An aircraft taking off to join the US-led coalition to conduct air strikes against military targets in Yemen, aimed at the Iran-backed Houthi militia that has been targeting international shipping in the Red Sea

British Think Tank Calls for Direct Attacks on Iran

Sunday, 06/02/2024

A British think-tank has claimed the UK should launch direct attacks on Iran after current international policy and sanctions have “failed spectacularly”.

According to The Henry Jackson Society, the West’s policy on Iran is “in tatters”. Iran continues to support Russia’s war on Ukraine, bolster its nuclear capabilities, fund, train and arm militias in the Middle East and most recently, target international shipping through its Yemeni proxy, the Houthis, in the Red Sea region.

The blockade, which the Houthis say is in allegiance with Iran-backed Hamas in Gaza amid its war with Israel, has seen the Houthis “taking hostages, seizing ships, firing missiles at US military vessels and firing missiles and drones at Saudi Arabia via Yemen”, according to the report. 

Dozens of hostages hail from countries such as Mexico, Romania and the Philippines, though the Houthis allege they are targeting Israeli-linked vessels. However, that expanded to Western backed vessels after retaliatory attacks from a UK-US coalition directly attacked Houthi facilities in Yemen. Since last year, Iran has also ramped up its policy of diplomatic hostage-taking, including European diplomat Johan Floderus. In spite of this, President Joe Biden freed up $6bn of frozen Iranian funds in South Korea last year in exchange for the release of five US-Iranian hostages, only showing the success of Iran's policy.

“For too long, Iranian aggression has been unchallenged,” the report said, suggesting direct attacks on the likes of Iran’s drone and missile facilities which have been used to arm Russia in addition to Iran’s regional proxies, as well as targeting Iran’s air defences.

Its experts claim that the US should remove its carriers from the Persian Gulf, granting the US strike capability while insulating them from drones, mines and anti-ship missiles. It also suggests targeting Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) bases such as the Pasdaran base and senior IRGC personnel on Iranian or foreign soil.

Since the Gaza war alone, sparked in October by Iran-backed Hamas’s invasion of Israel, over 200 attacks on US facilities in the Middle East as punishment for supporting Israel’s right to defend itself, have all but passed with no response. Just a handful of retaliatory attacks have been launched, none of which touched Iran directly.

“Even when the US has been directly targeted by Iranian proxies, successive administrations have refused to respond directly to Iran and hold the regime accountable,” the report stated, attacks happening in the likes of Iraq and Yemen, with three US forces killed in Jordan, 47 others wounded.

Taking a softly softly approach, pursuing diplomatic means and secret, though indirect, talks instead of military options, “the strategy was to localise conflict, avoid regional escalation and prevent broader war from breaking out in the Middle East. Ironically, it has led to the exact opposite. By attempting to prevent war, the US has encouraged conflict to erupt,” said the report. 

Targeting Iran's nuclear program is essential, claims the think-tank. Under the Biden administration, Tehran has only continued to become more emboldened, escalating its nuclear enrichment, in spite of sanctions, even blocking access to the UN's inspectors. UN nuclear chief, Rafael Grossi, recently said Iran is now weeks, not months, away from a nuclear weapon.

While Iran continues to bypass sanctions, selling oil to countries such as China, the think tank also suggests targeting Iran’s oil infrastructure, including refining and processing facilities, domestic distribution pipelines and terminals, and the hydrocarbon export ports.

State-backed plots to assassinate Israelis and Jews abroad continue to be seen from South America to Europe, including the UK’s national security agency, MI5, calling Iran one of the biggest foreign threats on UK soil. Just days ago, Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, revealed plots across Europe targeting Israeli embassies.

Multiple Iran International journalists have also been targeted in assassination attempts in the UK. Most recently, journalist Pouria Zeraati, was stabbed in public on a London street, as targeting Iranian dissidents in exile becomes ever more brazen policy from the regime.

The Henry Jackson Society report also calls for a “new policy towards Iran” which would involve Israel “expanding its projection of power to target Iranian facilities on Iranian soil, and could be accompanied by the US conducting disproportionate responses to destabilise the Iranian regime with the effect of paradoxically restoring deterrence”.

After an alleged Israeli airstrike on the Iranian consulate in Syria in April, targeting senior military figures at what has been claimed is a consulate covering as a military facility, Tehran launched its first direct assault on Israel.

Over 350 projectiles were launched towards the Jewish state, with Israel and a US-led coalition intercepting the majority. However, there was no international military action against Iran for the attack which risked the beginnings of a third world war, with Biden only putting distance between the US and Israel after the event, warning Israel it would not be involved in further action.

But it is not only Biden who has come under fire for being too soft on Iran. Last week, a group of over 550 British MPs and peers joined forces to call for the proscription of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as unlike the US, the UK resists designating Iran’s state-backed terror force in favor of ‘diplomatic means’.

Tory MP Bob Blackman said: “We have tried the current policy of appeasement for 40 years, and it has only resulted in failure after failure, simply emboldening the regime in intensifying its nefarious conduct.

“It should be coupled with holding the regime accountable, including by designating the IRGC as a terrorist entity, a step long overdue. That would send a clear message to the ayatollahs that business as usual is over and would signal to the brave Iranians that the West has started to be on their side.”

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