developments illustrate ongoing challenges and potential new obstacles in the war in Yemen, the major objective of which, the put down of the rebellion by the Iran-backed Houthi separatists appears to be sidelined by other considerations and misunderstandings.

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Could the United States Leave the Middle East by 2031? - A Reply to Anand Toprani on U.S. Strategy in the Persian Gulf

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 2:06pm
Failed dreams of a U.S. withdrawal from the Middle East were very much on my mind while reading a pair of excellent – if flawed – articles in 'War on the Rocks' by Anand Toprani. In the first essay, published in January, Toprani provides one of the best explanations you’ll find on the vagaries of oil pricing and supply, as well as a cogent case for why oil is unlikely to be “just another commodity” anytime soon. In his second essay, published in May, he further underscores that the Persian Gulf remains an irreplaceable source of oil production and argues, to this end, that the United States needs to continue its Cold War role as the region’s strategic guarantor.

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Reclaiming the Initiative: Proxy Warfare in the Middle East

Wed, 06/12/2019 - 5:39pm
In today's security reality, proxy warfare represents an especially relevant tool in the state's kit. Iran has employed proxy organizations to great effect, while the American and Israeli militaries currently seem reticent to systematically study and employ proxies. Without fully understanding proxy warfare, the US, Israel, and their allies will struggle to take the initiative against Iran in the region.

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War With Iran? - Error, Manipulation and President Donald Trump's "Strategy" of Incoherence

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 2:57am
To some extent, there is nothing new under the sun. Fabrication and folly are hardly unknown to US presidential policies on war and peace. Before President Donald Trump commits further to any new or expanding military operations against Iran, therefore, it would be prudent to look back at some of this country's previous war policy manipulations and errors.

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