Adelaide, South Australia
- Election Dynamics: 2024 is crucial for Iran and the U.S. as they face significant elections – the Iranian Islamic Consultative Assembly election on March 1 and the U.S. Presidential Election on November 5.
- Biden’s Dilemma: Iran’s proxy attack in Jordan, resulting in U.S. military casualties, presents President Joe Biden with a complex situation. Faced with poor polling numbers and the need to appear strong, Biden must respond to avoid looking weak domestically and in the Middle East.
- Potential Escalation: The possibility of a decisive military action against Iran’s proxy network, particularly the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), raises questions about its political consequences. Success could bolster Biden’s image as a ‘wartime leader,’ but any strike must be carefully calibrated to avoid triggering broader regional instability and potential backlash.
- 2024 is an election year in both Iran (Iranian Islamic Consultative Assembly election, 1 March 2024) and the U.S. (Presidential Election, 5 November 2024)
President Joe Biden was delivered ‘a potential gift’ by an Iranian proxy attack on a U.S. base in Jordan where some 3 U.S. military personnel were killed, and some 34 were injured (28 January 2024.)
- Up to now, Iranian proxies in the region have conducted over 150 rocket, drone, and missile attacks on the U.S. Middle East presence since the Hamas 7 October 2023 attack on Israel. Many of these attacks failed to cause casualties.
- The fact that U.S. military personnel have now been killed means that Biden is forced to act. Failure to act will make him look weak to his domestic political opponents and his Middle Eastern strategic adversaries.
- Biden’s numbers in the presidential race thus far are extremely poor, and he looks likely to lose the November 2024 elections.
- A successful military action that rolls back Iran’s proxy network, perhaps inclusive of selective strikes on Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) regionally deployed assets and assets within Iran, might well give inspiration to restless Iranians who believe that the time for the Ayatollahs is over.
- Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is an unpopular political leader with an approval rating hovering around 28 per cent, while Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is physically feeble at 84 years old – mirroring the physical feebleness of U.S. President 81-year-old Joe Biden.
- Decades of military posturing, poor governance and shocking economic management have impoverished Iran, which should be rich and prosperous considering its resource wealth and young, technically-minded population.
- It is unlikely that average Iranians would rally around the flag en masse to defend the theocratic regime if it came under foreign attack.
- Such an attack might stiffen domestic political opposition, leading to renewed and intensified instability or even organised resistance to the regime.
- Will a successful and decisive attack on IRGC assets produce the kind of political consequences that may topple the Ayatollahs while enhancing Biden’s American political standing as a ‘wartime leader’?
- Any such attack would have to be so completely overwhelming that it produces complete policy paralysis in Tehran.
- Americans love military victories, and a successful U.S.-led attack on Iranian assets will boost Biden’s polling. However, will it be enough to counter the Trump juggernaut?
- Trump will be looking for any signs of weakness in Biden’s reaction to Iranian provocation. Indeed, he has already said: “This attack would NEVER have happened if I was President” (The Times of India 29 January 2024).
- Many Americans are tired of ‘forever wars’ in places they don’t know, understand, or care about.
- The financial strains of a near-constant war footing from 1947-2024 (with few clear-cut military victories during this time) have affected the American public’s jaded and increasingly isolationist mood.
- Furthermore, any strike that severely cripples or topples the Ayatollahs holds the prospect for ‘mission creep’ since the chaos unleashed in Iran will have broader regional effects.
- Biden will limit his strike on Iranian assets, likely to Syria and possibly Iraq. This will limit his exposure to mission creep and perhaps give him a ‘quick victory’, which may reflect well in the polls.
This analysis is subject to evolving regional developments; further updates may be warranted.