Iran Exercises Coastal Defense
Accounts of a recent Iranian naval exercise, Noble Prophet, give some idea of how the Iranians view coastal defense. Clearly, a possible U.S. attack is the concern of Iranian naval strategy. Indeed, the theme of defending the Islamic revolution against the "Great Satan" is constantly deployed as a means of unifying the Iranian people and heading off suggestions that the current government should be reformed. Many who have pondered attacks to disable the Iranian nuclear program have commented that such attacks may have the unfortunate byproduct of cementing support for the current regime, which can then resume work as soon as the rubble clears. According to an Iranian spokesman, the exercise began with the firing of a Shihab-2 ballistic-missile as a "gesture of friendship" to the Gulf states. It should be interpreted more as a warning that these states can be struck if they allow U.S. forces to use their ports. Bahrain, the 5th Fleet base, is presumably the main target of such intimidation.