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16 Apr, 2024 14:09

Iran’s strike on Israel was much more successful than it seems. Here’s why

Tehran’s retaliatory attack may not have caused much destruction, but it was far from a failure
Iran’s strike on Israel was much more successful than it seems. Here’s why

On the night of April 14, Iran and its proxy forces launched a series of cruise missile and kamikaze drone strikes on Israeli territory. The attacks did not come as a surprise. Tehran had warned that it would respond to the Israeli airstrike on Iran’s consulate in Damascus, Syria, on April 1, which killed several high-ranking officers of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), including two generals. The retaliatory strike was called Operation True Promise. 

There is still much debate on whether Iran’s retaliatory strike was successful. Most military experts agree that there was nothing unusual about Tehran’s actions, except that this was Iran’s first direct attack on Israel. From a technical point of view, the strategy was simple and correct: Iran first suppressed the enemy’s air defense systems with drones and then launched hypersonic missiles which the Israelis and Americans were not able to intercept. Incidentally, in light of this, Ukraine’s statements about shooting down Russian Kinzhal hypersonic missiles sound ridiculous.

Do not jump to conclusions 

Many experts were skeptical about Iran’s strike and hastened to say that the retaliation did not live up to expectations. Given the clip thinking of most commentators, this reaction is hardly surprising. Their reasoning resembles a Hollywood blockbuster stuffed with special effects, where the end of the world and its miraculous salvation fit into 90-120 minutes, with a love scene in the middle. In real life, things are different. As Sun Tzu wrote in ancient times, to fight 100 battles and win 100 battles is not the height of skill. The best way to win is not to fight at all. This is Iran’s strategy. Its strike against Israel was not so much a military response as a grandmaster’s move in a big chess game. And the game is not over yet. 

After the attack on the Iranian consulate in Syria’s capital, Tehran found itself in a tough situation. It had to respond in a way that would look convincing and would achieve specific military goals, but would not start World War III.

To achieve the first point, Iran had to carry out a direct strike without resorting exclusively to proxy forces – and that is indeed how it acted. Regarding the second point, even though most of the missiles and drones were indeed shot down, some managed to penetrate Israeli air space and hit military targets. The Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Mohammad Bagheri, said that the information center on the Israeli-Syrian border and Israel’s Nevatim air base were hit. And finally, as to the third point – war didn’t happen. This resembled the situation in 2020, when the Iranians hit US bases in Iraq in response to the assassination of General Soleimani.

However, it is still too early to speculate as to whether Iran’s attack was a success or not. The big question now is how Israel will respond. 

What Iran has accomplished

It’s important to emphasize that Iran’s operation carried more political than military weight. In this sense, it was carried out subtly and was a success. Obviously, the Iranians did not want to start a war which would involve the US, even though that is what Netanyahu wanted. In other words, Israel didn’t manage to provoke Iran. 

It is also obvious that the Islamic Republic possesses more powerful drones and missiles than those used in the attack on April 14. However, even the less advanced drones and missiles were able to penetrate Israeli air space and inflict economic damage, since Israel spent much more money on shooting down the missiles and drones than Iran spent on launching them. 

Tehran has once again demonstrated that Israel is not invulnerable, and it is possible to attack it. As for the degree of inflicted damage, which some commentators were unsatisfied with, it largely depends on the type of missiles and drones used in the attack – and Iran has a lot of military equipment. 

Finally, Iran’s main achievement is that it has managed to confuse Israel in the same way that it was confused after the October 7 Hamas attack. The country has to respond. But how? Should Israel strike Iranian proxy forces? This is possible, but Israel does it all the time without much result. Should it hit Iran directly? But that would start a war which no one is prepared for, including the US.

Conclusion

The ball is now in Israel’s court, and the country faces the same challenges that the Islamic Republic did after April 1. But will Israel be able to solve these challenges as efficiently? 

It is noteworthy that IRGC Commander-in-Chief, Hossein Salami, said that from now on, if Israel attacks the interests of Iran and Iranian citizens, Tehran will strike it again.

This is an important statement. Essentially, the attack carried out by Iran on April 14 was not just a retaliatory strike, but established a new order. Iran demonstrated that it is ready to resort to new means of influence in a situation where words are not sufficient. It attacked Israel directly not in order to start a war, but to demonstrate what could happen if all other methods of pressure on Israel fail. 

A new option has been put forward. Israel may be deprived of its most important advantage – absolute impunity, which until recently had been guaranteed by the US.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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