After the Iranian attack on Israel

After the Iranian attack on Israel

Tehran established new rules with its first-ever attack on Israel, which suggests that the rules of the game in the Middle East have changed or are on their way to doing so.

Perhaps the most prominent new feature is that the equation today has changed, and this new equation stipulates that any targeting of Iranian forces or their property will be met with a direct response. Tehran will respond new Israeli attacks with harsher and harsher punishment and will not hesitate to defend its interests against any new aggression if necessary.

At the same time, Tehran announced a new strategy for dealing with Israel’s attacks on Iranian forces or its property and affirmed that the strategic meaning of Operation “True Promise” is that the era of strategic patience with Israel’s malice has ended, because it defeated the Israeli strategy based on “war between Wars.”

On the other hand, Iran’s response represents a kind of clear deterrence against Israel and exposes it to a public and heavy insult. And now, Israeli leaders face the dilemma of containing the Iranian response, or launching another attack against Iran and risking escalation, after the occupying state was subjected, for the first time, to a direct attack from Tehran against Israel’s internal front, according to what was confirmed by the Israeli “Walah” website.

The website saw that the American president, Joe Biden, “managed to put the Israeli government in front of a dilemma and opposed the Israeli military response against Iran.”

You see how we read the successive developments on the ground and is it logical to jump to the fact that the “big fire” will break out in the coming times? The beleaguered Israel Prime Minister desperately desires this, given that escaping forward will save him, and America’s involvement in a major war will help him achieve his dreams of getting rid of Iran, and the threat it represents, especially its nuclear program, and at the same time a major war will erupt, implicating the Gulf states in a bitter conflict in which they will be exposed, with more challenges on the rest of the Arab countries, especially those close to Israel’s borders.

Israel accounts

Events in the recent period have shown that the Israelis have raised the level of their operations against Iran because they believe that it is so strongly besieged that its expected response is unlikely to lead to an uncontrollable battle, which prompted Israel to move from targeting ammunition sites and command centers to targeting military leaders and intelligence personnel and then senior leaders.

At the same time, Tel Aviv was keen to promote the view of Iran as a “paper tiger”, unable to respond appropriately to these attacks due to political and economic restrictions, in comparison to the Iranian reaction to the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani, because the attack on Assad Eye base reaction was considered moderate.

Accordingly, Tel Aviv tends to follow the Octopus Doctrine, meaning that instead of simply attacking forces allied with Iran, it should directly hold Tehran accountable for the actions of its regional militias. Some experts believe that one of Israel’s goals in escalating attacks on Iranian forces in Syria is to reassure Arab countries regarding normalization, and that Iran will not react against the Abraham Accords.

It seems up to this moment, according to many experts, that this perception is a “miscalculation,” as Iran felt the need to respond directly to Israel because it faces increasing internal pressure to do so with great pressure from public opinion in the Arab region and Islamic countries. Therefore, it appears that Israel will pay a higher price than it expected for its attacks against Iran.

Egyptian position

It is important to record the sincerity of Egypt’s vision of events and their developments. Egypt has repeatedly warned of the dangers of expanding the conflict in the region as a result of the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip and the provocative military actions carried out in the region.

Egypt expressed, in a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry, its deep concern regarding the announced launch of Iranian offensive missiles against Israel, and the indicators of dangerous escalation between the two countries during the recent period, calling for the exercise of the utmost degree of restraint to spare the region and its peoples from further factors of instability and stress.

Egypt stressed that it is in constant contact with all concerned parties to try to contain the situation, stop the escalation, and spare the region the risk of sliding into a dangerous turn of instability and threat to the interests of its people.

And there is no doubt that the Egyptian position is a decisive step towards achieving peace and stability in the region because the expansion of the scope of conflicts in the region is not in the interest of any party, and it is necessary for all parties to realize the high cost of continuing hostilities.

