The dilemma of restoring prestige without war

Munir Al-Rabie wrote in Al-Modon:

The Israeli strike on Damascus and the assassination of leaders in the Quds Force, who are practically the ones running the Iranian military project in the region, could lead to a wide-scale war. But it is Iran that still insists on rejecting war. According to Iranian justifications, Israel insists on provoking Iran and its allies to lure them into a wide war, into which the United States of America will also be drawn. This is how Tel Aviv achieves an opportunity to cut off the path of open Iranian-American negotiation, and prolong and expand the war.

Three experiments
There are many opinions in Iran, between those who want to implement a strong and decisive response, in which Tehran regains its prestige and its ability to deter, and those who refuse to respond in a way that leads to an expansion of the conflict and the Israelis succeed in trapping Tehran.

According to sources close to the Iranians, in such cases, Iran recalls three experiences. The first is that Imam Ali remains out of power and the caliphate remains distant from him for more than 20 years. He remained concessionary and did not demand it or go to war for it, out of concern for the blood of Muslims and the Islamic Caliphate as a whole. This applies to him what the Leader of the Islamic Republic always says, that the primary goal is to protect the Iranian regime as a pillar of the project of the Islamic Revolution exported abroad.

These sources add that the second experience was the experience of Imam Hassan’s reconciliation with Muawiyah, in order to protect the blood of Muslims. This applies to Iran in its constant efforts to reach reconciliation and understandings with the Americans, which were evident in the 2015 nuclear agreement, and the current continuation of negotiations on the nuclear issue and a return to it, in addition to agreeing on arrangements related to the situation of the region without the conflict exploding dramatically, or turning it into a comprehensive war.
This path also pushes Iran to protect the regime and the project, and to obtain American recognition of Iranian influence in the region, according to the principles of this hoped-for reconciliation. Therefore, the second trend in the Iranian debate regarding the response to the Damascus operation, also still focuses on negotiation, even if in some of its stages it requires that it be achieved by fire, but the goal is not to go to war.

The sources continue, as for the third experience, it was the Karbalai Husseini option, that is, resorting to armed revolution, which also came in defense of Islam and Muslims, especially with Hussein’s famous phrase, “I only came out to seek reform in the nation of my grandfather.” This is the moment when war was resorted to. Here we must recall a famous saying by Imam Khomeini that the Islamic Revolution in Iran is a Karbala-Husseini revolution. Resorting to this option does not seem to have come for Iran yet. But the moment it is reached is when Iran and its allies launch a comprehensive war against Israel, which will naturally develop into a war with the United States of America.

Restoring prestige
Between these three experiences, Iran is still maintaining the second experience, and is following its approach, despite all Israeli attempts to provoke and lure. What Iran is focusing on now is the search to restore prestige, as there is no rule without prestige. The power of authority weakens and weakens when its prestige is undermined.
This is exactly what Israel is doing towards Iran and its allies. Iran has repeatedly tried to undermine Israeli prestige, sometimes with statements and positions, and sometimes with separate operations, leading to Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, which is considered an operation to undermine Israeli strategic prestige in the region as a whole. But Israel sought with all its might to restore its prestige, whether through the military operation it launched in Gaza, or through the strikes it directed against Hezbollah in Lebanon or against the party and Iran in Syria. These are strikes through which Israel seeks to regain its prestige. The latest blow to restore Israeli prestige is the targeting of the Iranian consulate in the heart of Damascus and the assassination of senior officials in the Quds Force.

There is no doubt that the operation is very harsh on Iran, and through it the Israelis say that they are able to reach anywhere they want. The group that was assassinated in the Iranian consulate in Syria is the one working to manage all files in the entire region. Thus, the data is confirmed that Israel is working to dismantle all the military leaders that were partners with Qassem Soleimani, and who constitute the advanced force in the region. They are Iranians, Iraqis and Lebanese. The attacks that targeted cadres and officials in the Radwan Force are devastating blows, especially since it will not be easy to quickly reconstitute these cadres with these competencies, and will take many years. The results of these operations are directing more Israeli insults to all the military capabilities of Iran and its allies. And causing disruption to all Iranian infrastructure in the region. Therefore, we must wait for the Iranian response militarily, and what will result from it politically.

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