Don’t play with the lion’s tail

December 28, 2020 - 11:10

TEHRAN – In a highly provocative move, Israeli is reportedly sending a submarine to the Persian Gulf to allegedly deter Iran from taking revenge for the assassination of its top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. But this move may end up being a fatal mistake for Israel and its enablers.

Last week, Israel started to play with the lion’s tail by implying that it is sending one of its submarines to the Persian Gulf, a region that has long been off-limits to any overt Israeli military presence.

Israel’s public broadcaster Kan reported on Monday that an Israeli submarine crossed the Suez Canal en route to the Persian Gulf in a show of force against Iran amid simmering tensions in the region ahead of the first anniversary of the assassination of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force commander General Qassem Soleimani, who was assassinated by an American drone strike earlier this year near Baghdad’s international airport alongside his comrade Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).  

The coming January 3 will mark the first anniversary of the assassination of General Soleimani, and this has sent the Americans and Israelis scrambling to thwart any Iranian plan to take revenge for the assassinations of General Soleimani and Fakhrizadeh.

In what appeared a coordinated media campaign to change the calculations of Iran, last week (December 21), Israeli and American news media outlets reported that the U.S. and Israel are taking new steps to reinforce deterrence against Iran in the Persian Gulf region. On Monday, the U.S. announced the arrival of the nuclear-powered submarine USS Georgia in the Persian Gulf, the first deployment of this kind in at least eight years. The U.S. has just four Ohio-class guided-missile submarines, none of which has traveled to the Persian Gulf in recent years.

The deployment of USS Georgia is part of a new strategy that saw the U.S. deploying more military equipment and assets such as B-52 bombers to the region.

On the same day that the U.S. announced the arrival of USS Georgia in the Persian Gulf, the Israeli Kan channel reported that the Israeli submarine is heading to the Persian Gulf. The Washington Post also published a similar report saying that the Israeli submarine has embarked for the Persian Gulf, crossing the Suez Canal and the Red Sea.

According to the American newspaper, the above-water, fully visible Israeli deployment into the Suez Canal and then the Red Sea was “a clear warning to Iran” following the assassination of Fakhrizadeh in late November.

Also on Monday, Chief of the General Staff of Israel’s Armed Forces Aviv Kochavi issued a stark warning to Iran, claiming that Israel will retaliate against any Iranian attack as it is prepared to strike back “whether near or far.”

Kochavi claimed that he noticed a rise in what he called Iranian threats against Israel, threatening that if Iran and its allies, directly or by proxy, take any action, they will find themselves in “a very costly endeavor.”

He said Israel’s armed forces will strike all those involved in activities against Israel or Israeli targets “whether in part or in full, whether near or far.”

“I say these things simply, clearly and with complete commitment: our retaliatory steps have been prepared and rehearsed. I advise our enemies not to test us,” he continued.

These remarks were clearly aimed to send a message to Iran that any attempt to take revenge for the assassination of the nuclear scientist will be met with an Israeli response.

But Israel is not in a position to act. Because it has already taken action by assassinating the Iranian nuclear scientist. Iran has vowed to avenge the assassination of Fakhrizadeh and make Israel pay the price for its terrorist actions.

Iran blamed the assassination on Israel, saying Israel has played role in the assassination of Fakhrizadeh. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a tweet on the day of the assassination that the attack was carried out with “serious indications of Israeli role.” Since then, several Iranian officials have vowed to take revenge against Israel. In addition, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has also pointed the finger at Israel and vowed revenge for the assassinated scientist but he said Iran will not fall into the trap of Israel.

“All think tanks and all enemies of Iran should know well that the Iranian nation and the country’s authorities are more courageous and zealous than to let this criminal act go unanswered. The relevant authorities will respond to this crime at the proper time,” Rouhani pointed out, a day after the assassination.

The Iranian president noted, “The Iranian nation is wiser and smarter than to fall in the trap of the Zionists (Israel). They are after chaos and sedition. They should understand that we know their plans and they will not achieve their ominous goals.”

Israel seems to be hell-bent on creating chaos. It implied that it’s sending a submarine to the Persian Gulf, knowing that such a provocative move will remarkably escalate tensions in an already tense region.

“Israel is looking for excuses to drag the region into a tension that creates chaos in the last days of the Trump presidency,” an Iranian official told Aljazeera on Saturday. But the official warned Israel against aggression against Iran.

“Israel must know that our response to aggression against our national security will be strong and massive,” the official warned.  

A senior Iranian lawmaker also warned Israel against sending its submarine to the Persian Gulf, saying that such a move would enable Iran to target the Israeli submarine.

If an Israeli submarine arrives in the Persian Gulf, Iran will consider that an act of aggression and “in this case, we will have the right to take revenge,” Abolfazl Amouei, spokesman for the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, told Aljazeera on Saturday night.

Directly addressing the Israelis, Amouei said that he is sending a clear message to them that they must be cautious and if the Israeli submarine arrives in the Persian Gulf, “it would be an amazing target for us.”

Israel is seeking to provoke Iran, but Iran will give a strong and swift response to any threats, according to Seyed Hossein Naghavi Hosseini, the former spokesman for the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee.

Naghavi Hosseini pointed out that Israel is concerned about the upcoming change in the White House administration, noting that Tel Aviv is looking for a pretext to create widespread tension and drag the region into a dangerous confrontation during the last days of Trump's term.

“Israel announced that it would send a submarine to the region, all this was part of an attempt to provoke Iran to push it into a military confrontation. I tell the Zionist entity and the United States that Iran will respond forcefully and swiftly to any threat it faces,” he told Aljazeera.

Israel has treaded dangerous ground by sending its submarine to the Persian Gulf. Iran has long warned that it will not tolerate Israel’s military presence in the Persian Gulf because such presence is deemed to be a direct threat to Iran’s national interests in the region. Besides, it will escalate tensions not only between Iran and Israel but also between Iran and some of its Arab neighbors in the Persian Gulf, whom Iran had warned against giving Israel a foothold in the region after they normalized diplomatic relations with Israel this summer.

Amouei said the arrival of the Israeli submarine in the Persian Gulf would create problems for these neighbors.

“Bringing the Israelis near Iran might create problems for neighboring countries,” the lawmaker said.

Of course, Israel is yet to officially confirm the alleged deployment of its submarine to the Persian Gulf. It may turn out to be a bluff. But if they really deploy their submarine near Iranian borders, this would amount to madness and would be a costly mistake of historic proportions. Americans also need to be more respectful toward Iran. They have deployed more military assets to the region in recent days. But these assets did not prevent Iran from showing that it’s fully prepared to respond to any American or Israeli aggression.

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