Egypt has always believed that the expansion of the conflict in the region will have serious consequences for all countries of the region, after tensions in the Middle East reached a critical point. The Egyptian position on reducing escalation in the region is considered decisive to avoid the devastating consequences of war on the peoples of the region, and the Egyptian government called on all sides to continue to calm down.

And while the picture was clear for Egypt, some of the supporters of the occupying state missed the idea that there is no security with the occupation of others’ lands, their displacement and extermination. Despite the international community’s approval of the “land for peace” equation and the two-state solution, Israel refuses and sees the solution in denial, extermination, and displacement. At the same time, the West insists on protecting this cancerous entity, and Washington does not hesitate to protect Israel because it is the “best investment” that protects its strategic interests in the region. After the West was hiding behind Israel, we witnessed Washington blatantly intervening in a series of “endless wars,” whether in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and now Yemen and Libya. No one can guarantee that the Gulf countries will not be thrown into the midst of a cruel war, just as Saudi Arabia and the UAE tasted some of their bitterness from the war against Yemen.

I believe that the American deep state is still diversifying in the form of its interventions: military alliances, permanent bases in the Gulf region and the Red Sea, proxy wars, fueling the Iraq-Iran war, and contributing to the birth of the “Arab and Afghan mujahideen” to fight Russia in Afghanistan, and then the “Central Asian mujahideen.” And the Uighurs to fight Russia and China and fight the regimes and armies of their countries, as happened in Iraq, Syria and Libya, and during the colorful revolutions and the chaos of the Arab Spring, and now in Sudan, and finally the invention of ISIS, as former US President Donald Trump admitted, and the list goes on to include the Kurds, and their employment of “guns for hire” against Syria, Iraq, Iran and Türkiye. And now the Gaza war, and the low-intensity war on the Lebanese border. And now there is a risk of open confrontation between Tehran and Tel Aviv.

However, the most dangerous development is putting the entire region into a state of exhaustion, and this situation casts a shadow over everyone.

What distinguishes the recent Middle East wars?

Many military and political experts believe that the most important feature of the recent war in the Middle East is that it does not remain confined to the borders of countries, but rather extends and expands in scope. The Iranian attack in response to the bombing of the Iranian consulate in Damascus is further evidence of this.

The region has witnessed examples of this, including: the American invasion of Iraq more than twenty years ago, which caused the end of the regional balance in favor of Iranian supremacy, and led to the emergence of cross-border terrorist organizations; We also witnessed the civil war in Syria, which attracted great powers and extremist fighters from all sides.

Current indications appear that the Gaza war is proceeding in the same manner, as the Palestinian issue has been re-imposed on the agenda of the international arena, revealing the misery and cruelty of the Israeli occupation, and the tragedies the Palestinian territories are witnessing on the regional agenda, which was one of Hamas’s goals behind its attack on Israel on October 7.

It has become clear over the past months how close the region is to a major conflagration in which many powers, both regional and international, are involved. We have witnessed Israel’s assassination of a prominent Iranian leader in Syria, the assassination of the deputy head of the Hamas political bureau, Saleh Al-Arouri, in Lebanon, and the United States’ killing of a prominent leader in the Iraqi militias supported by Iran.

At the same time, we saw the involvement of Arab forces led by America against the Houthis in Yemen, which is another indication of the seriousness of the deteriorating situation, and the rapid expansion of the scope of the war in several arenas in the region.

What is happening in Gaza is different: Previous experiences do not guarantee that it will explode into a major fire

On the other hand, one should not feel comfortable with the precedent that the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, and the previous American and Israeli assassinations of prominent leaders in Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran, did not ignite the fuse of a wide-ranging regional war.

Most likely there is a difference now related to context, scope, rhythm, and perception. There is the killing of a larger number of prominent leaders and the implementation of more attacks on multiple fronts in a short period, and the Israeli attack on Gaza continues, which raises the anger and hostility of the peoples of the region.

Iran and Israel or Washington, who will decide where to go?

