Is the Mullah Regime in Iran an Intimidating Force?

Joseph Puder, Inside a tyranny’s tactics of bullying and issuing reckless threats.

Intimidation through threats is a relied upon weapon the Islamic Republic of Iran regime has used effectively throughout its existence. It is particularly effective with the left-leaning U.S. mainstream media, which together with the socialist elements in the Democratic party, have raised the level of fear and panic in America in the aftermath of the U.S. killing of arch-terrorist Qassem Soleimani, last week. As this reporter expected, the Iranian regime is far more fearful of President Trump’s reaction to any harm caused to American citizens. They fear the might of the U.S. (the U.S. is by far more powerful than Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and the Iranians couldn’t even beat the Iraqis) and the unpredictability of President Trump. So, is the Iranian regime intimidating enough to be feared?

The Iranian regime is trying to intimidate America (and Israel) with its regularly organized and ritualized rallies in which thousands in the crowds yell “death to America, death to Israel,” and proceed to burn American and Israeli flags. The threat by Iran to unleash its proxy forces, particularly the Lebanese Hezbollah terrorists, is always insinuated, if not pronounced loudly.

CBS-News reported on January 9, 2020 that, Amir Ali Hajizadeh, who is the head of the Revolutionary Guard’s Aerospace Force, said that the recent Iranian attacks, in which no one was killed, “marked the beginning of a string of attacks across the region.” China’s Xinhuanet (New China) reported (5/26/2019) that Iran threatened to sink U.S. warships by a secret weapon. “Iran has two new ‘top secret weapons’ and may use them to sink U.S. warships,” Morteza Qorbani, an advisor to the chief commander of the IRGC was quoted as saying to the Tehran Times Daily.” Qorbani added, “in case of the smallest foolish act by the enemy in the Gulf waters, they will find out what we will do to them. The IRGC may use its weapons to sink U.S. warships with everything and everyone on board.”

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Bloomberg reported (April 22, 2019) that Alireza Tangsire, head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) navy force threatened, “if we are prevented from using it, we will close it. (the Strait of Hurmuz).” He was referring to the shipment of Iranian oil exports, as the U.S. plans to end the wavers on Iranian oil exports. Earlier, (December 27, 2011) Iranian Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi threatened to cut off oil supplies from the Strait of Hurmuz should economic sanctions limit, or cut off, Iranian oil exports.

The threat to Israel is far more ominous. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, threatened to “wipe Israel off the map,” a New York Times headline proclaimed on October 27, 2005. Ahmadinejad was speaking to 4,000 students when he said that.  According to the Washington Examiner (1/7/ 2020) “Iran is warning that if there is (a U.S.) retaliation for the two waves of attacks they launched, their 3rd wave will destroy Dubai, and Haifa.”

To their own people, Tehran said that the attack on U.S. bases in Erbil (in Iraq’s Kurdistan), and the Al Asad air base in the Al-Anbar province (western Iraq), with a dozen ballistic missiles, was in revenge for the death of Major-General Soleimani, head of the Quds Force. The Iranian regime and Hezbollah share in lying to their people.  Tehran informed the Iranian people that their missiles killed dozens of Americans and damaged the American bases. The Iranian missiles damaged an aircraft hangar, but no U.S. casualties were incurred. Similarly, Hezbollah’s boasted last September that their rockets” destroyed an Israeli military vehicle, killing and wounding those inside.” In fact, the vehicle was parked and there were no casualties.

The Iranian regime may appear to be rather powerful, according to the Business Insider survey of the most powerful militaries (2019), which ranked Iran at number 14 out of 137 counties.  Israel, with a tenth of Iran’s population is ranked number 17 in conventional non-nuclear terms. Yet, Israel’s military budget of $19.6 billion, by far exceeds Iran’s $6.3 billion, not to mention the U.S. defense budget, estimated at $716 billion. In terms of military personnel, the U.S. dwarfs Iran’s military with 2,141,900 to Iran’s 873,000. Israel’s military personnel is listed at 615,000. In combat aircraft terms, Israel can field 253 modern supersonic fighters to Iran’s 142 more antiquated jets. The U.S. is the number one military power in the world with the highest number of super modern combat jet fighters, numbering 2,362.

The mullah regime in Iran has created, through oppression, numerous domestic enemies including Kurds, Arabs, and Baluch, most of them being Sunni-Muslims. These minorities have taken up arms against the Islamic Republic. The mullah regime has also persecuted its own fellow Shiite (Persians) hanging teenage boys and girls, harassing students on university campuses, and educated Middle-class folks. The Bazaar traders, who are an important economic element in the Iranian society, also suffered under this regime.  Iranian-Azeris (at least 20% of the population of Iran) who are Shiite, are seeking cultural autonomy. They want to have the right to speak their own Turkic language. In recent weeks, feeling threatened by massive protests, the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ordered his security official to do “whatever it takes” to suppress the spontaneous protests by ordinary Iranians. Reuters reported on December 23, 2019, that “About 1,500 people were killed during less than two weeks of unrest that started on November 15. The toll, provided to Reuters by three Iranian interior ministry officials, included at least 17 teenagers and about 400 women as well as some members of the security forces and police.”

The Iranian regular armed forces known as the ‘Artesh,’ has been relegated by the mullahs to a subordinate role. For one thing, they do not trust the army. Immediately following the 1979 Iranian revolution, Khomeini and his gang liquidated the army’s top echelon, accusing them of loyalty to the Shah, and fearing a counter-coup. Artesh is denuded of a modern air force, using F-4 fighter-bombers dating back to the Shah’s time. Iran itself has not fully recovered from the Eight-year war with Iraq (1980-1988), and the U.S., EU, and UN sanctions have made Iran a pariah in the international arms market. China, and North Korea are Iran’s main military suppliers. Russia is more judicious in providing arms to Iran. In 2016, Moscow refused to deliver to Iran 200 Sukhoi SU-30 multirole air superiority fighters. Russia has also delayed supplying Tehran with the S-300 air-defense missiles.

While both the U.S. and Israel must take Iranian threats seriously, neither country must resort to panic and fear. Iran could never win in a war with either the U.S. or Israel, and most importantly, the Ayatollahs must consider that in case of war, they might lose their hold on power. That is the major consideration for the Tehran regime. As it is, the regime does not enjoy a great deal of legitimacy among a large segment of Iranian people. Intimidation and threats are predominantly defensive measures the mullahs use. They know all too well their vulnerabilities.

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