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Despite its radical rhetoric, Tehran is a practitioner of Realpolitik, says Joe Fallon. Not unlike North Korea, its foreign policy centres on two fundamental pillars: preservation of the regime and preservation of the state. Because of its experience with the West, these two goals define Iran's actions, past, present, and future.

Iran and Turkey were the only two major Islamic States that preserved their political independence in the "Age of European Imperialism" (1870-1914). Three times Iran had to defend its independence and territorial integrity in the 20 th Century from foreign powers seeking to partition the country. In 1907, Russia and the United Kingdom sought to carve out "spheres of influence". The Russians occupied the north, Azerbaijan, while the British occupied the south, Baluchistan.

In 1941, the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom invaded a neutral Iran, overthrowing the government and dividing the country into "spheres of influence" - the Soviets in the north, the British in the west - to facilitate the transportation of war material to Stalin. In 1946, Soviet troops withdrew from Iran, but in its wake left behind independent, pro-Soviet Azeri and Kurdish (Mahabad) republics.

The Cold War did not begin with the Berlin Airlift (1948-1949), but with Stalin's attempt to partition Iran (1945-1946). In 2006, Colonel Ralph Peters writing in Armed Forces Journal proposed redrawing the map of the Middle East, with Iran partitioned along ethnic lines, as a U.S. foreign policy objective. In his article, "Blood Borders" , he takes Stalin's policy toward Iran and makes it America's. I wrote the rebuttal in Armed Forces Journal.

But the impact of "Blood Borders" was to convince many in Iran that Colonel Peter's article reflected the official thinking of Washington. It inflamed Iran's already heightened suspicion and mistrust of the U.S. Tehran actions in the Middle East to preserve regime and state seek to do so either by strengthening Iran or weakening her enemies. To that end, Iran has been successful. As Nadim Shehadi of Chatham House's Middle East Programme observed: "While theU.S. has been playing poker in the region, Iran has been playing chess." 


One example of Tehran playing chess is the dispute between Christian Armenia and Shia (former Soviet Republic) Azerbaijan. Tehran supports Armenia. Despite the fact Azerbaijan is a fellow Shia country and even though Azeris are the second largest ethnic group in Iran, the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei is, himself, an ethnic Azeri, national security, not religious affiliation, determines Tehran's policy. Azerbaijan is considered a potential threat to Iran because of its extensive military cooperation with the U.S. including permitting the U.S. use of its military bases. Tehran believes a victory by pro-US Azerbaijan over Armenia could lead Washington and Baku to foment secession in Iranian Azerbaijan.. As in chess, Tehran is thinking several moves ahead. By supporting Armenia, Tehran is also courting the Armenian Diaspora, especially the Armenian population in the U.S.

Another example is Afghanistan. To insure Iran's national security, Tehran discarded past policies and embraced past enemies. The rise of the Islamic State in Afghanistan is perceived byTehran as a greater threat than the Taliban. So despite decades of Tehran and the Taliban being sworn enemies, "daggers drown", Tehran has been working with the Taliban to secure the 572 mile Afghan-Iran border from infiltration by Islamic State militants. Iran is "going even further, and enlisting elements of the Taliban to slow the Islamic State's expansion inside Afghanistan".  At the same time and for the same reason, insuring Iran's national security, and thinking several moves ahead, Tehran's policy change to work with the Taliban also seeks to undo the U.S. presence in Afghanistan.

To preserve regime and state, Tehran has changed its foreign policy at other times when faced with external pressures or changing political landscapes. Initially, in the wake of the success of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, Iran now lead by Ayatollah Khomeini, sought to export the revolution. Khomeini sought a Sunni-Shia alliance to expel Western influences from the region. Sunni governments rejected the offer and supported Iraq's invasion of Iran. Tehran changed policy. Khomeini called upon Muslims to overthrow the Sunni rulers of the oil rich Gulf States who were funding Iraq – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman.

