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The Beginning of The End

After the elimination of Iranian Quds Commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani on 3rd Jan around 1 a.m. local time, the US president warned leaders in Tehran, in a series of tweets, against following through on their threats to avenge the death of Soleimani. The US President tweeted “Iran is talking very boldly about targeting certain USA assets as revenge for our ridding the world of their terrorist leader who had just killed an American, & badly wounded many others, not to mention all of the people he had killed over his lifetime, including recently hundreds of Iranian protesters”. “Let this serves as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!”

Qassem Soleimani was accountable for the deaths of more Americans than any terrorist leader since Osama Bin Laden. In Iran, however, he certainly was a venerable figure. Inside Iran, he is considered the most prominent or second most popular figure over the years. All the U.S. diplomatic, economic, and military approaches to limit Iranian influence in the region went in vain as he filled the vacuum which capitalized on Iranian nationalism. He may be the man largely responsible for the deaths of a large number of people in Syria, but Iranians saw him as the main figure who triumphed over the Islamic State. Amidst the political applause, it is crucial to acknowledge how much his death may have changed the operational environment and diplomacy.

Knowingly or not, Trump made two decisions. The first was to kill Soleimani. The second was to do so without subtlety. By using an American drone and then tweeting out first an American flag and then a contrived triumphant statement, Trump has left no doubt as to who is responsible for Soleimani’s death. As a result, the Iraqi government is now going to ratchet up the demand that American forces leave the country. The withdrawal of American forces simply cede Iraq to Iran against the wishes of most Iraqis, even those who do not particularly care for the United States either. This dynamic plays out against the backdrop of a political crisis and lame-duck government in Baghdad which gives Iran the opportunity to exponentially increase its influence.

Some political pundits now question whether Soleimani’s death raises a standard for deterrence. Will every Iranian figure plotting the deaths of Americans be killed? Alternatively, some Afghans have asked why, if Trump can kill Soleimani for his actions against Americans, why the U.S. military cannot target Pakistani figures supporting the Taliban? It is a good question.

Soleimani and Muhandis were targets of opportunity, and Trump took the decision to strike at them. It would be ridiculous, however, to ignore there will be an aftermath and many second and third-order effects. It is urgent that the U.S. national security bureaucracy draws the broad strategy to contain the negative and exploit the positive.

The Land of Aryans

Iran is the 17th largest country in world. It measures 1,684,000 square kilometers. That means that its territory is larger than the combined territories of France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Portugal — Western Europe. Iran is the 16th most populous country in the world, with about 70 million people.

If one looks carefully at a map of Iran, one can see that the western part of the country — the Zagros Mountains — is actually a land bridge for southern Asia. It is the only path between the Persian Gulf in the south and the Caspian Sea in the north. Iran is the route connecting the Indian subcontinent to the Mediterranean Sea. But because of its size and geography, Iran is not a country that can be easily travelled, much less conquered.

The location of Iran’s oil fields is critical in Iran. Oil is majorly found in the southwest region. The southwestern oil fields are an extension of the geological formation that created the oil fields in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq. Hence, the region east of the Shatt al-Arab is of critical importance to Iran. Iran has the third largest oil reserves in the world and is the world’s fourth largest producer. Therefore, one would expect it to be one of the wealthiest countries in the world. It isn’t. Iran has the 28th largest economy in the world but ranks only 71st in per capita gross domestic product.

Cul-de-Sac Country

Geographically Iran is a fortress. Surrounded on three sides by mountains and on the fourth by the ocean, with a wasteland at its center, Iran is extremely difficult to conquer. This was achieved only once by the Mongols, who entered the country from the northeast. The Ottomans also never made any attempt to move into the Persian heartland.

Mountains allow Iran to protect itself. However the mountainous region come with their own cultural and ethnic difficulties. Completely eradicating these cultures and ethnic groups is difficult. These groups resist absorption and annihilation. Although a Muslim state with a population over 55 percent ethnically Persian, Iran is divided into a large number of ethnic groups. It is also divided between the vastly dominant Shia and the minority Sunnis, who are congregated in three areas of the country — the northeast, the northwest and the southeast. Any foreign power interested in Iran will use these ethnoreligious groups to create allies in Iran to undermine the power of the central government.

