Rod Reuven Dovid Bryant and Jerry Gordon bring back Dr. Stephen Bryen, former Reagan era Pentagon official, military technology expert and Asia Times columnist to address Iran’s capabilities in the current standoff with the Trump Administration in the Persian Gulf and Middle East. Iran has leveraged proxies in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Gaza by transferring missile and drone technology to engage in asymmetrical warfare against US assets and allies as pushback for imposition of severe economic sanctions. Bryen noted that Iran cannot stand toe to toe with the vast power of the US military. That is exemplified in the redeployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier battle group from the Mediterranean to the Arabian Sea approaches to the maritime chokepoint of the Straits of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf. Bryen is concerned about the offer of a Russian S-400 system to Iraq. That would threaten air operations out of the strategic al-Asad air base with 5,200 US troops in Anbar province and Israeli F-35s flying missions in adjacent Syria. A Katyusha rocket, with a range of 25 miles found with Iranian markings on its tail fin, that hit Baghdad’s ‘green zone’ may have been launched by an Iran – controlled Iraqi Shi’ite Popular Mobilization militia. These Iraqi Shi’ite proxies of Iran may have been transferred longer distance missiles such as the Zelzal (which has a range of 250 km), the Fateh-110 (200-300 km) and Zolfaqar (700km). These longer-range missiles equipped with large conventional warheads “would put Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh or Tel Aviv within striking distance if the weapons were deployed in southern or western Iraq”. Iran has effectively used relatively crude armed drones, that Hezbollah also possesses, that attacked Saudi pipelines and pumping stations from Yemen. Regarding anti- ship threats, Bryen said that Iran has both shore and fast boat mounted Chinese missiles that could attack US naval vessels. He cited a Hezbollah anti- ship missile attack from Lebanon that crippled an Israeli Sa’ar frigate. Iran also has mini submarines with small torpedoes and missiles. Bryen said that Iran has Russian-made Kilo submarines, capable of silent running with torpedoes capable of attacking US naval vessels. These may be the equivalent of the Israeli German – built Dolphin submarines. Turkey’s completion of its purchase of Russian S-400 air defense systems, alleged joint development of the S-500 system and Russia’s offer of stealth aircraft such as the SU-35 and SU-57 are indicative of the unraveling of NATO. Bryen suggested that is also reflected in the posturing of France’s Macron and Germany’s Merkel endeavoring to establish a European defense system. Merkel has labelled as geo-political threats China, Russia and the US.
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