Iran: Protesters Persevere


November 22, 2022: Anti-government protests continue after two months of daily demonstrations. Growing government violence against the demonstrators creates more foreign support for the demonstrators. The IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) in some parts of the country are treating the protesters as active revolutionaries. This means the IRGC goes looking for “rebels” and arrests or shoots anyone suspected of being a rebel (protester). The government continues to increase shutdowns of Internet access, even though this hurts the economy and annoys many IRGC members. The IRGC appears to ignore the fact that killing civilians turns protesters into rebels. The IRGC considers itself on a mission for God and simply doing Allah’s will. Some IRGC leaders disagree with this violent response and openly call for the government to address the economic complaints of the protesters.

The government does itself little good by denouncing the persistent protests as crippling efforts to improve the economy. This criticism enrages the protesters because there have been no efforts to improve the economy. At the same time the misbehavior of the government overseas has resulted in numerous international economic sanctions.

The demonstrations are difficult to suppress because there are no clear leaders. It is truly a spontaneous nation-wide protest with little outside support. There are several dozen Iranian exile groups that criticize the government but the exiles had little to do with the current demonstrations. Overthrowing the current religious dictatorships is one thing, replacing that with a government that will address protester demands is something else. The exile groups can’t agree on a new government and some exile groups are accused of supporting the religious dictatorship.

The difficulty in making that transition is how the current religious dictatorship took power after the 1979 revolution that tossed out the monarchy. Protesters and exiles are aware of this problem but so far there is no agreed upon provisional government. The protesters now include a lot of merchants and workers in the oil industry and a growing number of commercial firms.

There are also a growing number of senior clerics, some of them former government officials, who are protesting directly to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei or members of the Guardians Council of twelve senior clerics who are the ultimate authority in the religious dictatorship. There have been growing complaints by the senior clergy that the current government is not paying enough attention to economic and other matters that are driving the current mass protests.

Instead, Supreme leader Khamenei has been trying to reduce the power of, or threats from the IRGC. Earlier in 2022 Khamenei dismissed some senior IRGC intelligence and internal security officers. For several years they have been criticizing IRGC performance in defending Iran from external attack. This is apparently why the head of the Guardians Council security force was replaced. This organization is an elite IRGC unit with over 10,000 troops responsible for personal protection of Khamenei, Guardians Council members and their families. Israel does not go after those Guardians Council members but a growing number of Iranians, even during public protests, call for such violence against the senior leadership. Khamenei noticed that these public protests now occurred in provinces that were long dominated by a pro-IRGC population. The protests were mainly about government corruption and mismanagement of the economy. There are fewer IRGC recruits coming from these provinces, which are also suffering from the growing poverty in Iran.

Despite increasing violence against the protesters and the use of lethal force, the protests continue. Over 400 protesters have been killed so far and the use of more lethal force against protesters has not stopped the demonstrators, who are appealing to the police to side with them against the IRGC, the heavily armed and fanatic force created to protect the religious dictatorship that has ruled Iran since the 1980s. Anti-government demonstrations have become more frequent in the last twenty years and that means most Iranians are not only demanding an end to the dictatorship, but are increasingly willing to die trying. That’s what overthrew the monarchy in 1979. That revolution was hijacked by the Iranian political parties. In effect, the 1979 revolution isn’t over yet. If the rebels succeed it would mean a change on Iranian policies towards Israel, other Arab states and the West. Many Israelis and Arabs throughout the region were hoping that months of protests in Iran would topple the current religious dictatorship but that has not happened yet but it appears to be likely as the protesters continue no matter how violent the IRGC is. The IRGC is unpopular with the people and the religious dictatorship. The IRGC is seen as seeking to impose an even harsher religious dictatorship and there is no support for outside of the diminishing IRGC.

