On January 18, in Peshawar, Pakistan, two days after Tehran announced an attack on an Israeli-linked militant base in Pakistani territory, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it had carried out airstrikes targeting separatist militants inside Iran. After the announcement, a man watches a TV news channel inside the store. 2024.
Fayaz Aziz | Reuters
Analysts told CNBC that Iran’s recent missile and drone attacks targeting three countries – Syria, Iraq and Pakistan – may not have had a direct connection to Israel’s war in the Gaza Strip, but , he said he made it clear that he still intended to send a clear message.
“Incitement against Israel is nothing new, but the recent launch of a solid-fuel intermediate-range ballistic missile capable of attacking Israel from Iranian territory against ISIS in Syria is a historic first, and sends a message to the Jewish state. “, said Benam Ben Tabur.Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a think tank in Washington, DC
“As wars spread across the region, an emphasis on military power has become increasingly important for the regime in hopes of deterring adversaries.”
Within 24 hours starting January 15, Iranian forces attacked Israeli “spy centers” in Iraq’s Kurdistan region, Islamic State targets in Syria, and Pakistani militants accused of attacking Iran. Ministers from Iraq and Pakistan called the attack a “violation” and slammed the results.
Pakistan responded the next day by attacking targets inside Iran, with Iranian authorities saying several people were killed.
While Iran’s actions in Pakistan and Syria were in response to domestic security concerns, this development comes after Israel launched an attack on Gaza in retaliation for the October 7 Hamas terrorist attack. increased the intensity and risk of broader escalation in a region already at war. It was also the first time Iran has directly dispatched troops since the Israel-Hamas war began.
“There’s no question, this is a tinderbox. The Middle East is very dry,” Ian Bremer, CEO of political risk consultancy Eurasia Group, said in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos. “There are a lot of sparks,” he said. “And I expect this conflict to only intensify further.”
Iran provides funding and supplies to regional forces hostile to Israel, including Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza, Shiite militias in Iraq, and the Houthis in Yemen. All of this is part of the so-called “Axis” regional proxy network and deterrence strategy. of resistance. ” These forces are engaging Israel and even the United States more directly. Iranian-backed Iraqi militias fire rockets at US military bases in Iraq, Yemen’s Houthis support Gaza and target ships in Red Sea, in ‘direct confrontation’ with US claims.
Iranian leaders have said they do not want a broader war, but last week’s airstrikes were aimed at countering threats to internal security and demonstrating what Iran is capable of if provoked. The goal was both to show what could be done, said Ryan Ball, the agency’s senior Middle East and North Africa analyst. RANE network.
“These attacks demonstrate Iran’s continued ballistic missile capabilities, and there is an element of sending a signal to the United States and Israel by carrying out attacks,” Ball told CNBC.
“I don’t think Iran intentionally attacked Pakistan to signal its capabilities to the US and Israel, as it also attacked Syria and Iraq, but it was still part of a broader pattern.”
A civil defense team conducts a search and rescue operation inside a damaged building after a missile attack by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region, on January 17, 2024.
Safin Hamid | AFP | Getty Images
Concerns remain that any miscalculation could spark a wider war. Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea and subsequent US and UK attacks on Houthi positions in Yemen already signal an unintended escalation of war that is unwanted by the US and its allies.
Iran’s support for the Houthis and other groups, as well as recent actions, appear to demonstrate its strength as a leading regional power against Israel.
That said, some regional analysts say Iran is opening itself up to greater counterattacks from targets and deviating from its fairly consistent strategy of deploying military power through proxies. That’s what I’m looking at.
“Iran’s three attacks were 3-1. Iran was trying to reassert its deterrence not just against Israel, but against terrorist organizations like ISIS,” said the head of Chatham House’s Middle East and North Africa program. Sanam Vakil told CNBC.
“But the attacks, especially in Pakistan, were very brazen and not consistent with Iran’s past approach, so they showed a little bit more erratic behavior.”