The US Pentagon and Israeli High Command are taking Iran’s threat of preemptive military action with the utmost seriousness, DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military sources report. Ears pricked up in both places Tuesday, Feb. 21, when Gen. Mohammad Hejazi, Deputy Commander of Iran’s armed forces warned that his government would not wait to be attacked before defending itself. “Our strategy now,” he told the Fars news agency, “is that if we feel our enemies want to endanger Iran’s national interests… we will act without waiting for their action.”
The source of the threat was also found to be significant. Tehran has never before put forward Gen. Hejazi, Head of the Iranian Armed Forces Operations Division, as the regime’s strategic mouthpiece. As commander of the Basij popular militia in 2009, he showed himself to be ruthless and hardnosed in ordering the crackdown which crushed popular protest against the presidential elections. He was evidently chosen as the right man for delivering a warning with a powerful punch.
Textual analysis of its content brings to light two separate messages for Washington and Jerusalem:
1. Tehran is alert to every US move in the region
The Hejazi warning was intended to tell the Americans: You can’t surprise us, but we can surprise you. We proved as much when we downed the your Sentinel RQ-17 stealth drone over Iran in December 2011 and again when we dogged your aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln on Feb. 14 every inch of the way through the Strait of Hormuz from the Persian Gulf to the Sea of Oman.
You can’t hide your slightest military and naval movement in our vicinity. We have eyes and ears in most of the Persian Gulf emirates as well as in Iraq and Afghanistan to keep us informed of everything you do.
Tehran also seems to believe that the Americans have no resources beyond electronic surveillance for keeping track of events in Iran and following its military, air force and naval movements.
The threat Hejazi conveyed to Washington hinted broadly at Iran’s superior capability for instantaneous response to threatening US moves with attacks on US bases and assets close by – before Washington is aware of the danger.
2. Syrian conflict closes down Tehran’s intelligence sources on Israel
In contrast, Tehran is seriously short of intelligence input and surveillance assets on Israel.
It has no spy satellites over Israel, spy drones capable of covering the distance to the Jewish state or eavesdropping facilities on the spot comparable to its resources in Iraq, Afghanistan and Bahrain.
The Syrian crisis has cut off the flow of Syrian and Hizballah intelligence data on Israel; their resources have been diverted to the task of keeping Bashar Assad a step ahead of the uprising against him and shoring up his regime.
Iran has also lost the feed it received from the Russian electronic early warning and listening station atop Jabal Al Harrah south of Damascus, which covered military and civilian movements in the northern half of Israel as far south as Tel Aviv. Israel was placed on a back burner when the Russian station turned its resources around to collecting data for helping Assad stay afloat.
But most of all, Tehran was saying it could not trust the Russians to share all their intelligence with Iran any more than Israel could count on the Americans to fully expose all the intelligence they had to hand.
According to DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s Iranian sources, Gen. Hejazi was delivering Iran’s last warning to Washington and Jerusalem.
It was issued to provide Iran with grounds for claiming international legitimacy for any preemptive military action launched against Israel or American targets as lawful self-defense.