Small Wars Journal

Iran's Escalation Phases Since May 2019

Iran's Escalation Phases Since May 2019

This analysis is co-published by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) and the Critical Threats Project (CTP) at the American Enterprise Institute.

Iran has been escalating its attacks on American and allied targets since May 2019. Iran has shot down an American drone, attacked American bases with rockets culminating in the death of an American contractor, and assaulted the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. These Iranian attacks established the context for the U.S. drone strike that killed Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force (IRGC-QF) commander Qassem Soleimani and leading Iranian proxy in Iraq Abu Mehdi al-Muhandis on January 3, 2020. Iran’s escalations occurred in phases and were part of an orchestrated campaign to achieve its strategic objectives, including sanctions relief and the ouster of the U.S. from Iraq and the region. 

A new ISW-CTP graphic by Nicholas Heras, Frederick Kagan, Kyra Rauschenbach, and Jason Zhou illustrates the phases of Iran's campaign.

View the detailed graphic here.