As tensions rise in the convoluted triangle of conflict between the U.S, Israel, and Iran, many are speculating about when, exactly, international intervention will inflame Iran to stop its nuclear proliferation — and who will light the match?
After evaluating the numerous possibilities and deadly scenarios of intervention, the question arises: which tactic is most effective in ending hostilities in this ever tumultuous region of the Middle East?
The scariest scenario, as agreed upon by the EU, the U.S, and especially Israel, is in fact allowing Iran to develop nuclear capabilities in the hopes that the Islamic regime would be deterred. As evident by Iran’s “official” level of unemployment which is around 15%, its annual inflation of 20%, and its continually rising food prices, it appears as if the regime is willing to pursue dangerous goals at the risk of its own population, defying any sense of rationality.
The second scenario (increasingly discussed as the most likely scenario) is one which involves a unilateral Israeli strike on the nuclear facilities in Iran. It should be noted, Iran has reinforced these facilities with concrete and hardened bunkers to protect them from this exact situation. Moreover, the likelihood of counter-attack is enhanced with this option, as indicated by the attack on the Osirak facility in Iraq in 1981 or Syria in 2007. In this case, Iran possesses the capabilities of striking key population centres in Israel, like Haifa or Tel Aviv, or even American and allied targets located in the Strait of Hormuz, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.
Another possibility, though more difficult to carry through successfully, would be the continued use of economic sanctions — with the blessings of China and Russia, of course. Like in Libya in 2003, this strategy is to choke-hold the regime until they submit to international pressures. Although this strategy would be more favorable to the West, one can imagine the negative effect it would have on Sino-Iranian relations with regards to the oil needed to power China’s economic boom. Furthermore, the absence of Russian support in recent U.S sponsored sanctions makes this scenario even more unlikely. Russia still fosters suspicion against any foreign intervention within what it deems its “sphere of influence,” harking back to the Cold War days.
The last possible scenario is the one most favourable to Israel and has also garnered the quiet support of Saudi Arabia and Turkey. This strategy involves the possibility of a multilateral mission into Iran in hopes of rooting out all nuclear facilities and giving them all “one big blow.” Although this scenario would cost little in lives (apart from Iranian), do little to disturb oil markets, and has little chance of counter-attack, one can imagine the reaction it would spark domestically in Iran. Such a reaction could legitimize and consolidate power into Iran’s Ayatollah in a “rally around the flag” scenario, leading to continued conflict with Iran in the future.
In many respects, the scenarios mentioned above are not absolute, nor even qualified; but the fact remains that this conflict has many different paths. The onus is now on the international community to figure out which action will ensure the protection of innocent people caught under the idiosyncratic rule of their leaders. The rest is just speculation.
– Cody Levine