The dilemma for Iran: attack Israel or not

Israel and the entire Middle East have been waiting anxiously and long for the possibility of an imminent Iranian attack in response to the Defense Forces’ bombing of the mullahs’ regime’s consulate in Damascus eleven days ago. The Israeli operation resulted in the deaths of seven Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps officials, including the commander of the Quds Force in Lebanon and Syria, Brigadier General Mohamed Reza Zahedi, and his deputy, General Haj Rahimi.

American media claimed yesterday that Israel was already preparing to respond within 48 hours. The White House also assured this Friday that an Iranian attack was “real and viable,” without specifying when it might take place. It is not for nothing that the head of the US Army Central Command (CENTCOM), General Michael “Erik” Kurilla, held a meeting with top Israeli military leaders in Tel Aviv on Thursday to coordinate the response to possible Iranian aggression.

Meanwhile, Iran’s mission to the United Nations issued a statement on Thursday afternoon asserting that the regime’s eventual response to Israel could have been avoided if the Security Council had condemned the attack in Damascus. Several countries have asked their nationals to avoid traveling to Israel given the climate of maximum tension.

The big question at the moment seems to be not so much whether the mullahs’ regime will carry out some kind of aggression against the interests of Israel or its main ally, the United States, in the Middle East, but rather when and how that response will occur. Tehran is aware of its military inferiority and has always avoided direct confrontation with Israel.

In its asymmetrical and almost invisible war against the “Zionist arch-enemy,” the Islamic Republic has, since October 8th – and even before that date – chosen to attack Tel Aviv and Washington through a variety of proxy forces scattered throughout the region. Despite the increasingly bellicose rhetoric, the regime born in 1979 knows that an Israeli response could mean its end. “Overall, Israel is more powerful than Iran, and a large-scale attack could lead to massive retaliation and threaten the survival of the Tehran regime,” concludes Gerald M., professor emeritus of political science at Bar-Ilan University, to LA RAZÓN. Steinberg. In this sense, Ronen Zeidel, a professor at the Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University, predicts: “If Tehran reacts immediately, it risks national interests such as its nuclear program, international sanctions or a broader response from Israel and the United States.” Joined”.

For his part, Iran expert Daniel Bashandeh reminds this newspaper that “Iran has remained in the background since the outbreak of the crisis.” Despite the Israeli attacks in Syria, Iran has not reacted directly. This is because the Iranian leadership will not enter into direct conflict if it endangers the current political system. This has been their approach since October 7, particularly in light of the crisis in Gaza and the open fronts between Israel and Hezbollah.”

“We must also distinguish between what is happening outside Persian borders and inside the country. “Iran’s advantage is its regional power, which serves to deter threats.” “Iran’s foreign policy includes guaranteeing the survival of the regime in Iran, and the calculations are made on this basis.” Therefore, Persian leaders must weigh up whether a conflict really serves to stay in power in Iran,” the political scientist explains to LA RAZÓN.

Meanwhile, Iranian leaders are aware that the situation of tensions and bellicose rhetoric is playing a positive role for the regime at a time of strong internal strife, particularly pronounced since the end of 2022, given the power and political dynamics of Israel and Iran their political leaders to rely on confrontation rather than diplomacy to bolster their domestic power. The wild card of the Israeli and Iranian threat allows leaders to secure the internal support needed to stay in power. “No one will make a false move that would entail a loss of power within their borders, especially considering the national context of both countries: the leaders are challenged in different ways by a large part of the population.”

As a result, the mullahs’ regime may find itself caught between rhetoric, the need to keep its word, a major military investment, and the more pressing urgency of survival. “The Iranian regime faces a difficult choice: its leaders have invested enormous resources in weapons to attack Israel, and a flaw in that response could be seen as weakness.” But if Iran attacks, the Israeli response will be devastating “, summarizes Professor Steinberg.

For all these reasons, an operation against Israel by intermediate forces such as Hezbollah, the powerful Lebanese militia party, or the Yemeni rebels, the two most active fronts since October 8 last year, currently seems to be the most plausible hypothesis. How and when remains a mystery that is keeping the entire region in suspense. For Bashandeh, the regime could use the current situation to “refocus attention on its nuclear program as a deterrent measure.” In this way, Iran could counter Israel’s intentions to influence the international agenda and counter pressure to resume negotiations.”

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