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Iran’s Weak Point

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The starting point for examining the continuation of the American-Iranian conflict should take into account that the initial Iranian response to the assassination of Qassem Soleimani is not necessarily the final one. On the contrary, we can assume that the Iranian regime wants to gain time in order to examine the alternatives to fulfilling its promise to inflict a serious punishment on the United States.

The leadership in Iran is committed to that. The assassination of such a senior and familiar personality in Iran and in the Shi’ite camp as a whole; the blow to the foundations of Iran’s regional strategy, of which Soleimani was one of the leading architects; the need to renew the strengthening of Iran’s deterrence capability, to prevent additional blows to its leaders and its strategic sites, and to demonstrate that it is also capable of delivering a harsh blow to its enemies; and the humiliation of the Iranian regime as a result of the assassination all require the Iranians to examine the possibility of inflicting as harsh a blow as possible against the United States and its allies.

This examination could also conclude that the option of such a blow involves considerable risks and that it would be better to give up on it, and there are several signs that that really is Iran’s approach. But such a conclusion would seriously undermine Iran’s deterrence capability, and is likely to invite additional responses from the United States in the future.

The firing of Iranian missiles at U.S. bases in Iraq after the assassination of Soleimani, with minimal results, has to be perceived by Iran’s rivals as a sign of weakness rather than strength. In that sense, the Iranian regime will be confronting several major obstacles that are likely to affect the nature of its response.

First, the United States enjoys clear strategic-military superiority to Iran. This........

© Haaretz