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Re: STRAT-DOC Example

Released on 2012-08-05 16:00 GMT

Email-ID 107808
Date 2011-08-15 23:03:40
even having one of these done by tomorrow would be a miracle for me, let
alone three

On 8/15/11 3:58 PM, Reva Bhalla wrote:

This is an example of what I am looking for in the regional Strat-Docs
that you're working on. As a reminder, the AOR doc is intended to
present in condensed form the STRATFOR point of view on the issues that
we care about. his is a doc that will continue to be built out, but as a
starting point, i want us to have this as a foundation for us to update
day by day and week by week when we meet as a team and when new issues
comes to the fore. As new info comes in (whether through insight, OSINT,
research, etc.) we have a very easy reference to throw that info against
and see if it affirms or undermines our own assessment. This also
prevents anyone from going off the reservation on any given assessment.

Below is an example of what I wrote on Iran (will be adding links)


A compilation of regional themes and forecasts


Iran Net Assessment: Iran is essentially a mountain fortress, whose
core is situated in the Zagros and Elburz highlands. After nearly half a
millennia, Iran is now in a position to work on one of its final
imperatives of eliminating Mesopotamia as a strategic threat. Iran's
domestic socioeconomic troubles, the fractious nature of the region's
Shiite landscape, the threat of conflict with the United States and a
rising Turkey are all significant constraints to Iranian westward

Decade Forecast on Iran - 2010-2020

Iran will be contained, as it simply does not have the underlying power
to be a major player in the region beyond its immediate horizons.
Whether this will be by military action and isolation of Iran or by a
political arrangement with the current or a successor regime is unclear
but irrelevant to the broader geopolitical issue

Iranian influence in Iraq and US-Iran Negotiations

Iran's has a core imperative to consolidate Shiite power in Iraq so as
to prevent the emergence of another hostile Sunni power on its Western
flank and to create a strategic foothold in the heart of the Arab world
with which to project its influence.

Iran's facilitation of the US invasion of Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein
formed the foundation of a US-Iran negotiation over the future of Iraq.
What the US did not anticipate was that the fall of the Sunni Baathist
regime would fundamentally upset the Arab/Persian and broader Sunni/Shia
balance of power in the Persian Gulf region. As a result, the US
position has increasingly felt the need to develop a strong
counterbalance to Iranian power in Iraq.

MAIN QUESTION MOVING FORWARD - (as stated in 2011 annual forecast)

The most important question in the Persian Gulf is the degree to which
the United States will draw down its forces in the region. The answer to
this question determines the region's geopolitical reality.

Other than the United States, the greatest military power in the Persian
Gulf region is Iran. Whether or not Iran acquires nuclear weapons, it is
the major conventional power. Should the United States remove all
effective military force in Iraq and limit its forces in Kuwait, two
things would happen. First, Iraq would fall under Iranian domination.
Second, the states on the Arabian Peninsula would have to accommodate
the new balance of power, making concessions to Iranian interests.

The strategic dilemma the US faces is that Iran, through its political,
religious, business and militant links, clearly holds the upper hand in
any negotiation taking place in Baghdad over an extended stay for US
forces in Iraq. Iran could negotiate a small number of US `trainers' to
remain in Iraq, but only with the intention of having those forces
vulnerable to Iranian proxies. US, on the other hand, has an interest in
maintaining at least one division of troops that would be reconfigured
and equipped to block Iran.

2011 ANNUAL FORECAST - The United States will seek to retain a
significant presence in Iraq to balance Iran rather than withdraw fully.
We also forecast a significant, behind-the-scenes progression in
U.S.-Iranian negotiations toward the year's end as Washington tries to
cope with the strategic dilemma of leaving a power vacuum in Iraq.

3rd QUARTER FORECAST - We said that Iran so far has been able to block
U.S. efforts in Iraq but that the struggle is not over. The United
States will continue trying to persuade more independent-minded Iraqi
factions to support an extended stay for U.S. forces. Iran will continue
to use agents of influence in Iraq, particularly the Sadrites to remind
both U.S. and Iraqi officials of the consequences of defying Iran's
wishes on this issue. Confident in its position in Iraq, Iran will also
try to assert its influence in Afghanistan and try to convince
Washington that a broader negotiation with Tehran is needed in order to
exit the war. However, given the limits to Iran's influence in this
arena, such efforts are unlikely to make much headway.

Iranian Nuclear Issue

STRATFOR believes that Iran has primarily spent the past decade using
its nuclear program as a bargaining chip in broader negotiations with
the US over Iraq, as the Iraq imperatives comes well before the desire
to develop a nuclear deterrent strategy. The more confident Iran becomes
over Iraq, the more energy and resources it can devote to building a
credible nuclear deterrent to round outs security. However, there is a
huge distance between testing a nuclear device and weaponizing one. We
believe Iran is facing significant technical challenges in developing a
nuclear weapons capability, due in no small part to interdiction efforts
and Israel's covert campaign to sabotage the program.

