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Iran/ Hezbollah Threat – The Maritime Shiite Crescent


Flash Point: The Israeli Mediterranean – Lebanon Maritime Border, Karish gas fields, Hezbollah Sayyad Nasrallah, Secretary General of Hezbollah threatens to go to war if Jerusalem does not surrender some 1800 square kilometers (1118 mi) and parts of the Karish gas reservoir.

Off the coast of Israel in Block I/17 of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea is the Karish North field. The Karish North discovery well is connected back to the Energean Power floating production, storage, and offloading (FPSO) unit as part of the first field development. The floating production, storage, and offloading vessel (FPSO) Energean is using for its Karish gas project is in place close to the maritime border between Israeli and Lebanese waters. The installation of the FPSO Energean Power was referred to as a “hostile act” and a “provocation” by the President of Lebanon, Michel Aoun.

In June 2022, Israel began work at the Karish oil field through a vessel operated by London-based Energean. Energean Power, floating production storage and offloading vessel (FPSO) took up position 80 kilometers (fifty miles) off Israel’s northern coast and is due to start production in September of this year.

The Iranian-backed Shiite terrorist organization Hezbollah in Lebanon issued a war warning against Israel. Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of this group, has been spreading the erroneous rumor that Israel is plundering the oil resources of Lebanon.

The maritime border dispute between Lebanon and Israel is but the tip of an iceberg for Iran’s Middle East theater of military operations. It is part of Iran/Hezbollah’s main line of resistance, which they are thrusting into Israeli maritime borders. This action is more than what appears on the surface; it is one aspect of a multi-dimensional grey zone strategy of expansion domination.

“The gray zone strategy can use various means that could approach the threshold for what constitutes direct and sizable military action. Those means include the use of proxies, covert military operations, and paramilitary activities. These tools can also be used in any domain of conflict from land, air, sea, cyber, and space to economics, legal maneuvers, and influence activities.” Gray Zone Strategy in Maritime Arena: Theories and Practices 47)Chung, Samman  

For Israel, it is known as the “Campaign between the Wars,” which has become a strategy for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). This military strategy expresses the idea of unified strategic logic, the management of campaigns carried out in multiple domains (military, economic, law, information, and diplomacy). The modus operandi of the “Campaign between the Wars” is to be offensive and proactive without ambiguously crossing the threshold of war. This ambiguity allows Israel to achieve its coercive strategy by reducing the enemy’s capabilities in the event of a future war while avoiding war now.

 The aspect of Tehran’s grey zone strategy against Israel intends to destroy Jerusalem’s ability to harness rich viable natural economic resources. Harnessed these Israeli Mediterranean gas fields would change the landscape of Israel and its armed forces’ dynamic capabilities. Iran / Hezbollah’s underlining actions is to present unbearable military costs and protection/security expenditures for Jerusalem. Iran & Hezbollah accomplish this by threatening war, maritime assaults, and local to global terrorist forays. By doing this, Tehran hopes to run off developmental oil-gas companies and ruin stock values. These threat tactics are also designed to create the Middle East – International crisis and delegitimize the state of Israel.


Description automatically generatedLebanon is the bedrock, a crucial strategic land and maritime anchor point for Tehran’s warfare doctrine of forward defenseThe land bridge joins Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon to the Mediterranean.The Maritime highway connects Syria and Lebanon and runs south along the coast of Israel, Sinai -Egypt to the Suez Canal, through there to the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Strait of Hormuz, and the Persian Gulf. With this maritime bridge, Iran could control the Middle East’s three oil choke points, the Suez Canal, Yemen’s Babel El Mandeb, and the Strait of Hormuz.

The waterways of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA region) are among the most important in the world. They facilitate the export of large volumes of oil and natural gas from the region while also bridging traders in the Eastern and Western worlds through the Red Sea and Suez Canal.

 From maritime harassment to attacks on commerce vessels, Iran has been insidiously exserting control over MENA oil & gas ocean highways. Tehran has been using a combination of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) and proxy forces. For years the IRGCN blatantly and dangerously harasses US Naval ships in the MENA.

  • The Bab El Mandeb chokepoint is 29 kilometers across at its narrowest point and stretches down some 500 kilometers of Yemeni coastline. And the Houthis may have access to hundreds or even thousands of mines.
  • More than 90% of global trade occurs by sea. This makes strategic maritime chokepoints, such as the Strait of Hormuz and Bab El Mandeb in the Middle East, some of the most strategically important patches of water on earth. 