Persian or Iranian government has as its first and principal strategic interest maintaining the internal integrity of the country against separatist groups. It is inescapable, therefore it mandatory for Iran to have a highly centralized regime, with an incredibly intense security machine. For many countries, holding together its ethnic groups is significant. For Iran it is essential because it has no room to retreat from its current lines and instability could undermine its entire security structure. Therefore, the Iranian central government will always face the problem of internal cohesion and will use its army and security forces for that purpose before any other.

For the Iranians, the current situation has posed a dangerous scenario similar to what they faced from the British early in the 20th century. The United States has occupied, or at least placed substantial forces, to the east and the west of Iran, in Afghanistan and Iraq. Iran is not concerned about these troops invading Iran. That is not a military prospect. Iran’s skepticism is that the United States will use these positions as platforms to foment ethnic dissent in Iran. For these motives Iran is desperate for a nuclear program. Having a nuclear capability creates uncertainty as to whether it has an offensive nuclear capability, in addition it projects a carefully honed image of ideological extremism that makes it appear unpredictable. It makes Iran emerge threatening and unstable.

The United States is aware of these operational difficulties with respect to Iran. It’s Navy keeps potent forces on station in an effort to manage events in the Middle East. Task forces centered on Boxer and the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln are currently operating in the region. That’s a sizable fraction of U.S. naval power for a theater, Washington longs to demote on its strategic agenda. The US is also aware that on a good day the US navy has just four nuclear-powered carriers like Lincoln. The remainder are undergoing maintenance or overhauls. That means two of seven naval-aviation ships are executing duties in or around the Gulf while five are entrusted with the rest of the globe. Tehran, it seems, has managed to entangle the world’s leading superpower in a theater it would like to be quit of; done so at low cost by employing light naval forces; exacted a high price from the superpower for the privilege of remaining in that unloved theater; and siphoned away resources the superpower needs for strategic competition in more crucial theaters. Iran is employing the strategy what Napoleon sardonically called the British strategy in ‘Peninsular war’ as ‘Spanish Ulcer’, it inflicted less-than-fatal but constant nagging pain, distracted attention and energy from more important affairs, and drained resources that should have gone into the main fighting theatre. It accomplished all objectives at a bargain-basement price.

Going Forward

Objectives of Iranian forces are clear. They want to keep war cheap for themselves and costly for the US. On the other hand if Tehran attacks shipping injudiciously, it will be picking a fight with the entire industrial world, not just Washington, and that’s a lot of foe we are talking about. So Iran hopes like hell that their opponents will tire of ceaseless struggle and strike an accommodation on Iranian terms—or go away altogether. It would up the ante against America and it’s allies using asymmetric war with the the help of various non-state actors for sure.
Any form of naval battle could be brief. Iran’s fleet has a long history of waging losing fights with the United States and other Western powers. The United States has two options, foster discontent in the ethnically troubled areas or go for a direct war. If the war starts, ultimately the forces would have to go ashore and that fight would not be easy and decisive one, and the US is aware of that.

388 thoughts

      1. You predict a policy of asymmetry to tire out the adversary i personally feel some retribution of sufficient magnitude against US tgts could be by Iran sponsored groups. The probability of war at this juncture is remote. Was the attack to allow the US Troops to get an escape out of the region. The recent Iraq govt resolution towards that is an indicator. Whatever but interesting times ahead in the Mid East

      2. Surely, Ajay, Iran can not afford a direct confrontation with the US, so it would utilise its assets spread across the Middle East to harass the American forces and diplomatic units. The Supreme Leader can not afford to sit quietly and allow the regime to slip out of his hands. I hope Trump administration had worked on the objective and this was not just a knee jerk reaction.

      1. How are you people doing? I hope, all my blogger friends are doing fine and helping out the people in need.

    1. Full fledged war doesnot seem to be a need of the hour. Iran, though outraged, is not in a position to wage one and US is stretched far too strategically keeping Russians in check around Arctic and Chinese along Pacific, in and around South and East China sea. War, however, can’t be totally ruled out if the provocation reaches the threshold.
      Iran is not foolish enough to do that. So in all probability actions are likely to be just enough to soothen one’s bruised ego. Whatever the case be, ripples will be felt in all the economies.

