Iran’s Retaliation Against Israel: Four Possible Scenarios – OpEd


As the Middle East braces for another wave of instability, the question on everyone’s mind is: how will Iran retaliate against Israel’s latest strike? The attack, which targeted Iranian-backed militias in Syria, has already elicited a series of threats from Tehran, but the question remains: what form will this retaliation take? There are four possible ways Iran may retaliate against Israel, each with potential consequences and implications.

1. Cyberattacks

Iran has long been known for its sophisticated cyber capabilities, which it has used to target critical infrastructure and financial institutions in the past. Given the history of cyberattacks between the two countries, it is likely that Iran will consider using this tactic again. Israel’s critical infrastructure, including its power grid, water supply, and transportation systems are all potential targets. A successful cyberattack could cause widespread disruption and damage, potentially even leading to loss of life. 

However, Israel is also well-prepared for such attacks, with a robust cyber defense system in place. In addition, Israel has been accused of launching its own cyberattacks against Iran in the past, including the infamous Stuxnet attack. As such, any cyberattack from Iran is likely to be met with a strong response from Israel. 

It is important to note that the cyber conflict between Iran and Israel has intensified in recent years, with both countries becoming more public about these attacks. The objectives of these cyberattacks have shifted from mostly defense targets to disruptions of critical infrastructure. The greater the public exposure to these cyberattacks, the greater the risk that they could extend beyond cyberspace and influence other areas of this conflict too. 

Iran’s approach to cyberspace is inherently bound to its domestic authoritarian policies and its international confrontations. The country has become a determined cyber actor against US, Gulf Arab, and Israeli interests. Iran regards itself as being in an intelligence and cyber war with its enemies. 

2. Missile Strikes

Another possible form of retaliation from Iran is missile strikes against Israeli targets. Iran has a large and sophisticated arsenal of missiles, including long-range missiles capable of reaching Israel. According to a report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Iran has one of the largest and most diverse missile forces in the Middle East, with over 10,000 missiles in its inventory. 

In the past, Iran has used missile strikes to target Israeli forces in Syria, as well as opposition groups in Iraq. However, a direct missile strike against Israel would be a significant escalation, and could lead to a full-blown conflict between the two countries. 

Israel is well-prepared for such an eventuality, with a sophisticated missile defense system in place. The system, known as Iron Dome, has been successful intercepting and destroying incoming missiles, with a reported success rate of over 90%. In addition, Israel has been known to launch preemptive strikes against suspected missile launch sites. 

The potential for missile strikes highlights the delicate balance of power in the region and the risk of a broader conflict. It is worth noting that the use of missile strikes as a form of retaliation is not without risks. The potential for civilian casualties and collateral damage is high, and could lead to international condemnation and sanctions. In addition, the use of missile strikes could trigger a response from Israel’s allies, potentially leading to a wider conflict. 

3. Proxy Warfare

Iran has a long history of using proxy groups to carry out its bidding in the region. These groups, which include Hezbollah in Lebanon and various Shia militias in Iraq and Syria, are often used to carry out attacks against Israeli targets. Iran has provided these groups with financial and military support, enabling them to carry out attacks against Israeli interests in the region. 

In the wake of the latest strike, it is likely that Iran will use its proxy groups to carry out attacks against Israeli interests in the region. This could take the form of rocket attacks, border incursions, or even suicide bombings. Hezbollah, for example, has a significant presence in southern Lebanon and has been responsible for numerous attacks against Israeli forces in the past. 

However, Israel has also been accused of using proxy groups to carry out attacks against Iranian interests in the region. The Israeli government has been linked to the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists and the sabotage of Iranian nuclear facilities. These actions have been carried out by groups with ties to Israel, such as the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), a militant group that seeks to overthrow the Iranian government. 

The use of proxy groups in the region is not without risks. The actions of these groups can lead to a cycle of violence and retaliation, potentially escalating into a broader conflict. The use of these groups also makes it difficult to de-escalate tensions, as the actions of these groups are not always under the direct control of their sponsors. 

4. Nuclear Program

Finally, the most concerning possibility is that Iran will respond to the latest strike by accelerating its nuclear program. Iran has long been suspected of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, and has been subjected to international sanctions and inspections as a result. The country has been accused of hiding its nuclear activities and violating the terms of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which it signed in 1968. 

In recent years, Iran has made significant progress in its nuclear program, including the development of advanced centrifuges and the enrichment of uranium to levels closer to weapons-grade. The country has also been accused of developing a covert nuclear weapons program, which it has denied. 

Any move by Iran to accelerate its nuclear program would be a major escalation, and could lead to a military response from Israel or even the United States. The U.S. has already withdrawn from the Iran nuclear deal, which was signed in 2015, and has imposed new sanctions on the country. 

However, it is worth noting that Iran has denied that its nuclear program is intended for military purposes, and has insisted that it is for peaceful purposes only. In addition, Iran has been subjected to international inspections and sanctions aimed at preventing it from developing nuclear weapons. 

The international community has been closely monitoring Iran’s nuclear program, with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) conducting regular inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities. The IAEA has reported that Iran has been cooperating with inspectors but concerns remain about the country’s nuclear intentions. 

As a matter of fact, Iran has a range of options at its disposal for retaliating against Israel including cyberattacks, missile strikes, proxy warfare and accelerating its nuclear program. Each of these options presents its own set of challenges and implications for the region, and it is likely that Iran will continue to use a combination of these tactics to achieve its goals.

Altaf Moti

Altaf Moti writes on diverse topics such as politics, economics, and society.

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