Middle East

Iran intensifies threats, heating up Middle East and Israel tensions – analysis

Written by Seth J. Frantzman

Iran’s regime looks to be moving toward a newly aggressive posture in the last week.

This comes amid the Ukraine war as the West is distracted, an apparent breakdown in the Iran deal, an attack on the US in Iraq, reports of a cyber attack on Israel and Iran’s claims to have prevented “sabotage” of its Fordow nuclear facility. 

This matters because Iran has been relatively silent in recent weeks in terms of making new threats or trying to set the region aflame. In January and February Iran worked with its Houthi allies in Yemen to launch drone and missile attacks on the UAE.

Then Iran went silent for a bit, considering that it believed it might get sanctions relief and a new form of the 2015 Iran deal. Iran had been working closely with Russia and Russia was coordinating with the US. However, these talks appeared to go on the rocks as Russia launched a war in Ukraine and came under its own sanctions.

Russia began messaging that it was going to demand its “rights” under any deal, which means its trade with Iran would be exempt from sanctions. Basically, Russia was manhandling the Iran deal talks. 

Then came reports that two Iranian members of the IRGC were killed in Syria last week. Iran fired a dozen ballistic missiles at Iraq this week, leaking stories about this being in retaliation for the deaths of the two men. But Iran targeted areas near where a new US consulate is being built in Erbil in the Kurdistan Region.

The logic here was that Iran was getting “two-for-one” by sending a message to the US and also pretending to be retaliating against Israel. However, Iran’s media muddled this message a bit by spreading conspiracies about Iran targeting “Mossad” in Iraq.  

Read more at The Jerusalem Post

About the author

Seth J. Frantzman

Seth J. Frantzman is Senior Middle East Correspondent and Middle East affairs analyst at The Jerusalem Post. He has covered the war against Islamic State, three Gaza wars, the conflict in Ukraine, the refugee crises in Eastern Europe and also reported from Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Senegal, the UAE, Ukraine and Russia.