      1. Absolutely correct analysis. No party can afford the war but at the same time any miscalculation on part of any party, like the one in ’Cuban Missile Crisis’, could doom the region. India is in a catch-22 situation and would be profoundly implicated due to it’s a centuries-old relationship with Iran along with present-day economic interests getting affected. On the other hand, the love affair with the US had just begun, and fruits of all the hard work are yet to be bear results. That is the exact reason for India’s muted response, not conforming to the stature and aspirations of a country of India’s size.

  1. Nice article.. I like the post scenario options shared by the author.. those sounds logical and realistic in given situation . Nice article with much needed in-depth knowledge of ongoing circumstances.. kudos.. 👍👍

    1. Thank you so much, Sanjeev for your inputs. I kept the article bit shorter this time so as to keep the interest of people going. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. In present scenario, what will be effect on Islamic fundamentalists all over the world? Will Islamic fundamentalist will go all out against America n obviously it will affect India also. Subsequently , is there possibility that all non Islamic will wage war against Islsmic fundamentalists………

    1. If this war takes place, the world would become a very complexed place to live. Countries would not know which side to lean for the good of their own people. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

  3. Nice insight into the background and geo-politics of the region Sir. How is it going to affect India? Specially so when India is being pulled into this by US (Must have read the ‘attack on New Delhi’ comment by Trump). How things are going to unfurl in the Persian Gulf, specially so with all of Kuwati, Qatari, and Irani oil passing through the Strait of Hormuz (South of Bandar Abbas)….overall an interesting article Sir. Kudos to you👌🏼👌🏼👍🏼. Looking forward to more on this as the situation develops. Hope nothing escalates.

    1. Thanks, Rishi. It is going to be a very complexed situation. India has a friendly and very old relationship with Iran. The love affair with the US has just started. India would not like to antagonise the USA and at the same time cannot outright ditch Iran. Many other countries would be in the same boat. By the way Trump administration is already on phone line with Paki Generals so as to start building up strategic alliances.

    2. Hello, what I think is that whatever happened is quite unfortunate for India. Reasons are twofold, first of all USA will strengthen its ties with Pakistan as Pakistan-Iran border is comparatively less guarded and USA have bases in the region. Even when India has stopped purchasing crude oil from Iran, China continues to do so and if mainland Iran is hurt, for sure China will step in favor of Iran and will also provide war support, India surely wont engage in any war. hence, its a very diplomatic situation to be dealt with.

      1. Yes, indeed it is a very delicate situation for India. Due to the length of the topic, I didn’t dwell much upon this aspect. I shall do that in the near future. Pakistan is already thrilled on receiving a call from Trump administration. Now they have a chance to divert the attention of their populace from the precarious economic situation in the country. At the same time, they can also milk the USA in the name of providing bases for the US troops and equipment if the situation so arises. Thanks for stopping by Sid and sharing your thoughts.

  4. To this day i don’t understand why we keep ourselves busy with these farts from the Middle East. We should stay out and deport the retarded human trash. Iran can be turned into a parking lot without any boots on the ground. Their only weapon is the trash our cowardly rulers allowed into our countries…

    1. Thank you so much, Mike, for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. It is very difficult to take over any country with just drones and missiles. We have seen that time and again, latest being Afghanistan and Iraq. Boots on the ground are mandatory.

      1. There was the mistake. We wanted to take over Afghanistan and Iraq. We should not even try to take over Iran, but just keep bombing, like once in Japan. In Iran’s case a collapse of the regime may be more positive than in Iraq or Libya. In Iran live plenty of young people who have so enough of the islamists. Yet a vacuum is always risky. Still I hope there will be no war. 😉

      2. It all depends on the Objectives of the United States. Are the objectives military or political? Iran is surely not Afghanistan. It has well-developed cities and business centers. Attacking those targets would break the back of the present regime. So if the objective is clear the bloodshed could be avoided or minimised.

      3. I think there is no objective. In my opinion Soleimani was sold to the US by the iranians themselves. The US then could not resist to take him out, putting Iran into more powerful position now. What we now have is what Iran wanted – drag the US into a new war in the Middle East.

