Jonathan Spyer – A couple of thoughts on the current US-Iran situation. / 21 June 2019

  1. If Iran manages to continue to supply its various regional proxies, as it is currently doing, (in spite of the undoubted significant impact of US sanctions) and to continue its policy of low level strikes on US-allied and now US assets and facilities with no military retribution, then after a while the perception will emerge and take hold in the region and globally that Teheran has successfully defied the will of the superpower. This will be in spite of any evidence of economic hardships facing the Iranian people. The Iranians may well have calculated that with an election approaching, the US President is determined to avoid it taking place against the background of another messy and inconclusive war of attrition in the Middle East.
  2. There appears to be a notion afoot that any US military response means ‘war’ with Iran. This is not so, and if this perception prevents US responses to attacks, then the meaning of it is that Iran has successfully imposed deterrence on the US. At present, there is one US ally which has on numerous occasions carried out direct military strikes against Iranian personnel and facilities, without provoking Teheran into responding by launching a general conventional war which it knows it couldn’t win. That ally is Israel. Israel has not succeeded in destroying or reversing the Iranian build up in Syria but it has succeeded in turning it back and severely disrupting it. This example should be borne in mind.