This is one of the many changes occurring in Iran, where some government officials have called for more efforts to improve the economy, even if this is at the expense foreign military operations in Syria, Lebanon and Gaza. At the same time, some of the minorities have armed members who are shooting back when the IRGC comes to attack demonstrators. At least half the Iranian population is not ethnic Iranian but one of several minorities. The non-Iranian Iranians are less reluctant to fight back against the IRGC, which is almost entirely composed of ethnic Iranians.

Russia, Syria and Israel

The persistent Iranian demonstrations are already having an impact on countries that Iran has declared war on, or, in the case of Russia, become one of their few useful allies. Because of this Israel can now change some of its policies towards Russia, Iran and Ukraine. These changes won’t be as extreme as believed because a new Israeli government is not going to change its policies towards Russia and Ukraine as much as was believed.

Ukraine revealed that Israel had agreed to provide Ukraine with military communications systems and other support equipment but still refused to supply weapons. Ukraine downplays the role Russia is playing in Syria to keep Iranian forces away from the Israeli border. While most Israelis support Ukraine, they also support keeping Israel safe from Iranian attacks.

In October Israeli defense officials said that Israel had destroyed the Iranian ability to move weapons from Iran to Syria and Lebanon by land, air or sea. Part of the reason for that is Iran is more involved with supplying Russia with those weapons. While Russia and Iran have become allies in Ukraine, both have reduced their operations in Syria. Iran continues to seek cooperation from the Turks, Syrians and Russians in getting Iranian IRGC forces close enough to the Israeli border to make attacks possible. Iran is undergoing sustained outbreak anti-government protests back home while Russia is suffering major military losses in Ukraine. Both nations are subject to more economic sanctions because of their troublemaking. The Syrian Assad government, a long-time client of oil-rich Iran, managed to keep the Syrian economy going after a Syrian civil war began in 2012. Aid from Iran and Russia was substantial until recently, and there was a measure of security and prosperity in areas where the Assads regained control. No more. Without Russian and Iranian aid, the security and prosperity campaigns are on hold. Russian and Iranian aid has declined sharply since 2014, when Iran supplied needed foreign currency and Russia helped the Assad government reconnect with the international banking system. The best evidence of the performance of the Syrian economy is the strength of the Syrian currency. In 2014 the exchange rate for the Syrian pound was currently 140-150 pounds to the dollar. The exchange rate was 50 pounds to the dollar before the violence began in 2011. Currently it is 5,000 pounds to the dollar. The change in exchange rates also reflects the failure of the Assads to make much progress in the last few years. Aid from Russia and Iran had kept the Assad government and the Syrian Air Force going. The loss of Russian and Iranian support over the last few years was catastrophic because no one else stepped up to replace that aid.


Neighboring Iraq finally has a new prime minister; Mohammed Shia al-Sudani. His anti-corruption campaign was not a surprise to those who remembered the August resignation letter of finance minister Ali Allawi detailing the massive corruption that crippled government efforts to deal with the corruption and made it impossible for him to do his job. Ali Allawi was a well-educated and respected former banker. He was allowed to read aloud his resignation letter at the weekly cabinet meeting and his fellow cabinet members were astounded at such a frank and detailed 30-minute description of the widespread corruption. It was difficult to find Iraqis of Allawi’s stature and competence to serve as cabinet ministers and the Allawi resignation letter made it clear why. Many other honest and capable cabinet ministers simply quietly quit out of frustration over not being able to do their jobs. New prime minister Sudani is rediscovering this as he seeks competent and honest officials for his new cabinet. Many, if not most, of the cabinet appointments are made to satisfy parliamentary coalitions that supported Sudani becoming prime minister. This makes it impossible to eliminate all corrupt or potentially corrupt ministers. The Allawi resignation letter confirmed that. For anti-corruption efforts to work there must be support from senior government officials. Corrupt officials and business managers can often evade punishment if they have paid-for friends in high places. Iraq has long been known as the most corrupt Arab state in the region and Allawi explained why. That has made it possible for Iran to buy political support and maintain Iran-backed Iraqi militias.