      4. Yes, Mike, it is a very complex and complicated situation as of now. Hope there would be some clarity soon.

      5. How are you people doing? I hope, all my blogger friends are doing fine and helping out the people in need.

      6. Nice read sir
        My takeaways

        Indian foreign policy is up for some serious testing and rejig

        Situation Undermines the urgency to up the domestic oil production and get aggressive on securing rights to energy sources ..on both fronts China marches way ahead of us

        Iran will surely seek revenge as a sovereign country should

        Difficult to predict future scenarios and likely multiple outcomes

      7. Thank you so much, Harbir, for your thoughts and analysis. Yes, it is indeed a very precarious situation. Things could go from bad to worst in a very short span of time, keeping in mind that the passions are running high and any miscalculation by any party could doom the region. India is going to be deeply affected by any outcome. Domestic oil production is being shored up, however, it would still be outpaced by our tremendous appetite. Hope better sense prevails and things cool down.

  5. Well researched and a very thoughtful article,it raises many pertinent queries.USA may not be interested in conquering Iran but it will definitely take punitive action if Iran decides to carry out its threats.The world would certainly be a better place to live if peace is maintained.Iran needs to curb its jihadi agenda.Thanks

    1. Thank you, Prithi, for stopping by and giving your inputs. The situation is grim, pointing towards tribulation, and may go out of hand if not handled delicately. The whole world is waiting for the tribulation with bated breath.

  6. Great blog post…
    Trump will achieve what he and his team have set out to achieve in his re election year! With more than 60000 troops at 12 bases in the region, Iran will come to the negotiation table… I feel. There will be no war…

    1. Thank you so much, Sushmita, for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Hope better sense prevails, else world would be a very chaotic and dangerous place to live.

      1. This is a very unbiased insight on the current situation in the Middle East. This kind of article gives a better understanding to a common man with regards to strategies implemented by different power centres to main their supremacy in the world or the region respectively. If everyone could read and understand these things and not get carried away by emotions or jingoism, the world could be a much better place. Thanks Captain Sandeep for sharing this !!

      2. Thank you so much, Sarfaraz, for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. It’s heartening to discern that you understand these circumstances so well and are able to comprehend, what would happen if the situation goes out of hand.

  7. I think the war will wait until after the 2020 election…..An attack on Iran will be disastrous….all the accusations against the general could in turn be leveled at the US…great posts……very good insights chuq

    1. Thank you so much, Chuq, for stopping by sharing your thoughts. The war would sure wait if no party makes any silly mistake of further escalating the very precarious situation.

    1. Thank you so much, Kelly, for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Boosting the image of the President is surely one of the objectives. What are the other objectives, if identified, would make matters much simpler?

  8. Very informative article, but I dare say that the death of Soleimani will likely change very little. There will be lots of sticking the chest out moments but I think (Hope) things will settle down.

    1. Thank you so much, John, for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I also hope from the bottom of my heart that better sense prevails on all sides and this destruction may be averted at any cost.

  9. Sandeep…..you have just penned the dynamic events (beginning) unfolding….I am sure that it’s possible for you to pen it only when you have been following the development closely.

    Either USA or Middle East both have agenda.. Sudden development of this situation (killing of top general of Iran) *might* also be associated with diversionary tactics by the POTUS when his going gets tough at home. I am not sure…

    Worst is yet to come as reaction from Iran…or counter action by the USA.. whatever it is….. not a good sign for our national interests and development… let us watch further..

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts as an article. Best regards

    1. Thank you so much, Ramki, for stopping by and giving your analysis. It all depends upon the objectives of the US administration and military. I seriously hope that their objective has been met and there would be no further escalation of an already very precarious situation. However, if it escalates further then there are many ramifications for India too. India is already in a Catch-22 situation and that is very clear from its meek and subdued response to the whole situation.

  10. Sandeep…. you have just penned the dynamic events (beginning) unfolding….I am sure that it’s possible for you to pen it only when you have been following the development closely.

