Deterrence Restored

After two weeks of heightened uncertainty, Iran’s retaliatory strike against Israel finally fell in the early hours of the 14th. A barrage of drones, cruise missiles, and inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) was launched from the Iranian mainland, aimed directly at Israel’s military facilities in the Negev Desert and Golan Heights. An unprecedented action - that kept the global community on tenterhooks as the munitions made their 1,800-kilometer journey towards Israel – but one that was carefully designed to prevent what Israel wanted the most: a wider regional war.

The attack was widely telegraphed, allied countries were informed, and Israel’s foreign backers – the US, UK, France, and Germany – were warned to not be part of any reprisal. The weapons used were slow Shaheed drones, along with older missiles using outdated technology. The targets selected were military ones and far away from civilian centers. This carefully selected concoction of factors means that Israel can not reasonably escalate the conflict without seeming like the aggressor. Even before the strikes had landed, Iran’s foreign office declared the reprisal for the Damascus embassy attack over, with a warning that future misadventures would be met with a stronger response. The statements coming from the US administration mirror this stance, urging restraint, and considering the matter settled.

While Netanyahu’s fanatic regime might still seek escalation despite the global calls for restrain, it too is celebrating successfully defending its airspace against a large attack. If calm heads prevail, all parties can walk away from this with face-saving and without sparking a regional war.

However, this strike was not for show, as some have claimed. A few key developments need to be kept in mind. Iran has demonstrated that Israel is not invincible as it often portrays itself to be, emboldening resistance across the Middle East.

Secondly, Iran’s tactical approach worked, hidden in the barrage of drones – most of which were always going to be shot down – were ICBMs that were actually intended to hit their targets. Those missiles hit their mark – showing how even with advance notice and the help of the US, UK, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, Israel’s air defense can be penetrated. The unspoken threat – of using advanced munitions, without warning – hangs in the air, preventing future attacks against Iran.

The strike has also solidified fault lines. Jordan and Saudi Arabia are now firmly in the Israeli camp and must contend with domestic criticism from their pro-Palestine populations. Meanwhile, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon stay in Iran’s camp, celebrating the long-awaited reprisal.

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