During the last few years, the scheming for the undercover war between Israel and Iran has never let up. One of the recent chapters in this war came to light when the Israeli intelligence agency made public that it had carried out an operation in Iran, nabbing a suspect who was heading a group plotting to assassinate Israelis in Cyprus. The Mossad stated that the suspect admitted to receiving orders from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
This announcement holds some weighty signals, most notably that it came straight from the Mossad itself, not through deliberate leaks or other roundabout means. This reflects a clear tactic employed by Israeli intelligence to reveal openly some of the operations executed to achieve specific strategic goals concerning the other party – Iran. One of these goals might be to assert their message, clarify their target, and demonstrate Israel’s capability for both retaliation and deterrence.
The second signal is Israel’s ongoing infiltration within Iran. This highlights the continuous weaknesses and vulnerabilities in Iran’s internal security setup. Moreover, it demonstrates Israel’s intelligence prowess over the Iranian side, with all the implications and insinuations, especially when it comes to exposing the notion of superiority and the far-reaching influence wielded by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
The third indication revolves around the Israeli government’s intention to distance itself from any potential agreement struck between Washington and Tehran. They aim to project the image of an independent Israeli approach to dealing with Iranian threats.
This signal coincides with the ongoing American-Iranian talks, mediated through regional channels, reinforcing Tehran’s perception that Israel is not genuinely concerned by the outcomes of this dialogue. Instead, Israel will roll up its sleeves to ensure its security and stability through means and methods it deems suitable.
We see that this signal carries a lot of weight, given the Iranian side’s strong belief that it can divert Washington’s attention away from Israel concerning American strategic interests. Iran thinks that the US no longer has the capability, effectiveness, or determination to keep guaranteeing the security of its Middle Eastern allies, Israel included.
Iran has already put this hypothesis to the test concerning Washington’s Gulf allies, and found it to be true. Furthermore, Iran has also tested it in smaller instances through its proxies in Syria and Lebanon, and Washington has not disproved Iran’s conviction on this matter.
THE FOURTH signal revolves around the subject of this round of the undercover war – the assassination campaign carried out by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards against Israelis abroad.
It is widely known that Israel’s intelligence operations inside Iran mainly center around nuclear facilities and disrupting uranium enrichment activities. However, the arrest of a suspect involved in planning possible killings of Israelis shows that the conflict with Iran goes beyond just the nuclear issue.
It uncovers numerous other dimensions and aspects of Iranian threats, including the targeting of Israeli figures overseas. This grabs the attention of Western political circles and public, highlighting the comprehensiveness of the Iranian menace and supporting the Israeli political stance, stressing the need to stay vigilant about the multiple facets of the Iranian danger.
Moreover, such an operation serves as a preemptive move to deter other potential Iranian actions, especially considering the repeated security warnings about possible Iranian targeting of Israeli individuals in various countries, including Turkey and some other regional states.
Undoubtedly, the Iranian belief that the US is going through a phase of strategic decline and diminishing influence, and that it lacks the will and sufficient capabilities to safeguard an ally the size of Israel, is a flawed notion that doesn’t hold up to objective analysis.
This arises from inaccurate strategic calculations since Israel, in the eyes of the US, is not like any other strategic ally. The Iranians are well aware of this reality, but they always prefer to put such hypotheses to the test in actual practice.
It is certain that the only state in the world that can gain unanimous agreement from all decision-making circles and sovereign institutions in the US to protect it, and intervene on its behalf, is Israel, without a doubt. Some reasons are tied to electoral considerations, while others are connected to the strong influence of the pro-Israel lobby within the US.
Furthermore, this situation underscores the weakening partnership ties between Washington and its Middle Eastern allies, to the point where the US now has only one reliable regional ally, and that’s Israel, regardless of who is in power.
Israel is determined to demonstrate how it can reach deep into Iran
ONE OF the most striking aspects of the escalating shadow war between Israel and Iran is Israel’s persistent determination to demonstrate its capability to reach deep into Iran. This recent operation comes after years of stealthily pilfering around half a ton of classified files related to the Iranian nuclear program from the heart of Tehran in 2018.
Iran had no idea about this operation. These files contained the name of the prominent Iranian nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. Then, in 2020, Fakhrizadeh was targeted, using advanced techniques, near his residence in Iran.
Israel’s infiltration into the Iranian interior is backed by numerous evidence and indications. What is new is the tactical decision to let go of secrecy and confidentiality by Israeli intelligence, openly discussing its operations within Iran. A big part of this approach probably comes from Israel’s wish to intensify the feeling of fear, anxiety, and suspicion among Iranian officials, regarding the possibility of being targeted by Israeli intelligence.
This warning was previously highlighted by the former Iranian Intelligence Minister, Ali Younesi, who sounded the alarm about the growing influence of the Mossad in various parts of the country. He pointed out that the Iranian leadership members feel worried about their lives, security, and well-being.
We believe that the Mossad’s goal is to instill this concern among Iranian leaders and officials, bolstering its strategy of deterrence and compelling Iran to steer clear of targeting Israel and Israelis, fearing potential consequences that they might face one day.
The theory of Israeli superiority clashes with the increasing sense of self-confidence that Iran has felt in recent years, especially since the qualitative advancement in its military arsenal, particularly in the realm of unmanned aerial vehicles, some of which Russia has used in the war in Ukraine.
We’ll have to wait for more rounds of the undercover war, until one of the parties in this conflict is convinced that the costs involved don’t outweigh the gains achieved.
The writer is an United Arab Emirates political analyst and former Federal National Council candidate.