Pakistan launched a retaliatory strike into Iran on Thursday aimed at a separatist militant group after Tehran attacked another militant group within Pakistan territory earlier this week.
The airstrikes come amid increasing growing tensions in the Middle East as the impact of Israel’s military operation in Gaza continues to reverberate.
Iran using strikes to ratchet up support
Iran has used its strikes on Pakistan, Iraq, and Syria to drive support among its overseas proxy militias as well as its domestic conservative hardliners, The New York Times reported. Iran has historically leaned on its proxy militias to carry out fighting on its behalf, but in recent strikes actually acted on its own, the Times noted. Tehran has long attempted to “export” its conflicts abroad, one expert told the paper. The result is a higher domestic security risk: Iran suffered its worst terrorist attack in years earlier this month.
Escalations between Pakistan, Iran possible after strikes
Analysts fear that tensions between Tehran and Islamabad could hit a fever pitch following the retaliatory strikes. Iran has long cultivated terrorist cells in Pakistan, one expert told Pakistani newspaper Dawn. “On the surface, Pakistan’s targeting of these groups is perfectly defensible,” political analyst Mosharraf Zaidi said, but warned of an unpredictable situation to come down the line. “Iran wants a fight — wherever it can get one — because a revolutionary regime cannot survive without fighting for its grand vision.”
Cracks emerging in US-Israel ties over post-war plans
U.S. President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have reportedly not spoken in weeks, as tensions between the two countries grow. Netanyahu has rebuffed American efforts to establish an independent Palestinian state — something analysts view as a crucial step to resolve the conflict. Israeli President Isaac Herzog highlighted growing regional divisions as a driving cause of his country’s continued war effort: At the World Economic Forum in Davos he told attendees that Israelis aren’t “willing” to think about a peace deal yet, adding that “Israel lost trust in the peace processes because they see that terror is glorified by our neighbors.”