Will Iran start a general war in the Middle East?

Strategy Page reports that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, which is being hammered by Israel in Syria, is now threatening to unleash terrorist movements Hamas and Hezbollah against Israel.

Iranian allies Hezbollah and Hamas are both threatening “war with Israel.” Such threats are not made without Iranian permission. That has long been the main Israeli fear, that Iran would support a simultaneous attack by Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. Israel believed Iran would wait until it had built a significant force of fighters and rockets in Syria before trying such an attack. Iran, however, is more calculating than most Islamic terror groups and knows that such an attack would, at best, cause a lot of damage but would not destroy Israel.

The repercussions for Iranian forces in Syria, Lebanon and Gaza would be considerable. Iranian hard liners (mainly the IRGC or Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) have the most to lose by backing such an attack and then having to face the blowback in Iran for failure. Then there is the “use it or lose it” angle. For over a year anti-government (and anti-IRGC) demonstrations in Iran have persisted and grown. Iranians are angry over all the money being spent to support Hezbollah, Hamas and military operations in Syria. Over 2,000 Iranians have died in Syria, most of them IRGC personnel and five to ten times as many Iranian mercenaries (mainly Afghans), Iran pays death benefits to the families of the mercenaries killed and the Iranians are finding out how much these wars really cost and how that prevents the Iranian economy from improving. Many of the senior clerics who control the religious dictatorship that runs Iran would like to curb the power of the IRGC and the current crises is beginning to look like a good opportunity. Thus many IRGC leaders would see an all-out attack on Israel as something to be attempted sooner rather than later when it is no longer possible.

When it comes to Syria the Russians recently admitted via mass media that they were not really a major Iranian ally and that Russia was more concerned with helping Israel maintain its security. This lukewarm Russian support for Iran has been assumed for some time but now it is openly admitted. Turkey is another Iranian ally that is more frenemy than staunch supporter of Iran. That means the Syrian support for Iran becomes questionable and there is growing evidence of that. In general Iran has few real friends when it comes to their Syrian operations. Iraq refuses to turn against the Americans and is getting cozier with the Gulf Arabs. Most Lebanese hate Hezbollah, which increasingly does whatever it wants no matter what harm it exposes Lebanon to. Egypt and most Palestinians (mainly Fatah in the West Bank) oppose Iran. Thus the growing risk of Iran losing Syria, Gaza and even Hezbollah. Something must be done and while many Iranians would prefer just declaring victory and going home the IRGC knows that means a defeat for them. Cutting support for Hezbollah and Hamas would not destroy those two but would encourage them to negotiate peace deals of their own.

There’s more at the link.

The Revolutionary Guard is essentially between a rock and a hard place right now.  They’ve bragged openly about their intentions to “destroy” Israel, and hoist the Iranian flag over the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem:  but they’re getting hammered in Syria every day by the Israeli Air Force, and their boasts are increasingly being revealed as so much hot air.  Support for them from the Iranian people is drying up fast:  many have begun to openly criticize them for their failures, and for wasting billions of dollars in Syria when it’s desperately needed to improve conditions at home.

This has the look and feel of a “Hail Mary pass” by the Revolutionary Guard:  a desperation move to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.  I don’t think it can succeed, but it can certainly force Israel to go onto a full war footing, which would cost it an immense amount of money.  It would also devastate the southern half of Lebanon, much of Syria (which is already pretty devastated from almost a decade of civil war), and Gaza (and possibly the West Bank as well).  Millions of people’s lives would be jeopardized, and stability in the region would be set back for decades.  What’s more, if the threat is serious enough, Israel is quite capable of attacking Iran itself – and who knows where that might lead?

This is potentially a very serious situation.  Keep your eyes on it.  Its repercussions could affect the USA and Europe as well.



  1. Oddly enough, Iraq couldn't prevent Israeli fly-overs, but Obama's Air Force did. Thank goodness he's finally gone.

    The chaos in Syria is a good time to expel all the Arabs from Israel. The refugee camps are already set up, after all.

  2. It's worse. A recent article in… Times of Israel IIRC… highlighted the damage that has been done, country-wide, to Iran's water tables. Not to put too fine a point on it, but war with Israel (who offered help with the water situation*) would be a way to distract Iran's people from the impending calamity.

    * When Netanyahu went on video to offer Israeli help, Iran's government spurned it, of course… leading to many people in Iran, private people, saying "We curse them and threaten them and they offer us life. Shame on us."

  3. Islamic forces have made war on Israel on multiple occasions since 1948, and have consistently lost. Sadly, Liberal/Progressive Internationalist idiocy has, repeatedly, blunted the lesson "When you lose a war – especially one you started – bad things happen to you.". Also, Islamics appear to be slow learners anyway.

  4. It’s just the usually face saving bs to counter the embarrassment from them Israelis.

    Complicated Situation;

    Hezbollah and Hamas are trying to help the revolutionary guard save face with their bluster. The recent increased detection / destruction of tunnels into Israel has hurt their offense ability. Plus Hezbollah has had lots of casualties in Syria. Hamas supply from Egypt has been reduced. And Abbas is old. And Trump may not be President in two years. So I expect them to wait. And what happens if Egypt starts using the Israeli tunnel detection technology, this would hurt Hamas tremendously economically.

  5. HMS Defiant:

    No, Iran does not have nukes. The tell is that they haven't delivered one to Israel, which they will do ASAP, as soon as they finish building one. National suicide, as Israel will turn them into a glow-in-the-dark parking lot.
    Past time for the Iranian citizens to drag their feckless "leaders" into the streets and stone them, as those idiots intend to kill them all.

  6. You really don't think a muslim russian guard at a former missile field sold a nuke to Iran? I think Iran probably has a dozen of them by now. All of their missile activity over that last 14 years was an effort to get a missile that would deliver them. They probably understand at this point that there are detectors for fissile material just about everywhere between them and Israel.

  7. HMS Defiant;

    The 'Russian sold nuke to some nut' scenario assumes that, toward the end, the USSR was keeping its warheads operational and doing proper maintenance. As Will said, there is a strong inference that Iran does not have a functioning Nuke simply in the fact that they haven't used one.


    Of course they might have one, but it's in the hands of somebody who has more sense than to invite Israel to turn his country into a large sheet of radioactive glass…..

  8. "The 'Russian sold nuke to some nut' scenario assumes that, toward the end, the USSR was keeping its warheads operational and doing proper maintenance."

    Not just that, but what about the near 30 years since? AFAIK, any still laying around untouched since then would be non-functional in the expected Major Boom! category. Probably still be capable of throwing around radioactive materiel IE: a dirty bomb, due to the conventional explosives contained in it, though. Does Iran have the expertise on actual warheads, and the required materiel, to refurbish them?

    I suspect that Israel has the answers to these questions. Do the answers make them nervous?

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