In the past hours, Tensions between the United States and Iranian militias in Syria have begun to rise to surface after the missiles attack on the U.S. bases in eastern Syria that caused only a material damage.
The Syrian regime TV announced on Monday evening that a U.S. base was attacked near Al-Omar oil field in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor without providing additional information about the attack. Whereas Syrian human rights sources have indicated that the attacks were carried out using rocket-propelled grenades.
Commenting on the attacks, Hossam Youssef, a political analyst, considers that the mutual attacks between the two sides will not be transient, and that the clashes between the US and Iran have begun to enter a new phase titled “a loomed battle.” Youssef believes that targeting the U.S. base in Syria was an Iranian attempt to prevent the United States from continuing to target militias inside Syrian territory.
Youssef has also ruled out that the attack on the U.S. base only hours after U.S. airstrikes on Iranian bases in Syria was just a coincidence, but rather a message from Iran’s new extremist leadership to impose new game rules that would hopefully reduce the intensity of U.S. attacks against militias.
It is noteworthy that Joe Biden, U.S. President, has given an order to strike militias affiliated with the PMF on the Syrian-Iraqi border, according to informed sources. The sources have also pointed out that targeting Iranian-backed Iraqi militias in both Syria and Iraq is a message to confirm that the United States does not tolerate any attack on its forces, especially since it has sufficient forces in the region.
In the same context, Youssef believes that both sides, whether the American or the Iranian, are trying to deal with the political changes in Iran to serve their interests.
“The arrival of the extremist Raisi to power in Tehran has put both Washington and Tehran in state of rivalry to impose force and change the balance of power in the Middle East,” Youssef says.
“The U.S. wants to show its capability of confronting an extremist government in Iran, and the militants in Iran want to confirm their ability to rule the country and maintain Iran’s influence in
the region which may lead to an expansion of indirect confrontations between the two sides,” he adds.
In addition, Youssef considers that Syrian territory, being under the current circumstances and the relative continuity of instability, represents an ideal arena for the conflict between Iran and the United States, especially that both sides will exploit the weakness of the Bashar al-Assad regime and the collapse of the Syrian state. He concludes that the upcoming confrontations between Washington and Tehran, whether in Syria or Iraq, will largely clarify the Iranian influence in the region as a whole.
It is not surprising that U.S. raids on Iranian militias in Syria coincide with the meeting, which took place over the past two days, between Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lebed and his U.S. counterpart Anthony Blinken, according to Moataz al-Khalidi a Middle East researcher.
Al-Khalidi points out that the U.S. strikes are a message from U.S. as a reassurance to Israel about Washington’s stand on the issues of Iranian influence in the Middle East and the Iranian nuclear file. As during the meeting, the Israeli minister revealed Israeli reservations about the ongoing negotiations between the United States and Iran in the Austrian capital, Vienna.
Al-Khalidi indicates that the United States may particularly escalate by pointing more attacks against the Iranian militias in Syria, given that the Israeli government has its own concerns about the Iranian presence in Syria. Moreover, he draws attention to Iran will of attempting to prevent the United States from targeting its military bases further in Syria by launching limited operations and attacks against US bases in the Syrian desert.
On a relevant matter, Al-Khalidi believes that the United States and Israel are trying to repel a recurrence of the Iraq scenario in Syria and prevent the militias from taking complete control of the country or over some strategic areas within it. These attempts from both countries are due to the possibility of militias exploiting those areas and working to launch drones towards the southern border. In addition, “it seems that the US administration has lost hope in the Iranian regime to be convinced of diplomatic and political solutions without enforcing a clear military pressure on its power outside its borders,” Al-Khalidi says.
It is worth mentioning that Israel previously accused the Iranian regime of supervising the project to produce and develop drones in southern Damascus. Cadres of the IRGCand the Lebanese Hezbollah militia, according to Israel, had undertaken this project.
Iran and the Pointless Language of Escalation
While the United States is getting prepared to launch more raids against Iranian militia targets, Kamal al-Din Hassan, a strategic researcher, emphasizes the necessity of Iran striving to avoid
escalation with the American army. He specifies that any Iranian escalation will be faced by an American military and economic escalation.
In addition, Hassan opines that the Iranian leadership has made a mistake by supporting the extremists taking control over country. As their control comes from their power over the Parliament and the fact that Ebrahim Raisi has been elected as President of the Iranian Republic. The researcher wonders about the extent of Iran’s ability to handle economic sanctions again that would tear the remaining of the Iranian financial and banking system.
“Iran needed a political and diplomatic figure, a lot more than a bloody and obstinate mentality like Raisi’s. Today, Iran is pushing the new American administration to adopt Donald Trump’s plan that aims to execute an economic tightening accompanied by military strikes,” Hassan says.
Hassan expects the assassination of a major Iranian figure, as powerful as Qassem Soleimani, the former commander of the Quds Force, if the conflict between Washington and Tehran continues to escalate in Syria.