Isfahan Incident May Have Been Foreign Provocation
Isfahan Incident May Have Been Foreign Provocation
Tuesday, January 31, 2023
Lucas Leiroz, researcher in Social Sciences at the Rural Federal University of Rio de Janeiro; geopolitical consultant.
The Islamic Republic of Iran was the target of air strikes with drones in the early hours of January 29th. Many unconfirmed rumors about the attacks have been spread on the internet, but the most probable possibility is that the action was planned by Israelis and Azeris in order to dissuade Iran to take a less active stance in current key conflicts, considering that many factories of Shahed military drones, one of Iran’s most important weapons, were hit during the bombings.
Iran’s Ministry of Defense confirmed that some attacks occurred in the Isfahan region. Military drone factories were the main targets, which indicates that it was an assault aimed at destroying the Iranian war industry. Other regions also reported incidents, mainly Khoy, on the border with Azerbaijan, but without official confirmation from the Iranian government.
According to some anonymous sources, the drones used in the attacks probably came from an Israeli military base in Azerbaijan. During the strikes, some media outlets even published news stating that Tel Aviv had formally started a military operation inside the Iranian territory which has been described as “disinformation and “psychological warfare” by the Iranian authorities. Investigations are still being conducted and apparently there are Iranian officials both confirming and denying the Israeli involvement.
On the 30th, Iranian officials anonymously informed some Middle Eastern media outlets that data so far indicate that Tel Aviv is the side responsible for the attack. However, some other Iranian representatives on the same day have expressed skepticism about this possibility, claiming that, in such a circumstance, Tel Aviv would certainly be willing to admit its responsibility.
For example, Abbas Moghtadaei, deputy chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s Foreign Policy and National Security Commission, said during an interview to Russian press: “If Israel had done this, it would proudly show evidence of its operation to the whole world”.
However, many reasons indicate that in fact the country most interested in carrying out this assault on Iran would really be Israel. In addition to historic regional rivalries between Iran and Israel, Iran’s pro-Armenian stance on the Artsakh conflict and Tehran-Moscow cooperation regarding military drones have been seen recently as a “threat” by the Israeli government and its Western allies. Furthermore, interestingly, Israeli attacks against Iranian military and humanitarian convoys in Iraq and Syria have also occurred recently, which further points to the possibility of an Israeli wave of aggressions on Iran.
Some reasons could explain why Israel did not “confess” the attack publicly. First, it is necessary to understand that apparently the strikes had a lower effect than what was being planned by the aggressor forces. The damage caused to the drone industry was insignificant, visibly not enough to harm the Iranian-Russian or Iranian-Armenian military partnership. Pro-Israel media outlets even spread fake news trying to make the attacks to seem bigger than they really were, but they failed due to concrete data, as normal life in Iran continued during the strikes, including in the air traffic. So, faced with an unsuccessful assault, perhaps Israel chose not to declare its involvement in the incursion.
Azerbaijani participation should also be considered. Although there was no official confirmation, there are reliable sources indicating that the drones used in the provocations were sent from an Israeli military base in Azerbaijan. Another interesting factor is that the Azerbaijani diplomats in Iran left the country after the incident, with the Azerbaijani Embassy in Tehran currently inactive. In fact, as rivalries in the region increase, Israel and Iran tend to have more and more friction – and obviously the Azeris would be interested in annihilating Iranian weapons such as the Shahed drones before it comes to an open war scenario.
What is really known is that, regardless of which country operated them, the attacks indeed happened and were certainly a response to the Iranian position in current conflicts. Shahed drones, used by Russian forces against military positions of the Ukraine’s neo-Nazi regime, are the focus of Western leaders’ concerns regarding Iran. Certainly, if a pro-Western country wanted to attack Iran, choosing drone factories as the main target would be a decision of high strategic value.
It remains to be seen how the Iranian government will react to the provocations it suffered. Tehran has historically been marked by its extreme caution in conducting military actions, responding slowly and asymmetrically to foreign affronts – and it is likely that it will also be the case this time. Of course, any measure against Israel needs to be very well planned, since Tel Aviv has nuclear weapons, but an expected scenario is increased Iranian activities on the Artsakh issue, as neutralizing Azerbaijan seems to be becoming a real necessity for the Persian country’s security.
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