Iran, Israel, and playing on the edge of the abyss Politics news

On the night of April 14, Iran began an attack on Israel. In response to the attack that targeted its consulate in the Syrian capital, Damascus, at the beginning of this month, which Israel did not explicitly claim. This is the first attack launched by Iran, from its territory, against Israel. Thus, the long-term shadow conflict between the two countries came out into the open.

The symbolism of transformation here overshadows the expected material consequences of the attack. Previously, the Iranians preferred to fight Israel and the United States, through their network of agents deployed in the region; Because it reaped them high benefits at lower costs. With this shift in the conflict, the Israelis hope that these costs for Tehran will rise from now on.

There are four fixed priorities in Iranian strategy, which will likely be strengthened after the Iranian attack. The first is that direct involvement in war is the greatest of taboos and the last of the worst options. The second is that acknowledging the weaknesses of the “patience” strategy is less costly than trying to address it with a strong reaction that would bring heavy costs. The third is that the main reliance on the agent network will continue to achieve high benefits with lower direct costs. Fourth, the size of the gains that Iran can achieve from the repercussions of the October 7 war depend on its ability to achieve the three priorities mentioned.

However, even as Iran designed its attack on Israel to strike a balance between punishing it for targeting its consulate, demonstrating its internal and regional power, and avoiding that the response would lead to direct war, the Israeli-Iranian conflict has now moved to playing on the brink. If there is a clear conclusion that can be drawn from this transformation, it is that the strict rules that previously managed the conflict and prevented it from erupting have become less important in Iranian and Israeli accounts.

It is clear that the dangerous turn that the conflict has taken since the attack on the Iranian consulate derives its strength from two basic factors: the first is the turbulent regional security environment resulting from the October 7 war between Israel and Hamas, and the second is the dealings of both Israel and Iran with the post-Israel era. October 7, as a battle to reshape the rules of mutual deterrence between them.

The high costs resulting from a direct war between Israel and Iran will remain for both parties and serve as a strong deterrent to avoid it. But the mutual desire to avoid such a scenario becomes less valuable in conflict management when both parties lose their ability to shape action and reaction in a calculated and precise manner, and when fatal mistakes are committed.

War does not ask permission from its parties before it becomes a reality. Regardless of how Israel will deal with the Iranian attack, the basic factors that previously enabled both Tehran and Tel Aviv to maintain a stable pace in the conflict and prevent it from sliding to the point of big explosion no longer exist in the post-October 7 War era. October.

On the one hand, Israel abandoned previous prohibitions in escalating its battle against the Iranian presence in Syria by targeting an Iranian diplomatic facility abroad for the first time, and before that, assassinating senior leaders in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard on Syrian soil. On the other hand, the “patience” strategy that Iran has been pursuing since the October 7 war has shown Tehran’s weaknesses in this conflict. Also, American influence, which previously played the largest role in maintaining a stable pace of the Israeli-Iranian shadow conflict, now no longer acts as a strong rhythm control for it.

At a time when Washington is losing more of its influence over Tel Aviv – to reshape the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip, and the interests of President Joe Biden’s administration are focused on limiting the effects of the October 7 war on the American presence in the Middle East, and on Biden’s chances of winning. With the US presidential elections – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who faces a major dilemma in the Gaza war and another dilemma represented by the escalation of the Lebanese Hezbollah threat on the northern border, views the escalation of the confrontation with Iran as a possible way out to prolong his stay in power, and to force the United States To reaffirm its commitment to Israel’s security.

The obvious truth, which Washington will have to deal with after the April 2 attack on Damascus, is that the ability of Iran and Israel to control action and reaction is no longer an attractive factor for both.

The new era of the Israeli-Iranian conflict derives its strength from a shared perception that the October 7 war will reshape the Middle East on a massive scale, and that the United States is no longer able or willing to continue playing the role of the dominant global power in regional geopolitics.

However, it is inconceivable that the United States would abandon its ally Israel at this pivotal stage in the history of the Jewish state, even at a time when Washington is increasingly showing its dissatisfaction with Netanyahu’s behavior in the war.

This perception acts as a powerful motivator for Netanyahu; To spread the Gaza war in the Middle East; Because he believes that pushing Iran to deepen its involvement in the October 7 war will leave limited options for Washington, and will force it to think about the risks of retreat in the Middle East.

The fact that an Israeli war against Hezbollah in Lebanon is looming on the horizon gives a clear glimpse into the enormous ramifications of the out-of-control Israeli-Iranian conflict on regional security and stability.

The remaining ways to spare the Middle East from such a catastrophic scenario lie first in the ability of Tehran and Tel Aviv to impose new rules of mutual deterrence without being drawn into direct war, and second in the role the United States can still play to avoid a broader and more dangerous spread of the seventh war. October in the Middle East, and third in diplomatic efforts to reach an agreement between Israel and Hamas, leading to a long-term cessation of the war on Gaza.

However, the madness that dominates Netanyahu’s management of the October 7 war and its regional repercussions, the exposure of the weaknesses of Iran’s “patience” strategy, and the wrong American assessments of the war from the beginning, make these three roads more difficult. In light of this, the Middle East will have to prepare to deal with a conflict whose paths, borders, and red lines are no longer predictable.

The October 7 war demonstrated the fragility of regional security. Any potential explosion in the Iranian-Israeli shadow conflict will lead to the collapse of what remains of the concept of regional security.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.

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