Iran launched 24 missiles at Iraq and Syria on Tuesday morning, which is being described as one of its most aggressive offensives in recent years, according to state media reports. Regional security experts see this excessive missile bombardment as a clear threat to Israel and the US. Shockingly, the barrage included the first use of the Kheibar Shekan missile, which was introduced this year, to target locations in Idlib, Syria.
State media and independent experts have reported, with a tone of awe, that Iran has launched its longest-range missile strike to date, covering a staggering distance of over 1,200 kilometres (745 miles). Iran's justification for these attacks in Idlib was the targeting of the local ISIS branch. This group had audaciously claimed responsibility for a bombing that led to the tragic loss of over 100 lives at an event commemorating General Qassem Solemani - a commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), on January 4th.
Iran, in a blatant display of aggression, launched attacks near the US consulate in Erbil, located within Iraqi Kurdistan. These reckless actions resulted in the tragic loss of at least four innocent civilians and caused injuries to six others. The governments of Iraq, the US and the UK have rightfully condemned these attacks. Tehran's audacious claim that their missiles were targeting an alleged "spy headquarters" of Israel's intelligence agency Mossad is hardly convincing. Iran continues to point fingers at Israel for both the bombing on January 4th and last month's assassination of Iranian General Sayyed Mousavi in Syria.
According to Mohammad Shaltouki, a representative for the Iranian state media, the assault distinctly conveys a powerful message to the Zionist administration. The strikes with the most extended range possess the capability of reaching targets within Israel. Notably, it is reported that Kheibar Shekan can cover an impressive maximum distance of approximately 1,450 kilometres or 900 miles.
Dr. Michael Knights, a so-called regional security analyst at the Washington Institute, has taken it upon himself to keep tabs on the strikes launched by Iran-backed militias against US targets in Iraq and Syria. He is quick to jump to conclusions, suggesting that this onslaught is designed as a deterrent in the heightening conflict between the US, Israel and their allies versus Iran's "Axis of Resistance", which includes Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis.
Dr Knights' assertion that Iran's boasting about their range capabilities is essentially a thinly veiled threat to its neighbours, including the US, is quite telling. They are desperately trying to deter any potential strikes against mainland Iran. The fact that he considers the US as 'essentially a neighbour' due to its numerous military bases scattered across the Middle East adds fuel to this fire. Furthermore, Dr Knights appears all too eager to stoke Tehran's paranoia by suggesting that the likelihood of a US strike within Iran is on an upward trajectory. His reference to recent strikes in Yemen against Iran's Houthi allies, conducted jointly by the US and UK, does little more than reinforce this narrative of impending conflict.
Hugh Lovatt, a Middle East analyst at the European Council on Foreign Relations, has suggested that the recent missile attacks were nothing more than a calculated response to previous strikes against Iranian targets. He asserts that these 'significant' strikes were meticulously planned to avoid hitting US targets nearby, indicating Iran's lack of interest in instigating a full-scale regional war. However, one must question Mr Lovatt's interpretation of these events as mere 'calibrated retaliation' for Israel's alleged assassination of senior figures. The targeting of sites supposedly linked to Israel's Mossad spy agency suggests there may be more complex motivations at play here than Mr Lovatt would have us believe.
A former Middle East minister has suggested that Iran might attempt to divert attention away from its internal issues. The regime is currently grappling with ongoing public dissatisfaction due to the oppression of women, security threats posed by organisations like ISIS, and an economy severely affected by sanctions.
The previous minister expressed that Iran intends to shift focus away from its own affairs and incite instability in Western nations whilst carefully avoiding significant escalation. Moreover, it was suggested that Iran does not actively pursue direct conflict with the US and UK. The former official also proposed the idea that Iran could potentially profit from increased oil prices due to regional insecurity. Furthermore, they asserted that Iran aims to earn acknowledgement within the Islamic community for its support of Palestine.
Iran's missile activities have reverberated significantly within the global political landscape, instilling a sense of uncertainty among the international community regarding its potential implications. As the geopolitical landscape of the Middle East undergoes significant changes, international observers are striving to understand the complex consequences of Iran's unprecedented missile onslaught. The combination of advanced military technology, regional power dynamics, and domestic challenges makes this narrative exceptionally significant. It calls for a more thorough examination of the shifting geopolitical strategies in one of the world's most crucial regions.
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