Years later, to weaken Saudi Arabia, its principle regional adversary, and the United Arab Emirates, Tehran changed policy once more by establishing de facto "alliances" with the Gulf States of Qatar and Oman. For Tehran, current national security needs takes precedence over religious affiliation or past policy.


In the 1980s, Tehran, in an attempt to break out of the international isolation imposed on Iran by the world's reaction to the excesses of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, focused on the oppression of fellow Shias in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. In Saudi Arabia, a Shia uprising encouraged by Iran was suppressed by Riyadh. But as victims of official discrimination, if not persecution, the Shia unrest in Saudi Arabia simmers and can be exploited by Iran at a time of Tehran's choosing.


In Lebanon, on the other hand, Tehran succeeded in creating Hizbullah as a rival to the existing, conventional Lebanese Shia party, Amal. The goal of Hizbullah was to transform Lebanon into an Islamic state modeled on Iran., to be Iran's proxy in Lebanon and Tehran's window to the world. In its 1985 manifesto, known as the "open letter", Hizbullah declared "We obey the orders of one leader, wise and just, that of our tutor and faqih (jurist) who fulfills all the necessary conditions: Ruhollah Musawi Khomeini. God save him!" 


Lebanese elements including many local Shia objected to Iran's interference in Lebanon's domestic affairs. In 1943, Lebanon had achieved independence from France under the terms of the National Pact. By this agreement, the various religious denominations inhabiting Lebanon agreed to Lebanon as a confessional republic. This is "a form of consociationalism in which the highest offices are proportionately reserved for representatives from certain religious communities." However, the system had flaws. The Lebanese Shia were often the victims of discrimination and government neglect. But there was no unanimity with the Shia community to support Hizbullah.

Fearing a civil war within in the Shia, as well as war with Lebanon's other religious denominations, and their foreign supporters, Hizbullah and Iran became "flexible". For the present, Hizbullah would work within the confessional system. Tehran had changed policy in face of significant opposition. But more importantly, Tehran views Hizbullah as a bargaining chip in negotiations with the West on normalization of relations.

To that end, "On 4 May 2003, the Iranian government sent a proposal to Washington, in which Tehran offered the Bush administration direct talks over a wide range of issues. This proposal, which later became known as the Iranian "grand bargain", offered negotiations over Iran's support for groups such as Hamas and Hizbullah, stabilising Iraq, and Iran's nuclear programme. Feeling emboldened by its recent victory in Iraq, the Bush administration ignored the offer. "We don't talk to evil," was the reply from vice-president Cheney who, according to some reports, had Iran in its sights as the next target for regime change." 

Relying on military power alone has been counter-productive. The Bush Administration's military action in Iraq and Afghanistan opened the door to Tehran's influence spreading through the region. Instead of Iran being surrounded by armed, hostile, Sunni powers – Saddam Hussein's Iraq to the west, the Taliban's Afghanistan to the east, and Saudi Arabia to the south  - Iranian influence now extends virtually unchecked from the Mediterranean Sea to the Hindu Kush Mountains. Any military action undertaken by the U.S. directly against Iran would only further destabilise the region and endanger the world economy by making the Strait of Hormuz, through which much of the world' oil is shipped, a war zone.


Iran's economy is suffering. Tehran desperately wants existing sanctions lifted. Increase sanctions with the offer to negotiate an end to all sanctions in a "grand bargain" as Tehran once proposed. Iran may very well accept. To preserve regime and state, Tehran has repeatedly shown it will change policy even to agreeing to work with its former enemies. The U.S. talked and negotiated with Stalin. The U.S. talked and negotiated with Mao Zedong. The U.S. can talk and negotiate with Tehran. This was advocated by Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski and General William Odom. Writing in an Op-Ed piece in the Washington Post, May 27, 2008, entitled "A Sensible Path on Iran", Dr. Brzezinski and General Odom stated "A successful approach to Iran has to accommodate its security interests and ours...there is no credible reason to assume that the traditional policy of strategic deterrence, which worked so well in U.S. relations with the Soviet Union and with China and which has helped to stabilize India-Pakistan hostility, would not work in the case of Iran."

