The danger of escalation rose after a drone attack killed three American soldiers at the Tower 22 US base in Jordan. Tehran-backed militias have carried out more than 160 attacks on US troops in Iraq and Syria or bases used by them since October, but this attack cannot be passed by the United States because it killed US soldiers and also targeted a base in Jordan.
“They’ve probably become a victim of their own success,” Jonathan Lord, director of the Middle East program at the Center for a New American Security, told CNN of the Jordan attack. “While the attack was similar to the more than 150 before it, the results were much more murderous,” he added.
Fearing American punishment, the militias pulled their tails
The form of retaliation is not clear, it may be a tougher attack on Iranian positions in the region, as Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have their people in Syria, their specialists operate in Yemen and are linked to various Shiite militias in Iraq and Lebanon’s Hezbollah shelling Israel. CNN sources do not expect the US to launch an attack directly on Iran, as they do not want a direct conflict.
A pro-Iranian militia in Iraq has announced it is suspending attacks on US troops
“I think it’s interesting that the mere expectation of a potentially larger US response has already had a deterrent effect on one of the major powers aligned with Iran without the US firing a shot,” added Jonathan Lord. He was responding to a statement by the Iraqi Shia militia Kataib Hezbollah (different from the Lebanese Hezbollah – note ed.)who apparently carried out the attack and announced that she was stopping with others.
Lord noted that the attack in Jordan undermined the efforts of Iran, which has only wanted to escalate its attacks to a limited extent since the brutal Hamas pogrom in Israel in October. Tehran certainly did not want the US or Israel to be pushed into a corner enough to be forced to react forcefully.
The Houthi attacks are getting out of Tehran’s hands
Under the American secret services, Iran is also beginning to fear attacks by the Yemeni Shiite Houthis on ships in the Bab al-Mandab strait connecting the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, where one of the key trade routes connecting Asia and Europe leads. These attacks threaten the commercial interests of India and China, which are also important Iranian allies.
China’s two major state-owned container shipping companies have had to divert dozens of ships to a much longer route around Africa, sharply increasing the cost of transporting goods and raw materials. On Tuesday, Beijing expressed concern about the situation and called for an end to attacks on civilian ships.
Panama has no water, Suez pays the Houthis. The prices of transporting goods are skyrocketing
India was even more affected as the Houthis attacked several ships with an Indian crew or bound for India. Although India did not join the attacks on Houthi bases and posts, from which they launch drones and anti-ship missiles, it sent destroyers there to protect merchant ships.
“We’re definitely seeing growing signs of concern in Tehran about how little the Houthis are distinguishing their targets,” a US official told CNN of the Houthi flank fire.
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He also explained the reason. Due to the diversion of all maritime trade from the Red Sea, Iran is in danger of being hit even by countries that would otherwise not care that Israeli and American shipping is disrupted.
The attacks showed that Iran does not have full control over the groups it supports, and they show varying degrees of autonomy. “They have very different levels of loyalty and allegiance to Iran. They also have their own interests,” CNN quoted a source familiar with the intelligence’s findings as saying. According to him, Iran has much more influence on the interconnected network of militias operating in Iraq and Syria than in Yemen. “Everything indicates that Iran is not interested in getting into a spiral of escalating tensions with the United States and Israel,” he assessed the situation.
The US is pushing through China, but Iran will not change its strategy
The United States is trying to reduce tensions with the help of China. In a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Bangkok, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan asked Beijing to use its “significant influence on Iran” to stop the attacks, a senior White House official told reporters on Saturday.
“This is not the first time we have called on China to play a constructive role,” he added. According to him, it is not yet clear whether this has a practical impact: “Beijing says it is warning the Iranians about this. But we will wait for the results.”
Although statements from the Iraqi Kataib Hezbollah militia suggest that Tehran may withdraw for a while, some current and former US officials are skeptical that there should be a significant change in Iranian tactics. An unnamed US military official operating in the Middle East said Iran was “quite happy with the way things are going”.
“The Iranian regime has been emboldened by the crisis in Gaza and appears ready to fight to the last regional representative,” CIA Director Bill Burns wrote in an article published Tuesday in the journal Foreign Affairs.
Former CIA analyst on Iran, Norm Roule, says Iran’s primary goal is to “bring uncertainty and indecision into the thinking of American policymakers as they consider how hard to strike at it.” According to him, Tehran knows that “there are voices in the US and Europe that will seize any opportunity for diplomacy, even if there is little evidence that it will succeed.”
Roule told CNN plainly, “I see absolutely nothing that would make the Iranian government change what it’s doing.”
U.S. officials declined to tell CNN how they obtained the intelligence, but the station says it uses a wide range of methods, from spies to wiretapping.