Israel has been braced for Tehran’ revenge – and on high war alert – for three weeks, after opening two war fronts against the Islamic Republic. One in Syria, by means of air and missile strikes on Iran’s Syrian infrastructure (on Feb. 10, April 9 and April 29) and two, an intelligence coup in the heart of Tehran, where Israel agents raided the secret hideout of Iran’s Atomic Archive and walked off with its contents. This breach of a top-secret site wrought as much damage to Iran’s security as the theft of the documentary trove. The next stage of the Israeli-Iranian conflict may therefore reach for the first time outside the Syrian-Lebanese arena to Iran proper, and open the door for a direct reprisal for Israel’s assaults from Iranian soil.
DEBKAfile’s military sources note that Tehran has a choice of options, aside from a direct ballistic missile attack on Israel, such as, for instance, an assault on an Israeli target in the Red Sea region.
Tehran and Hizballah may have been holding back on their revenge attacks until after certain key dates – Lebanon’s elections on May 6, Iraq’s polls on May 12 and a decision on the same day by US President Donald Trump on whether or not to restore sanctions and signal America’s exit from the 2015 nuclear accord. But those dates are fast approaching and their deterrent effect on Tehran fading in relevance. So what happens next?
DEBKAfile’s Washington sources report the impression that Trump will decide not to decide on May 12, and so leave the status of the nuclear accord hanging fire. Tehran will then have two swords hanging over its head, the threat of a US economic and financial campaign and continued Israeli warfare. This uncertainty may prove too much for the Islamic regime in Tehran to bear, especially when plagued with a falling currency, a deep economic crisis and a restive, disaffected population.
Israel too will find a long period of uncertainty hard to live with. The IDF has completed its preparations for war at some time, barring only the full mobilization of the reserves, a step only taken when Israel is at war. This uneasy situation was summed up by three US officials talking to NBC TV on Monday, April 30, the morning after Israel’s reported air strike on two Iranian bases outside Hama and Aleppo, which killed two dozen Iranian troops and blew up a large weapons depot. The Americans commented: ”On the list of the potentials for most likely live hostility around the world, the battle between Israel and Iran in Syria is at the top of the list right now.” This means that a war confrontation between Israel and Iran could flare up at any moment, although no one knows when, where or in what form.
Of major relevance is Moscow’s continuous silence during and after Israel’s missile strike on April 29. This may be interpreted as the Kremlin prudently biding its time as the situation evolves. For now, Russian military personnel are not in harm’s way and Moscow may see profit in the steady degrading by Israel of Iran’s military strength in Syria.