US Army Reserve Command
In a recent and tragic turn of events, three U.S. soldiers lost their lives, and 25 others sustained injuries in lethal drone attacks targeting U.S. bases in Jordan.
These ruthless assaults were orchestrated by Iran-backed militias operating within the territories of Syria and Iraq. This incident comes on the heels of previous Iran-backed Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea, including an assault on a U.S. Navy destroyer.
These actions are all interconnected within the broader context of Iran’s shadow war against the United States and its allies, particularly Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Now, both within and outside the U.S. government, there are growing voices pressuring the Biden administration to punish Tehran by launching retaliatory strikes directly against Iran.
The October 7th Hamas attack on Israel was the first step in uncovering how Iran threatens the region by escalating tensions and promoting sectarian violence. From terrorist activity in Israel to Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, and the Red Sea, all roads lead back to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
Established in 1979 shortly after the Iranian Revolution, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was formed to safeguard the newly established Islamic Republic by creating a military force dedicated to revolutionary ideology rather than the traditional Iranian military associated with the Shah.
The IRGC operates independently, reporting directly to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, granting it substantial autonomy and influence beyond the regular armed forces and civilian government.
The IRGC’s official functions include military defense to protect Iran’s territorial integrity and maintaining internal security by suppressing dissent while upholding revolutionary ideology.
Beyond Iran’s border, the IRGC is responsible for conducting revolutionary ideological outreach and engaging in foreign military operations through the Quds Force.
The latter includes both covert and overt operations abroad, supporting regional proxies such as Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Houthis. The Quds Force provides logistical, financial, and military support to Shia militias and terrorist organizations, serving as Tehran’s regional extensions. This further advances its political and security interests while destabilizing neighboring countries.
The IRGC was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) by the Trump administration in October 2017. This designation persists under the Biden administration. U.S. lawmakers have also encouraged the EU to similarly designate the IRGC as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) for its support of Russian war crimes in Ukraine.
Now that Israel is waging war on Hamas and the U.S. has launched retaliatory strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen, these terrorist militias are seeing the consequences of their actions. While liberals are calling for a ceasefire, many conservatives are demanding harsher reprisals.
Regardless of how some Americans feel about Israeli-Palestinian tensions and Tehran’s challenge to regional security by backing militias in proxy wars, it is irrefutable that the Houthi attacks in the Red Sea are direct national security concerns challenging U.S. interests in the Middle East.
Apart from the regime’s aggression and state-sponsored terrorism, Tehran’s violation of nuclear non-proliferation agreements poses a danger to global security. Protecting American interests in the Middle East by standing up to Iran would promote stability and peace in the region.
At the same time, the U.S. must support traditional allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia, preventing the spread of Islamic extremism and its threat to Western values.
Critics of the Biden administration are demanding strong leadership and decisive action in confronting Iranian aggression. Senator Tom Cotton has charged that the Biden administration’s appeasement of Iran has enabled further terrorist activity, leading to the deaths of U.S. soldiers.
Senator Lindsey Graham feels that the U.S. response must go beyond sanctions and diplomacy, which have proved ineffective over the past 40 years. In a speech harkening back to calls to “bomb Iran” after the seizure of the US embassy in Tehran in 1979, he suggested that the U.S. should bomb IRGC headquarters and other strategic positions in Iran, as well as the oil fields that provide income to the regime. Senator Graham said, “They have a Revolutionary Guard headquarters you can see from space. Blow it off the map.”
Iran’s backing of terrorism, both financially and militarily, directly fuels geopolitical instability. This, in turn, poses a significant threat to the United States and the international rules-based order.
A strategic move, such as targeting oil wells, not only cripples Tehran’s financial resources and its ability to support terrorist organizations but also undermines China’s global ambitions by removing a source of low-cost oil.
Opting for direct military action against Iran would not only send a strong message against the murder of U.S. personnel abroad but also serve as a clear warning to groups like Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Houthis that they could face similar consequences in the future.
Dr. Antonio Graceffo, PhD, China MBA, is an economist and national security analyst with a focus on China and Russia. He is a graduate of American Military University.
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