Iran’s unprecedented response to the attack on its consulate in Damascus was calibrated and controlled. By launching several hundred missiles and drones from its own territory, Iran appears to have ensured that Israeli forces have time to intercept them. By assuming, for the first time in its history, full responsibility for an attack against Israel, Iran has thus resolved its strategic dilemma: respond, and with an unprecedented degree of intensity, while avoiding unleashing an all-out war that would be devastating. for the country, and even for the entire region. However, despite its measured nature, this attack is a dangerous gamble..

While the Iranian diplomatic mission to the United Nations considered that “the matter was concluded,” the Iranian General Staff indicated that the response was not intended to go further: “We have no intention of continuing this operation, but if the Zionist regime takes measures against the Islamic Republic of Iran, our next operation will be much bigger than this one.

For their part, members of the Israeli government have multiplied belligerent statements and threaten to respond. Yoav Gallant, Minister of Defense, praised the effectiveness of the Israeli security system after declaring that “the campaign is not over yet” and that Israel must “be prepared.” The Minister of National Security, Itamar Bengvir, in a brief tweet, also called for attacking Iran: “We had an impressive defense; now we need an overwhelming attack.” After a conversation with the German Foreign Minister, Benny Gantz, part of the war cabinet, mentioned the possibility of “building a global united front against Iran and its allies.” The combined nature of the Israeli colonial war in Gaza and the Middle East, embedded in broader imperialist contradictions, significantly complicates the possibilities of an Israeli intervention: neither option appears to lead to a reduction in tension, while the modalities of a possible response still remain unclear.

Israel’s achievements

Despite the tough rhetoric from Israeli leaders, Israel would risk a lot by launching a direct attack on Iran and would lose all the immediate benefits the colonial state gained from Saturday night’s attacks. Indeed, Netanyahu appears to have succeeded in his gamble. While the Israeli Prime Minister was increasingly criticized by the Democratic General Staff and American diplomacy, the attack on the Iranian consulate allowed him to resurrect the “great enemy” of the United States and restore weight to the neoconservative rhetoric of the “axis of evil.” Israel forced the United States to close ranks and set aside its criticism.

Secondly, the Iranian attack allows Netanyahu to keep the country in a permanent state of war, weakening public opinion that is increasingly hostile towards him and reviving the feeling of national unity in the face of the massive demonstrations that had been shaking the country for the last ten years. days. After the security fiasco of October 7, the successful interception of the Iranian attack allowed him to also claim the stature of a war leader.

Finally, the Iranian response gives Israel a symbolic benefit. Increasingly isolated on the international scene, the Israeli government can, once again, claim to be the victim of a new aggression and, reusing the rhetoric of the “existential threat”, deepen the normalization of diplomatic relations between Israel and the governments of states. neighboring Arabs who actively collaborated, such as Jordan, in interception operations or who implicitly disapproved of the Iranian attack, such as Egypt or Saudi Arabia.

Iran’s new attack strategy complicates an Israeli response

The calls for a response made by some members of the Israeli government coalition, as well as the strategy pursued by the State of Israel since the beginning of the genocide in Gaza, suggest that Israel wants to respond. But the new strategic coordinates of the Iranian response reduce the Israeli State’s possibilities of action. TOBy assuming responsibility for the attack itself, Iran is protecting its allies in other countries, which played only a minor role in the response, from possible Israeli revenge..

By initiating a qualitative change in its response strategy, theorized by General Mohammed Hossein Baqeri, the highest-ranking officer in the Iranian army, Iran thus wants to impose “a new equation” on Israel. In a televised speech the day after the attack, the general endorsed the change from an “asymmetric response” strategy, which delegates the regime’s response operations to representatives of the “Axis of Resistance” (be it Hezbollah, Yemen, Iraqi militias, etc.), to a logic of interstate confrontation: “The armed forces are fully ready and will intervene again if necessary. If the Zionist regime attacks, it will be subject to a counterattack by Iran. This new equation is that from now on, when the Zionist regime attacks our interests, our properties , our citizens, the Islamic Republic will counterattack immediately.” This strategic reconfiguration was also defended by the head of the Revolutionary Guard in a television interview.

Therefore, the Iranian attack can hardly serve as a pretext for a deepening of Israeli operations in southern Lebanon. In this sense, the IDF General Staff justified the attacks carried out at the time of the attack on the Lebanese border by presenting them as a response to Hezbollah operations carried out a few days earlier.

However, an attack scenario on Lebanon cannot be completely ruled out. On Hezbollah’s side, the tone is more measured. Contacted by the Orient-le-JourMohammad Afif Naboulsi, his spokesman, is more cautious: “Everything will depend on whether Israel will retaliate or not. The Iranian operation could end at this point. In this case, there will be no major escalation in Lebanon and cross-border fighting will continue as before. On the other hand, if Israel retaliates, provoking a chain of reactions and counter-reactions, it will mean that a dangerous escalation can be expected, which will influence Lebanon.” While US intelligence is concerned about the IDF’s reported invasion plan for Lebanon and fears Israel will implement it in the coming months, a vengeful attack against Lebanon remains, despite its contradictions, a possibility.

Confront Iran?

If the calls to attack Iran are rising in Israeli public opinion, from Benny Gantz to Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel’s imperialist allies refuse to support such an option. If the attack on the Iranian consulate was aimed at forcing the United States to unite behind Israel, a direct Israeli response against Iran would arouse the hostility of American diplomacy. As revealed Axios, President Joe Biden formally warned Benjamin Netanyahu, during a telephone interview, that “the United States would not participate in or support offensive operations against Iran.” In a statement, the American president encouraged Israel to be content with the country’s victorious defense and not to seek additional victories: “I told Prime Minister Netanyahu that Israel has demonstrated a remarkable ability to defend itself and thwart an unprecedented attack, sending its enemies a clear message that they cannot effectively threaten Israel’s security.”

Without US support, the margin for an Israeli response will be less. However, it is likely that the reluctance of the United States will do nothing more than eliminate the most maximalist response hypotheses, without discouraging Israel from attacking Iran: “But to what extent will Washington be able to restrict the actions of its Israeli ally, in the if that happens? Israel (…) could respond disproportionately to deter Tehran and its regional proxies from carrying out this type of attack on its territory again. For the Jewish state, not doing so would contribute to the image of victory that Iran would give itself. Without a significant response from its enemy, the Islamic Republic can boast of having saved face after the attack on its consulate in Damascus. Especially since, despite the words of the American president, it will be difficult for the United States to stay out of it in the event of war.” Now that the United States is involved in the Israeli-Iranian conflict, Netanyahu could force imperialism to align with his plans, presenting it with a fait accompli in the event of a response.

An Israeli response would also test its Arab partners in the region.. Iran’s response has allowed it to strengthen its influence over neighboring Arab states, including Sunni-majority countries. By appearing too close to Israel, these conciliatory governments generate discontent among the popular Arab masses who are deeply dissatisfied with their commitment and shocked by the massacre of the people of Gaza. An Israeli response could create tense political situations at the national level, such as in Jordan, where thousands of people take to the streets every afternoon in front of the Israeli embassy in Amman and denounce the king’s collaboration with Israel.

Therefore, the situation remains open and its future evolution must be observed with great attention. If the Iranian attack further raises the level of regional tensions and gives the situation a line of development that raises fears of a regional conflagration, the Israeli reaction, which could plunge the region into war, will seal the future of Middle East.


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