On October 7, Hamas achieved strategic surprise to deliver a blow to Israel. From the Hamas point of view, the attack on southern Israel and mass slaughter of civilians was a resounding success. However, this terror operation triggered a chain reaction that threatens to inflict strategic damage to the entire Iran axis and anti-Israel project.
Israel is in the initial stages of a massive operation to destroy Hamas. At the very least, the Gaza-based terror group will be greatly weakened for years to come. If the IDF succeeds, Hamas will be fully devastated.
Notably, Gaza was a key piece of the Iranian puzzle and of Tehran’s plan to encircle Israel. If Gaza is neutralized, the threat on Israel’s southern flank will be minimized in the event of a multi-front war in the future. The Iran axis could still strike from several locations, such as Lebanon, Syria and Yemen. But without the Hamas terror army, an Iran axis assault would be less effective.
The basic premise of the Iranian regime’s strategy was to embroil Israel in fighting on multiple fronts. But if the Gaza terror base is diminished or destroyed, Israel would be able to concentrate forces and resources on the northern front, without having to split its attention and deploy many troops in the south.
In the bottom line, sacrificing Gaza and Hamas at such an early stage was not part of Iran’s plan.
At this point, an expansion of the war to other fronts is a realistic possibility. A broad conflict that spreads to Lebanon and Syria could gravely harm Iran’s most vital assets in the Middle East. This would entirely disrupt Tehran’s vision.
Moreover, if such war does erupt, it will be under conditions that are not ideal for Iran. For one thing, Hamas has already been hurt by relentless airstrikes. As such, Gaza’s ability to contribute to a regional war is far from what it was only a month ago. More importantly, the deployment of US warships and fighter jets in the region could turn an all-out war into a devastating disaster for the Iranian camp.
New Israeli strategy
But even without an all-out war, Iran will face other problems and complications. After the war, Israel will review and thoroughly change its security doctrine, which clearly failed in Gaza. Part of the success of Iran’s long-term vision was relative Israeli restraint against Iranian proxies in the region. Now, Israel will likely adopt a more aggressive approach.
The IDF learned a lesson the hard way, and will no longer allow enemies on Israel’s doorstep to freely build up their military power. Hezbollah in Lebanon and Iranian militias in Syria will be targeted more often, and more forcefully. Israel now learned that any price paid would be lower than the cost of letting threats grow. Targets inside Iran may also become a higher priority for Israel’s security chiefs.
Israel will likely also shake up its political and military leaderships, with a renewed focus on replacing, rebuilding and improving neglected systems and outdated ideas. It has now become clear that for the nation this is a matter of survival.
Finally, the unimaginable brutality of Hamas actions, and the support for such ISIS-style atrocities by too many in the West, will likely turn the political climate in favor of Israel. Political leaders horrified by Hamas are already showing more sympathy. Moreover, Europeans and Americans have been shocked by violent protests and hateful displays on their streets. More people now realize that this danger will ultimately threaten their own countries and families.
While this change may not be apparent immediately, the explosion of pro-Hamas sentiments in city centers and in academia will have a long-term effect. In the end, a limited war in Gaza could have far-reaching implications for European elections and global politics.
Although much remains unknown and the war still continues, the first signs of change are already apparent. Coupled with the likely costs of an alliance with Russia, the Iranians will be entering a dangerous period. Their strategic position and some of their key achievements will be increasingly at risk.
However, for this to happen, both Israel and America will have to conduct the war wisely and forcefully to ensure a positive outcome. If they do, the Gaza war could mark the beginning of an ultimate Iranian decline.