Starting Sunday, Nov. 22nd, Iran began a five day war game exercise that will test the readiness of their air defenses against potential Israeli strikes. The games will cover 230,000 sq miles, or a third of the country. Stating that they will “retaliate with missiles strikes in Tel Aviv” -- Iran is flexing its strength. Traditional deterrence theory would suggest this move should be viewed as a defensive measure, not aggressive. They are showing what they got.
This is the second time in the past two months that Iran has conducted these types of exercises. Back in September Iran tested their long-range Shahab-3 missiles. The question is, how will this move will be viewed by the Israelis and others as negotiations continue to falter on Iran’s nuclear program?
Israel and the US have just concluded their own war game exercises. The bi-annual games were conducted at the beginning of November and focused on Israeli response to missile threats -- coordinating long-range radars and Patriot anti-missile devices.
Israel has continually warned the international community if negotiations fail to prevent the development of Iranian nuclear weapons force must be exercised. Is that a bluff or a real threat?
Clearly Israel is willing to strike targets with air attacks, but can they really attack Iranian nuclear facilities without retaliation on their domestic population? If not, then would Israel really attack? Does the US have any veto power to stop them? All of this instability is creating serious questions for US foreign policy in the region. If Tel Aviv is hit with missiles what will the Israeli response be?
This is not to mention how Iran might respond against the US if their sites are attacked. With troops well in range of the Shahab missiles Iran could strike US forces as well.
Going forward this is a serious diplomatic problem for the US. It will require bolstering Israeli deterrence – as demonstrated in the recent war games – keeping Israel pacified, and moving forward with Iranian negotiations. Iran’s war games are aimed at showing their potential and should be viewed as defensive in essence, but provocative in context. Iran does not want a major conflict, but it does want international autonomy. Bottom line, do not let Israel bomb Iran.