A strategic mistake by Iran will cost it dearly

Senior officials in the US and Israel anticipate an imminent response from Iran following the assassination of Hassan Mahdavi, the commander of the Quds Force in Syria and Lebanon, reportedly attributed to Israel. However, there's a cautious expectation that Iran's retaliation will be measured, aiming to avoid escalating tensions into a full-scale war between Israel and Iran, which could potentially trigger a wider regional conflict.

 President Biden recently reassured Prime Minister Netanyahu of the United States’ commitment to maintaining Israel’s security during a phone conversation regarding the incident.

Israel, with its robust air defense system and swift response capabilities, remains prepared to defend against Iranian missiles and UAVs.

Additionally, Israel may leverage US military assets deployed in the region to bolster its defense if necessary.

Despite warnings from Iran against US interference in its response to Israel, US officials emphasize that Iran understands the US commitment to support Israel if needed, reiterating that the US was not involved in the Damascus assassination.

The Iranian leadership is cognizant of the risks associated with launching an attack on Israel from its territory, likely prompting careful deliberation regarding the nature of its retaliatory actions.

Iran should recognize that any misstep leading to a full-scale war in the Middle East would leave it isolated, without support from major powers like Russia or China, and facing Israel and the US alone.

Assessments in both Israel and the US suggest that while Iran’s response to Mahdavi’s assassination may differ from past reactions, it will avoid crossing “red lines” that could provoke a regional conflict.

Jaafar Kanadbashi, an Iranian commentator on Middle East affairs, wrote in “Ham Mihan” newspaper:

“Just as Iran responded cautiously to the assassination of Qasem Soleimani by the US, it is likely to act with similar prudence now. Iran will not play into Israel’s hands, but will respond wisely and logically, avoiding giving Israel justification for escalation.”

It’s probable that Palestinian hopes for direct Iranian involvement in a war with Israel will be disappointed.

While both parties share animosity towards Israel, Iran’s decision-making is driven by strategic considerations rather than emotional impulses that may jeopardize its interests.

Iran continues to maintain ambiguity regarding the timing and manner of its response to Israel, despite issuing threats. The CIA estimates a response by the end of the month of Ramadan.

Yoni Ben Menachem Senior Middle East Analyst

About Yoni Ben Menachem

Yoni Ben Menachem is a Middle East senior analyst ,a journalist and
the former CEO of the Israel Broadcasting Authority(IBA). He has
decades of experience in written and video journalism. Ben
Menachem’s path in the media world began as a producer for
Japanese television in the Middle East. After that, he held many key
positions in the media The Israeli: CEO of the Israel Broadcasting
Authority, director of “Kol Israel” Radio, reporter on West Bank and
Gaza Strip affairs, political reporter and commentator, commentator
on Middle East affairs and editor-in-chief and presenter of the
program “Middle East Magazine”. 

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