Tuesday, September 30, 2014

[Translation] - Interview with Gen. Pourdastan on Iranian Assistance to Iraq and the 'Daesh' Threat

 In the following interview with the commander of Iran's Army Ground Forces - BG Pourdastan - he doesn't offer any groundbreaking revelations when it comes to Iran's security policy, but he does offer a handful of noteworthy comments.

First, he describes the existence of political-security red-lines "far from Iran's borders". This isn't a new trope in Tehran's lexicon, but is important in the continued recognition of the fundamentally trans-national nature of Iran's national-security. Whether it's Tehran's concerns in the Levant, or Moscow's desire for a glacis in eastern-Europe, or Washington's continued hegemony over the Caribbean Basin, national security is never just national.

Second, he couches the rise of ISIS within the same historical processes that account for Tehran's interpretation of the post-Soviet political scene, and the resulting 'future war' framework that encompasses the so-called soft, semi-hard, and hard forms of war. For documents related to this theoretical outlook, see the following rough translations:
What is Soft War, and Ways of Confronting It
Recognizing the Enemy and Paying Attention to the Leader's Guidance Keeps the County Safe Selected Writings on Modern War Theory
Will History Repeat Itself? [Iran's Characterization of the 1975 Helsinki Accords]
If one ignores those articles and only takes one thing away from this post, it should be that for Tehran, the threat from ISIS is the same as that from Twitter, or Facebook, or any of the other manifestations of calls for a more open society. The difference between the two is, to indulge in a bit of hyperbole, no more than the difference between an M1A2 Abrams, and an F-16; they simply operate in different domains.

This, tragically, is the legacy of Revolutionary ideology. A world view dominated by the Manichean struggle between the Global Arrogance and the Global Oppressed, cannot help but see every event in these terms. Like other post-colonial ideologies, Khomenei's Islamic Ideology remains bound by the same constructed power relationships it sought to overturn, building up an image of a skilled,  scheming, omniscient Washington unfettered by incompetence, coincidence, or above all, the agency of others.

Third, he describes Iran's military support for Iraq as training, noting that if Baghdad requests more, it would go through Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), before being implemented by the branches of the Armed Forces itself.

Fourth, he characterizes the Army Ground Forces' doctrinal theory of 'rapid reaction' in terms of two distinct threats; a transregional power (aka, NATO/the US), and regional proxy wars. This is consistent with the global embrace of 'rapid reaction' forces that has happened worldwide in line with the declining likelihood of conflict requiring the full-scale mobilization of a nation's industrial might, and the increasing demands placed on a national OODA-loop to quickly respond to, and deploy force against, security threats. In short, just like Russia's RRFs in Ukraine, the US's Stryker Brigades, or the UN's own RRF in Bosnia, Iran is seeking a lightweight force that can quickly be deployed to a theater for limited kinetic engagements short of full mobilization.

Fifth, he notes (in a paragraph that is omitted below) that the Zulfiqar tank has entered mass production.
As a Zulfiqar-enthusiast, let's just say that I'll believe that when I see it.

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Title: Our Assistance to Iraq in the Struggle against ISIS is Training / Holding of Two National Exercises in the East and West of the Country / We are not Exposed to Transregional Threats
Date: September 28, 2014 / Mehr 6, 1393
Source: Tasnim News
Note: Following translation is approximate. While accuracy is estimated to be high, it's precision is not.

Stating that that Iran has assisted Iraq with training in the struggle against, the commander of the Army Ground Forces said: A big exercise in the southwest and another in the southeast, which are national-level maneuvers, will be held.

In an interview during Sacred Defense Week, Amir Pourdastan said about the defensive ability and readiness of our military to confront threats: The continued observation of threats is one of the tasks of the military's tasks, and the provide the necessary defensive capacity as they observe regional and trans-regional threats, and analyze their intelligence-personnel.

The commander emphasized: Our defense industry has very close communication with universities, and in addition to this, the military forces have innovative and creative individuals who can build arms and provide them to the military.

** Our red lines are very far from our borders / We now face the new methods used by threats
Pourdastan continued about the new threats and solutions in confronting them, saying: Today we face the new methods [being used by] these threats, threats which are different from those in the past, and as the arm of the Islamic Republic we must create and strengthen our capacity to confront them. One of these threats are the activities of Takfiri groups in Iraq, Syria, and around Iran. To confront these, we have created the necessary capacity in our self, and we are watching all the movement of these groups. We've determined that if these terrorist groups or Takfiris come close to crossing our red-lines, which are very far away from Iran's borders, a heavy blow will be dealt to them.

