Will Israel and the US succeed in preventing war with Iran?

In recent weeks, the US and Israeli militaries have sent a series of messages and signals to the Iranians.

IDF CHIEF OF STAFF Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi  – not the war he imagined he’d be fighting.  (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
IDF CHIEF OF STAFF Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi – not the war he imagined he’d be fighting.
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
Israel and the United States are working hard to prevent a war with Iran. It is not certain that they will succeed.
In recent weeks, the US and Israeli militaries have sent a series of messages and signals to the Iranians, warning the ayatollahs of the consequences of an attack launched directly by the Revolutionary Guard Corps or by one of the Islamic Republic’s terrorist proxies, in Lebanon, Iraq or Yemen.
The rise in tensions is due to intelligence assessments in Israel and the US that Iran is plotting to avenge a string of attacks against it over the last year – the US bombing that killed Qassem Soleimani in January, the bombing of the Natanz nuclear facility over the summer and the assassination last month of its top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh outside Tehran.
The attacks are an embarrassment for the regime and there is concern in Israel and the US that Iran will want to retaliate before President-elect Joe Biden takes office on January 20. This way, it will get the retaliation out of the way and then be able to open a new page with the Democratic administration.
In recent weeks, US and Israeli submarines were either seen or reported to have been seen sailing in the Persian Gulf. The US sent two B-52 bombers to the region last month, for the first time since 2019, in what the US military said was aimed to “deter aggression and reassure US partners and allies.”
President Donald Trump threatened Iran last week after a number of rockets were fired at the US embassy in Iraq. “Now we hear chatter of additional attacks against Americans in Iraq,” Trump tweeted. “Some friendly health advice to Iran: If one American is killed, I will hold Iran responsible. Think it over.”
In Israel, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi issued a strong threat against Iran, saying that if it or its proxies try to carry out attacks against Israel or Israeli targets, they will pay a heavy price.
His threat came just days after US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley visited Israel for talks with Kochavi, largely believed to be focused on the Iranian threat.
“We are hearing more and more threats against Israel coming from Iran,” he said at an awards ceremony. “If Iran and its partners... attack the State of Israel, they will [pay] a heavy price.”
“I am simplifying things and describing the situation to our enemies as it is,” he added. “Our retaliation plans are prepared, and they already have been practiced.”
On Saturday, Israel issued another warning via IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Hidai Zilberman in an interview with the Saudi newspaper Elaph.
He stressed that everyone should be on high alert regarding the Iranian threat, which he described as a “powder keg liable to explode,” considering the many blows Iran has received in the past year without being able to properly respond.
While we hope that war will be avoided, it is important that Iran understands that it cannot get away with aggressive and terrorist action it takes throughout the Middle East and beyond. This is particularly important as Biden prepares to take office; he has already expressed a desire to resume negotiations with the Iranians over a new nuclear deal.
Returning to the same deal reached in 2015 would be a grave mistake. Iran needs to be stopped and contained. The last deal did not apply to its development and production of long-range ballistic missiles or to its regional terrorist activity. Another flaw was the sunset clause that would allow the Iranians to up their enrichment of uranium and nuclear production once the deal expired in 2025.
Vigilance is important and Tehran needs to be constantly reminded that there is a price to pay for illicit and terrorist activity. Biden needs to keep all of this in mind as he takes office and considers next steps with Iran.
Don’t reward the ayatollahs and don’t reward terrorist activity. Isolate, pressure and contain – and if necessary, be prepared to use military action as the US and Israel have warned over the last week. It is important that Iran understand that the threat is real.