Leveraging its mediating position, Qatar’s role in hosting the DIMDEX 2022 held an “important strategic impact.”
Iran’s presence at the Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference (DIMDEX 2022) was represented by its elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), where they marketed models of Iranian missiles and air defence weapons.
Across from the booth were American companies and fighter jets.
Militaries and defence entities from across the globe gathered for the three day event in Qatar, in an annual maritime defence exhibition. Regional navies docked their ships at Doha ports and buyers sought deals with the latest technologies provided by major companies.
Alireza Tangsiri, commander of Naval Force of Islamic Revolutionary Guard of Corps of #Iran attended Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference (DIMDEX) in #Qatar today. Exhibit booth of #Iran was positioned next to the booth of #US Defense Industries. pic.twitter.com/TipZInoBrP
— Babak Taghvaee – Μπάπακ Τακβαίε – بابک تقوایی (@BabakTaghvaee) March 23, 2022
The IRGC’s participation at the event was regarded as “striking” since other GCC states and Israel are fearing the probability of the United States removing the paramilitary organisation from the US Foreign Terrorist Organisations list, which designated the IRGC in April 2019 under the Donald Trump administration.
The Iran booth was arranged by the country’s Ministry of Defence and the commanders were part of a broader Iranian delegation at the exhibition, according to Reuters.
The defence ministry “manufactures arms for both Iran’s military and its powerful paramilitary IRGC, a group that plays a singular role in the creation and execution of Iran’s national security and foreign policy,” reports said.
The country’s defence ministry displayed an array of homemade weapons despite its armed forces logistics and entities being placed under US sanctions over alleged illegal weapons trade.
Iran and Qatar relations
The presence of Iran’s major senior navy delegation at Qatar’s DIMDEX 2022 is considered ‘unique’ in the Gulf according to Dr Andreas Krieg, who is an associate professor at King’s College London’s School of Security Studies.
Qatar is also the “very first” place that the Iranians chose to demonstrate their capabilities in an Arab Gulf country.
In 2018, DIMDEX was attended by the Iranian defense delegation, headed by Deputy Commander of the IRGC, Navy Rear Admiral Ali Reza Tangsiri.
Qatar maintains good relations with Iran. This was demonstrated when the Gulf country mediated between Iran and the US.
The event “fits into Qatar’s broader foreign and security policy because Qatar wants to be a kind of hub, a neutral player as well for different countries and actors from all over the world to come to Doha and to speak to one another,” Dr Krieg told Doha News.
Iran’s military capabilities
In 2019, Brigade General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the IRGC Aerospace Force noted “we rank first in missile technology at the regional level and are placed among the few global powers in this regard,” as he was quoted by Press TV.
Hajizadeh also said that Iran was the leading regional power in drone technology and that the IRGC’s downing of a US unmanned aerial vehicle in June 2019 demonstrated the Iranian radar capabilities and air defence networks.
In 2021, the head of US military operations in the Middle East, General Frank McKenzie, recognises that Iran has attained “overmatch, a level of capability in which a country has weaponry that makes it extremely difficult to check or defeat.”
“Iran’s strategic capacity is now enormous,” McKenzie said. “They’ve got an overmatch in the theatre, the ability to overwhelm,” he added. “Iran can fire more missiles than its adversaries, including the United States and Israel, can shoot down or destroy.”
Iran “can strike effectively across the breadth and depth of the Middle East. They could strike with accuracy, and they could strike with volume,” he continued.
While describing the advancement of Iran’s missile program from 2016 to 2021, a senior naval intelligence officer said it is “simply remarkable,” while speaking to a columnist at The New Yorker.