Saturday, September 10, 2005

So Who Strikes First?

A few months ago I wrote that I worried that Iran would launch an offensive of some type to reverse our path to victory. Syria's western front was being beaten and unless the Syrian-Iranian alliance was ready to throw in the towel, I expected the Iranians to sponsor a Shia-based revolt in the east while we beat the Sunni jihadis and Baahists in the west.

Amir Taheri has an article (via Powerline) that suggests Iran is getting ready for their Battle of the Bulge offensive in Iraq:

In the past few weeks, the Iranian border police, part of the regular army, have been put under command of the IRGC, which now controls all points of entry into Iraq. At the same time, the IRGC has moved vast quantities of heavy weaponry to "sensitive points" (including the Zaynalkush salient, the Hamroun mountain range and the Dasht-e-Mishan plain) along the 900-mile-long border. Official Iranian reports indicate that the IRCG now has more than 250,000 men at or close to the Iraqi border, the highest concentration of troops there since the Iraq-Iraq war ended in 1988.

All this activity is accompanied by the beginnings of what looks like a massive program of building roads, airstrips and storage facilities close to the border. The IRCG has also set up a number of listening posts along the border, plus a major "electronic surveillance center" on Mainau Island in the middle of the Shatt all-Arab border estuary.
Plus infiltrations of Iranians into Iraq are taking place, Taheri says.

Given that I think we are getting ready to support a revolt inside Iran, with the Iranians seemingly ready to strike Iraq to overthrow the new Iraqi government who will win this race to strike first?

Or are we counting on Iran to strike first to have an excuse to destroy their regime before it gets nukes?

Heck, would the Iranians actually invade with a conventional cross-border strike that their preparations seem to indicate? That's pretty high stakes. And that would have the effect of saving the Syrian-supported forces as US units abandoned counter-insurgency to repel the conventional invasion from the east. Airpower alone couldn't cope so we'd need every unit we have in Iraq.

That would also be typical of a dictatorial regime like Iran's--on the verge of having a nuclear deterrent they might get too eager and strike before they have the deterrent. Of course, I assume that the Iranians won't win this gamble.

I'm going to be quite nervous this fall.