Tensions in the Middle East may continue for some time

Tensions in the Middle East may continue for some time

Tensions in the Middle East may continue for some time
An anti-missile system operates after Iran launched drones and missiles towards Israel, as seen from Ashkelon, Israel. (Reuters)
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A mini-crisis or a pseudo-crisis took place on Friday morning in the city of Isfahan in central Iran. Further details will tell us what exactly happened. The first indications are that some small homemade drones caused a crisis in the city. It looks more like an enigma how such an attack could be organized in a place like Isfahan, where there are several nuclear-related facilities.
It is likely that Israel, probably in cooperation with the US, wanted to send a mild message in response to the massive attack carried out by Iran against Israel the previous week. We will know better when we learn about the exact nature of the incident. It may be a step to close the matter or an advance notice of a stronger strike. Israel has long had the practice of saying little about what it is planning to do in the field of defense.
Iran’s massive attack on April 13, using innumerable drones, was a test for each side. Both Israel and Iran may have sent a message to each other so that they could bring an end to their conflict. There are no limits to Israel’s greed, but it has to be recognized that it is surrounded by hostile countries.
The massive Iranian attack on Israel was the first serious test of its much-publicized Iron Dome air defense system. Tel Aviv trivialized the importance of the damage caused by the Iranian attack. The Israeli military authorities said that more than 300 missiles and drones were fired from Iran and that most of them were intercepted, with little damage caused. However, Foreign Policy magazine reported last week that at least nine Iranian missiles hit their targets. The Israeli authorities must have drawn lessons from this experience.
Israel is very good at calculating the financial loss that it suffers. The Washington Post estimated that the war on Gaza cost Israel $18 billion between Oct. 7 and Dec. 31 last year. If a solution could be found for the Palestinian conflict, this amount would be transferred to civilians and tens of thousands of human lives would be spared.
A new stage was reached with Friday’s semblance of an attack on the critical city of Isfahan. It would be a good sign if this “snap” attack was a step toward defusing the tension. The ultimate aim of the attack looks like Israel does not want to escalate the matter any further and to bring an end to this mutually destructive process.
Whatever happened in Isfahan was handled without unnecessary exaggeration. It is likely that the drones that caused alarm in this city were locally manufactured and they did not cause any material damage. All three drones were reportedly destroyed by the Iranian security forces. It looks as if Israel — with US assistance — wanted to give a warning to Iran that it has the means to disturb Tehran. 

The US is the key country to encourage Israel and Iran to find an accommodation to end their conflict.

Yasar Yakis

The Iranian authorities confirmed that the drones were not imported from abroad. However, it remains to be explained how these three drones, no matter how small, were able to carry out Friday’s attack. How were they manufactured in a country like Iran, where the state’s control of security matters is notorious? A drone cannot be manufactured in a makeshift workshop. Furthermore, you need a runway to allow the drone to become airborne. The Iranian intelligence services will have to dig deep to find out the truth.
The New York Times also reported incidents in another Iranian city, Tabriz. And similar incidents took place in neighboring Iraq and Syria: in Suwayda governorate in southern Syria and the Baghdad area and the Babylon governorate in Iraq. Both Iran and Israel trivialized these incidents.
In the days following Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a crucial decision to form an emergency wartime Cabinet, which includes Benny Gantz, a senior opposition figure and former defense minister. This practice is used in extreme circumstances. Netanyahu is squeezed and needs the support of opposition figures. This emergency Cabinet is expected to adopt critical decisions, such as the establishment of corridors to allow aid and medicines into Gaza. The corridors will also probably be used for the evacuation of civilians. Hopefully, Netanyahu will not use this mechanism to make life more difficult for them.
Following Friday’s attack, the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that nuclear installations in Iran were neither targeted nor hit.
The Iranian authorities had an opportunity to shout their anger, as it is a tradition to organize big meetings after Friday prayers. The US media claimed that the crowds that gathered on Friday were originally organized to belatedly celebrate the April 13 Iranian attack on Israel.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan commented, in his customary exchange of views with selected members of the media as he was leaving the mosque after Friday prayers, that neither Israel nor Iran had made substantive comments on the small incident. Both had almost disowned the subject, as if this question was not a subject of interest for them. Erdogan said that he cannot claim that Iran is telling the truth.
So, the drones that troubled the skies over Isfahan subsided as if nothing of that sort had happened on Friday morning.
The present trend of events suggests that the Israeli war on Gaza is likely to continue and perhaps even worsen. The US is the key country to encourage Israel and Iran to find an accommodation to end their conflict.

Yasar Yakis is a former foreign minister of Turkiye and founding member of the ruling AK Party.
X: @yakis_yasar

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