At the same time, some experts believe that Iran and Israel are the ones who decide whether the conflict will turn into a comprehensive war or will remain a competition for regional influence. At a time when Iran fears the erosion of its credibility and deterrent power, it still believes that the best way to achieve Its ultimate goals is to deliver a thousand small blows rather than a direct confrontation that would be costly. Most likely, Washington is the one who has the final decision, whether to continue or stop, as well as a small or large fire, or permanent suffocation for everyone. My assessment is that Washington’s decision leans towards the option of suffocating exhaustion.

The real danger: indifference in the face of genocide

It is no secret that danger is still looming over the region, and the most dangerous escalation is not represented by a sudden explosion of fighting in the region, but rather by slow coexistence, and the failure to move forcefully and quickly in confronting the crimes of the occupation, and the unacceptable level of genocide in light of the suffering of the Palestinians and the lack of sensitivity towards it on the part of Washington. And the Western diplomacy has so far failed to stop the war, the governments of the region are failing to intervene, and the international community and even the Security Council appear to be at their worst. Perhaps we are not exaggerating if we say that the legitimacy and credibility of international institutions have fallen to the abyss, despite the fact that the danger of war is threatening global trade, through the Houthis’ threat to shipping traffic in the Red Sea.

Some experts believe that the war in Gaza proves that conflicts cannot be frozen and ignored. It cannot be won on the battlefield alone, but must be settled once and for all, and the two-state solution imposed, although this is a complex and elusive process.

How Washington thinks: An alliance with Iran at the expense of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf…

George Friedman, the front of American intelligence, reveals how the deep state thinks about the future of the region.

Friedman believes that Washington seeks to maintain the balance of power in the Middle East, and this type of approach is always chaotic because it does not aim to support any specific power, but rather to maintain a balance between multiple powers.
He explains that the events taking place reveal important points, the most important of which is that the new United States is abandoning its past traditional strategy.

It began shifting the burden of fighting to regional powers.

Friedman explains how Washington previously provided intelligence and mission planning support to the Saudi coalition against the Houthis and their Iranian allies during the war in Yemen, and in return provided support to the Shiites in Iraq.

At the same time, the American strategy in Syria is characterized by extreme complexity that is difficult to explain, explaining that this is the nature of the principle of wide-ranging non-interference with a commitment to achieving a balance of power. The United States can oppose Iran in one theater and support it in another.

According to Friedman, the real issue is that Iran is seeking to build a zone of influence that includes Yemen, which Saudi Arabia sees as a threat and must respond to, pointing to what was described as the “current doctrine” that requires a balance between Iran and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. With the fluctuation of the United States’ positions, and in light of the “current military reality,” the United States is unable to tolerate the presence of large-scale battles in Iraq.

Most likely, this is the essence of American policy, as it uses the Kurds against Türkiye, Iran, Iraq, and Syria, and Israel against everyone, and Iran against the Gulf states and vice versa.

Friedman paints an uncomfortable picture of Washington’s allies in the Gulf in his book, “Empire and the Republic in a Changing World.” In the seventh chapter, titled “A Strategic Coup,” Friedman reveals that Iran will enjoy a zone of influence that depends on its alliance with the United States on other issues, which means that it will not cross any line that would lead to direct American intervention. Over time, the growth of Iranian power, within the framework of these clear understandings, will benefit both the United States and Iran. Regarding the arrangements with Stalin and Mao, this US-Iranian alliance will be unpleasant but necessary, and it will also be temporary.

Friedman admits that the big losers in this alliance, of course, are the Sunnis in the Arabian Peninsula, including the House of Saud. Without Iraq, they are unable to defend themselves, and as long as oil flows and no single force directly controls the entire region, there will be no… The United States has a long-term interest in their economic and political interests, and the US-Iranian detente will also redefine the United States’ historical relations with the Saudis. The Saudis will have to view the United States as a guarantor of their interests, while trying to reach a political settlement with Iran, and this will change the geopolitical dynamics of the Arabian Gulf for everyone.

