Glen Segell

Iran exempt from bombing

It seems that the only country in the Middle East that is not being bombed by an air force is Iran. And this is the country who needs to be bombed the most; perhaps by surgical strikes on its developing nuclear sites.

After decades of weapons procurement the formidable air forces of Middle East countries have been predominately for Independence Day parades. Maybe also the toys of the Princes of the oil rich kingdoms. On the other hand the police and the army in Middle East countries have, with considerably cheaper weapons, been involved on a regular basis, usually to quell unrest and revolutions. The idea of power projection outside of one’s own border was rare and usually only to make a useless gesture at removing Zionist Israel. So who is being bombed and why

The Saudis are bombing Yemen because they fear the Shia Houthis are working for the Iranians. The Saudis are also bombing Isis in Iraq and the Isis in Syria. So are the United Arab Emirates. The Syrian government is bombing its enemies in Syria and the Iraqi government is also bombing its enemies in Iraq. America, France, Britain, Denmark, Holland, Australia and Canada are bombing Isis in Syria and Isis in Iraq, partly on behalf of the Iraqi government but absolutely not on behalf of the Syrian government. The Jordanians and Saudis and Bahrainis are also bombing Isis in Syria and Iraq The Egyptians are bombing parts of Libya. The Iranians have acknowledged bombing Isis in Iraq. And of course Israel has bombed targets in Syria, allegedly weapons on the way to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

One view to explain this is that the air bombings are because of sectarian disputes in Islam. The Iranian Shia supported Syrian government forces are bombing their Sunni Syrian enemies and the Lebanese Shia Hezbollah are fighting the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s Sunni enemies. The Sunni Saudis are bombing the Shia Yemenis and the Shia Iranians are bombing the Sunni Iraqis. However this is not always supported empirically because the Sunni Egyptians are bombing Sunni Libyans, and the Jordanian Sunnis are bombing Iraqi Sunnis. One fact to remember is that Sunni Isis is financially sponsored by Sunni private donors namely Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE and Kuwait.

Bombing from the air has always had its role established in tactics but disputed in strategy. The questions posed in the strategy debate are: just how much damage has to be done or enemy killed before they surrender and we win; and do we need ground forces to be there when they surrender. In other words is the point of this air bombing to kill and destroy or as part of a larger plan to occupy and/or change leadership. So if the reason is sectarian then will all Shia become Sunni or will all Sunni become Shia as a result of being bombed from the air.

Although I am only a novice on air strategy; I suspect that bombs from the heavens will not change the religious belief of a person on the ground. So I think there needs to be a lot more research and reasoning into what is happening throughout the Middle East, why it is happening and on how to find solutions; other than dropping bombs. On the other hand it would seem that the only way to resolve Iran’s nuclear ambitions is to drop bombs on it.

About the Author
Dr Glen Segell is Fellow at the Ezri Center for Iran & Persian Gulf Studies, University of Haifa.