Prime minister Sudani faces a culture of corruption that involves numerous organized groups, especially in the oil industry, that plunder much of the national oil income. Sudani acted quickly and forcefully and ordered an audit of oil revenue and how much of it doesn’t reach government programs to provide basic services like water, sanitation, education and medical care. Many of these programs were crippled because the money appropriated for their operation often did not reach the intended destination. It was relatively easy to find the more blatant efforts to divert funds and the audit continues even as the resistance from the “corruption mafia” increases. In Iraq, finding sources of corruption is one thing, being able to do anything about it is the hard, and often impossible, part.

The 2021 national election was a defeat for pro-Iran parties. Iran still retained enough support in parliament to block the formation of a new government. This was seen as a win for Iran and corrupt Iraqi politicians. It’s up to Sudani to prove his critics wrong. Sudani began arresting and prosecuting corrupt Iraqis as well as dealing with the lack of public services, especially in the Shia majority south (Basra province). Sudani also has to deal with accusations that he will not act against Iranian efforts to operate in Iraq and influence government decisions. Sudani can deal with a lot of those criticisms by effectively reducing corruption and improving government services. That means dealing with the pro-Iran members of parliament who backed him becoming prime minister. Sudani has to move carefully here because as much as he wants Iraq free of Iranian influence, many of his supporters in parliament were more cooperative with Iran. That cooperation includes leaving alone Iraqi oil smugglers who do business with Iran. Iran also wants the small American military contingent in Iraq to leave. Most Iraqis, including Sudani, want the Americans to stay in order to keep Iran out.

While Iraq resists Iranian offers of economic and military cooperation, Saudi Arabia is welcomed. The Saudis have the cash to invest in rebuilding war torn Iraq and, along with Iraqis, have to deal with Iranian opposition to any Saudi presence. This conflict gets little media attention because the Saudis have no military forces in Iraq, just investors and Saudis managing the new investments. These are often attacked by Iran-backed Iraqi Shia militias. The government is trying to disband these militias but that has proved difficult because of continued Iranian support for these groups.

Turkey And Azerbaijan

Turkey continues to support the unification of all Azeri Turks into a unified state. Many of those Azeri Turks are currently living in Iran. Azerbaijan considers themselves “free Azeri Turks” compared to the majority of Azeri Turks who still live under Persian (Iranian) rule. Azeris are a quarter of the Iranian population and long accepted as peers. The failures of the religious dictatorship over the last four decades have caused more Iranian Azeris to seriously consider the alternative of the long-deferred dream of all Azeris living in one Azeri nation. Turkey encourages that and Russia will tolerate it. Azerbaijan has oil wealth and has been free from the Soviet Union since 1991, proving that a modern Azeri state can successfully exist. Iranian history shows that making threats against well-armed and well-prepared Turks does not work out well for Iran, which lost Azerbaijan to Russia over a century ago. This “Greater Azerbaijan” talk is anathema to the ethnic Iranians who dominate Iran. But Iranian Azeris note that while senior Azeri clerics have become part of the government, most Azeris Turks in Iran are as poor and repressed by the religious dictatorship as everyone else.

November 21, 2022: In Qatar, where the FIFA football world cup games are being played, the Iranian team supported the anti-government protesters back home by remaining silent while the Iranian national anthem was played.

In the Kurdish majority northwest, the IRGC increased its attacks on the locals, killing a least a dozen Kurds in the last 24 hours and wounding many more. These attacks included firing missiles at two Iraqi Kurd cities in northern Iraq. Iraq and the United States criticize these attacks. The IRGC also threatens to send troops into northern Iraq, but this would trigger an American, as well as a Kurdish and Iraqi response. The official Iranian government line is that the Kurds are responsible for all these protests, ignoring the fact that most of the protests are nationwide and involve other minorities as well as ethnic Iranians.

