Analysis: Iran Contemplating Next Moves Against Israel and US in Between Ongoing Strikes

Over the weekend, Iran heightened its threats against Israel and US forces in the region. Iranian proxies in Iraq launched ballistic missiles and rockets at Al-Asad Air Base, where US forces are stationed. The attack, occurring at approximately 6:30 p.m. (Baghdad time) on January 20, resulted in multiple missiles being intercepted by the base’s air defense systems, while others impacted the base, causing ongoing damage assessments.

Several US personnel suffered light injuries, with some undergoing evaluation for traumatic brain injuries. Concurrently, Iran faced losses in Syria, with several members of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) killed in Damascus, adding to recent setbacks for Iran in the Syrian conflict, including the December death of senior IRGC member Razi Mousavi. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei led prayers at Mousavi’s funeral.

Iran faced another setback in Yemen as the Iranian-backed Houthis persisted in targeting ships. On Saturday, US Central Command forces took action by conducting airstrikes against a Houthi anti-ship missile, poised for launch into the Gulf of Aden. The decision to strike was based on the assessment that the missile posed a threat to merchant vessels and US Navy ships in the region. The missile was successfully destroyed in self-defense, with the US Central Command stating that this action contributes to enhancing the safety and security of international waters for US Navy and merchant vessels.

On the same day, 20 members of Hezbollah, backed by Iran, persisted in posing a threat to Israel. In response, Israeli fighter jets targeted terrorist infrastructure, an observation post, and a launch post affiliated with the Hezbollah organization in the Al-Adisa region of southern Lebanon. Additionally, overnight, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) deployed tanks to eliminate a potential threat in the Mount Dov area, as stated by the IDF on Saturday.

What would be the Next Step – Iran Must Give aThought?

Considering the multitude of incidents, the Iranian leadership faces a critical juncture in deciding their subsequent moves in the region. Navigating through a vast and intricate array of conflicts, encompassing Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, poses a significant challenge. Managing such a diverse set of active fronts is unprecedented for Iran. While Iran possesses decades of experience in cultivating proxies across these regions, the current situation demands substantial resources to address simultaneous crises in these areas. The strain on Iran’s resources is evident as they grapple with multiple arenas in a state of unrest. The key question is whether Iran can sustain the same level of engagement across all fronts. Iranian media signals a focus on the West Bank, particularly in areas where the Palestinian Islamic Jihad operates, such as Jenin. Alongside, Iran has other interests, including recent satellite launches and attention to internal disagreements within Israel’s wartime cabinet. Tehran is also closely monitoring Hamas’s demands, aiming to influence the power dynamics in Gaza. This indicates that Iran is carefully considering its next moves. The potential for escalation in Syria, Iraq, and the Red Sea poses a long-term challenge for Iran, considering the possibility of significant losses that may be challenging to replace.

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