Security incidents targeting oil facilities, pipelines, tankers, and shipping saw a steep upward trend in 2021, according to data compiled by S&P Global Platts Oil Security Sentinel. The number of incidents reported last year peaked with 27 confirmed security events verified between Jan. 1 and Sept. 6. Since 2017, the Gulf of Oman, the Red Sea, and the Bab al-Mandab chokepoint have experienced most maritime attacks in the region, according to Platts’ data.

As the architect of this maritime -land crescent, the Islamic Republic of Iran has/is spending tens of billions of dollars of its oil wealth. Tehran has the largest naval force in the Persian Gulf. With over 6,000 fast attack boats. Iran currently operates the fifth largest submarine fleet in the world. The Islamic Republic has traditionally placed the bulk of its military budget into its missiles, cruise missiles, drones, and land forces. Over the past several years, the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy has had a rapid buildup. It is developing new deadly surface ships, drone carriers, and submarines.

In a time of a large-scale conflict with Israel, or the US, the Gulf States such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, etc. Lebanon would play a pivotal role in Iran’s Forward Defense anti-access/area denial (A2/AD). For example, Iran – Hezbollah would lay sea mines in Israel’s Mediterranean coastal waters and ports. Block US naval ships from assisting Israel or the other Gulf States. The Pentagon would be hard-pressed to support its Naval forces in the Gulf. Iran would close the Suez Canal. Hezbollah itself has sea mines, a diverse arsenal of over 150,000 cruise missiles, missiles, drones, and a few mini-submarines.  The force multiplier is Iran, and its  proxy naval forces.

Iranian Grey Zone endeavors rest on Lebanon, remaining a vassal, subjugated by the iron yoke of Iran. However, after Lebanon’s decades of mismanagement, grinding poverty, and living under the heel of Hezbollah, the Lebanese long to be free. In the May 15 elections, Lebanon’s voters denied Hezbollah and its allies the majority they had enjoyed over the past 15 years.

Iran’s fast-growing array of international and MENA proxy forces, providing for their military buildup, combined with shifting regional and domestic realities, have made it increasingly difficult for Tehran to respond to emerging threats. For example, the Iraqi and Lebanese elections followed widespread protests in Baghdad and Beirut that called for radical political reform and the expulsion of foreign actors, including Iran.

Tehran was already dealing with challenges created by the overextension of its regional network, a weak economy, and divisions within the Shiite community over the doctrinal status of Iranian clerics. In the Islamic Republic, there are rising protests because of poverty, lack of goods, and water. Shockingly, Tehran, an oil & gas-rich state, has a poverty rate of 60% 40 percent of Iranian households were living below the poverty line in 2021

Because of these issues, Tehran must assert its dominance over Beirut using an iron fist. And it is doing so by building up its Hezbollah and other forces on Israel’s Northern borders. UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is helpless. As often reported by Israeli media, Hezbollah has stationed thousands of ground troops from its elite Radwan unit along the Blue Line in blatant violation of Resolution 1701.

Hezbollah is openly pushing aside UN Troops in Lebanon. Hezbollah’s campaign of hindering and terrorizing UNIFIL, injuring its personnel, damaging vehicles, and stealing gear have only intensified since February, with no less than twenty-three reported incidents. Tehran’s Iron-fist arrives in Lebanon. Iran sent a new Lebanese ambassador Mojtaba Amani. Mr. Amani replaces Jalal Firouz-Abadi. Mr. Amani arrived ahead of US envoy Hochstein in Beirut on July 29. Mojtaba Amani served as the Deputy Director-General of the Office of Political and International Research Center at the Foreign Ministry. The new Iranian ambassador Mojtaba Amani is a long-time top operative of The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the section of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Intelligence Organization (IRGC-IO)

  1. This report will summarize critical events unfolding over the Mediterranean Karish gas fields, Israel, and Iran-controlled Lebanon.
  2. Outlines how Lebanon is a strategic bridge anchor point for Iran’s warfare doctrine of expansion.
  3. This dispatch will uncover Iran and Sayyad Nasrallah, secretary general of Hezbollah Multidimensional Game of Brinkmanship, Controlled-Chaos Strategy & Tactics.
  4. A summary overview of the buildup of Iranian naval forces, expeditionary sea-base ships, and the formation of proxy naval units .