Iran-Israel war, the escalation for the great “change” in the Middle East

The escalation in the confrontation between Iran and Israel is unprecedented, with the launch “for the first time” as everyone emphasizes, of ballistic weapons and drones from Tehran against the “Zionist Satan”, as they call Israel. And yet this escalation… de-escalated – for now at least – in a paradoxical way. Every weapon sent by Iran was shot down or failed to cause significant damage, while only the injury of a little girl, from a Bedouin tribe in Israel, i.e. – as a bitter irony – of Arab origin, is reported… In addition to the above, we have many even more essential:

1. An attack that is announced before it occurs!

This is also unprecedented, with Iran publicly declaring that “we have now launched drones against Israel”, but they took hours to reach their target. One could say that anyway the “announcement” would be made either by the USA or by Israel, who monitor Iranian movements by all means, while there was already the general certainty that “something was coming”. So the most logical thing was for the Iranians to do it first, winning the impressions. While it seems they had warned the USA behind the scenes, probably with assurances that the weapons load did not include any system of mass destruction (chemical, radioactive, etc.). The latter explains that there were no relevant hints from those involved. However, it is still a special movement with an element of “prestige” as we will describe below.

2. We had a warning from Iran to neighboring countries “not to dare to get involved in its attack on Israel because they will be punished”.

Mainly towards Jordan, i.e. Iraq, where the unmanned and cruise missiles crossed their own airspace at a knockdown height, while the ballistic missiles passed at a much higher altitude. We have here the following peculiarity, an “air strike” war over the territory of other countries, however, which are asked to ignore the violation! This is also rare, but apparently it was not verified, as American and British forces operated near or over these lands, shooting down several “incoming” ones with the consent of their states. Of course, they do not have the best relations with Iran.

3. The Paradox: While Iran is taking the big step of direct confrontation with Israel, Hezbollah and Hamas are not actually participating

that is, the two major Arab organizations in the region, which are supported by Tehran, which could contribute decisively to the saturation of the Israeli air defense and to the general tension. Maybe they were invited by Iran and didn’t want to participate? Do they remain as “reserves” for the next round of conflict? Didn’t Iran ask them for help to show that it is capable of directly threatening Israel? Lots of questions here too.

4. The Worrying: Iran carries out the attack, but then declares that “it hit back and somewhere here the case ends”.

Speaking of course about the deadly attack on his embassy in Damascus by the Israeli Air Force. So we have an escalation, but a “stepwise” one, with Iran declaring that from now on it will respond to every Israeli strike, in successive “war rounds”.

Here, on the one hand, the Iranian attitude must be recognized as cool, as it does make the sharp escalation, but immediately after it entrenches it in time, and declares “waiting for the opponent’s move”, shifting the burden of development to Israel. On the other hand, the whole tactic opens a very dangerous path. As well as Israel, in the great symbolism of movements that characterizes the Middle East, “must respond”. Because if he doesn’t, he will appear indecisive and weak, causing further aggression. Thus, in the war theater of the Middle East, but also in the truly theatrical setting that has been operating there for decades, with intense self-affirmation movements on both sides, a next round is considered a given and its extent is mainly discussed.

5. Fifth Particularity of conflict, this time of an operational nature but also with a political connotation.

Where the attack was massive, with sophisticated means by Iran, which has developed a great deal of domestic know-how in the production of ballistic weapons, unmanned “kamikaze” and cruise missiles.

And yet, in the combined action of Israel, the USA, Britain, and perhaps even Jordan, where already today the country’s King Abdullah is being accused on social media of being a “traitor to the Arabs”, almost all of these weapons are shot down, misfire or, in any case, do not destroy anything important . Why is this unexpected? Because similar weapons used by the Houthis in the Red Sea (with Iranian know-how as well), but also the same ones used against Ukraine (again Iranian, bought by the Russians, or manufactured with Tehran’s permission), cause great destruction and in depth thousands of kilometers.

So do we have in this specific attack an example of high western technology which combined, organized and well warned, and with a very dense protection network, as the state of Israel is small in area, achieves almost “100%” interception? Yes, but with an obvious cost imbalance, where the Western powers mobilize and spend high-value assets, while the Iranian side proves again the dynamics of a comparatively “cheap” attack based on volume and sense of threat.

However, Iran’s willingness to “show its weapons before they are even fired” must have played a role in the low effectiveness, indirectly degrading their performance, perhaps even intentionally (as already reported by American media, as an indirect attempt precisely not to provoke major Israeli losses). But passing on the message that “what you see is only the beginning and a sample of what I can achieve”.

So here we make an extension of the analysis, which leads us to the conclusion that Tehran did not expect so much to achieve a significant blow against Israel, as to impress with its ability and above all its boldness, to launch such a blow. Seeking to rally around her every anti-Israeli and anti-Western component in the Middle East that will see “finally someone fighting the Zionists as equals”, decades after the great compromise of the Arab states with Tel Aviv in the 80s. With Iran, but a non-Arab country (which is of huge importance locally), and indeed a Shiite one (while the majority of Arabs are Sunnis), attempting to take the lead, which will be the most paradoxical development of history.

6. Where does Iran get the determination and courage to confront Israel directly?

Does it have Russian support or even tolerance, which leads us to the conclusion that the famous “anti-Western axis”, of Russia, Iran, North Korea, is starting to work effectively? It cannot be ruled out and Moscow has every reason to “enjoy” a new focus of international unrest, which relieves its own adventure in Ukraine.

