– War on the Rocks – On June 25, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani announced a possible game-changer — that by March 2021, his country would upgrade its energy infrastructure to bypass entirely the Strait of Hormuz when it exports its oil. These upgrades would include a new pipeline and port facilities in the southern coast bordering the Gulf of Oman. And the recently announced comprehensive between Iran and China, a 25-year agreement that would cover energy, infrastructure, and military cooperation among other things, appears to stipulate the development of parts of this plan with support from Beijing. The deal also provides for the development of a new port that would rest comfortably in Chinese control. Rouhani’s ambitious new plan would allow Iran to close the Strait of Hormuz without losing its ability to export oil and forfeiting corresponding revenues. It would also allow Iran to sustain energy supplies to China, thus avoiding the political backlash that might come from taking more offensive actions in the Strait of Hormuz. Through this action, which seems to have been missed by many in the United States, Iran may be signaling its calculus is changing.
– New Yorker – For decades, Ayatollah Khamenei has professed enmity with America. Now his regime is threatened from within the country.
– Yahoo – Sean Naylor describes what the armed forces of the United States’ longtime rival in the Middle East look like.
– National Interest – James Holmes writes that the coming weeks and months may see irregular warfare prosecuted with newfound vigor through such familiar unconventional warmaking methods. It’s doubtful Tehran would launch into conventional operations, stepping onto ground it knows America dominates. To launch full-scale military reprisals would justify full-scale U.S. military reprisals that, in all likelihood, would outstrip Iran’s in firepower and ferocity.
– BBC – Iran’s most powerful military commander, General Qasem Soleimani, has been killed by a US air strike in Iraq. The 62-year-old spearheaded Iranian military operations in the Middle East as head of Iran’s elite Quds Force.
– National Interest – Getting into a fight may not be wise, but some sort of military clash between the United States and Iran appears increasingly likely. If fight we must, let’s at least stride—not stumble—onto the battleground.
– Yahoo News – On Thursday evening, U.S. Cyber Command launched a retaliatory digital strike against an Iranian spy group that supported last week’s limpet mine attacks on commercial ships, according to two former intelligence officials.
– Breaking Defense – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wants to establish a 20-country coalition to protect commercial shipping in the Middle East. But the US already leads a 33-country coalition doing just that.
– The Hill – Tension is mounting between Washington and Tehran with Thursday’s shooting down of a U.S. drone by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. What would a U.S.-Iran war in the Persian Gulf look like? It’s worth trying to envision the contours of such a maelstrom before America drifts into one.
– US Naval Institute Proceedings – It was a protest chant heard across the nation during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis. And it echoes into the current age. But actually going to war with Iran may yield some unintended consequences.
– New York Times – Iranian warplanes shot at an American military surveillance drone flying over the Persian Gulf near Iran last week, Pentagon officials disclosed Thursday. They said that the aircraft, a Predator drone, was flying in international airspace and was not hit and that the episode had prompted a strong protest to the Iranian government.
– New Yorker – A look at why Israel’s notorious ex-spymaster, Meir Dagan, has become a dissident against an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
– Aviation Week – Evidence is mounting that the U.S. defense community and the Obama administration view 2013 as the likely window for a bombing attack on Iran’s nuclear and missile facilities. It could be earlier, timed to use the chaos of the Syrian government’s fall to disguise such an attack, or later, if international negotiations with Iran stretch out without failing completely. But there is evidence that Iran’s intransigence over shutting down its uranium-enrichment program will not buy it much more time. Because of these shifting factors, military planners and White House advisers are still debating the advisability of a kinetic attack on Iran even though they say that option is ready.
– New Yorker – Seymour Hirsch looks at US covert operations in Iran.
– Defense Media Network – Persian Incursion wargame designer Larry Bond describes strategies that help one side or the other if Israel were to attack Iran.
– Defense Media Network – Excellent discussion by Persian Incursion wargame designer Larry Bond on the points that are routinely missed by the media in any discussion of a potential attack by Israel on Iran.
– New York Times – A classified war simulation held this month to assess the repercussions of an Israeli attack on Iran forecasts that the strike would lead to a wider regional war, which could draw in the United States and leave hundreds of Americans dead, according to American officials.
– BBC – For all the myriad challenges facing Israel over the past decade it is the potential threat from a nuclear-armed Iran that has preoccupied the country’s military planners.
– The Economist – Nobody should welcome the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran. But bombing the place is not the answer.
– Economist – The probability of an attack on Iran’s nuclear programme has been increasing. But the chances of it ending the country’s nuclear ambitions are low
– New York Times – Should Israel decide to launch a strike on Iran, its pilots would have to fly more than 1,000 miles across unfriendly airspace, refuel in the air en route, fight off Iran’s air defenses, attack multiple underground sites simultaneously — and use at least 100 planes.
– International Institute For Strategic Studies – Could Iran shut the Strait of Hormuz, or significantly hinder traffic passing through it? A recent decision by the European Union to impose a total embargo on the purchase of Iranian oil has prompted threats from Tehran to close the world’s most important oil chokepoint. However, an assessment of military capabilities deployed in the area, and of probable tactics, suggests that Iran would find it difficult or unpalatable to cause major disruption.
(Thanks to Worda for the link!)
– New York Times Magazine – For the first time since the Iranian nuclear threat emerged, the conditions for an Israeli assault have been met.
– Washington Post – According to David Ignatius, the Iran nuclear crisis is far from over, but Tehran appears to have made a subtle blink — backing away from its threat a few weeks ago to close the Strait of Hormuz in response to escalating U.S. sanctions.
– The Guardian – British officials consider contingency options to back up a possible US action as fears mount over Tehran’s capability