** Our assistance to Iraq in the struggle with ISIS has been training
The commander of the Army Ground Forces said about Iran's cooperation with the government of Iraq in the struggle against ISIS: Our main assistance to our brothers in Iraq has been training, and ... considering that the people of Iraq are under pressure every day, Iran has sent aid so that the pressure on them is reduced, however the primary assistance has been training, and if the government of Iraq requests military assistance from Iran, the AFGS will review this request and we will be implement it.

**ISIS is borne of America's Imagination, Thoughts, and Strategy in the Region
According to Pourdastan, the US-headed coalition that was formed against ISIS cannot be a solution against ISIS, because if we go back a bit,we see that ISIS was born by the same imperialist countries, meaning that ISIS is borne of America's imagination, thoughts, and strategy in the region.

And in response to a question about the reason for the historical formation of these Takfiri groups, he said: If I want to point out the history of these Takfiri groups, it is necessary to go back some time. This subject returns to matters related to the collapse of the of the USSR. After the collapse, America became the only superpower, and after several years one of the research institutes in America offered a theory stating that a new power was emerging, which would pose challenges if America could not confront it. [The institute said that] this power is the Islamic world, and comes from Shia-Sunni unity, which is [inspired] by the Islamic Revolution.

Pourdastan said: America conducted lot of analysis and ultimately arrived at the conclusion that they themselves must enter the Middle East and West Asia, however to do this they needed an excuse, the same excuse that Mossad and the CIA planned. After the events of 9/11, it was one of the puppet groups that gave this excuse to America, with which America resorted to in order to enter the region with the objective of confronting of the pole of power in the Islamic world. After the Islamic Awakening, they saw that the countries in the region had awoken.

** The Main Goal of America is Confronting Iran.
Pourdastan said: America's intention was confronting the Islamic Republic, however because of [the wise leadership of the Supreme Leader and the military's readiness], they headed towards Iraq and Afghanistan so that they could create a [regional development] and confront the Islamic Republic.

Meanwhile, America suffered from challenges caused by the high economic cost, their soldier's lack of motivation, national discontent, worldwide discontent, so that they changed their strategy and today have placed proxy-wars on their agenda, and now ISIS fights as an American proxy in the region and the objective of America is not to confront ISIS.

** The way to confront ISIS, is not with Tomahawk missiles / This is no way to confront ISIS
The commander of the Army Ground Forces said about the difficulties in confronting ISIS: The Takfiri-terrorist group ISIS is not a regular military force with positions that can be targeted by bombs or missiles. This group [uses] the strategy of hiding themselves among the people, and for this reason the way to confront these groups is not with Tomahawk missiles, and I [can firmly say] that until now, aerial bombing and missiles have only destroyed the infrastructure of Iraq and Syria, and ... is no counter to ISIS.

Pourdastan ...said: If America is honest in their words, and want to confront ISIS, they must confront the countries that send ISIS money and arms, that buy oil from them, and use their land to train new forces, and then send them to Syria and Iraq. However, now we see a sham movement under the supervision of America, the [ostensible purpose] of which is to confront ISIS, [but] it is certain that this movement will not take this path, and I do not think that ISIS will be weakened by it.

According to Pourdastan, the thing that would weaken and cripple ISIS is Shia-Sunni unity. When the Shia and Sunni authorities enter the field and give a fatwa, people [will] leave ISIS, [and then] Iraqi Army [can] take over. After this presence of [Shia and Sunni] religious authorities, we can have a role in stopping ISIS[.] [After] ISIS had come [as far as] Diyala, we now see that that [after an initial] retreat, the Iraqi Army has found a role [thanks to] the widespread popular support, and in the near future we will witness the destruction of ISIS in Iraq. I think that the Iraqi Army, thank god, has a very good capacity.

He said: It has good capability in terms of ground, air and helicopter[-warfare], is capable when confronting ISIS, and also enjoys popular support. However, if they request assistance from the Islamic Republic, it will be raised in the SNSC, and the military forces are prepared to provide any kind of assistance that is necessary.
...
** We have good rapid reaction forces at our disposal
And in reference to Iran's new strategy for confronting these terrorist threats, including the formation of rapid reaction forces, he said: We have increased the Army ground forces capabilities in two areas of asymmetric threats, including the area of confronting a trans-regional country, and another area of proxy wars and confronting terrorist groups, and we have good rapid reaction forces at our disposal, which can enter this field and in these areas utilize all the military capacity of the Islamic Republic, and we use a joint-plan with the IRGC which has been planned, practiced, organized, and implemented so in case this threat materializes, we have the experience to confront it.

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