Analysis: The Middle East on the brink again after attack on Iranian consulate

Analysis: The Middle East on the brink again after attack on Iranian consulate post thumbnail image
CNN  — 

The assault on the Iranian consulate in Damascus on Monday would be the most harmful escalation exterior of Gaza for the reason that begin of the Hamas-Israel battle practically six months in the past.

Syria and Iran blamed Israel for the airstrike that destroyed a consular constructing, killing Mohammed Reza Zahedi, a prime commander in Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), and several other different officers, together with one other senior commander Mohammad Hadi Haji Rahimi. Israeli officers haven’t commented on the incident.

The assault is the most recent in a current string of obvious Israeli strikes in Syria that focused the IRGC and Iran-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. Thus far, the assaults haven’t provoked a response exterior the scope of months-long skirmishes on Israel’s border with Lebanon — regardless of repeated threats by Iran and Hezbollah’s management to answer Israeli assaults in variety.

Monday’s incident, nevertheless, would be the final straw. Technically, Iran’s consulate is sovereign Iranian territory, making this probably the most overt assault on Iranian soil in years. And Zahedi is probably the most high-profile goal since former US President Donald Trump ordered the killing of the IRGC’s storied common Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad in January 2020.

“Occasions in Damascus at this time point out that Israelis have (Iranian Supreme Chief) Ali Khamenei in a field,” wrote Mohammad Ali Shabani, Iran analyst and editor on the on-line journal, in a publish on X, previously often known as Twitter.

“Iran’s supreme chief is being embarrassed earlier than his personal praetorian guard, and Quds Power could have more and more exhausting time justifying Khamenei’s indecisiveness earlier than Iran’s regional allies.”

It’s tough to envisage an Iranian response that doesn’t contain its strongest paramilitary ally, Hezbollah. The Lebanese Shia militant group has been embroiled in every day cross-fire with Israeli forces since October 8. For practically six months, it has walked a high quality line between attempting to restrict its discipline of militant operations to the border space, whereas attempting to implement tit-for-tat guidelines of engagement. This has grow to be more durable as Israel strikes targets a lot additional afield than the border space with rising frequency (Israeli airstrikes hit a significant metropolis in jap Lebanon final week).

Iran’s regional allies say they entered confrontations with Israel on behalf of Palestinians in Gaza, the place over 32,000 individuals have been killed, in response to native authorities. This has boosted their regional reputation and shored up their political positions domestically. However they’ve sought to keep away from an all-out conflagration, a aid to Washington, which has thrown its weight into stopping a regional battle.

That could be an untenable place after at this time’s strike, which has once more introduced the area to the brink of an expanded battle.

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