Iran attacks Israel: the day after.

by Claudio Bertolotti

Teheran has carried out the retaliation announced for the attack it suffered on April 1st, when its consulate in Damascus was targeted, an event that resulted in the death of at least 16 people, including two commanders of the Revolutionary Guards. Overnight, more than 300 drones and cruise missiles, launched by the Islamic Republic and its regional allies – the Ansar Allah Houthis from Yemen, the Iraqi Shiite militias, and Lebanese Hezbollah – targeted Israeli military installations, with most of these intercepted by the Iron Dome defense systems.

The attack by Tehran on Israel is an event that finally highlights the conflict dynamics in the Middle East that until now have seen Tehran strike Israel indirectly, without ever exposing itself. Today everything has changed, and this is the historical event that marks a change of pace, beyond the actual results achieved on the ground. Perhaps a result achieved by Israel is that of having drawn out of the shadows those who, over the last twenty years and more, have managed attacks and offenses against Israel hiding behind its regional proxies, from Syria, to Lebanese Hezbollah to Ansar Allah Houthis in Yemen, the Iraqi Shiite militias, and more recently Hamas itself.

A historic event that could be decisive in resolving conflicts unresolved for decades but that the United States will not allow to be resolved and this not out of a fear of regional expansion of the conflict but because the event itself takes place in full electoral campaign and the incumbent president fears losing the votes of the significant Arab and Muslim component.

On the tactical level, the less relevant one, we can read it as an attempt to saturate the Israeli air defense system by sending a high number of drone aircraft to then strike the targets with ballistic missiles. A failed result.

On the strategic level, the most relevant, and which allows us to make a forecast on the future scenarios of the ongoing conflict, although many analysts argue that it was a demonstrative act, almost symbolic, with the hope on the part of Iran of considering the direct confrontation between Jerusalem and Tehran concluded, personally I believe it was instead an option without choice in relation to the role of Iran in the so-called “Axis of Resistance”: asking its proxies for years to fight consistently with Tehran’s power ambitions would no longer have been sustainable after the Israeli attack on the Iranian embassy in Syria. Coherence, opportunity, sharing of effort: if Tehran had not acted, the entire Axis of Resistance would have weakened, progressively shattered, leaving Tehran alone to face Israel.

Tehran is also particularly fragile on the domestic political front, with a generational discontent increasingly acute and evident.. the search for an external enemy representing an existential threat is a political ruse as old as war. On this we must not be surprised.

However, I fear that the game is still open, although we can expect a diplomatic pause strongly desired by the Biden administration, and this for reasons of electoral campaign rather than strategic opportunity of Washington.