A senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, Pregent published a map on Monday that shows the way the US can strike at Iran without needing to put any “boots on the ground” in Iran itself.“I made this to counter the narratives of ‘war with Iran’” he says. In recent days, amid the rising tensions between Washington and Tehran, western media have argued that US President Donald Trump and his National Security Advisor John Bolton are rushing into a conflict with Iran. Rumors have swirled of plans to send 120,000 US forces to the Middle East.
The US administration has downplayed these stories and said it is not seeking war.
“I wanted to show where and how Iran could hit the US and allies and what a measured response would be,” Pregent says.
In the last week, four oil tankers were sabotaged in the Gulf of Oman, Iranian-backed Houthis used drones to attack Saudi oil facilities and a rocket was fired near the US Embassy in Baghdad. The US has warned that any attack by Iran or its proxies would result in retaliation.
How might that retaliation look?
Pregent’s map shows a variety of pressure points where Iran, its allies and proxies are present. Iran is spread out over a huge arc that begins in the Bab el-Mandeb straits area all the way to Syria and Lebanon. Starting in Yemen, US allies – particularly the Saudis and Emiratis – could strike at the Houthis. In addition, the US or allies could strike at the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in the area.
If Americans are targeted in Iraq, the US could hit back at any of the Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias in Iraq. This includes Asaib Ahl al-Haq which is led by Qais Khazali, a one-time detainee of the Americans. Also Kata’ib Hezbollah, which is led by Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who the US views as a terrorist, could be targeted. Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba could also be targeted. The Iraqi political leader Muqtada al-Sadr already opposes these groups and many voices in Iraq want the Shi’ite militias to be reduced in their influence. Since the rocket attack near the US Embassy, these groups have sought to distance themselves from anti-American statements because they fear conflict.