November 20, 2022: After weeks of negotiations, Iran and Russia agreed to terms for Russia producing Iranian UAVs in Russia under license. Iran is supplying Russia with production details for the Shahed-136 UAV and some unnamed larger UAVs. Since Iran has been under heavy sanctions longer than Russia, they have developed some component suppliers who, for a fee, supply some essential missile components. Many smuggled components are needed for the guidance systems. Russia should be able to build Shahed-136’s with components Russia already produces but this will make the UAV more vulnerable to electronic AUDs (Anti-UAV Defense) systems that the Ukrainians are already using to bring down more and more of the Shahed-136s.

Some of the larger Iranian cruise missiles require one or more smuggled components to be usable at all. It will take about two months to get production started in Russia. Meanwhile, Iran will supply more Shahed-136s, but not as many as Russia will be able to produce by early 2023. Iran continues to deny it supplied Russia with any weapons in 2022. Iran is also supplying Russia with protective helmets and vests for Russian troops. These have already been found on some of the new conscripts’ Russian troops sent to Ukraine. Some of these Iranian helmets and protective vests have been found abandoned by Russian conscripts who looted suitable civilian clothing locally in an effort to get out of Russian occupied territory.

Russia is paying for all the weapons and equipment from Iran in cash and, it is feared, tech support for the Iranian nuclear weapons program. Russia has increased its annual defense spending by 40 percent. While that provides cash for purchasing Iranian weapons it’s not sufficient to cover all the costs associated with keeping the war on Ukraine going.

November 19, 2022: In the northwest (West Azerbaijan province) the IRGC imposed martial law in the Kurdish majority city of Mahabad and began firing on civilians while also turning off electricity and Internet access in some neighborhoods. The government blames the Kurds for the two months of nationwide protests. The IRGC has been attacking Iranian Kurds in the northeast and Iraqi Kurds across the border. IRGC violence against the Kurds has been going on for most of November but that has not reduced the demonstrations throughout the country.

November 18, 2022: Iranian neighbor Azerbaijan finally decided to open an embassy in Israel. This comes after three decades of economic and military cooperation, mainly against Iran. Azerbaijan is an oil-rich Moslem majority nation that was, until 1991, part of the Soviet Union. Azerbaijan has purchased several billion dollars’ worth of weapons from Israel since independence.

November 17, 2022: Protesters set fire to the home of deceased supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini. Elsewhere a court sentenced five protesters to death. So far about 350 Iranians have died while protesting and about 16,000 arrested.

In eastern Syria (Deir Ezzor province) Iran-backed militias fired several rockets at the U.S. base at the al Omar oilfield. The American base has been there since 2018. The Assads want the oilfield but the Americans are backing Kurdish efforts to hold on to al Omar and the valuable oil it can produce. The Americans can call in airstrikes or use artillery to defeat any attack on the base. That has happened a few times but is now rare because everyone has easier targets to go after.

November 16, 2022: Off the coast of Oman, near the Persian Gulf, an IRGC Shahed 136 cruise missile hit a tanker carrying petroleum for an Israeli firm. The missile damaged the bow (front end) of the tanker but did no serious damage. There have been similar attacks in the past, some of them in the Persian Gulf. None of these massive ships suffered serious damage, but several crew members were killed or wounded. Iran denies it is responsible, even when IRGC personnel were caught in the act of placing mines against the hull of a tanker at night.

November 15, 2022: For nearly two weeks Russian and Iranian officials have been meeting in Iran, seeking to work out a deal that benefits both countries. This sort of bargaining took place in 2015 as the Iranians persuaded Russia to make a major military commitment to Syria and assist Iran in establishing a strong enough military presence there so they could directly attack Israel. The Russians arrived and helped Iran and the Syrian Assad government to suppress the rebels, but creating a real threat to Israel was less successful. The Israelis were far more powerful militarily than the Syrian rebels and used hundreds of airstrikes and some ground operations to prevent the Iranian buildup.

