The key standoff in the Middle East, that between Israel and Iran, has been steadily ramping up.
Over the last two months Israel and its allies, primarily the US and Saudi Arabia, have done quite a bit to antagonize Iran and attempt and impair it from achieving its ambitions.
Iran’s response is coming, and the aim is an asymmetric counter attack that would heavily hamper Israel’s interests.
Tehran’s response will likely be two-pronged:
On the one hand through its proxies and allies – namely the Houthis in Yemen who are pushing back Saudi Arabia and inflicting heavy losses on it. Iran recently sent advanced suicide drones to Yemen, so Riyadh appears to be in for a surprise.
Separately, it’s operating through its allies in Iraq and Syria, as reports of US convoys suffering explosions are becoming a rather regular occurrence.
On the other, Iran’s nuclear program appears to be developing steadily, and the Wall Street Journal even stoked the oven by claiming that Tehran was nearing production of a “key material for nuclear warheads”.
There’s been no confirmation to that, but it also works to Iran’s benefit, and will be used as a mechanism to check if Israel is willing to attack its nuclear program, once again, after allegedly killing Iran’s top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.
Tehran is working to produce its enriched uranium, which it maintains is for peaceful purposes, and uses this as a lever to pressure the United States and force Israel’s hand. Most recently, Iran said that Washington’s return to the Nuclear Deal, as incoming President Joe Biden has signaled, was simply “extortion” if it’s not accompanied by a lifting of sanctions.
As such, Iran says that not only must Washington want to return, but it also needs to do something to make up for their past failures – namely, lift the sanctions the Trump Administration imposed.
Israel, feeling the urgency of its situation, warned that if the US were to return to the Nuclear Deal, it would feel forced and strike the facilities being used in Iran’s nuclear program, in order to hamper any progress, it may be having towards an alleged weapon. If this really happens, this will easily lead to a large-scale regional war.
Currently, Israel and the US have largely played their hands – attacks on various proxy positions, as well as various threats and military deployments.
For Iran, the field is wide open, and it’s Tehran’s turn to make its move, and it is likely to be an asymmetric action, not focused in a single point of tension, but rather on several.