Foreign Affairs

Israel attacks an Iranian base. What we know so far and what it means

April 2024
By Giampiero Cinelli

At four in the morning, Israel attacked Iran. The targeted action occurred at the military base in Esfahan where explosions were reported, likely caused by drones. The consequences were not severe, and all urban activities in Esfahan are now continuing. So far, Iranian authorities have not indicated a desire to respond to the attack, because, as Tehran’s army chief Mousavi stated, “Israel has already seen Iran’s response,” but Tel Aviv has justified its decision as a precaution against a broader Iranian threat.

On the same day, attacks were also reported in Syria, while Mousavi’s statement that it is “absurd” to attribute the Esfahan attacks to Israel has sparked discussion. He argued that the explosions were the sound of “flying objects” being shot down, as reported by Iran International.

This is not the only analysis that has caused confusion, as there are also claims that the overnight attack in Iran “was conducted using small drones, possibly launched from within the country itself,” according to an Iranian source cited by the New York Times and reported by Haaretz. According to the same source, “the country’s radar systems did not intercept any unidentified aircraft entering Iran’s airspace.”

It appears that the United States was warned the day before the initiative and did not express its consent. The event has only increased tension in the Middle East, and G7 members are already concerned. However, while Washington is not currently inclined to recognize the State of Palestine, recent events have been violent yet localized, appearing more as shows of strength to remind the opponent of the capability to confront possible invasions.

The essence of what we are witnessing lies in the Israeli and Iranian desire to reshape the balances in the Middle East, displacing hostile countries. Tel Aviv aspires to definitively end the Palestinian issue with its allies, and Tehran also desires to reassert itself as a power in the Islamic world. For now, geopolitically, Israel seems to have the advantage, having gained the opening (and support in the Iranian attack) of Saudi Arabia, with which it has no diplomatic relations, and Egypt, which is not showing opposition, which is of absolute relevance in light of the past.

At the moment, the United States, Iran’s great enemy, prefers to untangle the situation, and Netanyahu has been presented with the recognition of Palestine in exchange for full diplomatic opening of Saudi Arabia, to which the U.S. would offer greater military defense in return.

At the same time, Israel’s rigid and quite bloody operations do not facilitate negotiations and cast Tel Aviv in a negative light globally, despite being the first to receive an attack from Hamas. Moreover, a situation of instability with prolonged arms movements can lead to unexpected and much more dangerous outcomes that nobody wants.