Iran called on Russia to use its modern aircraft and anti-aircraft systems to halt or disrupt the Israeli air campaign. Russia never made public why it did not do this, or at least tried, but the Iranians were informed that Russia could not force the Israelis to back off and any attempt to do so would cost Russia a lot of warplanes and air defense systems. Russia depended on these new military systems for export sales and their usefulness in Syria was helping with that. Any military conflict with the Israelis would demolish the relatively good reputation of Russian warplanes and air defense systems. More importantly, Russia and Israel had been on good terms from the beginning (Israel’s founding in 1948). Iran and Russia were historically rivals and often at war with each other. Russia and Israel worked out a compromise. Russia would not interfere with Israeli attacks on Iranian operations and Israel would not go after Russian warplanes, air defense systems or new military tech Russia was using in Syria. Israel would pretend to fear Russian threats against Israeli airstrikes while continuing the attacks anyway. Iran had no choice but to tolerate this Russian relationship with Israel. Russian air power was still useful against others who opposed the Iranian presence in Syria. Russia and Iran also developed economic cooperation, especially when it came to dealing with sanctions. Until 2014 Iran had far more problems with this. After Russia attacked Ukraine in 2014 and especially after the 2022 move to seize all of Ukraine, Russia had to deal with more sanctions and the failure of their warplanes and anti-aircraft systems against the Ukrainian. This time around Iran and Russia have become a “coalition of the desperate” while seeking to help each other out. Currently Russia and Iran are equally crippled by sanctions and seeking to negotiate a trade deal that would help both countries. Both have something the other needs and the negotiations are seeking to determine the trade value of each other’s goods. Iran has modern weapons built without access to foreign tech and components. Iran has limited production capabilities for their missiles but has managed to build up stockpiles it has been willing to sell to Russia. These stockpiles are depleted and Iran wants more than cash (about $140 million) and captured Western weapons from Ukrainian battles they received for the first shipments of missiles. Iran wants some modern Russian warplanes as well as spare parts for some of the older Russian warplanes Iran still has. Russia does not have many aircraft or spare parts on hand to give. Iran would also take Russian help with developing nuclear weapons. Russia considers the nuclear request toxic and carrying long term risks. Iran would like some Russian assistance dealing with the ongoing anti-government demonstrations that seem unstoppable after two months. There’s not much Russia can offer that Iran doesn’t already have. The Iranian IRGC has proved to be as lethal as the Cold War era Russian KGB. Since the Cold War ended the hard core and hated KGB was put aside and replaced by the FSB, a milder version of the Soviet-era KGB. With the old KGB gone, Russia has no personnel available to send to Iran to help suppress the unrest. In the end the trade negotiations come down to what value to place on what each side has to offer. Some agreement will eventually be achieved and in the meantime the Ukrainians are enjoying a reduction in Russian missile strikes on economic targets.

November 14, 2022: For a week there have been no missile airstrikes in Ukraine. The Russians have apparently run out of Iranian Shahed-136 cruise missiles and, by the official Ukrainian count, Russia is nearly out of ballistic missiles. Russia is known to be negotiating with Iran for more cruise and ballistic missiles. Iran is no friend of Russia and, historically, has been a bitter foe, seeking revenge for past losses of territory. To Iran, Russia is currently a frenemy. That is a status that will eventually revert back to the enemy and both countries know it. Israel said it would supply Ukraine with ballistic missiles. The most likely one is the 1.8-ton Lora (Long Range Attack) missile that has a range of 400 kilometers, a half ton warhead and guidance system as accurate as those used for GPS guided bombs. Lora can be launched from land-based launchers or from ships. Azerbaijan purchased Lora missiles before their 2020 war with Armenia and found Lora worked as advertised and ordered more after that war.

November 9, 2022: In eastern Syria (Deir Ezzor province), a convoy of 22 Iranian operated fuel trucks was hit by a UAV air strike shortly after crossing into Syria from Iraq. At least ten people were killed, all of them Iranian. No one took credit for the attack and that leaves Israel, which has been using such UAV attacks in Syria against Iranian forces. The trucks were headed for Lebanon.

