John Bolton got it right when he revealed that last weeks surprise attack on Israel by Iranian proxies was an attempt by Iran to read Israeli political willpower.
We should know by now that all actors within the Near East always wish to have a dominant strategic advantage. What differentiates the actors is the governing philosophy that animates its priorities. The Israelis now have ‘Iron Dome’, a missile shield, but Persian proxies now understand its limitations.
What did the Mullahs learn?
They learned a lot about their enemy, Israel. We shouldn’t be fooled into recognizing that the Palestinians are an objective. They aren’t anymore. That road has run dry. The Mullahs learned about capabilities and the politics of Israel’s governing coalition, especially its relation with the United States.
The Mullah’s know that the Fajr-5 aimed at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem has a longer range and can be test fired from either Gaza or just immediately outside of Egypt. Iran’s greatest advantage was learning how Israel will retaliate if provoked. Even Napoleon knew the distinct disadvantage of handling coalition warfare.
What does Iran know?
It knows that the Israeli Air Force cannot be in three areas at once. The Israelis know that they can expect indirect, asymmetrical retaliation from Iran. However, constraining the Israeli Air Force will be a priority for the Mullahs, leaving them with the option of positioning proxies around the Israeli perimeter encircling Israel. Defending against missile attacks from the north in the Bekaa valley and Gaza while hitting Iranian nukes will be the challenge.
The challenge for Israel is political. It must maintain good relations with the Americans. The Iranians know that a ground campaign out of Jerusalem is most likely out of the question, especially given tactical nuclear advantages that Iran will possess.
We should note that the cease fire was not welcomed in Israel, nor were ground forces welcomed as an offensive objective. This may change.
The ceasefire agreement between Egypt and Israel is the hinge. The language used gives the Egyptians the upper hand in dealing with Hamas. This is advantageous to the Iranian proxies for Hamas has been shopping around for a new patron; yes the Sunni Arabs and Shia will work together, but the proxy conflict out of Syria has exposed some awful ethnic fault lines that is intrinsic to Islamic ethics. Handling Philadelphia and the port of Sudan where the Mullah’s camp is the key to the final confrontation between Israel and Iran.