Editorial: Middle East On Edge

Editorial: Middle East On Edge

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Sunday, April 14, 2024, 09:08 PM IST
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Representative Image | Hilary Clark/Pixabay

West Asia was on edge last week as Iran threatened to retaliate for Israel’s air strike on April 1 at Iran’s embassy in Damascus, killing two top Iranian generals and five other members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards. The Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, said that the “evil regime will be punished directly”. The threat was so serious that many countries, including India, advised their citizens to avoid travel to the region. US President Joe Biden, saying he expected Iran’s attack on Israel “sooner rather than later” warned Iran that the US was “devoted to the defence of Israel”. On its part, Israel has fortified its defences, and was confident of repulsing likely missile and/or drone attacks through its vaunted Iron Dome. Though Iran has tried to avoid a direct confrontation with Israel, speculation was that it may use its proxies such as Hizbullah based in Lebanon or the Houthis in Yemen or the Shia militias in Syria to target Israel. Well-attended demonstrations in Iran calling for “death to Israel” were clearly encouraged by the authorities. Israeli embassies around the world were closed after the Damascus attack. Backroom channels were activated soon to try and defuse the situation. However, the US did not rule out an attack in the next couple of days. Fears of a wider escalation of the ongoing conflict in Gaza cannot be easily ruled out.

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