…as Israel vows ‘stronger response’ against Iran

Sequel to the brewing conflict between Iran and Israel which has resulted to attacks, Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has urged the two countries to reflect on the universal commitment to peaceful resolution of conflicts.

In a Press Release signed by Francisca Omayuli, Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nigerian government also said it joined other members of the International Community to call on the two warring nations to exercise restraint while diplomatic efforts were on top gear to ease tension and avoid wider conflict in the Middle East.

The release reads “The Federal Government of Nigeria joins other Members of the International Community to call on Iran and Israel to exercise restraint, as diplomatic efforts are ongoing to ease tension and avoid a wider conflict in the Middle East.

In this critical period, it behoves the two countries to reflect on the universal commitment to peaceful resolution of conflicts, for the advancement of global peace and security”

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Meanwhile, the Israeli military says 99% of the missiles and drones fired by Iran overnight were intercepted without hitting their targets. Iran said the assault was in response to a deadly attack on an Iranian diplomatic compound in Syria two weeks ago. Where this goes next from here depends in large part on how Israel decides to respond to last night’s attack.

Countries in the region and elsewhere, including those that deeply dislike the Iranian regime, have urged restraint.

Iran’s position is along the lines of: “Account settled, that is the end of the matter, do not hit back at us or we will mount a much stronger attack against you that you will not be able to ward off.”

But, Israel has already vowed “a significant response” and its government has often been called one of the most hardline in Israeli history.

It responded to the murderous Hamas-led attacks of 7 October on southern Israel within hours and then spent the next six months battering the Gaza Strip.

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Israel’s war cabinet is unlikely to leave this direct attack from Iran unanswered, however calibrated and limited its effect has been on the ground.

So what are Israel’s options?
It could listen to its neighbours in the region and exercise what is known as “strategic patience”, holding off from responding in kind and instead continuing to target Iran’s proxy allies in the region such as Hezbollah in Lebanon or military supply sites in Syria, as it has been doing for years.

Israel could retaliate with a series of similar, carefully calibrated, long-range missile strikes, targeting only those missile bases from which Iran launched last night’s attack.

That would still be seen by Iran as an escalation, since it would be the first time Israel had attacked Iran directly, as opposed to hitting its proxy militias around the region. Or, Israel could choose to climb one more rung up the escalatory ladder, by broadening its possible response to include bases, training camps and command-and-control centres belonging to Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards Corps – the IRGC. Either of the latter two options risk prompting further retaliation by Iran.

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The key question here is whether this all drags in the US, leading to a full-scale shooting war between Iran and US forces in the region.

The US has military facilities in all six of the Gulf Arab states, as well as in Syria, Iraq and Jordan.
These could all become targets for Iran’s massive stockpile of ballistic and other missiles that it has managed to build up over the years, despite international sanctions.

Iran could also do something it has long threatened to do if attacked: it could try to close the strategically vital Strait of Hormuz, using mines, drones and fast attack craft, choking off nearly a quarter of the world’s oil supplies.

This is the nightmare scenario, dragging in the US and the Gulf states into a region-wide war, which many governments are now working around the clock to avoid.