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The recent attacks by Israel on the Iranian consulate in Damascus in Syria killing senior IRGC top commanders raises concerns over the potential escalation of a regional conflict.

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  • The recent attacks by Israel on the Iranian consulate in Damascus in Syria killing senior IRGC top commanders raises concerns over the potential escalation of a regional conflict.
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The recent attacks by Israel on the Iranian consulate in Damascus in Syria killing senior IRGC top commanders raises concerns over the potential escalation of a regional conflict.

The recent attacks by Israel on the Iranian consulate in Damascus killing senior IRGC top commanders has raised concerns over the potential escalation of the conflict in West Asia.

The recent attacks by Israel on the Iranian consulate in Damascus killing senior IRGC top commanders has raised concerns over the potential escalation of the conflict in West Asia. Should Iran attempt to retaliate, it could trigger a direct confrontation between Tehran and Tel Aviv to which Washington will inevitably be dragged into. However, despite the rhetoric the rulers in Iran know better than risking a military defeat on the back of domestic unrest that has tested their internal security forces to the limit.
Without a credible air force Iran is unlikely to win a conventional war with Israel. Iranian missiles are effective but only in causing casualties and spreading fear amongst the populace rather than affecting the outcome of the conflict. Therefore, the clerical establishment in Tehran would increase the risk to its own stability and even survival by engaging in a war with Tel Aviv. One is reminded of Russia in 1917 when the defeated Russian soldiers in WW I joined waves of disaffected people in the streets of Moscow, which eventually brought down the Tzar and his government.
Lack of retaliation, however, also carries certain risks for the Islamic Republic, but less so than the alternative. Cadres of IRGC and supporters of the government are demanding an effective response to the Israeli attack in Damascus. In the past few years many an attack has been launched successfully against Iranian forces and nuclear infrastructures, both outside and inside of Iran, without any significant response from Iran. The confidence of the lower and middle rank IRGC, who carry out the actual military operations, in the efficacy of their leaders and their policies, could be seriously dented as a result of inaction. The lack of response can also encourage Israel to continue its strikes with impunity, in turn raising the stakes for Iranian leaders’ policy of no retaliation. So, in effect the Islamic Republic is between a rock and a hard place. There seems to be no winning either way.
Ultimately, it may seem that a direct military confrontation is unavoidable. The Islamic Republic would not be able to sit out infinitely the continuing barrage of attacks from Israel that take out its top commanders and demolish its infrastructure. Should the war begin Washington will have to get engaged on the side of Israel and political repercussions on the ground could be significant for the entire region.

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