Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Has Iran Started Its Shadow War of Revenge Against the U.S. for the Killing of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani?

At the start of the year, I explained in the EPJ Daily Alert, why Iran launched missiles against the U.S. as retaliation for President Trump's killing of  Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani and what to look for in the long run:
There are serious misconceptions as to what occurred last night with regard to the Iranian missile attack on US bases in Iraq in retaliation to the US assassination of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani.
Many "analysts"/talking heads were surprised that Iran launched a direct attack rather than through proxies.
These "analysts" fail to understand why proxies are used and why a direct attack was launched.
Iran generally uses proxies because it does not want to get into a direct confrontation with the U.S.
It just wants sanctions removed and for the U.S. to leave Iraq (preferably the entire Middle East). The proxy attacks serve as an ideal vehicle to push the U.S. in this direction. It is tough to blame Iran for the actions while at the same time it makes it costly for the U.S. and its allies. It is a type of covert state-sponsored guerrilla warfare, which is a wise choice for Iran from a strategic perspective given the military superiority of the U.S.
It wants to make it as difficult as possible for the U.S. to operate in the region but at the same time make it difficult for the U.S. to respond with a full military strike.
The response to the assassination of Soleimani had a different goal. It was to signal the Iranian masses, who wanted revenge, that Iran would not tolerate such acts by the U.S. and would strike back. That Iran notified the Swiss embassy, which serves as the conduit for communications between Iran and the U.S., two hours before the attack, which gave U.S. military personnel plenty of time to take cover, is all the indication you need that Iran does not want an all-out confrontation with the U.S...

Thus, for now, it is back to the shadow war for Iran. This could take many forms through proxies, such as, another attack on oil facilities, an attack on shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, a cyberattack on U.S. power infrastructure or the banking sector. Or a dozen other possible targets.
Iran wants the U.S. out of the Middle East and Trump's assassination of Soleimani has intensified that resolve. Iran, via the shadows, is going to come at Trump and the U.S. in every way possible.

The first indication of the new intensity in Iran's shadow war with the U.S. may be coming out of Afghanistan.

Moon of Alabama writes:
Under the Trump administration U.S. air attacks in Afghanistan have sharply increased. But it now seems that the Taliban have acquired some means to counter them...

The U.S. military and its allies and Afghan proxies are not the only ones fighting. The Taliban can hit back at helicopters and planes and, judging from the number of recent air incidents, they now have found effective means to do so...Four helicopter losses in one month is quite significant.

Earlier today there were reports that a civilian Afghan airliner had come down. Those turned out to be false. But a plane had indeed crashed in Ghazni province south of Kabul. It was a military one...

There appear to exist only four of these planes which are heavily modified Bombardier Global 6000 ultra long-range business jets. They are only used in Afghanistan.

The loss is significant. The ground troops depend on radio communication when they direct bombers to their targets. Without the flying relay stations they have no chance to do so in Afghanistan's mountainous terrain.

It is not known what new means the Taliban have to take down planes and helicopters. In 2018 a few Stinger anti-air missiles were found during a raid on some Taliban. But those seem to have been old and were probably no longer functioning. Helicopters can be brought down with machine guns or even with anti-tank missiles (RPGs).

But the E-11A usually fly at a significant altitude and the crashed plane was not near an airport. The usual man-portable air-defense missiles (MANPAD) like the U.S. made Stinger reach a maximum altitude of only some 3.500 meters.

That opens the possibility that the Taliban have acquired new supplies of larger missiles. One wonders where those would come from...

On January 5 Hizbullah leader Hassan Nazrallah announced how the 'resistance axis' would respond to the U.S. murder of the Iranian General Soleimani and the Iraqi PMU leader Al-Muhandis...

Using effective means to take down even high flying U.S. planes would be one possible way to achieve that aim.

But Iran is not the only possible source of such missiles. China and Russia also produce effective anti-air missiles and the military in Pakistan and in Tajikistan have bought those in significant numbers. All these countries usually hold back from providing anti-air missiles to militants as they could also endanger their own (civil) airplanes.

But the loss of five aircraft in one month in Afghanistan might well mean that this has changed.
There it is a shadow operation. Iran might be behind it, but maybe not.

That is the advantage of shadow operations, it is difficult to know who is behind them. Indeed, it could even be Russia or China. They could be thinking, "Hey, we can supply the Taliban with better missiles and the U.S. will make Iran the top suspect." Iran might not even mind this. Or it could be an Iranian operation all the way. Who knows?

I expect these shadow operations to intensify, there are a lot of different operators that want the U.S. out of the Middle East. The assassination of Soleimani, and the general bullying by the U.S., just keeps U.S. targeted nations focused on operating to cause pain and injury to the Empire and its operations in the Middle East. 



  1. If the US faces a threat to its air assets in the Middle East, the game has completely changed. We fight with low levels of troops because we own the air. When US troops find themselves in contact with enemy troops, the first action is to call air assets. Once over the battlefield, the US troops can see over obstacles, use the aircraft's sensors to find enemy troops, and destroy them with guns and bombs. The US aircraft fly with complete impunity, circling and supporting the troops on the ground.
    If that cannot happen, our troops will find themselves fighting on even terms at best. The local fighters know the terrain and have the support of the local population so we will begin to take casualties at much higher rates. We are not prepared for that.

    1. The US is long past due to discontinue empire building. They are like the chicken once the head is removed.

      Still flailing around.

  2. New reports that senior CIA official and planner of the Suleimani assassination, Michael D'Andrea, was on that aircraft.

  3. The wreckage of that E11A looked pretty intact for having been through a high altitude missile strike; instead of pieces the fuselage was pretty much all in one piece and upright on the ground. Very different from what was left of the airliner in Iran. Very suspicious to me.

  4. Just saw this on Drudge: