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Iran has announced that it is going to begin major military maneuvers on Saturday, August 19, just two days ahead of its expected response to the West’s nuclear proposal designed to entice them away from nuclear enrichment and, thus, nuclear weapons.

Iranian General Mohammad Reza Ashtiani announced that the exercise, “Blow of Zolfaghar,” will be extensive and “take place in West and East Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, Baluchestan va Sistan, and Khorasan provinces.” This covers the Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey borders completely, as well as the Iraqi border from Turkey south past Kirkuk towards Baghdad.

The UK’s Times notes that border patrols throughout have been increased since last week and observes that Iran’s “bristly gestures will only add to regional tension.”

Whatever does – or does not – happen with regards to Iran on August 22nd, the following eight days after their expected response leading up to the August 30 deadline set by the United Nations Security Council will almost certainly be filled with diplomatic wrangling. Ahmadinejad will work hard to convince the world that Iran is indeed finally prepared to somehow negotiate what is repeatedly called their ‘inalienable right.’

But after August 30 passes, the United States expects UN sanctions against Iran to be put in place with little delay. This position presumes cooperation from both Russia and China, each of whom have been clear in the past that they oppose any sanctions against their valued trading partner, though they have used nuanced language of late softening this position.

How they react when push comes to shove at the Security Council will be telling. It very well may not be as hoped for by an America percieved to be weaker in the international community as the days, conflicts and events go by without pause.

The timing of what is termed ‘defensive exercises’ announcement by Iran is curious, especially in light of word that a North Korean nuclear test could be imminent. American satellite images have detected “suspicious vehicle movement” near the P’unggye-yok underground test facility in North Korea. Reportedly observed by US intelligence were long cables being run into the underground facility, a process used to connect sensors near an underground blast to monitoring equipment above ground and a safe distance away.

This activity was also observed last year, but no nuclear test was undertaken.

One speculation – taking the events and forcing them into the same context – would interpret the Iranian exercises as an actual perimeter defense deployment ahead of events known by Iran and expected to be perceived as provocative. That event could potentially be an Iranian rejection of the nuclear proposal simultaneous with a nuclear demonstration by their chief technology proliferation partner, North Korea.

While this is an example of speculation, at least considering such possibilities becomes increasingly important as Ahmadinejad’s apocalyptic fellow-believers gain more and more power within Iran. (Note the sudden absence of student protests that were so prevalent until recently.) Ahmadinejad’s faithful membership within the Hojjatieh Society guides his thinking and his choices for leadership positions within Iran, as the Hojjatieh seek to “pave the way for the return of the Mahdi.”

Westerners would find Hojjatieh beliefs and practices so disturbing as to be hardly believable. Yet these are indeed the beliefs and practices of the increasingly more powerful Iranian president and his mentor, Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi, often referred to as “The Crocodile,” for his beneath-the-surface exercise of political power, and as “The Sorcerer,” for his cultic religious practices, the likes of which most Americans would dismiss as insane and, therefor, impossible to be true among a nation’s powerful elite.

Yet, through Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Yazdi, unthinkable belief structure is increasingly guiding the direction of Iranian policy, strategy and actions.

The world can scarcely afford to underestimate the mindset of the Iranian president as he accrues more and more power within Iran, including solid allegiance from the Bassij and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which in many ways should be increasingly considered in parallel to Hitler’s SS.


When I saw this report in the Jerusalem Post, my first thought was - here we go with the 12th Imam preparations. The only odd thing is the eastern border operations. I suspect a defensive posture to anyone from Pakistan, Turkey, and especially coalition forces in Afghanistan - while they rally the current "exercises", already in progress, toward Iraq. If we hear of "exercises" in Syria and Lebanon, it's a done deal.

By the way, I supect the Gulf of Hormuz is also on their agenda. That would be the first chokehold on the world economy.

Yes, it's going to be an interesting couple of weeks, I'm afraid. Possibly near-simultaneous demonstrations of nuclear capabilities by Iran and N. Korea? I hope not, but these days, you just never know.

If I recall correctly, the 12th Imam could return, but he would not necessarily reveal himself to the entire world... only to a chosen few, and within those few he would select one person to act in his place. Would the Persian President present himself as that proxy?

But I don't think that oil warfare is really on the Iranian agenda, other than as a very last recourse... Iran is far too dependent upon the cash flow, as well as the import of refined products. My thinking is that they would take that step only if they felt they were ready to take the world on militarily... that is, to initiate the final conflict that would allow Islam to achieve its ultimate goal, the submission of all peoples of the world to Mohammad's message.

Just my $.02

And a small aside... it's the Straights of Hormuz, which form the entrance to the Persian (or Arabian, depending on what map you look at) Gulf.

Excellent article, Steve. I fear that you might be right about what's going to happen. Either way, we'll know soon enough.

Thanks, Tom. But I really don't know what's going to happen. Perhaps I could borrow some of Ayatollah Yazdi's crystals or draw on some of his mystic powers to foretell.

Short of that, I was simply tossing up a possibility.

It's always healthy to keep in mind both the worst case scenario and the fact that Ahmadinejad likes to play on Western imagination. Where the line is drawn between the two is the $64,000 question.