Iran raises the ante

The Washington Times  via UPI, and the Maariv International websites report that the Iranians are massing troops on the Iraqi border.  The UPI report mentions that the estimate was four battalions (about 2000 to 3000 troops), according to the Saudi daily Al—Sharq al—Awsat.  Both reports state that the Iranians were preparing to move into Iraq if US troops depart.  The Maariv International report, however, goes into more detail on Iran's confrontation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over its cover—ups of the country's nuclear 'energy' program.

The massing of Iranian troops at the Iraqi border would, in isolation, merely present a lucrative target for Coalition forces.  However, it is more than likely part of a maneuver to fulfill their long—term objectives  to deter the development of a democracy on their doorstep, and to economically isolate Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula. 

This operation coincides with the attack yesterday  on the oil pipeline that feeds storage tanks at the Basra oil terminal.  This attack was apparently conducted as a second effort to disable oil export facilities, following the unsuccessful attempt to destroy the offshore oil terminal near Al—Faw by small boat suicide bombers in late April.

The Iranian's radical Shia leader in Iraq, Muqtada al—Sadr has had a bad month.  He has been isolated in one town, and his militia has been whittled down to almost nothing.  And, in an unauthenticated letter, the Jordanian—born terrorist leader, Abu Musab al—Zarqawi, admits that the 'grip is starting to be tightened on the holy warriors' necks.' 

In addition, we don't know of the effectiveness of covert efforts in Iran (if any) to foment a popular rebellion against the mullahs.  The massing of Iranian regular Army units may be a sign that covert actions are causing them to respond, even if it is presenting a big bullseye to Coalition forces. If so, a move from covert Iranian—sponsored terror operations toward organized military action would seem to shift the form of conflict to a sphere of relative American strength.

Although the American press is relentlessly negative about America's position, keep in mind that Iran's mullahs find themselves ruling a hostile population, in a country with a history of having overthrown its government, while facing a powerful military force and nascent free societies across the borders to both its east and west. In such a vulnerable circumstance, psy—ops have the potential for great effectiveness.

The next few months will certainly be a critical time in the CENTCOM region, and in our efforts in the War on Terror.

Douglas Hanson is our military affairs correspondent 

The Washington Times  via UPI, and the Maariv International websites report that the Iranians are massing troops on the Iraqi border.  The UPI report mentions that the estimate was four battalions (about 2000 to 3000 troops), according to the Saudi daily Al—Sharq al—Awsat.  Both reports state that the Iranians were preparing to move into Iraq if US troops depart.  The Maariv International report, however, goes into more detail on Iran's confrontation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over its cover—ups of the country's nuclear 'energy' program.

The massing of Iranian troops at the Iraqi border would, in isolation, merely present a lucrative target for Coalition forces.  However, it is more than likely part of a maneuver to fulfill their long—term objectives  to deter the development of a democracy on their doorstep, and to economically isolate Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula. 

This operation coincides with the attack yesterday  on the oil pipeline that feeds storage tanks at the Basra oil terminal.  This attack was apparently conducted as a second effort to disable oil export facilities, following the unsuccessful attempt to destroy the offshore oil terminal near Al—Faw by small boat suicide bombers in late April.

The Iranian's radical Shia leader in Iraq, Muqtada al—Sadr has had a bad month.  He has been isolated in one town, and his militia has been whittled down to almost nothing.  And, in an unauthenticated letter, the Jordanian—born terrorist leader, Abu Musab al—Zarqawi, admits that the 'grip is starting to be tightened on the holy warriors' necks.' 

In addition, we don't know of the effectiveness of covert efforts in Iran (if any) to foment a popular rebellion against the mullahs.  The massing of Iranian regular Army units may be a sign that covert actions are causing them to respond, even if it is presenting a big bullseye to Coalition forces. If so, a move from covert Iranian—sponsored terror operations toward organized military action would seem to shift the form of conflict to a sphere of relative American strength.

Although the American press is relentlessly negative about America's position, keep in mind that Iran's mullahs find themselves ruling a hostile population, in a country with a history of having overthrown its government, while facing a powerful military force and nascent free societies across the borders to both its east and west. In such a vulnerable circumstance, psy—ops have the potential for great effectiveness.

The next few months will certainly be a critical time in the CENTCOM region, and in our efforts in the War on Terror.

Douglas Hanson is our military affairs correspondent