In summary, Friedman calls for a new strategy for the United States in the Gulf region, based on rapprochement with Iran at the expense of Saudi Arabia. This rapprochement ensures the flow of oil in the Strait of Hormuz and can control some “terrorist” organizations. He reminds us that such a matter may seem shocking to many, but this Machiavellian style is what the United States needs in its relationship with Iran, and in contrast, the second pillar is that Washington will invest in the Turkish role in the region to balance the Iranian role.

Falling into the unknown

The scene remains clear, and the region is likely to fall into the unknown. We may witness a round of mutual attacks between Tehran and Tel Aviv over the course of several days, but things are strongly likely to explode at any moment, either due to wrong decisions or things getting out of control, especially since American policy is chaotic, contradictory, and incapable of logical explanation.

It sends many wrong signals, whether to Iran and Israel or the Palestinians and Arabs, and even to the international community in terms of supporting Israel and its aggression, then demanding consideration for civilians, rejecting a ceasefire in Gaza and then abstaining from voting on a resolution demanding that, or calling for the war not to expand and not condemning Israel’s aggression against Iran’s consulate in Syria, which necessitated an Iranian response.

What is strange is that this is an American record. After embracing the Arab mujahideen and embracing the Taliban movement and facilitating its rise to power, it was fought against, and after decades, an understanding was reached with it.

And suddenly there was the withdrawal from Afghanistan, leaving weapons to the Taliban. After more than seven decades of the alliance of Saudi Arabia and the United States, the House of Saud woke up to Trump’s shock that there was no alliance, and before him, Obama’s call to Riyadh on the necessity of learning to share influence with Tehran in the Middle East. And the audacity of George Friedman, the face of the CIA, by confirming Washington’s desire in an understanding with Tehran at the expense of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, and using Türkiye to balance it. Friedman tells us frankly that these are hateful alliances, although they are necessary for Washington, but they are Machiavellian temporary.

In the midst of this bitter reality, some writers are trying to beautify the situation in the Middle East, and as usual they are shedding crocodile tears for innocent citizens, and many Western writers and research centers have gone on to warn about the future. What they called “the edge of the abyss looms on the horizon of the Middle East.”

It seems that these writers and Western research centers have not yet realized that the Middle East region has actually been living in the abyss for a long time, and that it has suffered greatly from all kinds of wars: hot wars, proxy wars, civil wars, sectarian and ethnic wars, hybrid wars, terrorism, black decades, and creative chaos. And economic collapses and famines… and now genocide, displacement, new calamities, and sad helplessness.

If this is not the abyss, then see if there is anything worse. I think that putting the peoples of the region into a chronic “state of exhaustion” is the harshest degree of aggression, because in a state of exhaustion there is testing capabilities, ideas, hope for the future, and the most dangerous “societies’ will to resist.” However, experiences have taught us that Washington often lets things slip out of its hands, and perhaps we are now on the verge of changing the rules of the game in the Middle East.

Mohamed Sabreen
Mohamed Sabreen is Managing Editor of Al-Ahram Newspaper, Cairo. Contributing Editor for Forbes Arabia Magazine, United Arab Emirates, and a member of EUROMED and the Media Task Force. Among the numerous positions he held previously include the Managing Editor of Al Bayan Newspaper (2006- 2007), Media Advisor for the European Union’s Trade Enhancement Program (TEP-A) (2005-2006), Media Coordinator at Al-Riyadh Development Authority, Saudi Arabia (1991-1994), and has been the Contributing Editor for Al-Shark Al-Awsat Newspaper,  Al-Eqtisadiah Newspaper, Sayidaty Magazine, and Al-Majallah Magazine. He is the Permanent Fellow of the World Press Institute and has been a member of the Egyptian Press Syndicate since 1982.

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May 2024