STRATFOR considers any sanctions campaign against Iran will not be
effective in shaping Iran's behavior to Western interests without the
full and active involvement of Russia and China (which we consider
unlikely.) There is much money to be made in a sanctions bonanza, and
though Iran is finding it more difficult to do day to day business, it
is not going to isolated from the global economy.

Potential for US/Israeli strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities

We believe the chance of surgical strikes targeting Iranian nuclear
facilities is very low, inasmuch as the Iranian response would be to
attempt to block the Strait of Hormuz. While it is possible for the U.S.
Navy to keep the strait clear, it cannot control the market reaction to
military activity there. The consequences of failure for the global
economy would be enormous and too great a risk without a much broader
war designed to destroy Iran's conventional forces (naval, air and land)
from the air. This could be done, but it would take many months and also
run huge risks.

Iran's main deterrent strategy against an attack on its nuclear
facilities has 3 prongs - closing the Strait of Hormuz, Hezbollah
attacks, destabilizing Iraq; Iran still has the Hormuz option, though
it's a costly one. Hezbollah remains Iran's strongest militant proxy,
but the group is under increased strain now given the Syria situation.
The Iraq option loses its punch if US significantly draws down its
presence in Iraq.

Iranian influence in Levant

Iran's IRGC has been strengthening its grip on Hezbollah in Lebanon over
the past several years, but is know facing a serious threat of seeing
its influence in the Levant decline should the Al Assad regime in Syria
collapse and lead to prolonged instability in the country.

Iran relies on Damascus as its primary for a logistic feed to Hezbollah
in Lebanon as well as Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas in Gaza (We
believe Iran has been able to displace a significant amount of Saudi
influence in Gaza since the 2007 Hamas Gaza takeover.) Without active
cooperation from Syria, Iran will be much more constrained in
maintaining support to its proxies in this region.

QUESTION MOVING FORWARD - What is Iran's contingency plan for the
collapse of the Al Assad regime? Can Iran find an alternative among the
Alawites to back that would be able to get Christian support in trying
to keep the Sunnis from coming to power? What is the HZ contingency plan
for regime collapse in Syria?

Iran's Aim to Reshape the Political Reality in Eastern Arabia

STRATFOR believes that Iran exploited the Arab unrest in North Africa to
fuel a destabilization campaign in Bahrain that it hoped would spread to
Shiite-concentrated areas of Saudi Arabia's oil-rich Eastern Province.
The Iranian intent is to reshape the political reality of Eastern Arabia
to place Bahrain in Shiite hands, remove US military installations in
the Persian Gulf and assert Shiite power in the Saudi kingdom. Iranian
capability in this regard, however, is still highly limited.

Iran has political, religious, commercial and covert links in Bahrain to
maintain a foothold there, but does not appear to have what it takes to
force regime change. The STRATFOR assessment (based primarily on insight
from George) is that Iran still has a lot more force to bear in Bahrain
should it feel the need and opportunity to do so. This is an assessment
worthy of being challenged. STRATFOR also believes Iran's agenda for
Bahrain is far more long-term, focused right now on building existing
dissent in the isles and using the threat of a broader Iranian
destabilization campaign in Eastern Arabia to coerce Saudi Arabia into
an accommodation on Iranian terms. We saw hints of Iran-Saudi
negotiations over a truce in Bahrain in the early part of the 3rd
quarter, but not much movement since.

Iran's Internal Power Struggle

STRATFOR does not believe the youth-led Green Movement that arose in
Iran in 2009 from the elections has the internal strength to seriously
challenge the regime. The demonstrations are not representative of the
majority will of the population and Iran's internal security apparatus
appears capable of suppressing this level of dissent.

STRATFOR does not see Iran's internal power struggle in the upper ranks
of the regime as a dire enough to propel the fall of the regime on its
own, either. There is an important dynamic underway, however, in which a
faction led by Ahmadinejad is posing a serious challenge to the
legitimacy of the corrupted clerical elite. We believe this movement
will outlive Ahmadinejad and create further cleavages within the regime.
Rather than this split leading to regime collapse and democratic
revolution (what the media seems to think will happen,) we see the
military - specifically the IRGC - most benefiting from this power
struggle. The IRGC is likely to emerge as the most powerful institution
in Iran in the medium to longer term.

Iran-Russia Relations

Russia is Iran's primary source of foreign support, but the alliance
between Moscow and Tehran is highly tenuous. Iran and Russia are natural
geopolitical rivals; Russia does not want to see Iran dominating the
Persian Gulf region, developing a nuclear capability, exerting influence
in the Caucasus or becoming a major energy alternative to Russia for the
West. In the shorter term, however, Iran is a useful irritant to the
United States for Russia to in its broader negotiations with Washington.
Ultimately, Iran is an expendable bargaining chip for Russia, which
makes Iran deeply vulnerable. The main pressure points Russia can use in
playing the Iran card include: the potential sale of S300s to Iran, the
completion of Bushehr and additional nuclear expertise given to Iran,
UNSC backing (or lack thereof), security assistance in containing
dissent, sanctions busting - gasoline sales.