Iran Attacks and the West Is Angry — So What?

Time after time, the Iranians get on the West’s nerves causing anger. In the real world of the Middle East, this is simply not enough.

Two days before the World Cup, and a bomb is dropped. It was probably more of an Iranian suicide drone; and if you want to be really specific, a Shahad 136. Yes, exactly like those UAVs the Russians are now using to bomb Ukraine, but the message is clear. To Qatar, the United States and to fans of Lionel Messi all over the world: You thought there would soon be a global soccer celebration in the Persian Gulf? Think again.

First, a disclaimer: No, I do not think the Iranians wanted to attack this tanker to harm Qatar’s efforts in the World Cup. Instead, it was mainly because the Iranian soccer team is coming to play soccer, as are many Iranian fans who are seeking a little relief — in one or two soccer goals — from the commotion, demonstrations and protests in Iran .

But it was also because the Qataris managed to position themselves as the ones to mediate between the Iranians and the West, when necessary. Remember the nuclear talks? So at some point they migrated from the cool Vienna of Europe to the heat of Doha. The local Middle Eastern weather did not really help to warm the relations between the parties. But you know that those who position themselves in the mediator role want to be on good terms with all parties. And usually, the parties also want to be nice to them. So what did the Iranians want to achieve here? This was a price tag action: Even if not particularly sophisticated, it was in revenge for attacks ascribed to Israel by air, sea and land. If Bashar Asad bans the Iranians from attacking Israel from Syrian territory in response to bombings — according to foreign sources, of course — by the Israeli air force, and if assassination operations such as these or others do not work out, not much else remains.

However, the real question, as usual, is not exactly what Iran wants, but how the world will react. Time after time, the Iranians get on the nerves of the West. Only yesterday, [security force] British MI5 announced that in the past year Iran tried to assassinate British citizens at least 10 times.

In the United States, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and American former special envoy Brian Hook are still protected by the Secret Service, years after completing their service — because of Iranian threats. This is without even beginning to speak about the assassination attempt against former U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton.

What is the West doing? It is really angry. But in the real world of the Middle East, this is simply not enough.

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About Charles Railey 61 Articles
I recently retired from the federal government, having worked for many years on Middle East issues and regional media. My fascination with the region has never changed and this is one reason why the work of Watching America caught my eye. I live in the DC area with my wife, two grown children, and three cats.

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