Iran takes a step back | International

The attacks by pro-Iranian militias against the United States have struck a nerve. Shortly after President Joe Biden said Tuesday he had decided how to respond to the drone attack that killed three U.S. troops on a military base in Jordan last Saturday, the group responsible, Kataeb Hezbollah, announced the suspension of all its operations against North America. troops. The pretext, to avoid putting the Iraqi government in difficulty, barely concealed the pressure from Iran.

The Islamic Republic immediately disassociated itself from the aggression by Iraqi militias, one of dozens that groups allied with Iran have launched against US troops in Iraq and Syria since the start of the Gaza war on 7 October, but the first to have caused deaths. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Naser Kanaani said so-called “resistance groups”» They are not following the orders of the Islamic Republic. This is a scenario that has been repeated for years. The Revolutionary Guards, the Iranian regime’s ideological army, have woven a network of allied armed groups across the region that serve to promote its interests while acting as a parapet in case they are held accountable for their actions.

The formula is not new, but Iran has been able to ensure ideological cohesion around the rejection of the existence of Israel and the military presence of the United States in its neighborhood. The Revolutionary Guards’ links with Lebanese Hezbollah, Palestinian Hamas, the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (of which Kataeb Hezbollah is a part), the pro-Assad militias of Syria and even, to varying degrees, have never been been a secret. Houthi movement. However, since Israel declared war on Hamas following its October 7 attack, the pieces of the puzzle have begun to come together.

Some analysts see an operation directed from Tehran in which these groups would only be the tentacles of an octopus – to use the image of former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett – which would act in concert. Even those who emphasize the local, often opportunistic, interests of each of the parties describe the attitude of the Iranian leaders as cynical, declaring themselves unconscious of their actions. Ultimately, all militias depend to a greater or lesser extent on training and weapons, and even funding, from the Islamic Republic.

So far, the jabs from his resistance allies against American forces fit him like a glove. They present the Biden administration with a poisonous choice: either overreact by directly attacking Iran and open the canopy of thunder – confirming Iranian accusations of interventionism – or continue to calibrate the response while its attackers boast of taking the lead . But this tightening of the rope seems to have reached a red line with the death of the three American soldiers. It is unclear whether Kataeb Hezbollah’s sudden turnaround is the result of 48 hours of intense behind-the-scenes pressure on Iran, or whether the militia’s decision – moving to “passive defense” – is a tactic aimed at present its possible reaction to Washington’s response as self-defense, that is to say, as a simple Iranian ruse.

Despite the opacity that characterizes the Islamic regime, it seems clear that it has no interest in escalating the conflict to the point of involving its forces, as this would endanger its survival. For the moment, the decline of Kataeb Hezbollah provokes strong criticism online among resistance groups.

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