7. Is the Iranian move an “unfortunate move”?

Why is the country facing great internal turmoil, an economic crisis and a movement challenging the harsh theocracy? Let us recall here that a few months ago there were many hundreds of thousands of demonstrators on the streets of Iran, demanding greater freedoms and social rights, which was dealt with violently by the regime. So a movement of “extroversion” that will also bring nationalist rallying, may have been necessary, with Israel as an obvious target. And having “done the right thing”, now Tehran can declare that it has “taken revenge” and there is no reason to continue.

Another version is for Iran to make the “great exploration”, i.e. an intermediate step, not to assume the Arab primacy – which is the most difficult historically, racially and religiously – but more to cause a local “kinematic”. Let’s not forget that not long ago we had high-level contacts between Iran and Saudi Arabia (despite the hostility between them), Assad in Syria remains strong despite American pressure, Turkey is moving inside Iraq and Syria without confrontation, Lebanon is bankrupt and controlled in an important degree from Hezbollah, the Houthis in Yemen gain “international prestige” with their aggression, while Egypt looks more towards Libya and its EEZ, and less towards the Middle East. In other words, we have a scene of realignment that is also an ideal ground for developments, beyond and apart from American or Russian intrigue in the region.

8. The two-sided hypocrisy

Iran says it is attacking Israel because the latter “hit its embassy in Damascus”. However, this is not the reason, but only the legitimizing reason. Because – to play the devil’s advocate in the Middle East – Iran has been supporting Hezbollah and Hamas for decades, which are constantly carrying out attacks inside Israel, and with incredibly bloody results, as we saw with the October 7 raid last year from Gaza. So Iran already has its share of trouble inside Israel, and it can’t help but expect retribution.

And on the other hand, Israel, in its classic role of “self-sacrifice”, forgets to mention that for so many years, many nuclear scientists of Iran have been murdered, in order to “brake” the nuclear program there. He forgets to mention the cyber-attacks he has carried out inside Iran, he generally forgets his own harsh and heinous attitude against the Palestinians and their horrific casualties. So the confrontation goes on for years, each side makes a selective reading of history, in a classic Middle Eastern tragedy, where “looking back” binds you to what you will do “next”, in a repetition of the same mistakes and with the feedback of the river of blood.

Time for a change?

What do we conclude from the above, as an initial assessment? Iran sees the Israeli impasses, especially in recent months, where the campaign against Hamas is gaining ground but does not seem to be winning the war, and is already facing international backlash. He sees the internal dispute in Israel, where the tragic quality of Netanyahu’s rule, has divided the country. While here we have perhaps a very Machiavellian game, as the Iranian attack – formally legitimized as Iranian “territory” was touched in its embassy – will strengthen the Israeli far-right, leading the country to an even tougher attitude towards the Palestinians, thus to a greater gap with the Arab world.

He also sees that already the mechanisms “influenced” by Tehran, such as Hezbollah, the Houthis, partially Hamas, but also other organizations within Syria and Iraq remain alive and with an impact. He also looks at the American “overextension” which, in its own pre-election year, is trying to support Ukraine, build power against China and tame another crisis in the Middle East, all of which, as they develop, and Washington presents itself as the “tail of developments” , favor Moscow and Beijing.

At the same time, Iran is looking at its own limits in terms of social presence, maintaining the internal power duo (the hard-line Revolutionary Guards as a parallel structure to the central government), and maintaining the economy before it enters a recessionary cycle and brings new popular reactions, which already appear as diffuse discomfort.

Furthermore, Iran sees the Arab nationalist effervescence, both at the level of the popular base and in the ruling echelons, while maintaining strong contacts with Russia that offer it some security guarantees. So overall he detects “power gaps”, local and international tremors, a realignment of forces, all together an opportunity to restore himself, within the historical movement of Islamic radicalism and nationalism, with the collection of prestige and further geopolitical leverage, without of course hoping for the collapse of Israel.

And he “dare” to attack, with a risk of course, but rather assessing it as not so great as to threaten the preservation of the Iranian theocracy, which remains radical in concept but also with an instinct for self-preservation. And for this he declares the even naïve “one yours and one mine”, so as not to bear the formal responsibility of the next escalation.

On the other hand, Israel remains very strong militarily, but is weakening in soft power, while limiting itself in options: where it “must defeat Hamas”, now it “must respond to Iran”, also “must tame Hezbollah”, still must remain in “permanent war as long as necessary”. And all this, while the great cost to the economy from this excessive tension and mobilization is already visible, he sees his inability to release the remaining hostages held by Hamas (in a society with little tolerance for such issues), while the most fanatical in his interior are already about to escape. E.g. these days attacking Palestinian settlements in the West Bank, or voting in Parliament – with Netanyahu dragging his feet as he has so many times – increasingly extreme legislative actions that erode the rule of law.

Overall, Israel sees that its environment is changing, but without the control it had achieved in previous years, restoring relations with many Arab countries, making a rapprochement with Saudi Arabia, with the aim of structuring a collateral axis to target Iran, which was presented as the “general terror” of the Middle East.

Who will win; Wrong question, because neither the Middle East nor the planet in general can count as “victory” or “gain”, either the rise in prestige of a theocratic and aggressive Iran that deals with terrorism, or the further slide into extremism of a trapped Israel with far right rule. With both countries armed, with nuclear “territory” and with an -almost fatalistic, we stress it again- need for a war resolution.

About the author

The Liberal Globe is an independent online magazine that provides carefully selected varieties of stories. Our authoritative insight opinions, analyses, researches are reflected in the sections which are both thematic and geographical. We do not attach ourselves to any political party. Our political agenda is liberal in the classical sense. We continue to advocate bold policies in favour of individual freedoms, even if that means we must oppose the will and the majority view, even if these positions that we express may be unpleasant and unbearable for the majority.

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