Iran’s Projectile Threat to U.S. Interests and Partners
For the second time since February, President Biden has ordered airstrikes on Iranian-backed militias after they fired munitions at American servicemembers in Iraq. This action will be insufficient to deter further Iranian aggression throughout the region. Instead, Tehran will perceive the recently announced withdrawal of U.S. air defense assets from the region as a victory, continuing, if not further increasing its attacks, to achieve its goal of driving the United States out of the Middle East.
Iranian-fired, -designed, -produced, and/or -supplied projectiles are the greatest current threat to not just to U.S. forces in Iraq but the security of the Middle East more broadly. Comprehensive data assembled by JINSA shows that projectile attacks by Iran and its proxies have roughly doubled every year since 2018 and are on pace to set a new record again in 2021. They shortly subsided following the January 2020 U.S. strike that killed Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani once Iran had launched its initial retaliation. Moreover, these attacks are increasingly using drones and sophisticated techniques to avoid air defense systems.
Rather than removing military assets that U.S. allies depend on for defense against Iran’s projectile threat and inconsistent retaliation, the United States should adopt a comprehensive regional strategy, collaborating with regional partners to enhance their offensive and defensive capabilities, particularly to address the rising threat from drones.
JINSA Staff Contributors
Yoni Weiner-Tobin – Research Intern