American Herald Tribune | Muhammad Ali Carter: Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corp, also known as the IRGC, has launched a series of missiles at terrorist military bases in Syria to avenge the deadly attacks on its capital Tehran that have been claimed by ISIS. The attack, carried out on Sunday, was the first missile launch by Iran outside its own territory since the Iran-Iraq war almost 30 years ago and is the first time Iran has launched such an attack since the Syrian war began, making this an unprecedented move by the Iranians since they entered the conflict.
It came just hours after the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a statement on his website, vowed Iran would ‘slap its enemies’ in honour of the victims’ families, including those killed in Syria.
During the operation codenamed “Laylat al-Qadr”, the IRGC fired six mid-range ballistic missiles at various targets, within a range of 650 to 700 kilometers. The Zulfiqar high-precision missiles (not to be confused with the Shahab-3 long distance missiles) were also used in the attack, fired from the western provinces of Kermanshah and Kurdistan; Iranian media reported large numbers of terrorists were killed and weapons destroyed. Reports of the launch, as reported by Iranian sources, said the attack targeted ‘a command base of the terrorists in Deir Ezzor’, an oil-rich eastern province currently occupied by ISIS in Syria.
Footage of the missiles being launched has been widely circulated on social media and on Iranian state TV showing the rockets being launched into the dark night sky. The missiles had to travel across western Iran, across the length of Iraq and into Syria, meaning the launch had to be coordinated closely with the Iraqi, Syrian and Russian governments in order to facilitate the disciplinary strike across such a wide area of territory demonstrating just how close Iranian logistical operations has become to its Russian & Arab partners.
On June 7, ISIS-inspired gunmen and suicide bombers attacked the Iranian parliament building complex and the shrine of late revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Tehran, killing 17 people in total; ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack not long after, leading to the Iranian military response.
This type of attack is an unprecedented step for the Iranians, however, it is not the missile strike itself which has attracted the greatest attention – the message *not* the missile has caused greater verbal vigor among commentators and political figures alike than the strike hitting ISIS has. Since the incident, several comments reveal that the idea behind the choice to launch the ballistic missiles was not just to hit back at ISIS and deter the terror group from any future attacks against Iran but furthermore to send a shock warning message to other, more powerful, actors in the Middle East’s geopolitical theatre who, according to Iran, have supported the growth of ISIS and the terror groups efforts to attack Iran.
Both the US & Saudi Arabia have been seen as hostile to Iran in recent years. The IRGC made an official statement which blamed Saudi Arabia and the US for the terrorist attack which took place in Tehran.
“This terrorist action, coming one week after the meeting of the president of the United States with the leader of one of the region’s reactionary governments [Saudi Arabia] shows they are involved in this savage action,” the IRGC said in a statement.
This ballistic missile attack comes amid a lengthy war of words between Iran and the US-Saudi alliance which has seen an escalation of threats ricocheting across both sides of the Persian Gulf. Saudi Arabia’s newly appointed crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, hurled a blatant threat towards Iran during May this year when he said: “we will make sure that the war is raged in Iran, not in Saudi Arabia.” – a statement which has largely been seen as an admission from the Saudi elite that they intend to support efforts to breach Iranian national security. Trump’s administration has also been rather blunt with its views on how to deal with the apparent “Iranian threat”. The US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, said in plain and simple terms when asked about his administration’s strategy on Iran.
“(The US plans) to work toward support of elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of that government. Those elements are there, certainly as we know”.
Iran has no opposition groups inside of the country which would demand a complete regime change – expect, perhaps, ISIS or the MEK – both of whom are considered by the Iranian authorities as terrorist groups which receive western support.
The Iranians have vowed that if ISIS, or anyone else for that matter, decides to attack Iran directly again then we shall see ever greater retaliatory strikes.
“If they carry out a specific action to violate our security, definitely there will be more launches, with intensified strength,”
IRGC General Ramazan Sharif said on Monday followed by the stern IRGC’s press office warning.
“The IRGC warns the takfiri terrorists and their regional and trans-regional supporters that they would be engulfed by its revolutionary wrath and flames of the fire of its revenge in case they repeat any such devilish and dirty move in future,” he said, according to the Iranian Fars News Agency.
The Iranians had a huge list of retaliatory options to choose from to teach ISIS that if they try a similar act of terror again, the Iranians won’t think twice about returning the favour in fatal abundance. Airstrikes would have had the same effect on the ground, yet, Iran’s elite force commanders decided to opt for the more ostentatious and controversial ballistic missile strike. The US has heavily criticised Iran for its continued efforts to expand its ballistic missile program, even threatening a new range of sanctions, should Iran continue. Iran’s choice to launch its missiles can only be taken as a sign of defiance against the USA’s position on Iran’s ballistic missile program; the Iranians have made many promises to both the Saudis and Israelis; should they decide to attack Iran, the Iranians would retaliate with a cataclysmic hailstorm of missile fire which would “leave no area untouched except Mecca and Medina,” and “raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground” prompting event the Israeli PM Netanyahu to react following the recent missile strike saying.
“We are following their (Iran’s) actions and we are following their words,” Netanyahu said. “I have one message to Iran: Don’t threaten Israel.”
Netanyahu’s saw the message loud and clear and felt a need to warn Iran following the strike, even though, Iran was hitting ISIS in Syria far away from the Syrian-Israel border. As a result, we can only assume as analysts that Iran’s plan succeeded, a message has been sent and received by those who would consider themselves enemies of Iran. The question now is what will the response be?
The US has admitted it is still considering its option regarding what the new administration’s policy will be to deal with Iran but what we can be sure of is it won’t be a pretty policy which seeks to bury animosity. In fact, I can see a very difficult time ahead for Middle Eastern stability, the evidence of which lies in the admission by former US secretary of state John Kerry during his talk at the annual retreat of mediators and peace process actors in Oslo, Norway.