The past few weeks have seen a surge in US fighting power in the Gulf.
Already home to the formidable 5th Fleet – based in Bahrain – the US Navy recently sent a powerful Ohio-class submarine, the USS Georgia, escorted by two guided missile cruisers – the USS Port Royal and the USS Philippine Sea – across the Strait of Hormuz. in the gulf.
The USS Georgia is nuclear powered, specializes in attacking targets deep inland, and has an inventory of 154 Tomahawk Cruise missiles, each delivering 450 kilograms (992 pounds) of conventional warheads up to at 2,700 kilometers (1,677 miles). Designed to fly low under radar cover, they can destroy strategic targets with little or no warning.
The cruisers accompanying the USS Georgia are also heavily armed, each carrying a potent mix of ground attack, air defense, and anti-ship missiles.
They are also capable of tracking hundreds of moving objects with their advanced Aegis radar suites and are both capable of shooting down short and medium range ballistic missiles.
These three ships could destroy all important targets across Iran, prevent Iran from using its ballistic missile force, and devastate the coastal facilities of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
The USS Georgia is also capable of landing dozens of Special Forces soldiers who would assist in intelligence gathering, sabotage and act as forward air controllers, guiding air raids and relaying combat damage assessments back to them. operations center.
The United States has dramatically increased its firepower in the region, with an emphasis on attacking potential targets on land.
Not only that, the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz, which was to be returned to its home port in San Diego, Calif., Was ordered to remain nearby in the Arabian Sea.
This, combined with the flights of high-level B-52 bombers from the United States to bases in the Gulf, served to send a clear message to the Iranian leadership that any military action by Iran or its regional proxy forces would spark. an overwhelming response from the United States and its regional allies.
Iran is no stranger to military reinforcements off its coasts.
An attack on Iran has been discussed, developed, refined and threatened for decades and Iran has prepared.
In terms of direct combat power, it’s highly doubtful that Iran can win under such an attack, but there are some tough nuts to crack.
Iran has dispersed its nuclear sites and buried them in hardened bunkers deep underground. Only specialized ammunition has a chance to cause damage to these sites and even then success is not guaranteed.
These sites are surrounded by efficient air defense missile systems and are staffed with well-trained elite troops.
The Iranian air force is small and outdated, but its ballistic and cruise missile programs are well developed. Comprehensive sanctions against the country have forced Iranian scientists to develop weapons, strengthen its military-industrial complex, producing increasingly advanced designs.
Despite the formidable resources indicted against Iran, it would be nearly impossible to intercept every Iranian missile, if they were launched en masse in bursts.
Added to this is a fleet of rapidly maturing Iranian drones or drones that fly more and more in swarms, overpowering enemy defenses and hitting targets with precision.
There are also the IRGC Iranian special forces and mini-submarines, designed to operate undetected in the shallow waters of the Gulf. They could cause significant damage to a fleet off the Iranian coast.
Regional allies of the United States have also strengthened their forces.
Israel sent a Dolphin attack submarine openly through the Suez Canal into the Red Sea with the approval of Egypt. Able to stay submerged for weeks on end, it is extremely quiet and carries torpedoes as well as ground attack and anti-ship missiles.
Saudi Arabian fighter jets escorted American B-52s part of the way from the United States in a public demonstration of support.
All of this sends a clear message to Iranian leaders that any reaction to the assassinations of its chief nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh or General Qassem Soleimani would not be tolerated.
However, President-elect Joe Biden is unlikely to authorize military action against Iran and has appointed William Burns, a career diplomat and instigator of roundabout negotiations with Iran, as director of the CIA.
Netanyahu has always been a strong supporter of military action against Iran, repeatedly claiming that Iran is on the verge of completing the construction of a nuclear weapon.
But that did not materialize in the 28 years he said an Iranian bomb was about to come true.
Hindered by corruption scandals in his country, Netanyahu is unlikely to be in power for many years and a new Biden administration is already considering renegotiating the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) if Iran agrees to limit its nuclear development in exchange for easing. Sanctions.
Iran has announced that it is resuming 20% uranium enrichment at its Fordow underground nuclear facility, a sign of its frustration at the lack of progress promised by the JCPOA. It is still far from reaching the 90% level required to produce military grade uranium.
Last Tuesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo boldly asserted that al Qaeda’s new base was in Iran, supporting no evidence.
He also claimed that Iran is aiding and continuing al Qaeda and providing them with shelter and logistics.
This is important because, under the 2001 authorization of military force, the president does not need congressional approval for any military action targeting al-Qaeda, which is considered an international organization unrelated to a country and can therefore be targeted anywhere.
All the pieces are now in place for military action against Iran. As with any serious plan to attack its nuclear facilities, there is no guarantee of success, the possibility that another war in the region could break out like the war in Iraq did in 2003.
But there is no doubt that Iranian leaders will be among those who will give a collective sigh of relief during Biden’s inauguration on January 20.