Intelligence assessment on the Iranian situation

By 01/08/2018 Intelligence
Intelligence assessment Iran flag on border

We assess the situation between the US and Iran.

A number of quotes and Tweets directed towards the Iranian leadership, included:

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump Jul 22:

“To Iranian president Rouhani: never, ever threaten the united states again or you will suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before. We are no longer a country that will stand for your demented words of violence & death. Be cautious!”

U.S. national security adviser John Bolton:

“Iran will pay a price like few countries have ever paid before”. 

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – written in English and Farsi:

“Hypocritical holy men who amassed vast sums of wealth while allowing their people to suffer”. 

The media would have you believe that Mr Trump is barking mad and unstable. This may or not be true.

But, what’s going on?

  • Firstly, the USA’s threats against Iran are not merely a foreign policy diversion to distract from growing scrutiny over Russia and North Korea.
  • And there appears to be a regime change strategy for Tehran.
  • Also, the economic and social pressure in Iran intensifies under the White House’s sanctions policy.
  • So, the Iranian government diverting anger onto external threats to reduce popular unrest.
  • Also, Iranian President Rouhani is likely to lose political ground to hard-liners, with many of them already wanting to walk away from the nuclear deal commitments.
  • Significant protests in early 2018 in the poorer parts of rural Iran and with more widely reported Tehran Merchant class demonstrations in Tehran are signs that the people are in the mood for change.
  • So, this unrest will force Iran to increase using their security apparatus to contain dissent and get around sanctions.
  • Moving away from Iran nuclear deal and reemploying sanctions is an attempt to provoke the Iranian people to rise.
  • However, it would appear that regime change is still going to be very difficult but will be working with Israel and Saudi Arabia on the ground to support the economic turmoil and propaganda strategy.

So, back to the negotiation table?

  • It could bring the Iranian government back to the negotiating table.
  • And it’s unlikely that the Strait of Hormuz will be blockaded as it would invite a serve US Military response.
  • Negotiations with North Korea will need to remain on track to show there is an exit plan for Iranians.
  • So, if the US can keep a lid on North Korea, there will be more resources to escalate military pressure on Iran.
  • Russia will be a complicating factor, and senior political meetings between Iran and Russia will continue.
  • Iranian economy is already under enormous strain, and that pain will be compounded when sanctions snap back in August and November.
  • There is some debate about how much influence has with Iran especially if things hot up on the ground.
  • Possible signs that Russia is partly onside to protect their interests as they are looking to reduce Iranian military activity in Syria especially near the Israeli border.

Conflict

The potential of military conflict will depend on:

  • President Rouhani’s political weakening and
  • A growing reliance on the Revolutionary Guard to rebuild risky and covert ways to get around the sanctions.
  • Iran’s navy harassing Military vessels and Saudi, Kuwaiti or Emirati tankers and production and loading platforms.
  • Cyber-attacks on its neighbours.
  • Turning the threat to close the Strait of Hormuz into action.
  • Withdrawal from the nuclear deal.

Iranian weaknesses

  • Allied forces would attack their important oil terminal based at Kharg.
  • Block the Strait of Hormuz will also prevent their own trade from being exported.
  • Ripping up the nuclear deal could result in a Saudi and or US military response.
  • Any actions could give Israel an excuse to take unilateral military action.

US weaknesses

  • The massive increase in oil prices could deter them.
  • Saudi Arabia would struggle to keep the oil moving.
  • The potential self-inflicted trade war threat to the world’s economy.
  • Russia is extremely interested in them, and the US has no desire to escalate tensions with the Kremlin.

So what?

The Implications of this are ever present to organisations across a huge range of sectors and industries, how resilient do you think you are?

Brought to you by Octopus Intelligence, the Global Competitive Intelligence Agency.

www.octopusintelligence.com