Possible Motivations Behind Iran’s Strikes on Allied Territory

In a surprising move, Iran has launched strikes on three allied countries – Syria, Iraq, and Pakistan – within a span of two days. This unexpected aggression has raised questions about the motives behind Iran’s actions and why it chose to act now. Based on available information, it appears that Iran’s military, the Revolutionary Guards, felt compelled to act under pressure from Islamic hardliners within the country.

The primary factor driving Iran’s decision to strike its allies’ territory seems to be its dissatisfaction with the perceived inaction towards Israel’s killing of Palestinians in Gaza. Islamic hardliners in Iran have expressed growing discontent with the country’s passive stance in the face of these killings. Furthermore, the hardliners are furious that Iran did not respond forcefully when Israel assassinated several top Revolutionary Guard commanders in Syria. Iran’s verbal support for the Houthis during US-UK strikes also seemingly fell short of the hardliners’ expectations. Additionally, the recent bomb attack claimed by the Islamic State group (IS) in the Iranian city of Kerman, resulting in the loss of numerous lives, further fueled the Revolutionary Guards’ need to take action.

However, Iran had to be cautious about not escalating tensions with Israel or the United States while trying to meet the demands of the hardliners. As a result, Iran opted not to directly involve itself in the Israel-Gaza conflict. Instead, it offered military support to Hamas, the Houthis, and Hezbollah. Nevertheless, by launching strikes on Syria, Iraq, and Pakistan, Iran inadvertently harmed its own interests. Iran justified its attack on Pakistani territory by targeting the militant group Jaish al-Adli, which it labeled as an “Iranian terrorist group.” However, Pakistan claims that the strike resulted in the death of two children. This violation of Pakistani sovereignty and territorial integrity prompted Pakistan, a nuclear power, to respond with strikes on what it deemed to be hideouts of Pakistani “terrorists” based in Iran. This counter-attack led to the loss of several lives, including women and children, further souring relations between the two neighboring nations. The Revolutionary Guard did not anticipate such a strong reaction from Pakistan, considering their traditionally good relations and mutual support in international forums.

The attack on Syria can be seen as a response to the Kerman bombings. However, it is unclear if the strikes effectively targeted IS or other hardline Sunni groups, as Iran claims. In Iraq, Iran used around 11 ballistic missiles to hit a target in Irbil, reportedly believing it to be an operations center for Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency. However, Iraqi and Kurdish authorities assert that the missiles hit the house of a well-known businessman, resulting in the deaths of him, his wife, and their two young children, one of whom was just a year old. This incident has strained the previously cordial relations between Iran and Iraq and has prompted the Iraqi government to lodge a complaint with the UN Security Council, where the matter will be discussed.

The decision to launch these attacks may have been made solely by Iran’s supreme leader, without proper consultation with the foreign minister. This lack of coordination raises concerns about the reliability and effectiveness of Iran’s decision-making processes. Additionally, these recent strikes have further damaged Iran’s international standing, exposing its defenses to potential vulnerabilities and portraying the Revolutionary Guard as reckless and prone to taking uncalculated risks. The consequences of these actions could have far-reaching impacts on regional dynamics and Iran’s relationships with its allies and neighbors.

Overall, the motivations behind Iran’s strikes on its allies’ territory are rooted in perceived slights against the country and pressure from hardline factions within. However, the fallout from these actions undeniably presents risks and challenges for Iran on both domestic and international fronts.