OpinionMiddle East

Mirage of power: Iran’s global posture and the international imperative

Tehran’s silence following targeted strikes by Israel belies the regime’s capability for retaliation.

An Iranian flag over a missile, April 2022. Credit: Mohasseyn/Shutterstock.
An Iranian flag over a missile, April 2022. Credit: Mohasseyn/Shutterstock.
Erfan Fard
Erfan Fard is a counter-terrorism analyst and Middle East Studies researcher based in Washington, D.C.

The Iranian government’s posturing, embodied in its vows of retribution against perceived aggressions, often masks a complex web of internal vulnerabilities and external isolation. Despite its public portrayal of unwavering strength and defiance, recent strategic countermeasures, such as those undertaken by Israel, underscore the fragility of Iran’s threats. These actions reveal not only the hollowness of Tehran’s bluster but also illuminate the broader implications of its international conduct. As the regime’s highest officials openly embrace terrorist figures, they inadvertently underscore the precariousness of regional stability and the safety of international forces, thereby challenging the passive complicity of global diplomatic policies towards Iran.

The projection of aggression by Tehran—notably through its vows of retribution against Israel and the United States—is increasingly recognized as a facade rather than a demonstration of true power. This perception was vividly underscored by Israel’s strategic operation in Damascus—an act not merely reactionary but indicative of Tehran’s perilous affiliations, particularly illuminated by the recent embrace of a Hamas leader by Iran’s highest echelons. Such events bring to light a stark reality: Both Israel’s existence and the safety of American soldiers are jeopardized not solely by Iran’s actions but by a tacit acquiescence within international diplomacy.

At the heart of the Islamic Republic’s foreign strategy lies a veneer of diplomatic engagement, masking the true orchestration by the Revolutionary Guard Corps and Quds Force. This reveals the foreign ministry’s role as a facade for military and espionage undertakings. The gathering of military personnel near diplomatic premises—ostensibly for plotting against Israel and American interests—further unmasks the regime’s true intentions.

Complicit in proliferating Iran’s narrative are regime-endorsed media entities that operate globally, particularly targeting Persian-language audiences abroad. This orchestrated echo chamber seeks to manipulate public perception, presenting Iran’s defiance and aggression as legitimate, challenging the international community’s tolerance of such breaches of global norms.

The dichotomy facing the world today centers on reconciling the Islamic Republic’s disregard for international laws with the scrutiny faced by its victims—Israel and the United States—for their defensive measures. The aftermath of Israel’s Damascus operation, which dismantled a supposed diplomatic hub, reveals Iran’s agenda: not diplomacy, but the orchestration of terror.

Tehran’s silence post-Israel’s targeted strikes belies the regime’s capability for retaliation, exposing its vulnerabilities. Domestically, the regime grapples with a populace disenchanted by economic mismanagement and repression, widening the chasm between the government and its citizens. Furthermore, the regime’s ideological ambition for regional supremacy and its vision of a “strategic depth” extending across continents showcase a delusional self-image, alienating it internationally and highlighting its inherent weaknesses.

The global dialogue on addressing Iran’s provocations, particularly its nuclear aspirations and sponsorship of terrorism, underscores the necessity for a strategic, unified response that extends beyond military confrontation. This approach entails a collaborative stance against the Khomeinist ideology, emphasizing not only punitive measures but also the empowerment of internal movements advocating for reform.

The international posture towards Iran, thus far characterized by reactive measures, requires a strategic recalibration. This entails a comprehensive engagement strategy that confronts the root causes of Tehran’s destabilizing actions. The objective transcends mere containment, aiming to foster an environment conducive to internal change, prioritizing the well-being of the Iranian populace over the regime’s expansionist objectives.

The road ahead in addressing the multifaceted challenge presented by the Islamic Republic of Iran is fraught with complexity. Beyond the immediacy of military deterrence and the rigidity of economic sanctions lies the necessity for a strategic, holistic approach. This encompasses diplomatic finesse; targeted financial pressures; and an unequivocal support for the Iranian people’s aspirations for democratic governance and societal reform. The international community’s strategy must pivot from reactive postures to proactive engagements, aiming to dismantle the ideological and military underpinnings of Iran’s aggressive foreign policy.

Simultaneously, fostering conditions conducive to internal transformation within Iran emerges as a paramount objective. Supporting the burgeoning voices of dissent and the grassroots movements yearning for change can catalyze a shift towards a governance model that aligns with the global norms of peace, democracy and mutual respect. Such a transformation would not only neutralize a persistent source of regional instability but also reintegrate Iran into the international fold as a constructive actor.

As the international community contemplates its next moves, the decisions made will indelibly influence the geopolitical landscape of the Middle East and the wider world. A calibrated blend of firmness in defense, innovation in diplomacy and solidarity with the Iranian populace offers a pathway out of the current impasse. This approach promises not just the containment of a global threat but the dawn of a new chapter in international relations—one where dialogue and mutual respect override discord and confrontation.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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