November 8, 2022: In the Gulf of Oman, two American warships intercepted and searched a small cargo ship headed for Yemen and after leaving a port in Iran. After a search that took three days, the well-hidden cargo of 70 tons of ammonium perchlorate and 100 tons of urea fertilizer (used for explosives) the crew was removed and the ship sunk because the ship was seen as a potential problem. This was the first time the international naval blockade of Yemen had discovered a smuggler transporting rocket fuel. The Shua rebels were getting this stuff for years and it was unclear how Iran was getting it to Yemen.

November 5, 2022: It’s been revealed that Russia paid Iran in cash, plus captured Western weapons in order to obtain the first shipment of Iranian UAVs and missiles. Russia overpaid for each Iranian missile or UAV. Iran also provided Iranian personnel to train the Russians on how best to use these new weapons.

November 1, 2022: Protesters defied government threats of massive lethal force if the nationwide protests did not stop. The protests continued and many in the security services did not open fire. Many Pakistanis, Israelis, Indians and Arabs throughout the region were hoping that two months of protests in Iran would topple the current religious dictatorship but that has not happened. At the same time, despite increasing violence against the protesters and the use of lethal force, the protests continue. Over 300 protesters have been killed so far and the use of more lethal force against protesters has not stopped the demonstrators, who are appealing to the police to side with them against the IRGC, the heavily armed and fanatic force created to protect the religious dictatorship that has ruled Iran since the 1980s. Anti-government demonstrations have become more frequent in the last twenty years and that means most Iranians are not only demanding an end to the dictatorship, but are increasingly willing to die trying. That’s what overthrew the monarchy in 1979. That revolution was hijacked by the Iranian political parties. In effect, the 1979 revolution isn’t over yet. Many Pakistanis see the current anti-military demonstrations in Pakistan as similar as they are trying to remove the military leadership and replace it with generals who will accept civilian control.

October 31, 2022: Russia has proposed a new peace deal between Armenia and Azerbaijan that would involve a demilitarized zone around Nagorno-Karabakh and withdrawal of troops by Armenia and Azerbaijan. Since 1991, Russia has been attempting to arrange peace deals between Armenia and Azerbaijan. There was a ceasefire in 1994 after an earlier round of heavy fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh. Russia became a military ally of Armenia as part of that arrangement. That did not prevent a military buildup in Azerbaijan that led to another war in 2020, which saw Armenia suffering a major defeat after six weeks of fighting. Iran has tried, and not always succeeded, to be on good terms with Azerbaijan, if only because about a quarter of the Iranian population are Azeris. At the same time Iran and Russia, traditional enemies, have become allies and those links are being used to deal with the latest round of violence. Russia still has several thousand troops in the area, acting as peacekeepers.

October 30, 2022: Fourteen European NATO nations are spending over three billion dollars to buy Israeli Arrow 3 BMD (Ballistic Missile Defense) systems. The Arrow 3 missiles and radars will be a key component of this European Sky Shield Initiative. Increasing instability and aggression from Russia made this sale possible. Israel, with U.S. support, developed the Arrow system to defend Israel against attacks by Iranian ballistic missiles with chemical or, eventually, nuclear warheads.

October 28, 2022: Ukrainian app developers recently created an app (ePPO) to enable civilians to quickly report incoming Russian cruise missiles, especially the new Iranian Shahed 136 Russia obtained which is low (down to 100 meters) slow (180 kilometers an hour) and noisy. These are often sent in small swarms (4 to 12 missiles) and at night. With ePPO all a user has to do is point the phone in the direction of the missile and press a large button. The information quickly arrives at the local air defense headquarters where numerous reports are instantly combined on a computer display so the officer on duty can instantly send the data to nearby air defense units. With that kind of information, more and more of the Shahed 136s and even some larger, faster cruise missiles are detected and shot down. Civilians with a “take cover” app get an alert to do that if they are in the target area. Suppliers of this data are verified by another app, Diia, which contains user identification documents.

