Rod Reuven Dovid Bryant and Jerry Gordon bring back Dr. Stephen Bryen to address the alleged Iran Revolutionary Guards provocative attack on two foreign flag oil tankers in the strategic Gulf of Oman. Bryen is a former Capitol Hill foreign policy staffer, Reagan-era Pentagon official, noted military technologist and Asia Times columnist. Bryen emphasized the dangers of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards rogue activities perpetrating these incidents and ultimately the likely achievement of game changing nuclear capabilities. He also noted that emergence of US energy independence through private exploitation of domestic resources has created a strategic paradigm shift with the US economy less dependent on imports of crude oil from the Gulf region. Europe, Asia, China and Japan are more dependent on Gulf crude oil production and US protection of the vital sea lines of communications to those markets. Bryen suggests that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards perpetrated the May 12th and June 13th incidents to upstage Japanese Premier Abe’s mission to facilitate possible discussions between the Trump Administration and Tehran. The Revolutionary Guards, presumably the head of its Quds Force, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, conducted the intimidation campaign mining the tankers. That convinced Supreme Ruler Khamenei to send a no negotiations message to President Trump when he met with Premier Abe. Bryen noted the video captured by US Navy MH-60R Seahawk Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) system and later color photos caught IRGC navy patrol craft removing limpet mines from the hulls of the disabled tankers. To his view, that confirmed their limited intimidation objective. Bryen underlined that these were foreign flag tankers and not US or Gulf allies’ vessels. Calls for brusque military retaliation in the wake of Iran’s alleged actions, by New York Times columnist Bret Stephens, US Senator Tom Cotton, among others, in Bryen’s views, were not justified. Bryen noted that the mining threat in the Persian Gulf sea lanes revealed the absence of a minesweeping capability by the US Navy that was abandoned after the Gulf Wars. Our government sold Italian designed fiberglass vessels to foreign governments. Instead the US Navy uses the CH-53 Super Sea Stallion helicopters with limited anti-mining capabilities. He noted that Iran has shot done US Reaper drones using the Russian provided radar-guided SA-6 system. Bryen considers that superior to the infrared guided SA-7 that failed to take down another US drone loitering near the disabled tankers. He noted that drones are difficult to shoot down as they have a small target signature. Bryen suggested that allegations about Iran’s proxy Houthi missile and drone attacks belie the reality that Iran is conducting these attacks against Saudi oil facilities or last weekend’s attack against Saudi airports. Iran’s military capabilities, other than projecting power through proxies’ terrorist capabilities, Bryen thinks has yet to be tested against the formidable US capabilities. Bryen noted that the only conventional war that Iran fought was with Iraq in the 1980’s, where it did not fair very well incurring significant casualties. He remains concerned over Iran’s threats to renew uranium enrichment breaching the 2015 nuclear agreement, while the Trump Sanctions have had severe economic impacts. Bryen suggests the US should create a sophisticated regime change strategy to block the Revolutionary Guards from expansionist objectives backed by possible nuclear weapons.
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