SPECIAL ANALYSIS / IRAN: PREPARING FOR OFFENSIVE; MILITARY PREPARATIONS CONT

Created: 3/1/1988

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Special Analysis

for OFfeniive

lallura to launch on offensive ao far thii ytar may afam from domstflc and Marnatlonal concerns. Put 'ta continuing mllltar* preparation! iiipgeal Tehran could tnlltata major grounl operations ever Me next afiTha pressures fating Tehran are more llkal/ toie timing and location ot an of/ensfte man io eeier fran from launching on* ^eaaaaj

a-icai issues probafcy have utnue-iced vena OacrsiorM aoout ar olerane more neavty than tn prenoua yeers Recent sects by- tnet dramatically expend tne government's roe in tr* economy and in preparationarliamentary election next month are causing (actional Infighting and diverting tne attenton of the same leaders who direct the war. Iranian leaders probably are concerned mat an offensive wrll further unsettle the domestic scene, especially il it lane or results in heavy casualties, fmm^

Foreign devotee ment* have also contrlDuted to the pressure to delay or fergo an ohanana. Tefiren procabfy la concerned that an offensic. by flouting the UN call for am Peso j) ion MB. might be the final rmpetua ihoour a? needed to paaa an arme srr&orgcaessritt Iran. The delay may efso have been intended toecuctkm of US forces innd to give UAE-Drcke-sd necotatWrs vrlth the Gut!r.ance to An offensive this year Is more likely wan en prevtcui year* to result in serious car age to relations with tho USSR. Syria. Japan, and Western Europe because of Resolution 5S8

Nonetheless,ajor offensive present* nsks to Tehran, and tne military disadvantages ot delaying action eventualy may outweigh any advantages. WKh international opinion Increasingly oepictlna US interveMione Gul- ssvictory for Washington and its regionalehran nay come to bceav* that indetnit* postponement o* an ofSarsive wl create thes beingoth the ground and -aval wtvifl

ranians In gererai migit view inacrlonon that the warding down, which might lower tneir willingnesspcnd to future maoduationi or lo make sacrrfica* for the war. Hardliners In tnaoften see their survival tied to auccea* In the war-might become disgruntled and throaton regtm*l( the war is not acllvey

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Military Preparations Canlmus

mi dispersions so tat would0 lounoh multiple attacks oi varying sizes Irom Iha A) Fa- peninsula lo northern Iran. Although thereaw raporl* ol problems -ilh iha motaOarlon laal laa. uoop strength* and tranmg rvt increased through aerfy that year Wiih tht acqusittc- ar.dOtzoyntfv. otanasir defense systems rlurlng iha pail year, tranly increased lla firepower. Iran's regular army appears to De taking greater steps to prepare lor offensive operations this year. Iranian forces, however, still lace strong iragl defenses, longstanding supply problems, and potential ditficu.ties wlr using new weapons c'feciivelyjaMfjJIfaj

The continuing military preparations suggest the regimer morescorevictory during ihe nest sotsjor attackImportant strategic objective such as Umm Oasr orsern greatictory may

Iraq's will to reaist|

Tehran might try to limit international and domestic criticism by launching attecks lhat could be characteriwd favorably regardless ot their outcome. The attacks may be away from the southern frontoothe Gulf Arab nerves end possibly linn daman* to reletlorj with By avoiding en assaultteevttyhe regain* wove be more ;asty to avoid high irnthe period leadtng to the parliamentaryext month. |

Tohran la almost certain to exploit mitrtartiy any Initial auccessl th* Iraqi forces If It perceives Ihe opportunity for slgnlllcant gain Iranian leaders wouldajoi victory to Improve Itsespite likely setbackshe UN and with the Gulf Arabs.

If Ihe offensive remains reletlvefy rirrited. Tehrenave Ihe option toargerhe fall. Khomeini esuid upset tha regime* caicufttlon* ai any time, however, by ordering an ImrnecUie, large-Kale etteckraqi target. PessaguNharp downturn In relatione -Hi the Gulf Araba, or clashes wllh thetn more eggr*save ground opsretions

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