Ukraine is currently detecting and often intercepting nearly 90 percent of the Shahed 136s serving as cruise missiles. The 200 kg (440 pound) Shahed 136 has a flight endurance of four or five hours at about 180 kilometers an hour carrying explosive warheads with 25 kg (55 pounds) of explosives. Shahed 136s are believed to cost about $50,000 each, with most of that ($30,000) being their gasoline engine. Shaded uses GPS navigation with a crude INS (inertial navigation system) backup. Russia replaced the GPS guidance with one dependent on Russian GLONASS satellite navigation in an effort to increase reliability and effectiveness. Shahed 136 operates at low (a few hundred meters at most) altitude to avoid radar detection. These missiles are launched either individually using a portable launch rail or from a truck mounted system carrying four or five missiles in a box type storage/launch container. A small rocket is attached to the bottom of the missile to get it airborne and the engine running. The rocket is then supposed to fall away. GPS locations have to be entered into the GPS system before launch.

The Ukrainians quickly developed tactics to defeat the Shahed 136s, especially those used against military targets. The low-flying Shahed 136 engine is so loud it can be heard several kilometers away and, while rifle and machine-gun bullets are effective against it, larger caliber weapons like 12.7mm machine-guns and 20mm or larger autocannon are much more lethal. Another vulnerability of the Shahed 136 is that its inexpensive components are often unreliable and a large portion of them fail before reaching a target. These usually crash-land intact, allowing detailed analysis of components and construction. Another vulnerability is to electronic AUD (Anti-UAV Defense) systems that employ jamming and other EW (Electronic Warfare) techniques to disable UAV guidance systems.

Shahed 136 attacks are supposed to demoralize Ukrainian civilians and weaken the war effort but it has the opposite effect, making Ukrainians angrier at the Russians and more determined to drive them out of Ukraine. These attacks on civilians were going on before the Shahed 136s arrived. The Russians used guided missiles that were more difficult to intercept but were also in limited supply and Russia was unable to replace those used because of sanctions. Iran was one of the few nations supporting the Russian invasion and offered to sell Russia the cruise and ballistic missiles it manufactures. Iranian stocks of these missiles are limited and a current outbreak of nationwide protests against the Iranian religious dictatorship appears to have disrupted production. The many nations threatened or under attack by Iranian missiles appreciate the situation where Iran is reducing its stockpile of these weapons in order to supply Russia.

October 27, 2022: In southern Syria (Damascus) another Israeli airstrike damaged a weapons storage site near the airport outside the city that contained Iranian missiles delivered by air. Large explosions of these missiles took place right after the airstrike. Four Hezbollah gunmen dead. This was the third attack against targets near Damascus in the last week. It was also the 30th Israeli airstrike on Syrian targets this year. Most of the attacks were against Iranian assets.

October 24, 2022: In southern Syria (Damascus) another Israeli airstrike damaged a weapons storage site near the airport outside the city that contained Iranian missiles delivered by air.

October 23, 2022: The war in Ukraine is having an impact on Iranian operations in Syria. Israel has quietly provided Ukraine with details of how it defeated Shahed 136s launched from Lebanon. This includes details of AUDs (Anti-UAV Defenses) Israel has developed. Iran has used these UAVs against Israel, which has developed optical and radar sensors that can detect them quickly so they can be shot down at their border with Syria or Lebanon. While Israel is criticized by Ukraine, and many Israelis, for not supplying Ukraine with weapons to fight the Russians, the two countries maintain diplomatic relations and Israel has quietly shared information with Ukraine about Russian weapons and cooperation with Iran in Syria. Ukraine apparently does the same for Israel about what Iran is up to in Ukraine. Israel is increasingly open about support for Ukraine and the covert aid now includes help with defeating the Iranian cruise missiles Russia has obtained. Iran is at war with Israel and suffers Israeli airstrikes and an occasional commando attack against their forces in Syria. Then there are the battles between Turkey and Islamic terrorists, Syrian Kurds and the Assad forces. Russia sometimes bombs Turkish forces (Syrians working for the Turks). Russia only has a few warplanes left in Syria, and these use unguided bombs. Russia considers Syria a place to give some of its pilots realistic practice carrying out airstrikes the old-fashioned way, without missiles or guided bombs. There’s no real threat to the Russian warplanes, unlike Ukraine where Russia continues to lose warplanes and pilots. Russia is also on the defensive with Israel because Russia can no longer do much to halt Iranian efforts to get forces close to the Israeli border. That means Israel is free to sell or donate some weapons to Ukraine. Currently what Ukraine wants most is Israeli tech developed to disable to destroy UAVs like the Shahed 136.

