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July 23, 2023

Iris Hautaniemi Forsberg, Agathe Labadi, Arnold R. Koka, Virginia Martos Blanco, Ludovica Leccese

Cameron Munoz, Senior Editor

Strait of Hormuz[1]

Event: On Sunday, July 23, Iran began its annual air force drill in the central part of the country to assess its combat readiness and demonstrate the nation's military capabilities. More than 90 fighter planes, bombers, and drones participated in the exercise. The drill comes as the US has sent additional fighter jets and four warships to the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman to increase security in the wake of Iranian attempts to seize commercial ships there.[2] Tensions between the US and Iran have increased since the US withdrew from a unilateral nuclear agreement during the Trump administration, resulting in renewed sanctions from the US and EU member states on Iran. Iran has responded by expanding its nuclear capacity and weapons exports to Russia in the war against Ukraine.[3]

Significance: Iran’s military demonstration will likely increase tensions in the region and influence future backlashes from regional adversaries like Israel and Saudi Arabia. Dialogues with the Arab League, the US, and Israel to establish peace agreements and tighter diplomatic ties will likely be affected by this military exercise. Countries located around the Persian Gulf will likely increase border security and safety measures by using anti-drone systems, air and land patrols, and preparing emergency forces. Commercial shipping companies and coast guards will also very likely increase security measures on their ships and near essential ports. Oil firms and transporters will likely reduce the traffic during the Iranian drill, likely impacting the regional economy and exportation flows/capabilities. The increased regional presence of the US will likely influence Iranian actions, escalating Iranian support for states and terrorist organizations hostile toward the US, such as Russia, Syria, North Korea, Hezbollah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Iran will likely increase weapons export to Russia, particularly drones, bullets, and mortar shells for its ongoing war efforts in Ukraine. Iran will almost certainly continue to provide economic and military support to terrorist organizations in Palestine while simultaneously supporting Hezbollah which threatens Israel from Lebanon. Iran’s proxy efforts will likely increase the chances of attack on Israel from multiple directions. Iran will also likely continue to arm militants in Syria to attack US military bases. Escalating tensions between the US and Iran will very likely lead to an expansion of the Iranian nuclear program, decreasing the possibility of a new nuclear agreement. To counter US restrictions, Iran will likely increase its activities abroad by establishing economic and political agreements with Latin American and Asian countries, to complicate their ties with the US and its allies.


  • The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) recommends the US government support the establishment of a regional framework for coordinating and promoting maritime security in the Gulf area, favoring the inclusion of all countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Israel, and Iran. CTG also recommends the international community encourage diplomatic dialogue between the two countries to address the underlying issues and de-escalate regional tensions.

  • CTG encourages regional and global powers to actively offer mediation services to facilitate peaceful resolution and reduce the risk of military escalation.

  • CTG recommends that civilian populations living near potential conflict zones be aware of evacuation routes and safety measures in emergencies. Neighboring countries should also consider the potential for escalating existing tensions, elaborating strategic plans to counter the spillover effects of such threats, and protect their populations.

  • CTG recommends the international community provide commercial ships with extra maritime security measures, including Long-range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) systems and other initiatives under the International Maritime Organization (IMO), that prevent the vessels from being seized. We recommend that commercial shipping companies train personnel on security procedures and how to act in case of an attack. International shipping companies should also provide their employees psychological support in times of worry or fear.

  • CTG recommends the intelligence community closely monitor Iranian military activity by tracking Iranian air force movements, gathering intelligence on Iranian naval operations, and monitoring Iranian missile tests. We also recommend that US intelligence increase intelligence sharing with allied regional partners, such as Israel and Saudi Arabia.

  • CTG recommends the US and allies’ military and intelligence services monitor all potential weapons exports from Iran to states hostile to the US. We also recommend the US government expand targeted sanctions to include Iranian weapons manufacturing companies and Iranian individuals in charge of weapons export and shipping companies transporting these weapons.

  • If there is any additional and or critical information, please contact us at The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) by Telephone at 202-643-2848 or email


[1] Strait of Hormuz by Google Maps

[2] US sending more Navy ships, Marines to the Gulf to counter Iran, France24, July 2023,

[3] Iran kicks off air force drill as US sends more fighter planes to the region, AP News, July 2023


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