As November looms closer and the tougher #sanctions are preparing to take effect on Iran’s oil industry, #Iran is getting more aggressive. Since July, there have been multiple threats regarding oil exports coming through the Strait of Hormuz. The regime has threatened to shut down the Strait, and the U.S. has indicated that it will not allow the Iranian Navy to do that.
Additionally, the Iranian military has moved missiles into #Iraq, giving it a line to attack multiple targets throughout the Middle East. These moves appear to be part of a plan to stand up to the Trump administration. Tensions are already high between the two countries, particularly since President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May.
Europe Tries to Hold JCPOA Together
For the Europe leadership that have attempted to keep the JCPOA in place without the U.S., aggressive actions by Iran are not going to help them in their efforts to limit the impact of renewing sanctions.
According to Iranian officials and Western intelligence sources, the regime transferred short-range missiles to its allies in Iraq over the last few months. There is also evidence that Iranian officials are working with those allies to help them build their own missiles. The moves are seen as part of a plan to defend Iran from attack.
“It was clear to Iraqi intelligence that such a missile arsenal sent by Iran was not meant to fight Daesh (Islamic State) militants but as a pressure card Iran can use once involved in a regional conflict,” said an Iraqi official. “We can’t restrain militias from firing Iranian rockets because simply the firing button is not in our hands, it’s with Iranians who control the push button.”
The Iranian government did not confirm that the missiles were moved and provided no comment. The missiles appear to be in striking distance of Israel, and there is also evidence that Quds Force, a department of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), has bases in these areas as well.
These militias were voted into the Iraqi state apparatus in 2016 and report to Iraq’s prime minister but there is plenty of evidence that Iran coordinates its leadership and has a voice in the moves of the militias.
Iraq Becomes Forward Missile Base
These two countries were once at war, but now it is clear that Iran’s influence in Iraq continues to grow. The transfers were meant to be a message to the U.S., who also has a large military presence in Iraq. Militias being used to produce missiles in Iraq was part of a strategy decided upon 18 months ago. The militias are located in areas controlled by Shi’ite militias and some I
“We have bases like that in many places and Iraq is one of them. If America attacks us, out friends will attack America’s interests and its allies in the region,” said a senior IRGC commander.
A U.S. official confirmed the missiles had been transferred but were not able to confirm their launch capability. The Trump administration continues to push its allies to adopt the same tough anti-Iranian regime policy. Europe continues to balk at the pressure from the U.S., but the ballistic missile program and these moves by Iran may make them change their mind.