October 15, 2022: In southern Syria (Damascus) another Israeli airstrike damaged a weapons storage site near the airport outside the city. This warehouse contained Iranian missiles delivered by air. Large explosions of these missiles took place right after the airstrike. Five Syrian soldiers and two members of Iran-backed militias were killed. There were also a lot of wounded. Most of the casualties were the result of munitions in the storage area detonating.

October 14, 2022: In Yemen, Iran is not supplying the Shia rebels with sufficient cash or weapons to continue its extortion tactics that make the Shia efforts self-sustaining. Without the Iranian weapon shipments and some cash, the Shia rebels are very vulnerable. It is unclear how long Iranian support will be absent. Since the ceasefire was last renewed in early August, Iran has become a major source of weapons for Russian forces in Ukraine and, a month ago protests began throughout Iran, demanding an end to the government. If that uprising succeeds, using tactics similar to the one in 1979 that put the religious dictatorship in power, the Shia rebels in Yemen will have to negotiate an end to the war or be crushed by government troops and Saudi airpower.

October 12, 2022: In southern Syria (Daraa province) a Syrian soldier was killed by unidentified gunmen. There has been a lot of similar violence in Daraa, with over 360 dead so far this year. The violence is mainly against Syrian army personnel. This level of violence remained fairly constant for three years until 2022. This is part of the undeclared war between Iranian and Syrian forces going on there since 2018. Anonymous assassins use pistols and hidden bombs to kill those who work, or worked for government forces or Russia and Syria backed local militias. There are also attacks against former members of ISIL and other militant groups. These victims had accepted amnesty. Russian and Assad forces openly force Iran-backed groups and individuals out of the area. There is no open violence because Iran, Syria and Russia are still officially allies. Israel sometimes fires on Iranian forces operating in Daraa, especially near the Israeli border. Israel also shares intel with Russia and Syria about Syrian officers who are secretly working for Iran. The Iranians pay well, and in dollars. Israel will sometimes release evidence of this to the media, so that Iranians back home have another reason to oppose Iranian foreign wars. Negotiations have been underway between Iran and Russia/Syria since 2020 but have not made much progress. The covert Iranian violence is just another incentive for Syria to get the Iranian agents out of the area. In 2022 much of the violence is from other groups, some of them criminal gangs retaliating against those who refuse to pay for protection from the violence. Daraa is the most violent province but similar violence continues in many parts of Syria.

October 11, 2022: In the northwest (Kurdistan province), IRGC forces have been making attacks on the Iraqi side of the border for the last 17 days. These attacks take place in the autonomous Kurdish provinces. Iran falsely blames Iraqi and Iranian Kurds for the anti-government protests that have taken place since mid-September. Most of the ten million Iranian Kurds live in the northwest, on the Iraqi border with Iraqi Kurdistan. Most of the five million Iraqi Kurds live across the border in autonomous Kurdish Iraq. Iraq has continuing problems with Iranian (IRGC) interference. Most of the Iraqi problems are caused by Iraqis, in particular the many interrelated corrupt Iraqi politicians and businessmen. Such corrupt families are a minority in Iraq but all that stolen cash is used as a defensive weapon and that is what has been happening for the last year. Iran takes advantage of this to obtain economic, military and political goals in Iraq.




Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   Contribute   Close