Fears of an Iranian Retaliatory Attack Grow

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Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei at a ceremony outside Tehran, Iran, Jun. 4, 2023. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader)

Following an Israeli attack on the Iranian consulate in Syria, the threat of an Iranian retaliatory attack looms ever more intimidating. The strike, launched two weeks ago, killed 13 people including a senior commander of Iran’s elite Al Quds force as well as other important military figures.

Iran has vowed to retaliate to the strike on its consulate, which it might do directly or through one of its proxies. On Sunday, an Iranian official said Israeli embassies are “no longer safe” and Ayatollah Khameini denounced “the evil regime”, which he said “will be punished”.

The US has warned that Iran is planning a “significant attack” on Israel, and has restricted travel for its diplomats to the country amid the perceived risk. President Biden offered his “ironclad” support to Israel, which has not claimed responsibility for the strike but is widely believed to have been behind it.

US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, spoke to the foreign ministers of regional heavyweights Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and China to corroborate that further escalation was not in anybody’s interests. Further, the US Commander for Middle Eastern operations travelled to Israel last week for talks on security threats to the state.

Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics Fawez Gerges said Israel aimed to outline that Iran was a “paper tiger” flush with threats but no real action. He also discussed how the strike dealt a strategic blow to Iran, which suffered a significant loss to its Al Quds force that he described as essential for the “transfer of arms” to Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria.

Iran and Israel are sworn nemeses and are engaged in a various proxy conflicts across the Middle East. Iran backs Hamas, the armed Palestinian group fighting Israel in a war in Gaza. They also back Hezbollah, who have exchanged fire with Israel since the start of the Israel-Hamas war.

Written by Rakan Pharaon

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