In late January, the world witnessed another episode of violence in the Middle East as three US soldiers lost their lives in a drone attack on a US base near the border between Jordan and Iraq. The United States was quick to point the finger at the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, holding them responsible for planning, financing and carrying out the attacks.
"We believe the attack was planned, financed and carried out by an umbrella organization known as the Islamic Resistance in Iraq," said John Kirby, head of public affairs for the National Security Council. The Islamic Resistance, which is reportedly backed by Iran, has long been considered a paramilitary group in the region.
In retaliation, the US launched strikes on pro-Iran positions in Syria and Iraq over the weekend, resulting in the deaths of dozens of individuals. These military actions are fueled by the ongoing conflict between Israel and the terrorist organization Hamas, various militant groups throughout the Middle East are trying to support Hamas in the form of attacks on American and allied bases.
Concerns are high about the possibility of a direct confrontation between the US and Iran. Tensions have been simmering for many years, and in recent years they have reached a boiling point.
Iran, however, strongly denies any involvement in the attack, rejecting the accusations brought against it by the US: "We are not looking for war, but we are not afraid of it either," said General Hossein Salami, commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, as reported by the state-run news agency IRNA.
The general spoke quite confidently as if he really didn't care if he was going to war with the greatest military force in the history of mankind. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdolahyan was much more moderate and called on the US to refrain from threats and blame.
He emphasized the need for a political solution and constructive dialogue and cooperation between the two states. But in the end, he also warned that Iran's response to provocations will be quick and decisive. Experts caution that not every single action by Iran-linked paramilitary units is directly attributable to Tehran.
Hamidreza Azizi, an Iran expert at the Berlin Foundation for Science and Policy, suggests that various armed groups backed by Iran, including those in Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon, form an axis of collective resistance against Israel and the US.
While Iran provides support in the form of arms, logistics and economic aid to these groups, Azizi points out the considerable autonomy of these regional paramilitary units in making tactical and operational decisions. This autonomy makes it challenging to assess the extent of Iranian involvement in specific attacks.
Hezbollah, Hamas, the Houthis in Yemen, etc. have one thing in common, which is that they have strong leaders with great commanding power. We can safely say that one or two people are wondering about all the crucial decisions of these militant groups.
Despite Iranian denials, some experts believe that Iran likely knew about the attacks because Iran has a long tradition of spying and one of the best intelligence services. But Fatolah Nejad, another Iran expert, suggests that Iran is carefully managing the volatile situation in the Middle East to avoid a direct confrontation with the US or Israel, which could threaten the regime in Tehran.
The drone attack on the US military base in Al Tanf took place in a region previously controlled by the Islamic State (IS) until 2015. With the fall of IS, foreign actors, including Iran, exerted influence in the area. The precise extent of Iran's presence remains uncertain, but there are fears in Washington that Iran aims to establish a land corridor through Iraq and Syria to supply weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Iran, on the other hand, seeks to prevent the US from controlling the east-west route from Turkey to the Jordanian border, damaging Iran's ties with allies in the region. This geopolitical struggle is quite complex and requires a very deep analysis.
Every move by one party causes counteractions by the other, so the dynamic of the relationship is quite turbulent. Iran's leadership, including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, sees the conflict in Gaza as an opportunity to increase pressure on the US.
In response to US actions, Iran and its allies have orchestrated a series of attacks in recent months on US targets, creating further instability in the region. As tensions continue to simmer, the risk of new provocations and escalations is still present.
Things are moving fast and can go either way. Although the Minister of Foreign Affairs had a somewhat more moderate speech, his spokesman was much more direct. "The Islamic Republic will not hesitate to use its capabilities and respond to the aggressor," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Khanani told reporters and condemned the recent US strikes in Iraq, Yemen and Syria as illegal and part of a policy of full support for Israel.
"Tehran does not seek to worsen tensions and crises in the region and has never supported these tensions and crises," the spokesman said. Source: Deutsche Welle