The Middle East Maelstrom: Ramifications of Retaliations
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The Middle East Maelstrom: Ramifications of Retaliations


APLN member Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury writes on Iran’s retaliatory military strike on Israel and Israel’s response.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu needs the war against Iran existentially, for himself and for the right-wing extremists that control Israeli politics of the day. The battle in Gaza against the Hamas is proving unwinnable for them. Domestically public anger against the regime is rising in Israel, and should the government fall, Mr Netanyahu can find himself not only out of office, but in prison on corruption charges. A wider regional war such as the one with Iran could prevent that. But it is obvious Israel cannot fight it alone against Iran. Hence Tel Aviv wishes to draw the US into the conflict, tempting Washington with the prospects of eliminating Iranian nuclear facilities, despite palpable waning of US interest in widening the conflict. (the rhetoric notwithstanding).

Rationally, Iran would not opt for nuclear weapons, even if it is technologically possible, because, among other things it would invite direct US ire. Also, it appears Israel can be conventionally defeated by existing Iranian capabilities. In any case the use of a nuclear device on Palestinian or Israeli soil by any Middle Eastern actor is not credible for, if nothing else, social, cultural, spiritual and and religious reasons. However, this is not the same for conventional weapons, both strategic and tactical. These can be effectively used as weapons of force against Israel.

But Israel possesses nuclear arm. There is always the danger that even without US support, pushed against the wall, Mr Netanyahu could use such a weapon. Israeli extremists have been known to cite from the Bible when convenient for their purpose. In the Biblical parable, the chained Samson uses his strength to destroy the enemy and all its structures, even if it meant his own destruction. This is the Samson option. Could Mr Netanyahu paint himself into such a corner that he would be confronted with such a horrific Hobson’s choice? We can only hope it does not come to that. But it is time for the world to be wary!

(Postscript: Early morning of Friday 19 April, Israel reportedly conducted retaliatory strikes on a number of targets, including close the cities of Isfahan and Tabriz. While the scope of the attack is still being debated, the damage was minimal enough for Iran to declare that it would not respond. So, even though the two States, Israel and Iran, are now directly involved in a military conflict, this was an interesting model whereby, so far, escalation appears containable with neither protagonist showing any interest in ‘escalation domination’. All in all, this is an interesting example of a modern contactless military exchange using kinetic capabilities, yet with limited or no casualties, appearing to create fresh laws of battle engagement!)

The full article can be accessed here.

Image: iStock/Oleksii Liskonih

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