The Mullahs of Tehran are desperate. Economic sanctions are decimating the economy. Severe drought was followed by equally severe floods and both were handled very badly by the authorities. Demonstrations against the government continue to take place constantly throughout the country. The clerics of the religious center of Qom are criticizing the government, following the lead of the Shiite leader of Iraq, Ali Sistani. Ethnic unrest continues in the Baluchi, Arab and Kurdish regions. Rumors persist of conflict between the armed forces and the Revolutionary Guard.
The Iranian government has responded to the sanctions by threatening to block the Straits of Hormuz, which would end Saudi and Gulf oil and LNG exports (and their own). In response the American government has dispatched a powerful naval and air flotilla to the Gulf.
In other words the situation is perfect for an incident, accident or provocation to unleash outright war. The military outcome is a foregone conclusion: Iranian naval and air forces would be wiped out and Iranian military and civilian infrastructure would be smashed.. Bunker-buster bombs would take out the nuclear facilities. Entirely too much emphasis has been placed on the presumed hollowing-out of the American military; it remains by far the most powerful in the world.
The Iranians know this and will presumably try to avoid a direct clash. They will instead unleash their proxy forces, as they have already done with the Houthi in Yemen, attacking Saudi shipping and pipelines. It is quite possible, perhaps likely, that the Iranians will order Hamas and Hezbollah to attack Israel simultaneously, taking advantage of the fact that Israel is going through a political and constitutional crisis.
Should that take place, would the Americans attack Iran? It would be a good excuse to end the Iranian threat once and for all, but it is by no means certain. Whatever the answer Israel will be faced with an extremely dangerous situation and might have to face it alone. Perhaps such a development will convince the "leaders" of the country to put aside their petty political maneuvering and unite in the face of possible disaster.
Norman A. Bailey, Ph.D., is Professor of Economics and National Security, The National Security Studies Center, University of Haifa, and Adjunct Professor of Economic Statecraft, The Institute of World Politics, Washington DC. He was formerly with the US National Security Council and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
The views he expresses are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of "Globes."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on May 19, 2019
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