Analysis: Israeli-Iranian war now out of shadows

The three recent plots are a demonstration of a determined Iranian effort to attack Israel at almost all costs.

Bangkok bombing 390 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Bangkok bombing 390
(photo credit: REUTERS)
If there was any doubt, the capture of two Iranian nationals in Bangkok on Tuesday – just hours after the home they were renting exploded in a work accident – shows that the Israeli-Iranian war has now moved out of the shadows.
Iran is out to strike at Israel and appears to be panicking as it tries. The three recent plots, including the relatively successful bombing in New Delhi on Monday, are a demonstration of a determined Iranian effort to attack Israel at almost all costs.
But there is something to be said about Iran’s and Hezbollah’s failure so far to succeed fully in their attacks.
This could be evidence of what Israeli defense officials have claimed since 2008: that replacing Imad Mughniyeh, the Lebanese group’s military commander and terror mastermind assassinated that year in Damascus, was nearly impossible, and his loss was a huge blow to the terrorist group.
Mughniyeh oversaw Hezbollah’s operations overseas in the 1990s and 2000s and is believed to have orchestrated the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires and of the AMIA Jewish community center there two years later.
On the other hand, while his loss has been a blow to Hezbollah, Israel has moved in the other direction and has improved its intelligence reach overseas in recent years, mainly by opening itself up to cooperating with foreign intelligence agencies.
An example of this cooperation came last month, when Thai officials described how Israel had tipped them off – once in late December and again in early January – about Hezbollah operative Hussein Atris’s movements, with exact details of when and where the attack he was plotting would take place.
What Iran is likely trying to do is hit Israel hard enough to inflict pain, but not so hard as to give Israel justification to retaliate, possibly even militarily.
In the meantime – and as long as the attacks are not successful – Israel is going to try and use the spate of attacks to its benefit, and specifically garner international support against Iran’s nuclear program.
Israeli intelligence agencies are now working to try and connect the dots among the three recent terror plots – in New Delhi, Tbilisi and Bangkok – in an effort to be able to portray Iran as what Israel claims it is: the greatest state sponsor of terrorism in the world.
The goal will be to show this Iranian violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions and try to get the world to impose tougher sanctions on the regime. The sanctions would not help in stopping the overseas terror, but could have a greater impact on Iran’s nuclear program.
The attack in New Delhi, for example, could be instrumental in getting India to cut its economic ties with Iran, from which it currently buys approximately 12 percent of its oil.
Israel is also using the attacks to explain to the world the danger of a nuclear Iran. If Iran is carrying out these attacks today, just wait until the ayatollahs have a nuclear bomb, some officials are saying.
But this all depends on the Iranians. If the attacks continue and one of them succeeds, Israel will need to consider how to respond.
For the time being, Israel is focused on the diplomatic track, but one bomb could change everything.