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Why Iran is not engaging in an all-out war with Israel and why is it likely to happen?

According to a recent report, Iran's Supreme leader Ali Khamenei informed Hamas' leader Ismail Haniyeh that Iran will not engage in the a against Israel since Hamas did not forewarn Iran on the October 7th attack. Coming from an Iranian state source, this report validates our assessment on Hezbollah's reluctance to engage in an all-out war against Israel. 

khamenei and mashal

Deterrence from the United States or Israel does not play a role in Iran's stance. A fundamental element of the Iranian regime's ideology is its commitment to "wipe Israel off the map", as their former president Ahmadinejad put it.

So what are the reasons for the Iranian current position? There are several conditions that have not yet matured from Iran's point of view, which are necessary to ensure its victory in an all-out campaign against Israel:

  1. Iran is not yet a nuclear threshold state. Iran believes that such a status would deter others to directly attack it, and thus will serve as an "insurance policy."

  2. Lack of legitimacy. Iran is a rogue state, yet, it is subject to external and internal pressures and constraints. The involvement of Iran in the war might expose Iran to a further international isolation and might rekindle internal anti-regime protest. 

  3. Iran's "ring of fire" deployment is still ongoing. Iran strives to encircle Israel with a vast missile infrastructure. Syria, which is 18 times bigger than Lebanon, plays an important role in this strategy. To date, Israel managed to dramatically slow down the Iranian missile deployment there. 

So Why is war with Hezbollah very likely and thus also war with Iran? Because Israel cannot end the war without expelling Hezbollah from its border. Israel has almost no political levers against Hezbollah and Iran, and it is doubtful that its military threat will be effective. There is a great chance that Israel will be the one to strike first in Lebanon as it benefits from unique conditions that are unlikely to return: social cohesion, support from the USA, solidarity with world Jewry and international legitimacy.


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