    USA or Middle East both have agenda.. Sudden development of this situation (killing of top general of Iran) *might* also be associated with diversionary tactics by the POTUS when his going gets tough at home. I am not sure…

    Worst is yet to come as reaction from Iran…or counter action by the USA.. whatever it is….. not a good sign for our national interests and development… let us watch further..

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts as an article. Best regards

  11. Great post indeed! As well mentioned that Iran will take steps which will be less costly to them but will cost USA is accurate. They will retaliate for sure, but will take some time, probably months, so sudden tensions created by Media to settle down. Secondly, they wont use their military, but as usual, they will use their proxies again, Hezbollah, Hamas, Houthis etc. With this, they are not directly commencing war whereas also claimng revenge. Fact to be remembered is Soleimani was a father figure for not only Iran but for many militias and shias across continents, hence not only Iran will avenge but some also happenings will be witnessed.

    1. Sid, Iran would take its own time. They would analyse their and the USA’s strengths and weaknesses. They would mobilize the non-state actors and hit at the time and place of their choosing, as already indicated by the Iranian government. Till that time the whole world is sitting with bated breath. Thanks for stopping by, buddy.

  12. Hi Sandy, A very well researched and thought provoking read. Some questions that come to mind are will Iran get a face saving exit out of this or will it lead to another war in the middle East? After all Soleimani was the number 2 in Iran. The indian statement has been decidedly pro US. Where does it leave the centuries old Indo-Iranian friendship? is the US dependable for a long term relationship? Soleimani was the General who controlled the houthis and assorted rebels. With him gone will they get a free hand to up their ante? Who will keep them in check now? What does this auger for the middle East? Many questions and no answers. The next few days should clear up a lot of these issues.

    1. Thank you so much, Vedu, for stopping by and raising such pertinent questions. India-Iran relationship is in tatters, and the same has been expressed in no uncertain terms by the Iranian leadership. The United States does what suites it’s national interest, and they have an interest in India for the next 30 years or so. This is the period during which the Chinese rise would be subdued and India would no longer be required by the US. Departure of Suleimani has left a vacuum in Iran and it would not be easy to fill in the near future in a short time. Activities of next month or so hold the key to this jigsaw puzzle, and we all are waiting for that.

  13. Overall a concise and informative article about the current happening and some options for both sides. Here are my comments:

    Really don’t think any “War is Coming”; going to be expensive for both sides with the US losing more than Iran. Where has the US really won…Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Columbia, Cuba? Where? Its besides the point that the US mil-eco infrastructure always benefits from such things.

    What has Iran done to US since the US Embassy hostage-taking in 1978-79 for US to take such action? Actually nothing much, other than some small time action here and there! On the other hand, US sided with Iraq during the 1980-88 war between Iraq & Iran when Saddam Hussein was trying to take advantage of Iran’s internal turmoil.

    Was Suleimani really that big a threat to US? He was generally playing Iran’s game in the middle east, I think, while staying clear of the US’s direct interests. In fact, he played a crucial role in getting back MOSUL from ISIS. Moreover, US sanctions have been giving Iran a tough time since the last 3 years. So, one would expect a calibrated action by Iran….and that’s what they were doing.

    There may be some other things at play:
    1. Growing influence of US oil companies in Iraq; their business gets threatened if Iran’s influence in region increases. I believe even Tony Blair, ex UK PM and Bush supporter for US invasion of Iraq, is on the Bd of a big oil company. There would be others.
    2. US has almost lost Afghanistan; probably they don’t want to lose Iraq after having invested so much in terms of blood and money.
    3. Iran had probably started exerting a stronger influence than Saudi Arabia in the Middle East. MBS has a lot to learn. We have read about the SHIA ARC/CRESCENT in the Middle East.
    4. US sends a message to the world; it can take out anyone, anywhere, anytime, if required.
    5. It’s an election year in the US; such strong action will definitely improve Trump’s chances; he’s done what Barack Obama didn’t do though he had a choice; Trump will use this in his election campaign.
    6. Trump also sends a message to Americans; Democrats’ impeachment tactics aren’t going to work on him!; he’s as strong as ever; Democrats can keep playing their games.

