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Israeli/Iranian Military Kabuki

Iran and Israel may continue to shadow box and exchange volleys of angry fulminations. All this may change if Israel decides to again invade Lebanon or Syria.

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This photo taken on April 14, 2024 shows flares from explosions in the sky over Jerusalem as Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts missiles and drones from Iran. (Photo by Jamal Awad/Xinhua)

Israel and Iran are staging a Japanese kabuki-style confrontation that borders on the absurd.  So far, it’s been mostly harmless (not counting Gaza of course) but behind the posturing by both sides lies the deadly threat of a possibly nuclear confrontation.

Iran has shown itself to be a military paper tiger.  Tehran launched 300 odd missiles and drones against Israel in retaliation for Israel’s assassination of two senior Iranian Revolutionary Guard generals in Damascus – a clear act of war.

The missile/drone barrage was useless and ineffective.  It must have cost Iran $1 billion.  Most of the Iranian missiles were shot down by US and British warplanes positioned in Cyprus and offshore.  Whatever the cost to Israel will be covered by the US Congress which feels full election fever.  Israel knows it can get away with just about anything before US elections. 

Iran developed an extensive missile and drone arsenal because it has been under a crushing US arms and technology embargo since its 1979 Revolution ousted the US-run puppet ruler, Reza Pahlevi.  Washington has been waging full scale economic warfare against Iran since the revolution in a, so far, vain effort to reinstate the Pahlavi exiles back into power in Tehran.

The US/European economic war against Iran made it impossible to obtain modern aircraft or technology, notably spare parts.  As a result, Tehran’s remaining aircraft are flying coffins. The US even refused to let Tehran buy safety equipment that would have saved many lives.  So, Iran focused on building missiles and obtaining drones, probably from North Korea.  Drones have proved near useless against Israel and in Ukraine.  They are overrated by military experts and not cost effective.  Little better, in fact, than throwing stones. 

The massive retaliatory Iranian strike against Israel did amazingly little damage.  Israel was ready with its advanced anti-missile systems, backed by US and British warplanes, the support of Jordan, a state totally under US influence, and American satrap Egypt, which collaborates with Israel in keeping Palestinians locked up.  Their sin was holding a fair democratic election in Gaza which put the Hamas government in power.  Hamas was and is primarily a social welfare organization originally encouraged and financed by Israel to split Yasser Arafat’s PLO.  Israel also helped create Hezbollah and financed the murderous right-wing Lebanese Forces who massacred Palestinians at Shatila and Sabra refugee camps.

We are now waiting for further Israeli strikes against targets in Iran. Israel has long been provoking Iran and is clearly targeting Iran’s nuclear program.  Iran might be able to hit Israel’s top secret nuclear center at Dimona.  So far, both sides have avoided any strikes on nuclear plants.  Striking nuclear plants is extremely dangerous and could cause a Chernobyl-like catastrophe. 

Meanwhile, Israel keeps attacking Iran in hopes that the US will come and attack the Islamic state.  Meanwhile Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner talks about turning wretched Gaza into a second Ft Lauderdale. He and his far-right real estate buddies must figure out how to get rid of the 2.3 million Palestinian crammed into the Gaza concentration camp.  And what about the 5 million Palestinians living on the Israeli-occupied West Bank?

Both sides appear set to avoid a general war.  Iran has almost no air or naval power.  Its ground forces are ill-equipped and immobile, but determined.  I covered the Iran-Iraq War and saw how courageous their troops were.  But make no mistake, Iran’s military is only at World War I capability, as Pakistan’s late leader Gen. Zia ul-Haq told me.  He had been an advisor to the Jordanian Army.

Iran and Israel may continue to shadow box and exchange volleys of angry fulminations. All this may change if Israel decides to again invade Lebanon or Syria. I’ve been down this road before.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2024

Eric S. Margolis

Eric S. Margolis is an award-winning, internationally syndicated columnist. His articles have appeared in globally recognized newspapers and He appears as an expert on foreign affairs on CNN, BBC, France 2, France 24, Fox News, CTV and CBC. As a war correspondent Margolis has covered conflicts in Angola, Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique, Sinai, Afghanistan, Kashmir, India, Pakistan, El Salvador and Nicaragua. He was among the first journalists to ever interview Libya’s Muammar Khadaffi and was among the first to be allowed access to KGB headquarters in Moscow.

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