Turbulence ahead: Iran-Israel escalation

It could lead to war, but won’t

The Iranian attack on Israel is a historic incident. It has further exacerbated the security situation in the region. At the regional and global level, it would have wider implications in the strategic, security, and economic domains. Although the attack could not achieve the intended results, two inferences can be drawn from it. First, the capability of Iran has been established beyond any doubt. Second, the capacity of Israel and its allies is also vivid, as 99 percent of the drones and missiles were destroyed before reaching their targets.
The military attacks launched by Israel and Iran in April 2024 have proved a turning point in the Middle East conflict. Previously, both countries used proxies and cyber attacks. But the situation changed completely when Israel killed three prominent Islamic Revolutionary Guards generals in Damascus on April 1st. Iran threatened to avenge the killings of its generals and termed it a direct violation of its sovereignty. The response was gigantic. According to the United States Institute of Peace, 170 drones, 120 ballistic missiles, and around 30 cruise missiles were fired at Israel. The aim of the attack was not to cause major destruction. The logic and rationale behind the salvo was to show resolve and capability.
One thing is obvious: neither side can win in conventional or unconventional sense. The military threshold has been crossed. According to Nimrod Goren, the senior fellow of the Middle East Institute, Israel has not had any long-term strategy. It has proved its deterrence through kinetic means. In the last decades, it launched destructive cyber attacks against Iran to dismantle its critical nuclear infrastructure. Similarly, it was able to assassinate and eliminate the key officials of Iran through proxy means. Contrary to it, Iran has a mammoth build-up of ballistic and cruise missiles. It has thousands of drones, according to the assessment of RAND Corporation. So, there are limited chances of any decisive war between the countries. But protracted conflict would have implications for regional and international stability.

Overall, regional war in the Middle East must be averted. Major powers must convince Israel to abide by international law. Its actions in Gaza and in the wider region should be challenged by strict embargo on sales of weapons and crippling economic sanctions. There should be efforts to defuse tensions between Iran and Israel. Peace is only possible in the Middle East when the brutal and inhuman actions of Israel are controlled by major Western powers. Mere condemnation of Israel and unprecedented restrictions will not yield peace and stability

The most nefarious impact is deviation of focus from the plight of people of Gaza. According to the Centre for Security & International Studies, around 34000 people have been killed because the shameless liberal Western world allowed it to do so. Millions are facing famine-like conditions. Children and women are suffering in this man-made crisis. The ruthless American and other Western governments are busy pampering the murderous Israeli regime. Iranian attacks have given an opportunity to the West to absolve themselves of the Gaza crisis. It will empower Israel to establish a security and political order of its choice in Gaza.
The Iranian attack would test the temperament of the USA and its allies. US President Joe Biden has warned Iran and its Axis of Resistance, but refrained from actively attacking Iran. It is a tricky business for the West. On the one hand, lack of response would give the impression of weakness to Iran and its allies. Ostensibly, Russia and China would also deem it as an American weakness. On the other hand, excessive use of force will eventually plunge the already volatile region into anarchy and chaos. American strategy will shape the security outlook of the Middle East.
In addition to this, recent confrontation and conflict in the Middle East has revitalized the chances of cooperation and diplomatic relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia.. Saudi Arabia is a major power in the region. It abhors the military influence of Iran in the region. The security, economic, and political interests of the two countries are poles apart. Despite normalization of the ties, both countries have limited chances of effective relationship because of ideological and political reasons. Naturally, once the clouds of conflict and war will fade away from the region, the chances of Saudi and Israeli cooperation are bright, under the auspices of the USA and other Western countries. It would potentially further debilitate the strategic calculus in the long run.
Contrary to this, the chances of an effective and efficient response by the major powers to defuse the tensions are remote. The international actors are taking sides in this conflict. But none of them is on the side of peace. G-7, a club of rich and liberal countries, blamed Iran for creating regional instability. They vowed to assist Israel in safeguarding its vital security interests. However, China and Russia at the UN Security Council session blamed Israel and said that the Iranian attack did not occur in a vacuum. Such divergent stances would not be helpful in restoring peace in the region.
Evidently, restraint is needed. Escalation of conflict would pave the way towards regional instability. The Middle East is now a ripe ground for war. Syria and Yemen are already dealing with civil war. The proxies have eliminated the chances of peace between the two countries. Egypt and Jordan lack capacity and capability to fight with Israel. But the domestic elements may engage in resistance activities, which could rupture peace and tranquility. Iran has built a massive network of proxies. It can deploy them against the Western interests. The resultant outcome: deaths of innocent civilians; vicious cycle of conflict; and victory of the powerful major powers.
Overall, regional war in the Middle East must be averted. Major powers must convince Israel to abide by international law. Its actions in Gaza and in the wider region should be challenged by strict embargo on sales of weapons and crippling economic sanctions. There should be efforts to defuse tensions between Iran and Israel. Peace is only possible in the Middle East when the brutal and inhuman actions of Israel are controlled by major Western powers. Mere condemnation of Israel and unprecedented restrictions will not yield peace and stability.

Khaliq Dad Lak
Khaliq Dad Lak
The writer is a civil servant. He can be reached at [email protected]

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