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Dynamics of Iran's Continuing Asymmetric Warfare
Dynamics of Iran's Continuing Asymmetric Warfare

On Thursday, January 09, 2020 – The National Council on U.S-Arab Relations hosted an event in light of the latest escalations between U.S. and Iran in Rayburn Building in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The speakers were Dr. John Duke Anthony, the founder and CEO of the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, Dr. Anthony H. Cordesman, the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Mr. David Des Roches an Associate Professor at the National Defense University’s Near East South Asia Center for Security Studies and Dr. Thomas Mattair the executive Director of the Middle East Policy Council.

The event discussed dynamics of Iran’s continuing asymmetric warfare and the implications for the United States in the Region. Speakers probed the events of the past week and the future as well as the importance of the US military presence in Iraq. Other topics mentioned were defense budgets of GCC nations spent, military tactics and strategies of Iran.

Dr. John Duke Anthony explained the geopolitics of the Middle East and GCC. He said, “Here we are in a region of 22 Arab countries, one Iran, one Israel and one Turkey, these major factors, construe major forces… The region is one of two kinds of oil, Turmoil, and the other kind, which both complicate the area and make it far more important than what otherwise would be the case.”

Mr. David Des Roches who was connected by Skype from Saudi Arabia spoke to the audience and stated, “When you look at how Iran fights, the first thing that is important is that Iran doesn’t seem to dominate the area. I’m sure they’d like too but it realizes that they don’t have the ability to do it but it can achieve strategic aims by disrupting things.”


Using a slideshow, Mr. Des Roches explained how Iran is using proxy attacks, disrupting shipping and taking hostages.

He asked to not be quoted as a government expert.

Dr. Anthony H. Cordesman was the third speaker of the event. His speech was focused on two major issues. The basic changes in the nature warfare, not only in Iran but also in the gulf, Middle East and a good part of the world; and the extent which the United States will maintain its presence and its commitments in the Gulf and the region.

Dr. Cordesman’s presentation was majorly pointing out to the reasons why the U.S. should stay in the Middle East.

Dr. Thomas Mattair highlighted the need of a coherent policy for Iran. He indicated, “We need a coherent strategy. We don’t have one. I agree with Tony that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was a good agreement and I do think it was a mistake to leave…” Dr. Mattair added, “I’m struck by something that David said which is that Iran likes to operate on a level that is below the level that is going to get loud attention here and that means that we have not responded very effectively to the things that they have done.”


In December 27, 2019, Kataib Hezbollah fired 30 rockets at an Iraqi base that hosted U.S. forces, killing an American contractor. U.S. reacted by attacking Kataib Hezbollah’s bases in the Syria- Iraq border. On the New Year’s Eve Kataib Hezbollah and Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), among many other pro Iran militias, attacked the U.S. Embassy, destroyed some parts of the entrance and put the embassy under siege, while Iraqi security forces did nothing to prevent them entering the highly secured Green Zone in Baghdad.

On January 1, 2020, the U.S. Forces eliminated Ghasem Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force accompanied by Abu Mahdi Al Mohandes, the head of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) at his arrival close to the Baghdad International Airport which sparked further escalations between U.S. and Iran.

Iranian leaders promised a harsh revenge and officially launched missiles from Iran towards Eyn Al Assad camp in Iraq. The attack didn’t have any casualties which was widely translated as a sign of de-escalation.

"Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world," Trump said on Wednesday after the missile attack.