    1. Thank you so much, Ajay, for such detailed analysis and a very valid debating point of ‘Where has America won?’. Like anyone else, the Trump administration is also waiting, what next. Did they plan or think about the objective of the whole exercise, only time would tell. Iran on the other hand, as brought out by you, would bind its time and action through its proxies spread throughout the Middle East. The catch-22 situation for the Supreme Leader is that if he doesn’t take any action, his own standing which is already in a very precarious condition, would take further hit. Thank you so much once again, Ajay.

  14. Such a deep study and analysis …. articulated so very well, A war is coming is something scary… its tuff to raise a war and it should not be raised as well. Isn’t it?

    1. War is no solution. It would send humanity on a very dangerous path. I hope this is just posturing and doesn’t go beyond that. Further only time would tell. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

    1. Yes, indeed Ron, everyone is waiting with bated breath, what next? Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

    2. Thank you so much, Ron. Yes indeed these are scary times and the whole world is waiting with bated breath, what next?

  15. A very informative, and well presented piece. I am Canadian and recently saw a “humorous” photo that encouraged Canada to “be very quiet and hope that Iran and the USA will not notice us.”

    1. Thank you so much, Anne, for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. That photo and the caption sound very humourous.

  16. Causes are simple…Iran is the last dominant force resisting US subjugation…Trump or no Trump the lust to subjugate them is intense…US wishes to keep the upper hand…Nuclear deal was not welcomed by the American Hawks….there’s gonna be no war but an escalation of proxy wars by Iran and USA….the region will be on the boil thereby benefitting Saudi and USA….all in all quintessentially it fits in the US policy of keeping no region virginal and the boil ought to be on more so in a unipolar environment

    1. Well said. Surely no one wants war, but the US desperately wants change of regime, else the region is slipping out of their hands. Internal disturbances and demonstrations were part of the whole strategy, and that’s what I have brought out in my article. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

  17. I agree–your article is very informative. Trump is a fool and his advisers are no better. They’re all delusional neocons bent on making money for American defense industries. The value of a human life–including that of powerless Americans–means nothing to them. They are morally bankrupt and have no ethics or principles. It feels a lot like the lead up to America’s War ON Iraq and I find that thought frightening for all those in harm’s way.

    1. Thank you so much, Henry, for stopping by and sharing your pearls of wisdom. I hope better sense prevails on both sides and matter doesn’t get escalated beyond the point of no return. The compulsion for Iranian Supreme Leader is to show his populace that he is still the boss and in control. This angle may lead to some pain in times to come. Warm regards.

  18. The utility of Suleiman had gone down with reduced clout of ISIS. Gunning down of Iran No 2 aims to achieve multiple objectives of influencing home audience and checking the spread of Iran’s clout.

    1. Your analysis is bang on Arar. Therefore if Iran keeps quiet(which it would not) then there seems to be no escalation of the events. However, any mischief from Iran, directly or indirectly(in all probability it would be indirect) could complete the already very precarious situation. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, Amar.

  19. Excellent article ! Really a deep insight as the name of blog suggests !
    I presume none of the sides can afford war at any stage . Minor skirmishes here and there can not be ruled out due to the waning influence of Supreme leader of Iran and of course the re election bid of present POTUS not withstanding the likely failed impeachment (sic!) ahead in Senate .
    USA is still paying for its counter action during Embassy Hostage crisis @ arbitration proceedings worth billions of dollars are still in progress !
    USA may have the main agenda of further exploiting the chasm between Shia and Sunni and thus be relevant in the most important geo- strategic region of the world !
    But war is out of the realm of pragmatism ‘
    Raghu Vir

    1. Thank you, Raghu, for your in-depth analysis. War is surely not on cards, but prodding and probing from both sides would linger on for some time to come. During this period any miscalculation from any party could doom the region. This is going to be the game of nerves. So let us wait and watch.

      1. Once again, a well researched blog brought out in a crisp and no frills manner. The depth of analysis is obvious to the reader, and i compliment you for the same. My queries- what’ll make India tick here, it’s need for oil from Iran or a more expensive oil from the USA. Which way we will go? In the past we have only backed the winning horse, and voted against Iran at the UN. if we go with Iran, we have a larger Central Asian republics market on the anvil, and it will signal a shift if backing the Russians too, an old ally of India. But will Iran play ball, considering i dias past record, and tardiness in execution of business obligations.
        Testing times for india!

