Does Israel need to prepare? Who attacked Iran and what Tehran's response will be
The strike on Iran should also be considered on a symbolic level
Who attacked Iran, and why is this country silent? It depends on what goal is being pursued. If the goal is a willingness to take responsibility, it will eventually be done. But usually in such cases, there are few willing to take responsibility. Therefore, we are talking here about a nobody — a mysterious unknown structure, body, country, or entity that has, in fact, carried out this operation.
Why is this important? We see before us an example from Iran itself. Iran claims that it does not, for example, supply drones to Russia, and does everything it can to prevent the formation of any commissions that could put an end to this. Accordingly, these drones, which were used to attack Iranian facilities, may also be made of the same components that make up Iranian drones. I would not be surprised if we find an inscription on the drone’s fuselage or tail which survives the impact that reads Geran or Shahed-136. In other words, the situation here could be, as many joke on the Internet, a boomerang.
No one is taking responsibility, and this is making life difficult for Iran itself, as they have to act in response. If they make claims against, say, Israel, then they have to prove that Israel was behind it.
Yes, we have the statements of some Israeli experts who are close to the defense forces, but this, in my opinion, is more likely PR from the Netanyahu government, and not a fact that can be considered as proving Israel's involvement. Therefore, any strike on Israeli territory would be considered as aggression with consequences for Iran. That is, it will be declared an aggressor country and massive missile and bomb strikes will be carried out on its territory, after which its military industry will cease to exist.
Can we guess where these UAVs might have come from? They could have been launched from the sea, from an airplane, or from a ship. They could have flown from the territory of Iran itself, from its Kurdistan, as Iranian troops do not control the entire region. There are different versions speculating that the drone could have come from the territory of Azerbaijan. Some say that it was some sort of joint operation by the Ukrainians and the U.S. At least such an operation would be logical. In any case, there are many narratives, but I understand that the Iranians do not have the flight paths of these drones.
Could this strike on a military manufacturer to slow down Iranian military aid to Russia? This is important for us. Perhaps the most important and desirable thing is not only that the drones are not supplied, but that the Iranians stop even talking about the possibility of supplying ballistic missiles.
So far, however, it is difficult to answer this question, as again, we do not know all the consequences of this strike. But it seems to me that this strike should be considered on a symbolic level as well, as it is a definite game changer. In other words, strikes have not been carried out against Iranian territory before, and it was believed that the war could continue somewhere on the periphery — in Syria or Iraq — but not in Iran itself. That seal has been broken, and it is now clear that more such strikes will follow. And it all depends on how the Iranians react.
If they could do it now, they would do it now
This is because we have not so far seen any reaction (at least nothing very terrible or on the order of what we would expect) from Tehran. But we know from experience that they need several days to make decisions. That's how it was, for example, when Qassem Suleimani was killed. He died on January 3, and Iran did not strike back until January 7, three or four days later. I think that right now, they are considering what to do next, but this is definitely a clear signal to the Iranians that if they continue to cooperate with Russia, there will be many more such “cotton puffs” [a Ukrainian euphemism for explosions – ed.]. This should be considered as a warning. This strike could be a factor in slowing down the transfer of any arms to Russia. By blaming a force majeure, they can revise the terms of their contract.
Regarding Iran's receipt of Russian Su-35s from the Russian Federation: As I recall, these planes are supposed to be delivered (or at least the first batch of them) to Iran in the spring. So, there are at least several months to go, and it is unlikely that they will all appear at once. Therefore, based simply on this, I think that the Americans will not allow it to be done. That is, they will be causing them nightmares already. There is no point in waiting for the Iranians to get planes and new air defense equipment — if they could do it now, they would do it now, because, as far as I know, the contract with the Russian Federation provided for the exchange of aircraft and air defense equipment against cruise and ballistic missiles.
It is difficult to say whether Israel’s political position is changing in view of the war that Russia is waging against Ukraine. At the moment, they are going through an acute internal political crisis and an escalation of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. And against this background, they might find it appealing to shift their focus to an external threat — that is, to once again unite society around countering the Iranian threat. Perhaps this will be their strategy. But I am interested in whether their position on Moscow will change. So far, I am not seeing these changes. Rather, I see Netanyahu's policies as a continuation of the previous actions of previous governments. That is, they will most likely not change anything, so I see no transformation. But if the Israelis decide to counter the Iranian threat, I see all this in the context of strategic cooperation between the United States and Israel.
Of course, Israel is very interested in reducing Iran's military potential and in general doing everything it can to prevent the emergence of nuclear weapons in Iran. That is, this is Israel's key task, and they have built their strategy around it. I assume that the Israelis are hardly ready to act completely independently (without coordinating their actions with the Americans), if we are to consider the narrative that Israel participated in these strikes.
The Israelis should now be preparing to strike back, as this threat really exists. It is possible that we will see some sort of proxy war, in which the Iranians give instructions to Hezbollah to start launching missile strikes, or send strikes from the territory of Syria. It is less likely that there will be missile strikes from Iranian territory. But if this happens, then, of course, Israel had an action plan for this situation, meaning how Israel is to respond, and how other countries that guarantee Israel’s security would react – the U.S. primarily – and how the anti-Iranian coalition would be formed.
Because from the point of view of international law, such an attack would be absolutely unprovoked. As for how the U.S. can support Israel in this situation, it might directly participate in air attacks with the Israelis, or perhaps conduct missile and bomb strikes on Iranian territory and on critical Iranian infrastructure and military facilities. That is, by turning Iranian military equipment to dust.
Hamas has accumulated quite a large arsenal of missiles over the past few years. These are Iranian missiles. They are not ballistic, but they can seriously annoy the Israelis. The problem is that if there is a mass strike of a hundred or more missiles at once, then there is a serious threat that Israel’s Iron Dome can't beat it back, and will miss some of the incoming rockets. These rockets do not strike specific targets, but general areas. Hamas’s home-made Kassam rockets also hit general areas like this.
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