A few days ago a spokesman for Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated openly that “the war with Israel has already started”. Congruent to that bold declaration, Iran was beginning large scale war games on its border with Azerbaijan, and releasing statements with claims and innuendo about “Zionist” forces on its borders. At almost the same time reports began to come in from Cyprus of some mysterious assassination plot involving Israelis targeted in the country. Now the Israeli Government has stated that Iran was behind the plot in Cyprus and that high profile Israeli business figures were the intended targets. It seems that indeed Israel and Iran’s open, but undeclared, low-intensity war, has been ratcheted up both in terms of actions and rhetoric by an unrepentant Iran.
For years now Israel has been engaged in fending off Iran’s imperialistic expansion throughout the Middle East, as well as its genocidal nuclear ambitions, and according to foreign reports, has struck targets related to both in Iran itself. Through a two pronged strategy of surrounding Israel with Iranian and Iranian proxy forces, armed with the latest weaponry and technology Iran has to offer, along with a nuclear program they are willing to pursue at any cost and for however long necessary, Iran is determined to weaken and then exterminate Israel. The events of recent months, including taking potshots at Israel related shipping in the waters around the Arabian Peninsula-as well as reports about plots to kidnap and\or assassinate Israeli citizens in South America, Europe, and now Cyprus specifically- are a clear indication that Iran is attempting to change the equation in the no longer secret war with Israel. The Iranian spokesman’s statement was another facet of this, as now if tensions reach even greater heights Iran will have in its own estimates put the world on notice.
This intensification of the confrontation with Iran was foreseen by Israel as reflected in public statements by the previous and current governments on everything from the non-existent nuclear negotiations between Iran and major world powers, to the nature of Tehran’s new government . The combination of Iran’s intransigence on the nuclear issue and the “election” of the ultra hardline darling of the Ayatollah Khamenai , Ibrahim Raisi, have set the stage for the Israel-Iran War to potentially transition from low intensity conflict to all out general war.
The Azeri element of both Iran’s current military exercises and the episode in Cyprus are directly related to Iran’s strategy and preparations for such a war. Iran views Azerbaijan along with certain Persian Gulf states [Iran lashed out at Bahrain just recently during Israeli Foreign Minister Lapid’s visit there] as springboards for Israel along Iran’s borders. Trying to intimidate Azerbaijan with military maneuvers, and at the same time employing at least one Azeri as part of a proxy assassination squad, signaling to the Azeris, that Iran has access to assets connected to or within Azerbaijan itself, underline the priority given by the regime in Teheran to try and threaten and intimidate Baku. Iran and Turkey’s off again on again regional rivalry further adds to the complicated geo-strategic picture, as Azerbaijan is considered an intimate and close ally and partner of Turkey with common ethnic and cultural roots. The latest conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh also served to solidify Azerbaijan as both an intimate partner of the State of Israel- with Israeli weapons systems playing a central role in Azerbaijan’s victory- and Turkey’s staunch ally, although the successive Islamist Governments of President Erdogan have made Israel into an adversary. Strange bedfellows is far from being a new concept in the Middle East.
All this has Iran starting to come to terms with the fact that, while they have attempted to unrelentingly surround Israel with a literal and figurative ring of fire, from Lebanon through to Syria and Iraq, down to Yemen, and back up again through Gaza and Palestinian Authority areas of Judea and Samaria; in a full scale war with Israel the chess board is even wider and the pieces more numerous.
As Iranian nuclear sites and there connected industrial base in the country continue to operate, yet also explode and malfunction quite often, a tipping point in the Israel-Iran low intensity war will at some point be reached. The same goes for the Iranian aircraft, ships, and ground convoys that continue to make deliveries of tools of death and destruction throughout the Middle East, with many being interdicted in mysterious circumstances. Eventually these combined actions and maneuvers by the Iranian regime, and the steps taken to roll them back will leave only one option for a decisive outcome- a general war of one scope or another between Israel and Iran. Iran knows this hence the blunt statement of it’s Foreign Ministry’s spokesman. What Iran does fail to comprehend however is that the war- large or small- will result in the wide scale destruction of Iran’s nuclear program, large parts of its military-industrial base, and perhaps even of its critical infrastructure. It would require vast resources and a very very long time to reconstitute a viable nuclear program afterwards. If the Iranians would be foolish enough to once again pursue such a misadventure and pour huge amounts of precious and scarce funds and resources into it, the Ayatollahs would risk being overthrown once and for all, especially with the simmering unrest throughout Iranian society exacerbated by the coronavirus crisis there, as well as the brutal crackdowns against Iranian civilians in the past few years . Furthermore, if in a large conflict with Israel Iran activates all it’s regional proxies and assets, then they will also end up losing Hizballah as an effective fighting force for decades if not more, and large swaths of Lebanon along with parts of Syria will be devastated. Absent an abrupt and acute change in the type of regime which rules Iran, Israel will have no choice but to dismember and defeat the Neo-Persian empire taking shape and its unwavering pursuit of the most powerful weaponry known to man.