Iranian theater | The duty

Just theater? The approximately 300 missiles, shells and drones launched on Saturday evening by the Iranian army against various targets in Israel, mainly military, were very real.

Had it not been for the hundreds of millions of dollars — and even more than a billion dollars, according to Yedioth Aharonot — spent in a few hours on anti-aircraft missiles (“Iron Dome” and company) by Israel to protect itself, they would undoubtedly have caused serious material and human damage.

But here it is: this anti-missile shield, deployed at great expense over a very small territory, is extraordinarily effective, which reached almost 100% yesterday morning. Total human toll from the Iranian salvo: one person injured. And again, it was hit by fallout from a missile defense strike, not an enemy strike.

The Tehran regime knew all this very well. His response to the attack – truly murderous, this one – carried out on 1er April against its consular building in Damascus had to be visible, with great drumming: this was even the main goal of the entire operation.

She was to show the world — and her own Iranian public — a “show of force” by the ayatollahs’ army. “Attacking our consulate is attacking our territory. This must be punished, and it will be punished,” promised “Supreme Guide” Ali Khamenei.

In order not to lose face, not to “let strikes like that of 1 pass without doing anything”er April… and so many others who regularly humiliate Israel’s enemies with their diabolical precision, effrontery and efficiency.

It is so true that, in official Iranian communication, the operation was presented as a success and gave rise to scenes of rejoicing… despite its de facto effectiveness close to 0%.

Zero points, total military failure. But whatever. The attack was announced in advance; it was claimed and specifically linked by Tehran to the strike of 1er april. That was the main thing.

Ali Ferzat, famous Syrian cartoonist in exile, tortured by the regime of Bashar al-Assad at the start of the democratic revolt of 2011 (the mukhabarats had broken his fingers and damaged an eye, telling him “this is only a warning “), posted a drawing online yesterday which sums up the situation well.

We see Khamenei phoning Netanyahu – the other supreme leader – telling him in advance… the type of missiles, the time and the targets chosen!

A caricature, but barely: we know that Tehran actually informed several of Israel’s neighbors of its intentions so that they could warn it. It was even possible to follow the projectiles live over a good part of their trajectory – notably the “stupid” drones which took hours to travel through the territory between Iran and Israel.

So Tehran, in its own way, can trumpet that “response has been given” to the affront of 1er April, that “the matter can be considered closed”… while allowing — consciously and deliberately — Israel to claim an almost perfect defense.

Theater, therefore, and Tehran, which above all does not want a total war, now hopes that its favorite enemy will play the game… and find a way of de-escalation.

Which is far from certain.

Indeed, there are at the same time, in this episode – even carefully calibrated to “fail” – real elements of escalation. After years of “proxy war”, this is still the first time since the Islamic revolution of 1979 that Iran has directly attacked Israel.

(Conversely, the State of Israel does not hesitate to strike Iranian targets itself. But on 1er April 2024 represented a new crossing of the “red line”, since an Iranian “diplomatic territory” was directly targeted, completely destroying a large building – the Iranian consular services in Damascus – and killing 16 people there, including two generals of the Guards. the revolution.)

Netanyahu said: “The State of Israel is strong, the armed forces are strong, you are strong. We will respond. » This promise to respond poses great uncertainty; a threat of escalation and regional extension of the war.

Between the supremacist “hawks” who surround Netanyahu and push him to a total war against Iran, and Washington which, while showing its loyalty and its material assistance (much noticed in this episode), encourages Israel to restrain itself – which will take away?

According to the online magazine Axios, generally well informed on this issue, the White House told the Israelis: hold back, do not retaliate. Officials argued that the almost 100% successful defense of the Israeli shield “is in itself a response and a victory.”

It is not certain that this appeal will be heard.

This episode of high dramatic intensity carries with it the potential for de-escalation, if the “big” pole of Tehran were seized in Jerusalem… But also, that of an enlarged war, with terrifying prospects, between a proven nuclear power and a enemy who wants to become one.

Indeed, Israel might want to destroy this impudent other who, in turn, dared to attack it.

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