The NY Times does a piece that points out how Iran is not far under the surface of conflicts in Israel and Gaza. Yemen and the Red Sea. Lebanon, Syria, Iraq , Pakistan and Yes…Against itself….
Iran the troublemaker, has VAST internal trouble’s politically and economically ….
And does NOT want to get into a serious direct confratation with America….
Israel and Gaza. Yemen and the Red Sea. Lebanon, Syria, Iraq — and now Pakistan, too.
At every flashpoint in a set of conflicts spanning 1,800 miles and involving a hodgepodge of unpredictable armed actors and interests, there’s been a common thread: Iran. Tehran has left its imprint with its behind-the-scenes-backing of combatants in places like Lebanon and Yemen, and with this week’s direct missile strikes on targets in Iraq, Syria and Pakistan.
The Iran connection stems partly from Iran’s decades-long efforts to deter threats and undermine foes by building up like-minded militias across the Middle East.
In addition, Iran itself, like neighboring countries, faces armed separatist movements and terrorist groups in conflicts that readily spill over borders…
Ever since the 1979 revolution that made Iran a Shiite Muslim theocracy, it has been isolated and has seen itself as besieged.
Iran considers the United States and Israel to be its biggest enemies — for more than four decades its leaders have vowed to destroy Israel. It also wants to establish itself as the most powerful nation in the Persian Gulf region, where its chief rival is Saudi Arabia, an American ally, and has often had hostile relations with the Saudis and some other predominantly Sunni Muslim Arab neighbors.
With few other allies, Iran has long armed, trained, financed, advised and even directed several movements that share Iran’s enemies. Though Iranian forces have been involved directly in wars in Syria and Iraq, Tehran has mostly fought its enemies abroad by proxy.
Iran, which calls itself and these militias the “Axis of Resistance” to American and Israeli power, sees it all as “part of a single struggle,” said Hasan Alhasan, a senior fellow for Middle East Policy at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a policy analysis group….
While Iran wants to project its power and influence, it is reluctant to directly engage the United States or its allies, courting major retaliation or all-out war.
How secure Iran’s leaders feel in their grip on power is unclear. But they know that decades of sanctions and embargoes have degraded Iran’s military forces and its economy, and that their repressive government faces intense domestic opposition.
Iran has hoped to compensate for its vulnerabilities by developing nuclear weapons, which would put it on par with Pakistan and Israel — and ahead of Saudi Arabia. But so far its nuclear program has not produced a bomb….
As tensions rise across the region, Tehran has increasingly become a target.
Last month, a separatist group attacked a police station in southeastern Iran, killing 11 people. Two senior Iranian commanders were assassinated in Syria, and Iran blamed Israel.
Then this month, suicide bombings in Kerman, Iran, killed almost 100 people — the deadliest terrorist attacks since the Islamic Republic was founded. The Islamic State claimed responsibility.
Iran analysts, and Iranians close to the military, say the government wanted to make a show of force with an eye to the hard-liners who make up its base of support, and were already incensed at Israeli attacks. Iran went on the offensive.
It said this week that it had fired missiles at the Islamic State in Syria, and at what it said was an Israeli base for intelligence gathering in northern Iraq. (The Iraqi government denied that the building struck was tied to Israel.) It also fired into Pakistan….