        Your take??

      2. Thank you so much, Shilendra, for such an in-depth analysis. The coming days are going to be crucial and testing times for India. India is already in Catch-22 situation due to heightened tension between the US and Iran, one a new love affair and another with 5000 years of common history and trade relationship. India was getting cheap crude from Iran, which was abruptly stopped once the US didn’t give an exemption to India to import oil from sanction-ridden Iran. Now with the latest developments, India’s over $3.5B exports to the country are also in doll drums. My feeling is that Trump is not there for a war, however, how the Supreme Leader of Iran saves his face, as well as the world, is yet to be seen.

  20. Good read. Well researched, don’t know how you get the time! Didn’t know about the Geographic advantage Iran had.

    So since US will not be able to attack inland there may be no war!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. Problem is that Iran is not Afghanistan. It has well-developed cities and business centers. The United States can hit those targets(52, as claimed by the US President) and cause serious damage, without putting boots on land. It all depends on the US objective. If the objective is to replace the regime then it is a much bigger game, but if it is just to weaken the regime then attacking those identified targets would do the job. Iran may complicate the situation by running down a few American installations in the Middle East. I hope better sense prevails.

  21. Very well researched and articulated article
    Iran is the rising star of middle East much to the dislike of US , hence all the posturing

    1. Thank you so much, Sukhjit, for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Problem is that the US doesn’t forget and forgive that easily. They still nurture the wounds they got from the hostage situation, they sustained in the late 80s. Russia and China were of late warming up to Iran and the United States can not digest that a bit.

  22. Just too good Sandy. Very well explained. Even if a young student goes through, will be well benefited. Hope it reaches upto decision making people.
    All the best

    1. Thank you so much for stopping and sharing your thoughts. I hope better sense prevails and things calm down.

  23. War never end at peace and if Iran think it to be the cheapest way, Iran is mistaking highly at its end without even realising the situation that lends up their countrymen as well as adjoining countries

    1. War is Peace
      Freedom is Slavery
      Ignorance is Strength
      — George Orwell, 1984
      Orwell had given this iconic statement in 1949, in his book ‘1984’. How true he was then how relevant he is today. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

  24. Superb article Sir. Always like the way you present the facts and also ensure you give a absolutely clear picture.

  25. Very well analysed and articulated giving a good background of the geopolitics of Iran.
    The verbal and political standoff has been on between USA and Iran for a number of years. USA has the technology and military might but what Iran has we don’t really know. Definitely there will be a response, a calibrated one at that. The elections in USA definitely had a role in the decision making. Now US is constrained to wait and watch biting their nails.
    How the Russians milk the situation will decide the future sequence of events. They’ve not let US have it’s way in the region and will definitely be gleeful at three opportunity provided.
    Interesting times ahead no doubt. Asymmetric warfare- yes. There had been a lull in suicide bombings etc, may see a spike in these.
    Kudos to your understanding of the situation.

    1. Thank you so much, Rajeev, for stopping by and sharing your in-depth analysis. These are the testing times for not just the Middle East but India also. India is in a very delicate situation, on one side a new love affair and on the other side is a 5000 years old shared civilization and trade. The whole situation can be summarized very quickly if the military and the political objectives are clear to us. Trump is an avoider of war if we consider his past actions or rather inactions. So now all depends on the Supreme Leader, how he saves his face as well as avoids war.

  26. Well researched, and, as in the past, lucid in its form for easy understanding.

    Can one have your thoughts also on how it affects India, keeping it’s past relations with Iran in mind, and our recent efforts to engage with the CARs through Iran. And how we will tackle the Americans now. Will we be tilting to import more oil from the USA, to it’s glee?

    1. Shilendra, India missed out on a big opportunity in Central Asia soon after the dissolution of the USSR. India did not engage with those countries until 2015. Though Chabahar which is the key to the CA has been under development for a long time, the whole project seems to be moving at snail’s pace. On the other hand, China moved very fast, created SCO and smartly made inroads into the CA. With the situation as precarious as it is in Iran, the whole project seems to be further delayed.