Joe Fallon is a Senior Research Associate with the U K Defence Forum. This is an edited version of his contribution to a Reach Back study produced by Strategic Multilayer Assessment
(Joint Staff, J39) for US Central Command

HMS NclunnamedOn 23rd November last year HMS Tyne returned to her river. On a wet and cold evening, then Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced that a future Type 26 City Class destroyer would be named HMS Newcastle – the ninth of that illustrious name.

There's going to be a new Geordie Gunboat.
Our editor has been telling people about the long history of her predecessors, so we're publishing his notes on the next page.

Olivier GuittaFour years ago, with the attacks in France, homegrown terrorism sprung at the forefront of the news in Europe. People started realising that the wave of jihadist attacks was carried out by individuals born and bred on the continent. Radicalisation had gone largely ignored and led in some cases to extreme violence. While the number of potential terrorists registered by countries such as the United Kingdom and France has alarmingly swelled to 30,000, the radicalisation phenomenon has also continued to spread in Europe, writes Olivier Guitta..

At the source of this radicalisation are very well-funded, extremely well-organised Islamist movements. For example, Salafism has expanded in Europe recently: from Belgium, where the federal state security agency has listed more than 100 Salafist organisations active in the country to France where the number of Salafist mosques has grown from 15 in 1990 to 60 in 2015 to 130 in 2018. Sweden is not spared as well, according to the report "Between Salafism and Salafi Jihadism", the number of Islamist extremists over the past decade there has grown tenfold, from 200 to 2,000. Salafism is one of the main sources of the spreading of violent Islamism in a number of Swedish cities. (more on page 2)

April 2019

Vice Admiral Nick Hine CB previously Assistant CHief of the Naval Staff Policy appointed Second Sea Lord and Deputy Chief of Naval Staff

11 March 2019

Air Commodore I D Gale MBE to be promoted Air Vice-Marshal and to be Assistant Chief of Air Staff in the Ministry of Defence with effect from 17 April 2019 in succession to Air Vice-Marshal G M D Mayhew CBE whose appointment as Deputy Commander Operations and Air Member for Operations has previously been announced.

Group Captain M W Smith OBE to be Commander Joint Intelligence Training Group and Joint Forces Command Chicksands in May 2019 in succession to Group Captain S S Stirrat.

20th FEBRUARY
Air Vice-Marshal S C Gray CB OBE to be promoted Air Marshal and to be Director General Defence Safety Authority in the Ministry of Defence with effect from 29 March 2019 in succession to Lieutenant General R F P Felton CBE.

Air Vice-Marshal G M D Mayhew CBE to be promoted Air Marshal and to be Deputy Commander Operations, Headquarters Air Command and Air Member for Operations with effect from 3 May 2019 in succession to Air Marshal S D Atha CB DSO who is retiring from the Service.

Air Vice-Marshal A M Turner CB CBE to be promoted Air Marshal and to be Deputy Commander Capability, Headquarters Air Command and Air Member for Personnel and Capability with effect from 23 May 2019 in succession to Air Marshal M Wigston CBE whose appointment as Chief of the Air Staff has previously been announced.

Air Commodore D G Bradshaw to be Assistant Chief of Staff Capability Delivery Combat Air, Headquarters Air Command in April 2019 in succession to Air Commodore L S Taylor OBE whose next appointment is yet to be announced.

Air Commodore R P Barrow CBE to be Assistant Chief of Staff Capability Delivery C2ISR, Headquarters Air Command in May 2019 in succession to Air Commodore I D Gale MBE whose next appointment is yet to be announced.

Air Commodore R J Dennis OBE to be Deputy Chief of Staff Support, Headquarters Allied Air Command, Ramstein with effect from 16 September 2019.

Acting Air Commodore D S Arthurton OBE was promoted Air Commodore on 11 February 2019 and is appointed Lightning Force Commander, Royal Air Force Marham in July 2019 in succession to Air Commodore D G Bradshaw.

