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Tehran is at Forefront of the Confrontation: A Limited Response with Major Repercussions

Tehran is at Forefront of the Confrontation: A Limited Response with Major Repercussions
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By Ali Haidar, Al-Akhbar Newspaper

Iran could have responded proportionally to “Israel” by targeting an embassy or consulate in its vicinity and from its territory. It could have responded directly or through its allies from one of the areas controlled by the Resistance Axis with qualitative capabilities. But the supreme leadership of the Islamic Republic decided that the response would come from Iran and target “Israel” directly.

Therefore, the most important feature of this response is that it was disproportionate to the targeting of the Iranian consulate in Syria, despite the martyrdom of a number of Iranian Revolutionary Guard commanders in that strike. This is a development that contains deterrent messages.

It also establishes a new equation and reveals a set of facts, the most important of which is “Israel’s” limited internal capabilities. Despite Iran’s limited response, the United States had to come to “Israel’s” rescue for the second time since the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation six months ago.

On the other hand, the Iranian response was controlled and deliberate so that it did not force both Tel Aviv and Washington into a full-scale or open war. Rather, it achieved the goals by crossing “Israeli” red lines and previous equations. It showed determination to confront any subsequent challenge (noting that Tehran was able to use more advanced missiles and drones).

Regardless of how “Israel” responds, Iran has recorded a number of achievements that are being uttered in one way or another by “Israeli” commentators and experts.

These achievements can be summed up by the fact that Iran won the battle of wills against the United States and “Israel”. Although it only activated a small part of its capabilities, it forced Tel Aviv to seek help from Washington to protect it. Meanwhile, this particular juncture cemented the axis of resistance as an interconnected and established regional force that regional and international powers can no longer ignore.

Also, by responding, Iran thwarted the equation that “Israel” tried to impose on it. The “Israelis” wanted to tax the Iranians for strikes on Tel Aviv by Tehran’s allies. If “Israel” had succeeded, the regional scene would look entirely different. 

Iran also dispelled “Israeli” attempts to portray it as being deterred from a direct response in order to avoid an all-out war. If “Israel” had been allowed to achieve such an objective, the emerging options would have carried far greater risks for Iran.

But the response showed that Tehran is willing to risk a direct military battle when it comes to crossing red lines related to its sovereignty, even when the United States declares its support for “Israel”.

Furthermore, Tehran has refuted the narrative that Tel Aviv has been promoting for nearly two decades and on which all proposals that call for targeting Iranian strategic facilities, including nuclear ones, are based. The narrative is that the direct American presence in the region restrains Iran from risking a response, in order to avoid pushing the United States to carry out direct military strikes against it. This narrative was not accepted by all American administrations, but rather viewed as a dangerous option that entailed the possibility of spiraling towards military involvement in a costly war.

Thus, the 2024 Iran has proven that it is radically different from the Iran of the 1980s in terms of the capabilities that limited its responses based on potential US strikes.

Thus, Iran succeeded in transforming the threat represented by the attack on its consulate in Damascus into an opportunity to establish new rules that are still in the process of crystallization and could also raise the ceiling.

No “Israeli” response will be able to erase these results, especially security or military responses outside Iranian territory. Meanwhile, a direct military response will generate greater risks for “Israel”, which the Biden administration doesn’t want to be a part of.

Among the most important results achieved by the last round of clashes is the demonstration of “Israel’s” structural and deep need for effective American participation.
“Israel’s” need for the US to protect its security and strategic depth has been exposed and will harm Tel Aviv’s image, deterrence, and regional standing, especially since previous junctures painted the same picture, starting with the Al-Aqsa Flood and continuing with the failure of the “Israeli” war on the Gaza Strip and its struggles with groups supporting the Palestinians on other frontlines.

It is a strategic variable that will affect the concept through which changes in the regional environment are approached, and it will be present in the assessments of all parties, both hostile and friendly to “Israel”.

In conclusion, Iran has succeeded in putting “Israel” in a real dilemma: if it goes too far in a direct military response against Tehran, it will expose itself to a more dangerous retaliation. If it refrains from doing so, it admits that its deterrent power will be undermined, which will deepen the entity’s predicament (noting that security ceilings in responses do not change the equation).

To get out of this dilemma, US President Joe Biden asked “Israeli” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to present an image of “victory” over the successful interception operation and descend from the ladder he climbed. However, the problem with this option is that it contradicts what every “Israeli” senses and contradicts the image “Israel” presents to the domestic and international public.

The bottom line is that the Iranian response represents a qualitative change that exacerbated the challenges facing the political and security decision-making establishment in the “Israeli” entity, while enabling Tehran to accumulate its strategic achievements. Washington and Tel Aviv will certainly exert all efforts to limit the effects of these achievements on Arab public opinion, and especially the Palestinians.

What happened also revealed the truth about the shift in power equations in favor of the axis of resistance. Let’s just imagine for a second what would have happened if this number of drones and missiles had been launched from Lebanon into the “Israeli” depth, which would have completely exposed as a result of the reduced effectiveness of its air defense systems due to the proximity.