The return of tensions between Iran and Israel is likely to lead to instability in the Middle East

Azadi Tower,Tehran (photo by Shutterstock)

It is expected that the Middle East will witness instability between Iran  and Israel as well as seeing cyber warfare. Ahmad Abdul-Rahman reports.

The level of tension between Iran and Israel is escalating after the attack on a missile production and development factory in the city of Isfahan in Iran on February 20. This attack was followed by two attacks on two convoys on the Iraqi-Syrian border, while a senior commander of the Revolutionary Guards and his bodyguards were reportedly killed.

The initial leaks tried to attribute the attack to the US. However, American officials were quick to leak that, in their estimation, Israel was behind the attack in Isfahan. Indeed, in both incidents, including the one at the Iraqi-Syrian border crossing, the US was not involved, American officials said.. Iran accused Israel of the attack and, as usual, threatened a strong response.

The attack took place in the wake of a series of developments, including the continued supply of drones to Russia by Iran. In the future, this is likely to be followed by the supply of missiles, and an acute crisis between Tehran and Baku, Azerbaijan, regarding the strengthening of relations between Azerbaijan and Israel. The attack also followed a series of visits by senior US officials to Israel, including National Security adviser Jake Sullivan, CIA chief William Burns and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. These developments placed the Iranian issue at the top of the agenda of US officials' visits.

Iranian reaction

Israel understands that Iran is studying possible reactions and evaluating them based on the repercussions they would cause and, above all, on the basis of the actual ability to implement them. In theory, Iranian options include attacks from Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and perhaps even Yemen. However, these options are complicated for several reasons, including Israel's superiority in the Syrian arena, Hezbollah's unwillingness to further complicate Lebanon's troubled state, or Iraq's unwillingness to be a battlefield between Tehran and Tel Aviv.

Tehran also has options in the cyber field that have been of limited effectiveness, so far. Tehran launched cyber-attacks from ships in the Persian Gulf, or against Israeli and Jewish sites as well as individuals. If Iran is successful, all of this will lead to an escalation of conflict in the region in the coming months.

The American position

The American position is trying to contain the potential escalation between Iran and Israel. Indeed, that is why senior officials in the US administration visited Tel Aviv for the first time since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new government was sworn in.

These visits may carry with them many opportunities in terms of bilateral relations between the two countries. As Israel will be required to address several difficult issues to ensure that the strong bilateral relations between Jerusalem and Washington are not undermined, especially relations between Palestinians and Israeli settlers. In addition to the possible visit of Netanyahu to Washington, it is also an opportunity for the two sides to present their policies in an attempt to formulate a joint action plan for coordination on the Iranian issue.

The reason for targeting Isfahan

Isfahan has two missile deployment sites and at least two missile-related institutions, according to a report by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). The city also has four small nuclear research facilities, but the facility bombed last February does not appear to have anything to do with nuclear weapons.

The former head of the Mossad agency, Danny Yatom, told the Israeli army radio that the attack targeted a facility that develops hyper-sonic missiles., These are long-range munitions capable of flying at speeds up to 15 times the speed of sound with terrifying accuracy, and can be loaded with a nuclear warhead.

It seems that Iran, which is controlled by the Revolutionary Guards, and Israel, which is led by a right-wing government, will push the region into instability. Perhaps both Tehran and Tel Aviv, Israel's capital, will try to export their internal crises abroad, diverting attention from other crises, Then the region will witness a lot of regional tensions in areas of contact with Iranian-Israeli interests and in  cyber-security. Tel Aviv not only aims to restrict the Iranian nuclear programme but Tehran's regional behaviour, including Iran's ballistic missile system.

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Friday, 02 June 2023