US On High Alert Amid Israel-Iran Shadow War: Origins Of Conflict Explained

The roots of Iran-Israel shadow war trace back to the overthrow of Iran's last monarch, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, in 1979.

US On High Alert Amid Israel-Iran Shadow War: Origins Of Conflict Explained
New Delhi:

Israel, who has been waging a war against the terrorist organisation Hamas for six months, now needs to strengthen another front. Iran has said that it is prepared for war and will deliver a "slap" to Israel.

Iran's remarks come after an Israel airstrike hit their consulate in Damascus, killing at least seven Iranians, including two generals. While Israel has repeatedly targeted Iran-linked assets in Syria over the past few months, this was the first time an attack struck an Iranian diplomatic building.

Israel has been on alert since then, canceling home leave for combat troops, calling up reserves, and bolstering air defenses. Its military scrambled navigational signals over Tel Aviv on Thursday to disrupt GPS-navigated drones or missiles that might be fired at the country.

Israel-Iran Shadow War: Origins

The roots of this shadow conflict trace back to the overthrow of Iran's last monarch, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, in 1979. Following the Islamic revolution, Iran's leaders adopted an anti-Israel stance, aligning themselves with groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine.

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the revolution, brought about a new worldview that predominantly championed Islam. He called for a fight against "arrogant" world powers who oppress others – including Palestinians – to serve their interests.

The new government in Iran started referring to Israel as the "Little Satan" to the "Great Satan" that is the US.

Meanwhile, Israel perceives Iran's nuclear ambitions as an existential threat and has allegedly conducted covert operations to thwart its atomic program.

The Battlegrounds

The clashes between Israel and Iran have not been limited to ideologies or proxy groups, with both countries often attacking the other. But both publicly deny carrying out the attacks, which is why the conflict has become known as a "shadow war" that has spread to several other countries in the region.

Lebanon serves as one of the battlegrounds in the shadow war between the two Middle Eastern nations, with Hezbollah emerging as a proxy for Iran's interests in the region. Israeli incursions into Lebanon, coupled with Hezbollah's rocket attacks into Israel, have perpetuated a cycle of violence along the border.

Syria's civil war provided another theater for the conflict, as Iran bolstered its military presence to support President Bashar al-Assad and facilitate arms transfers to Hezbollah. In response, Israel has launched numerous airstrikes targeting Iranian assets in Syria, further escalating tensions.

Maritime incidents have also contributed to the hostility between the two adversaries, with attacks on commercial vessels suspected to be carried out by both Israel and Iran.

What Is Happening Now?

Suspected Israeli warplanes bombed Iran's embassy in Damascus on Monday in a strike that killed an Iranian military commander and marked a major escalation in Israel's war with its regional adversaries.

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has said that seven Iranian military advisers died in the strike, including Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a senior commander in its Quds Force, which is an elite foreign espionage and paramilitary arm.

Iran has said it reserves the right "to take a decisive response" and will deliver a "slap" to Israel.

Why Is US On High Alert

Amid the escalation of the Iran-Israel conflict, US President Joe Biden dialled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and assured him of support.

"Our teams have been in regular and continuous contact since then. The United States fully supports the defense of Israel against threats from Iran," a senior Biden administration official said.

But just hours after the Biden call became public, Iran issued a statement warning the US to stay out of the conflict.

In a written message to Washington, Iran "warned the US not to get dragged into Netanyahu's trap," Mohammad Jamshidi, the Iranian president's deputy chief of staff for political affairs, wrote on X, referring to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The US should "step aside so that you don't get hit."

Is An All-Out War Between Israel And Iran A Possibility?

The specter of all-out war looms large, particularly concerning Iran's nuclear program. Despite Iran's claims of peaceful intent, Israeli officials remain sceptical, citing intelligence suggesting otherwise.

Israeli officials have repeatedly implied that if Iran were to reach the brink of weapons capability, they would attack its nuclear program using air power, as they did Iraq's in 1981 and Syria's in 2007.