Rockets and drones targeted the US Ain al-Asad base in Iraq Thursday, October 19. Such strikes on American military bases have increased following the recent Hamas attack on Israel – but they were far from rare already. For several years, periodic missile, rocket, and drone assaults on America’s deployed forces by terrorist proxies of Iran have been a common occurrence. What has not been common, however, are corresponding responses that target the culprit. Instead, such responses focus on the willing dupes of Iran while the nation’s mullahs, fat and happy in their Tehran mosques, escape the consequences. Will Biden be the one to say “enough is enough”?
Challenging Iran With US Navy Power
The Biden administration has increased its presence in the region with the USS Gerald R. Ford and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Groups (CSG) positioned in the Eastern Mediterranean. The US Air Force has also deployed modern fighter units in the Gulf region, including F-16 Fighting Falcons, A-10 Warthogs, and Fifth Generation stealth F-35 Lightning IIs. That demonstration of power should have been persuasive in deterring Iran and its proxies from attacking US forces regardless of where they are. Yet Tehran took no notice as it continued its threat to escalate the conflict beyond Israel’s borders. Through surrogates, the Tehran government has made good on those threats.
Recent reporting by The Jerusalem Post illuminates the connection between Iranian threats and US support for Israel. The Post explains:
“Iran has encouraged its terrorist proxy forces in Iraq, Yemen and Syria to begin a drone war against US forces and Israel. On Thursday (October 19) drones and rockets targeted Ain al-Asad base in Iraq. This is at least the third attack on the base this week. Iran operationalized the drones and rocket forces among its proxies this week and used false Hamas accusations that Israel struck a hospital as a catalyst to begin this planned campaign.”
These attacks follow a four-year legacy of Iranian proxies attacking US military installations in Iraq and Syria. The US has been vigilant in intercepting and destroying most incoming rockets and drones, and the attacks in the region came as no surprise. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) has harassed shipping by the US and its allies frequently over the last several years.
Iran Attempts Attack Using Houthi Terrorists
In a slightly different approach to its increasing anti-US and anti-Israel hostile operations, Iran used Yemen’s Houthi terrorist rebels to launch drones near US Navy vessels patrolling in the Gulf. US Air Force Brigadier General Patrick Ryder, Defense Department press secretary, told the Pentagon press Corps on Thursday, October 19:
“The crew of the guided missile destroyer USS Carney, operating in the Northern Red Sea, earlier today shot down three land-attack cruise missiles and several drones that were launched by Houthi forces in Yemen …
“…There were no casualties to US forces and none that we know of to any civilians on the ground…
“…We cannot say for certain what these missiles and drones were targeting, but they were launched from Yemen heading north along the Red Sea potentially towards targets in Israel.”
The USS Carney is assigned to the USS Gerald R. Ford CSG. It has downed 15 drones and four cruise missiles, according to a Fox News report. Meanwhile, Iran-sponsored Lebanese Hezbollah (LH) fighters in southern Lebanon intensified attacks against Israel Defense Force targets in northern Israel. In its “Iran Update, October 19, 2023,” the Critical Threats Project (CPT) at the American Enterprise Institute and the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported on recent Hezbollah attacks on Israel of varying intensity. “CTP-ISW recorded 13 attacks from Lebanon into Israeli territory on October 19. The attacks targeted locations across the entire length of the Israel-Lebanon border. LH claimed six mortar and small arms fire attacks. LH launched four ATGMs (Anti-Tank Guided Missile) at Israeli military positions along the eastern border,” the report said.
Hostilities with Iran May Be Imminent
The CPT-ISW provided a sobering assessment of Iran’s intentions in its analysis. “The Iranian regime is trying to rally public support for the Palestinian cause, possibly to prepare Iranians for the prospect of a regional war,” the report stated. The various assaults on US and Israeli militaries and the building tensions could make a regional war imminent. “Iran is – is supporting Russia’s U – in Ukraine, and it’s supporting Hamas and other terrorist groups in the region. And we’ll continue to hold them accountable, I might add,” President Biden said in an address to the nation on October 19. To date, other than sending a strong message with the presence of the US Navy’s two CSGs, seriously holding Iran accountable has not been evident. Nonetheless, at some point soon, the US will be forced to tell Tehran enough is enough.