Iran vs Israel: what's next?



So, Iran has responded. Judging by the published information, its response (or «punishment», as Tehran calls it) was planned very thoroughly and carried out extremely carefully. All participants — and this is, first of all, Iran and the United States — did their job like clockwork, no one interfered with anyone.

The Iranians proved that they are capable of launching a massive strike with missiles and drones on any point in the region. One can, of course, doubt the combat effectiveness of such Iranian strikes, since no significant damage was inflicted on Israel. But that was hardly the goal. The Iranians could not under any circumstances destroy the military potential of the Jewish state with a single, even massive, raid. Moreover, a truly sensitive damage would have been an incentive for further escalation, and that was precisely not Tehran’s objective. It does not need a major war, but it does need a clear demonstration of power and will. And it did.

It does not matter now if it turns out that not all missiles and drones were equipped with warheads, that their targets were coordinated with the Israelis (with American mediation)… What really matters is that Iran’s neighbors saw its potential in action.

Equally important, Iran became the first state in decades to strike Israel from its own territory, and it has every reason not to fear crushing retaliation.

Washington, on the other hand, has done nothing to prevent an Iranian strike (unless, of course, you count Biden’s «Don’t»). Suffice it to recall the U.S. aircraft carriers that were on duty near the Levant six months ago. On April 13, they were not there, although the U.S. had a couple of weeks to pull up at least one carrier group.

True, after the Iranian attack it was claimed that most of the drones and missiles were shot down by U.S. air defense forces on approach. But where exactly? And how many targets were hit in this way? It’s not easy to estimate, given the fact that American bases in Iraq and Syria (over whose territory lies the best route to Israel) are in the crosshairs of Iranian proxies. They were mercilessly shelled as recently as a few weeks ago. And it is quite curious that the Americans, in anticipation of an Iranian strike on Israel, were very insistent that these bases not be touched again. They have not been touched. And it is quite possible to assume that they were «silent» when Iranian drones and missiles were flying over them….

All this — against the background of intensive exchanges of «messages» between Washington («we knew nothing about the plans to strike the consulate in Damascus») and Tehran («stand aside and do not interfere») — confirms our hypothesis that the current escalation is being played out according to the American-Iranian scenario, not the Israeli one.

How can Israel respond?

It clearly will not dare to take the mirror option, i.e., missile or air strikes on Iranian territory. Washington has spoken out against it.

Terrorist attacks, assassination attempts on prominent IRGC commanders or even Iranian politicians are possible. But such a response would not look proportionate.

It is conceivable that Iranian ships (military or commercial) would be attacked. This would fit into the logic imposed by the Houthis (i.e., Iran), but it would be extremely difficult to do without American help. Washington will not agree to this, and it will not be possible to act without its knowledge (with the support of, for example, Britain): after the Israelis did not inform the Americans about the preparation of a strike on Damascus on April 1, another such «amateurishness» will be unacceptable to the United States.

Finally, subversions and sabotage on Iranian industrial and/or military facilities are possible. But this would be seen by Tehran as aggression and would result in a new wave of escalation. Which again is not desired in Washington.

Be that as it may, any, even the toughest reaction from Tel Aviv will not be a solution to the problem. Apparently realizing this, Israeli Defense Minister Gallant announced his intention to «create a strategic alliance against the Iranian threat».

Who can be part of it?

Regional neighbors? Hardly. The Gulf Arab states will not want to challenge Iran, which has just shown what it can do. Turkey? Not likely either. It is much more interested in building a road through Iraq, where normal relations with Iran are essential.

The most likely candidates are the British and some Europeans (the French, first of all). Here Israel has real chances to recruit allies ready to support it with words, arms and navy. However, the question remains open: will they support the Jewish state in deed — by participating in a direct military clash with Iran? There is no certainty about it. Especially since the actions of the Europeans are still determined by the position of the United States, and the latter are not interested in a war with Iran.

It is quite possible that the Americans will allow negotiations on an «anti-Iranian alliance» to begin without preventing the parties from getting sufficiently involved in this venture. But in parallel, they will play their own game, which, as we believe, is to turn Iran into a US partner in the region.