Analyzing the outpouring of commentary after Fakhrizadeh’s death from Iranian politicians, military personnel, and media outlets can help shed light on Tehran’s immediate political concerns, security imperatives, as well as prospects for retaliation and escalation.
63-year-old IRGC Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan is eying the Iranian presidency. If his candidacy is approved and he is elected in 2021, Dehghan will be the Islamic Republic’s first military president, a development with significant implications for Iranian domestic politics and foreign policy.
There have been at least 43 attacks using rockets and/or mortars on U.S. positions in Iraq by Iranian-backed Shiite militias. These attacks shed light on Iranian and allied-Shiite militia intentions and strategy.
Another member of Tehran’s “Axis of Resistance” has been sanctioned by Washington. How the U.S. enforces its penalty is set to matter more than its announcement.
Should Iran have taken the decision to attack civilian vessels that carry oil, it could represent one way to do damage to global oil shipments without inviting massive retaliation. Such a move would be consistent with Iran’s highly graduated approach to escalation and desire to respond to the Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign.
An overemphasis by the West on seeking to check Tehran’s ballistic missile program has led to inattention to Iran’s cruise missile capabilities and intentions. Over the weekend, Iran unveiled and test-launched a “new” land-attack cruise missile, dubbed the Hoveizah, days in advance of the Islamic Republic’s 40th anniversary.
Iran’s willingness to resort to tactical SRBM launches against regional targets warrants a larger discussion about the country’s missile power and escalation dynamics. It also requires an accurate assessment of what occurred on the ground against Iranian Kurds in Iraq and in the media space on this issue since September 8.
Last week, the Saudi Arabian embassy in Washington D.C. released a nine-page primer on Iran’s continued support to Yemen’s Houthi rebels. Buried within the same document was photographic evidence of Saudi Arabia’s latest charge against Iran: the provision of the Sayyad-2C surface-to-air missile (SAM) to Houthi rebels.