Ali Khamenei leads prayers for Islamic Revolutionary Guard commanders killed in Damascus

Just what Israel wants

Despite its criminal repression, the Iranian regime should not be equated with the genocidal Zionist state, argues Yassamine Mather. In the global pecking order, Israel is way towards the top

The obvious first point to make on the current perilous situation in the Middle East and the threat of an all-out war between Israel and Iran is to remind everyone that it was Israel that bombed the Iranian consulate in Syria and killed seven top commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards.

Of course, the Zionist state refuses to admit its culpability. However, the world, and indeed its western allies, know full well who was responsible. The Biden administration’s subsequent claims that it had not sanctioned the attack are meaningless, given the US refusal to make a single statement condemning the attack during the 10 days of direct and indirect talks with the Islamic Republic, when it was trying to avert an Iranian military response.

Trap fallen into

The second point is that Iran’s rulers probably fell into a trap set by Benjamin Netanyahu. Since October 7, the Israeli government has been very keen to start a proper war with Iran. The attack on the Damascus consulate happened at a time when Netanyahu was facing sharp criticism from the US and others. Some officials in western capitals were getting concerned about possible charges of aiding and abetting genocide perpetrated by the Zionist state - in a week when the assassination of western aid workers was being called “systemic” killing by the likes of former MI6 director Sir Alex Younger.

Iran’s retaliation against the bombing of its consulate in Damascus changed all this, overnight. Biden declared his “ironclad support” for the rightwing government in Jerusalem. Iran’s drone and missile attack also saw regional realignments: Jordan and Saudi Arabia joined the US, UK and France, using their (albeit limited) air power to ‘help’ Israel in bringing down Iranian drones and missiles. By Sunday the news agenda had changed. Now there is rather less talk of the deliberate famine imposed by the Israeli military on the population of Gaza. As far as I can see, the title of Jeremy Bowen’s April 16 article on the BBC’s web pages sums it up correctly: “Iran’s attack on Israel offers Netanyahu a lifeline.”

There is no limit to the hypocrisy of western politicians, when it comes to Iran’s drone and missile attack. This exchange between the Sky News presenter and David Cameron is an example of the kind of absurd comments we have heard so far:

Sky: What would Britain do if our consulate was flattened?

Cameron: Well, we’d take very strong action.

Sky: Iran would say that’s what they did.1

When it comes to Tehran’s attack, Israel and its supporters are celebrating a major victory - there is no doubt that a large percentage of Iranian drones and missiles failed to reach their targets.

Iran claims this was a calibrated response: according to major general Hossein Salami, commander of the Revolutionary Guards, Iran’s attack “could have been much larger, but we restricted it to only target facilities the regime had used to attack the consulate”.

US defence officials say that out of more than 100 ballistic missiles that the Islamic Republic fired at Israel on Saturday night, “only nine” hit targets inside the country”. CBS, quoting two American officials, reports that US military intelligence has indicated that four ballistic missiles struck the Nevatim airbase in the Negev region, while four hit another base in the same region. Israel has denied these claims. Nevatim is home to the highly advanced and expensive F-35 fighter jet and was one of the main targets of Iran’s attack on April 13 - as US sources say, Israel targeted the Iranian consulate in Damascus from this base.

According to these officials, Iran’s operation was designed so that Israel’s air defence systems would engage in countering cruise missiles and drones, which meant that ballistic missiles could more easily hit their target. In fact the destruction of cruise missiles and drones with the cooperation of Israel, the United States and other allied countries outside of Israel’s airspace helped to destroy ballistic missiles. Centcom, the headquarters of the US military’s central command in the Middle East, has announced that it was involved in the destruction of 70 to 80 drones and at least 6 Iranian ballistic missiles.

There are some doubts about the use of hypersonic missiles by Iran. According to Press TV, quoting Iranian military sources, Israel and “its supporters failed to intercept any of the hypersonic missiles fired by Iran”. However, according to Favaz Zahed, writing in the Iranian daily newspaper, Etemaad, the Revolutionary Guards have opted against using advanced weaponry such as hypersonic glide vehicles (HGVs): “Iran has prepared itself for round two, meaning that if Israel reacts, Iran will begin another level of military operation against it,”

Videos shown by state media in Iran of many Israeli airbases on fire were fake, mainly used to satisfy the regime’s most ardent supporters. However, as we get more details of the crucial role played by western allies, there is discomfort amongst Israeli politicians about the capabilities of the country’s air defences.

Iranian reaction

Some consider Iran’s decision to launch missiles at Israel as a “show of national authority” and a source of pride, while others believe that the officials of the Islamic Republic have handed a major political victory to Netanyahu’s government.

Below are some of the reactions of Iranian political figures and analysts to the attack - referred to as “Operation True Promise”.

Criticising Iran’s policy in the face of what he called the “Israel issue”, he said that this cannot be resolved within the framework of Iran’s current policy. According to Abbas Abdi, public opinion in Iran sees the lack of a military response as a sign of the government’s failure, and the reason for that is “the futile expectations and slogans given by the supporters of the ruling circles - they raise expectations with their propaganda and unwise positions. And today they are stuck in the swamp of those slogans”.

During Iran’s attack on Israel its neighbour, Jordan, intercepted several drones and missiles that entered the country’s airspace. The statement of the Jordanian government states that this action was taken to ensure the security of its citizens. Some angry users of social media responded by calling King Abdullah “a source of shame for the entire Islamic world”. Another group, rejecting the explanation of ‘ensuring the citizens’ security’, wrote that King Abdullah has prioritised “following the orders” of America and Israel over the security of his citizens by deciding to intercept and destroy Iranian missiles and drones that were passing through the sky of Jordan to Israel.

Contrary to the nonsense in leaflets written by sections of the Iranian left, the Islamic Republic does not want an all-out war with Israel. Apart from anything else, the regime is well aware of the limitations of its military capability and arsenal. If such an all-out war were to take place, Iran would probably be defeated, even in the unlikely event that the US and its allies were not directly involved. For a regime obsessed with ‘survival’, such a scenario is the worst possible outcome.

Deluded left

However, given Israel’s determination for a military retaliation, we can assume Netanyahu is keen to widen the war, as it will not only pave the way to finishing what he started in terms of the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, but also to making sure there is no real regional support - even if it is just slogans and rhetoric - for the Palestinian cause.

In other words, equating Iran and Israel as equal warmongers, as sections of the deluded Iranian left in exile have done in the last few days, is absolute nonsense. These groups have tailed the pro-Zionist Persian media for such a long time that they have become social-imperialists with no principles, no tactics and no strategy.

We should oppose new wars in the region and, of course, this does not mean we reduce our criticism of the Islamic Republic over its reactionary policies in terms of intervention in the private lives of its citizens, etc; that we stop campaigning against repression in Iran; or that we no longer expose the rampant corruption amongst senior clerics and their allies. However, none of this justifies making irrational claims about Iran being an equivalent of Israel. For all its appalling acts of repression, the clerical regime in Tehran has not killed tens of thousands, as Israel is doing in Palestine; it has not embarked on ethnic cleansing in the land occupied by its military forces; it is not the main ally in the Middle East of the global hegemon …

Those sections of the Iranian left who have any principles should have nothing to do with this bankrupt, right-leaning ‘exiled’ left. We should leave them where they belong, with the likes of Iran’s royalists and on the pro-Israel trashy TV stations.

  1. news.sky.com/video/david-cameron-urges-israel-not-to-escalate-as-he-condemns-irans-failed-attack-13115880.↩︎