top of page

Iranian Paradox - Navigating Current Geopolitical Realities

“To these, they say that the anger they have towards the believers will not be good for them and it will not be fruitful for them, but the believers are enough to fight the war of believers. The attack of believers is the operation of the believers and the jihad of

the believers, in which the almighty God promises them victory…”


The 25th verse of the Ahzab describes the situation in wartorn West Asia, specifically referring to the Al-Aqsa operation, according to the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence. It was declared ‘to end the last occupation on earth' by Hamas commander Mohammed Deif. West Asia has seen many diplomatic triumphs in recent years, including the Abraham Accords, the Iran-US prisoner swap, and the Saudi-Iran tranquility.


An Illustration on the Iranian Paradox

Illustration by The Geostrata


These developments sparked hope for a more peaceful and stable area. However, the Hamas-Israeli conflict has harmed these advances.

The confrontation between Israel and Hamas goes beyond the interests of the two countries engaged, acting as a platform for worldwide parties to further their own goals through the upheaval. For regional powers such as Iran, this conflict presents an opportunity to pursue their strategic interests and reclaim global significance.


Since the Iranian revolution in 1979, Tehran has been contributing to the major conflicts happening in West Asia. Its proxy presence is visible through its ‘Axis of Resistance’ present in Lebanon in the form of Hezbollah, Syrian militias, Iraq, and Houthis (officially known as Ansrallah) in Yemen.


Before the October 7, 2023 strike on Israel, numerous news sites reported that Hamas operatives trained at Iranian bases in September 2023.

The claims are tough to verify, but they are worth noting. Since then, Iranian policies have been nurturing themselves through events happening in Gaza and through the actions of its rivals as well as its allies. 


THE WAR IN GAZA THROUGH IRAN'S LENS


Iran's actions and objectives in the Middle East are motivated by both philosophy and pragmatism. Iran and Israel have been fighting a shadow war for many years. Moreover, Iran has been blaming Israel for destabilizing the region and for multiple assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists since 2010. 


Iran's anti-Israel agenda is a long-term strategy aimed at weakening Israel militarily, politically, and psychologically in the next few years and possibly decades.

All of Iran's investments in the Axis of Resistance and the military doctrine of "forward defense" are based on the simple foundation that Iran is better off battling its foes outside of its borders via pro-Iran terrorist proxies than on its soil.


Iran does not only appear unwilling to enter the fight, but it is also unwilling to jeopardize the future of Hezbollah, its most powerful Arab proxy. But if Iran had to make a decision, it would tolerate the extinction of Hamas to keep Hezbollah safe and as a strategic deterrent against the US and Israel. Its proxy allies might take a shot at Israel and, therefore, at the US through Yemen, Syria, and Iraq, which shouldn't be an element of surprise.


Today, its support for Hamas showcases its retaliation ability despite the fear of the US. According to Tehran, this support is only based on humanitarian and Islamic principles. Iran has portrayed political ambiguity through its multiple denials of its direct role in the ongoing war, as it is not willing to participate in any border war. It seems unlikely that it would wish to risk its own political life just to help Hamas in a larger war, including the United States.


According to Iranian sources, the United States has cautioned Iran not to incorrectly estimate on two fronts, which could ultimately result in US military intervention. First, Tehran should avoid providing direct military assistance to Hamas throughout this conflict. Second, Tehran should not view the war as an excuse to develop its nuclear program.

Contrary to this, Iran's approach has two goals: first, to escalate the conflict to an extent that hampers Israeli and US estimates while avoiding a direct US war against Iran. Second, to alert the United States of the dangers of the war spreading and to encourage Washington to push Israel to end the conflict in Gaza. Until now, this policy has proven effective, but errors, such as the unintentional killing of US military personnel, may precipitate the outcome Iran wishes to prevent.


For three months after October 7th, Iran attempted to avoid getting engaged. However, the strategic move of Israel to mitigate regional threats through the execution of IRGC high-ranking commander

Razi Mousavi in Syria, Hamas’ Saleh Arouri, Hezbollah’s Wissam al-Tawil, and attacking the IRGC Quds force’s intelligence sector in Damascus, alongside the Islamic State's (IS) terrorist strike in Kerman, has reduced the deterrence ability of Iran. It has also resulted in tension between Iran and its crucial trade partner, Pakistan. Despite initial fears, Pakistan and Iran agreed to a swift de-escalation.


Both sides' political leaders acknowledged the danger of worsening the conflict and decided to hold negotiations to address disputes by the end of February. The ideal option would be for the two sides to remove the insurgents from their specific areas. For the time being, it is unclear if they will do so.


In a way, Iran has already secured an advantage through this conflict in Gaza; it has halted, even though temporarily, talks about mending ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which would further isolate Iran in the region. While Tehran is using the war in Gaza to advance its goal, Riyadh, which has been technically at war with the Houthis since 2015, normalized relations with Iran this past year in a deal orchestrated by China. which was a catastrophic shift in strategic stance.


While the leadership in Iran openly celebrates Israel's perceived 'loss' and interprets it as an initial phase of its anticipated new world order, Tehran does not want a spillover.

Domestically, the regime has been rattled by last year's Women's Life Freedom Movement, and its financial sector is also vulnerable. The Rial fell against the US Dollar shortly after the war broke out in Israel.


Despite its identified global solitude, which Iran claims is the responsibility of the US and the UK, Iran constantly encompasses itself in regional events in West Asia. Iran will remain enmeshed in the current Israel-Hamas conflict, strengthening support for abolishing Western influence in the West Asian region in general.


WAY FORWARD


Tehran is a firm believer in a "new world order," in which non-western great powers such as China and Russia lead a multipolar world and middle powers such as Iran gain a stronger global presence. In this context, Tehran has persistently expanded its sphere of influence beyond its bordering region to include the Mediterranean, East Africa, and the Red Sea. Supporting Hamas in its war against Israel has thus been just one aspect of Tehran's effort to project dominance in its envisioned "new world order."


It will be noteworthy to observe how Iran leverages this opportunity to advance its national objectives, including its nuclear program and the alleviation of long-standing economic sanctions. Furthermore, their cyber skills have rapidly expanded and strengthened, allowing them to intervene in the digital sphere while also masking their activities.


This conflict serves as a platform for reshaping U.S.-Iran relations, potentially altering the dynamics of hegemony.

Should the United States falter in its efforts to foster regional stability and fail to devise extraordinary solutions, it could amplify opportunities for Iran's allies, such as Russia and China, to emerge as influential extra-regional powers in West Asia.


Iran has recently transferred militants and weaponry to Belarus to back Russian aggression in Ukraine, broadening their operations and providing support for a European confrontation. Such developments may undermine the U.S.'s hegemonic position and catalyze calls for a new international order.


For the Indian mind, a crippling security situation along important water routes such as the Red Sea and the Indo-Pacific is emerging as a strategic challenge for India.

A recent visit by EAM S. Jaishankar to Tehran highlights the concerns of New Delhi. The recent triumphs of non-state militant actors, such as the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Houthis in Yemen, highlight an alarming trend of well-armed militia-run extremist states within their sphere of strategic influence, interest, and security. India’s security issues have expanded with its role as a net security provider in the maritime domain.


 

BY GARGI TAMBOLI

TEAM GEOSTRATA


Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page