Group Captain D P Manning to be promoted Air Commodore and to be Assistant Commandant (Air & Space) at the Joint Services Command & Staff College Shrivenham in June 2019 in succession to Air Commodore S M Miller whose appointment as Air Officer Force Protection, Force Protection Force Commander and Commandant General Royal Air Force Regiment has previously been announced.

Group Captain S A Marshall to be promoted Air Commodore and to be Commandant Royal Air Force College Cranwell in November 2019 in succession to Air Commodore P J M Squires OBE ADC whose next appointment is yet to be announced.

Group Captain J P Nixon to be Commandant No 3 Flying Training School, Royal Air Force Cranwell in December 2019 in succession to Group Captain E P Moriarty.

17th JANUARY
Air Marshal M Wigston CBE to be promoted Air Chief Marshal and to be Chief of the Air Staff and Aide de Camp to Her Majesty The Queen in July 2019 in succession to Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier KCB CBE DFC ADC who is retiring from the Service.

Air Vice-Marshal G Tunnicliffe to be Deputy Commandant Royal College of Defence Studies with effect from 26 April 2019 in succession to Rear Admiral J M L Kingwell CBE.

Air Commodore A K Gillespie CBE to be promoted Air Vice-Marshal and to be Air Officer Commanding No 2 Group in September 2019 in succession to Air Vice-Marshal D J E Cooper CBE whose next appointment is yet to be announced.

Group Captain P J Warwick CBE to be promoted Acting Air Commodore and to undertake Defence Attaché training with effect from 4 March 2019.

 

And top echelon commanders apointed which we haven't previously recorded (December 2018)

Vice Admiral Tony Radakin CB is to be promoted Admiral and appointed First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, in succession to Admiral Sir Philip Jones.

Vice Admiral Timothy Fraser CB is to be promoted Admiral and appointed Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, in succession to General Gordon Messenger;

Air Marshal Michael Wigston CBE is to be promoted Air Chief Marshal and appointed as Chief of the Air Staff, in succession to Air Chief Marshal Sir Steven Hillier;
Lieutenant General Patrick Sanders CBE, DSO is to be promoted General and appointed Commander Joint Forces Command, in succession to General Sir Christopher Deverell.


Greg RowettThe bizarre online hubs and the role they play in the online information and culture wars, by Greg Rowett of the Institute of Statecraft

"If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him" – Sun Tzu.

Information warfare is not the flashiest, most glamorous, form of war. This paper was originally a briefing to the U K Defence Forum, aiming to cover the fundamental concept and highlight some of the key challenges faced by the West in responding to infowar, and how information warfare has evolved in recent decades. It's a perfect storm, and quite possibly, an existential threat to democracy.

USA00000IMG 00000 BURST20190107130637518 COVERNATO has dilemma is of its own making. It is overextended. George Kennan had warnedd NATO’s expansion was a "strategic blunder of potentially epic proportions.” Deceiving Russia on NATO expansion, alienating Russia’s political elite across the political spectrum, expanding NATO to Russia’s borders and to within 100 miles of St. Petersburg, ensured Russia would upgrade and expand its military capabilities. Treating Russia as a threat resulted in Russia becoming a threat. The result: Instead of providing NATO with a straight, flat route to Moscow, the European Plain now provides Russia with a straight, flat route to the west – to Kiev, Riga, Tallinn, and beyond, writes Joseph E Fallon.

MoDIMG 20181218 1521345 2Military appointments in the Queen's Birthday Honours list for 2019 are shown on the next page

ED-ESPthumbnailAlgeria is undergoing a transformation that might lead either to a true political transition or simply to a change of regime. Since the departure of Bouteflika, the regime's margin to manoeuvre has increased a bit, but the people seem to believe that the president's resignation was a way for his clan to gain time to install a successor close to it. The ruling powers are still in control and they do not want to hand over the power to the new Algerian generation until they will be satisfied with a compromise candidate. In the background the Algerian Army is protecting its unrelenting political dominance, says Mariano Garcia Munoz.

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