Israel Attempts Attack Over Aleppo In Effort To Stunt Iranian Control

On Monday, July 19th, Syrian air defenses intercepted an attempted Israeli attack over Aleppo. The area of Syria which Israeli forces were aiming at has a strong Iranian presence, which is in line with Israel’s consistent efforts to shut down Iranian military development and control of the region. Israel, allied with the United States, has engaged in a shadow war, essentially a proxy war, (where there is armed conflict but it is not labeled war) with Iran since mid-2018.

According to Al Jazeera, this shadow war (approved by the U.S.) is part of a foreign policy initiative to undermine Iranian control of the Middle East. Furthermore, as reported by the BBC, this incident along with all others of this nature are not isolated. Israel and Iran have continuously engaged in hostile acts against one another because of what Israel deems the spread of Iranian control in the Middle East. 

After the attempted attack, Syrian media agency SANA reported that “At around 23:37 on Monday [20:37 GMT]…the Israeli enemy carried out an aerial attack towards southeast Aleppo, targeting positions in the al-Safirah area.” Iranian involvement in this part of Syria is indicative of the fact that Iran is frequently called Syria’s ‘closest ally.’ This also suggests that Syria is implicated in the shadow war between Iran and Israel. Lebanon is also directly implicated in Israeli attacks, as it is another of Iran’s allies in the region. 

Iran and Israel have had poor relations for decades. Since Iran’s transformation into an Islamic republic, the two countries have perceived each other as a threat to national security. 

As outlined by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Iran has denounced the Israeli occupation of Palestine and thereby supports the Palestinian cause, while Israel has consistently tried to stunt Iran’s nuclear program. Essentially, Israel wants to remain the central nuclear power and the state with the most control in the Middle East. 

While it is unrealistic to simply demand that this conflict end, it is nonetheless extremely harmful to peace and stability in the region. The U.S. involvement is only worsening the conflict, and Syria is an already fragile and unstable country. If this shadow war does not end shortly, all of the countries in the region, as well as their allies, will be implicated, which may lead to a full-scale war. This shadow war, an obvious threat to peace, has not yet escalated to such an extreme that the international community is heavily involved, but it must stop before it reaches that point.

Moreover, not only is this shadow war detrimental to peace, but it is also a threat to redevelopment in Syria, a country that has been plagued by war for the past decade, as well as other parts of the region. Post-conflict resolution and development are difficult as is, but it is nearly impossible if there is always a conflict brewing right around the corner. It appears that the only way for this shadow war to end is with an agreement and compromise about how these two powers (Israel and Iran) will proceed and potentially share power going forward. 

This shadow war between Israel and Iran calls for immediate attention. It has not received enough close attention because of other conflicts in the region. However, while this conflict may be contained enough, for now, it could quickly evolve and worsen. The international community should be aware of this and should act sooner rather than later to call on and pressure Israel and Iran to halt their shadow war and find a sustainable way of navigating power-sharing in the Middle East going forward.