  27. Incisive analysis. Sandeep, this article is incisive and informed. However it feels like an appetizer and a lingering sense of wanting more. You have to explore deeper into the relationship between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and with Israel. I feel that the issue with the US is not the complete story and the situation is more complex. Further, as you said, Iran is the master of assymetric and proxy warfare. More will follow, but not in the visible domain. There will not be any more overt nuclear threats. At the same time, Kim Jong Un is rattling sabres on the other side of the world, which may divert attention from the Gulf.

    1. Thank you so much, Madhu, for your in-depth analysis and kind words. The article was about the current situation. Writing all the issues related to all the involved parties would have made it very lengthy, maybe a book. So keeping in mind all those details were kept out of the purview of the article. Maybe it would be part of my future endeavors.

    1. These are indeed very testing times, Rosaliene. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

  28. Well described the geopolitical situation therein. Mashallah! And this time it was quite an impartial and unbiased review. May God give guidance to all stakeholders involved.
    Warm regards! 🌹🌹🌹

    1. Thank you so much, Atul Depak, for your kind words. None of my work is based on my personal feelings but after research and fact-finding.

  29. I’d read the article earlier and it’s an insight that’s worth it. The dynamics are changing so fast that one can only think if this is not the third world war what is it? Everyone who doesnt want a war can rest on their oars because none of that ‘peace’ counts anymore. The problem is many people underestimate the downfall of The United States, in which case Iran is regarded as a backward puppet regime not worth a dime and flattened by drones, missiles and boots on the ground, however, the fall of the Roman Empire began on the day the Vandals entered Rome, who had destroyed their homeland and had turned Vandals into warmongers and mercenaries. A dose of the truth from Shakespearean drama: how are the mighty fallen.

    1. It’s sometimes overwhelming and exciting to interact with a person who has knowledge and flair, Tim. And you are one of them. If you have read my earlier articles, I have echoed similar sentiments that you just displayed in your adumbration. The following lines of George Orwell are as much true as much they were 70 years back.
      War is Peace
      Freedom is Slavery
      Ignorance is Strength
      — George Orwell, 1984

  30. Thank you so much for such a detailed analysis. I have somewhat understood the issue for the first time.

  31. This detail of Iran was not known to me. I suppose we remain in our cocoon and do not realize the gravity of the situation.

    1. Thank you so much, Debasis, for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. India as a country has nothing in its reach to prevent a war. Economically this war would affect India badly. Over 20% of our oil was coming from Iran, which has stopped. Chabahar Port was our entry to Central Asia, but the operationalization of that has taken a back seat due to our developing relationship with the United States.

      1. Yes, war will cost us dearly.
        Iran need to understand they can’t win over US in this war. They must take action for better relationship with world leaders. It is in interest for their people as well.

      2. Yes, I understand, but it is very complexed and has many layers of interest from various players. Iran is fielding itself for a bigger role in that region and that is not acceptable to other entities. That complicates the situation further.

    1. Thank you so much, Caz, for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I am delighted that I was of some help.

  32. Thanks Sandeep for such a beautiful write up. I could visualise the correct location of Iran on International Map by reading your post. You have sketched a true picture of middle east geo political conditons. Keep enlightening

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I am glad that I could throw some light on a very complex and precarious situation in the Middle East.

    2. In fact as we speak Iran has attacked Al-Asad air base in western Iraq which is used by US forces. Situation may go out of hand if any party makes a mistake in calculation, like Cuban Missile Crisis.

      1. India is also one of the affected parties. The coming days are going to be crucial and testing times for India. India is already in Catch-22 situation due to heightened tension between the US and Iran, one a new love affair and another with 5000 years of common history and trade relationship. India was getting cheap crude from Iran, which was abruptly stopped once the US didn’t give an exemption to India to import oil from sanction-ridden Iran. Now with the latest developments, India’s over $3.5B exports to the country are also in doll drums. My feeling is that Trump is not there for a war, however, however, this action of Iran has complicated the issue. The only silver lining in the whole episode is that we see Trump backing down. So let’s wait and watch with fingers crossed.

      2. How are you people doing? I hope, all my blogger friends are doing fine and helping out the people in need.

    1. I do agree with you. The situation is very precarious and all concerned parties need to defuse tension. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

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