World War III starts in the Middle East?

Metodi Hadji-Janev / Photo: "Free Press" - Dragan Mitreski

The mutual accusations and polarizations of Iran and Israel, once again, we will conclude that they remind us of the eve of some strong major conflicts, both the First World War and the Second World War.

This weekend the world seems to be the closest to a potential third world war. After Israel attacked the Iranian embassy in Syria, Iran hit back. Many did not expect it, because Iran's revenge, if you can say that, was delayed, or, according to Muslim defiance, it came a little later than "right now". There may be a reason for that. For now, the situation is promising for humanity because everyone is a winner from this event. The US and Israel successfully neutralized 99 percent of the attacks. Iran, on the other hand, carried out a successful operation as planned and sent a message to the enemies. But while the media, depending on which side they support, report on the successes, there are several terrible things from the whole game that are worth thinking about.
Meanwhile, in mutual accusations of violating international law, Iran justified the attacks as self-defense in accordance with Article 51 of the Charter. Israel, on the other hand, condemned Iran for flagrant violation of international law. Such mutual accusations and polarizations, once again, we will conclude that they remind us of the eve of some strong major conflicts, both the First World War and the Second World War. In the hope that this will not happen and that reason will prevail, in the following section we will try to give an operational view of what happened and why, if this assumption is correct it could be a problem.
From the footage that has been shared on social media (the authenticity of which we will have to refrain and say that we have not been able to check), we would say that things may have a slightly different background than what we can all see for now. Some experts were quick to say that this is just a show or "bells and whistles". We would say that it is not quite so. In addition to the asymmetry in the cost of attack and defense, this attack on Iran seemed to send a message that the real retaliation could be yet to come. Namely, the targets that Iran had, according to these videos (again we are not sure of the reliability), were not civilian. This means that Iran has a well-organized response that it probably wants to keep at this level in which everyone is declaring victory, but only for now.

What is the price?

The good thing is that the Israeli military council did not make a decision to return the strike expressly, something that many good experts in the relationship had already predicted ex ante. But the modus operandi, the cost of the attacks and the entire interplay around the Security Council point to something that had serious communication beyond Tehran's capacity. According to the first estimates based on the figures published in the media, the price would look approximately like this. About 350 missiles of fundamentally different types of weapons - cruise missiles, ballistic missiles and aircraft - were used on Israel. In these attacks we should point out that Iran was not using any weapon that Israel did not know about. What Iran has demonstrated in practice is an action based on the principle of mass. If it reminds you of the Russian doctrine by which Moscow tries to overcome the Western technological advantage, you are in the right place. In other words, my dears, Iran did not use any sophisticated weapons (although for us that is a lot) against Israel, but used a lot of what it had. This type of attacks, which Iran has been developing for more than a decade, has its origins in the so-called swarm doctrine. According to this doctrine, through the mass of weaker or rudimentary systems you compensate for the technological inferiority of the opponent. This means that Iran knows in advance that most of the systems it used will be shot down. But he also knew something else, that some of these missiles would still pass through the curtain.
This is normal because the defensive shield has its own limit on how many targets it can track at once. If you overload the system it freezes or cannot achieve. To be clear, it is the same as when there is a telephone vote and when more viewers want to call and request a service from the operators. If the number of users at a given moment exceeds the number of system capacity – that is, how much the system can serve, the system can be blocked. Iran, with this attack, also aimed to do something that in operational terminology is called forced reconnaissance. It is very likely that Iran now has an almost complete map of what the Israeli missile defense system looks like, as well as where in Jordan and in the Gulf the US has installations, and how and in what way the technical synchronization between these two air defense systems has weaknesses (if they there is). Also, with the strikes, Iran can now assess how long it takes for the missiles to operate, whether this number of missiles and in this combination of different types of missiles might be sufficient or if something more is needed. Most importantly, Iran performed not only a correction of the fire but also an analysis of the reaction of the entire Israeli system.
In addition to the operational part, the attacks also have a hidden part in which the entire asymmetry of the operation is measured, but also far-reaching cascading effects with which Iran wanted to make a point. The numbers, according to Israeli sources, if correct, go like this, 110 ballistic missiles (costing between 30-50 million dollars), 45 cruise missiles (costing between 4-7 million dollars depending on the technology used and the powder charge), 170 shahed-136 (cost $4-5 million, or a total of the entire operation of the attacker is about $48-62 million. In total, the defense, according to performance, spent $1,1 billion. Then you do the math.
That these systems were used in this way may be confirmed by the statements of US officials about the success with which they completed the operation. For example, according to a US defense official for the Middle East, in one sortie Iranian intermediate-range ballistic missiles that attempted to target an airbase in southern Israel were shot down by US forces. These missiles were intercepted by US Arley Burke-class guided-missile destroyers in the Eastern Mediterranean that use the Aegis ballistic missile defense system (semi-autonomous weapon system) to track and target the missiles before launching Standard-3 missiles ( SM-3) to intercept.

Pressure on Israel

Parallel to the operational objectives it had with the operation, Iran tried to shake the Bibi regime with influence operations. Whether he succeeds in that or not we have to see. But one thing is clear (and it is good for all of us), that for now Israel is under strong pressure not to retaliate against the attacks. It comes not only from the US, but also from the assessment that Israeli military wisdom has made regarding the effect of the operation. The latter is due to the fact that it is not only the operational effects, but also those, the hidden effects of influence operations, which, as per the school textbook, started to give results. In Israel, more and more veterans and reservists because of the all-time instance of operations are vocal about Benjamin Netanyahu's son, Yair Netanyahu. While the population defends the state, the president's son, according to these rumors, remains in Miami and is allegedly exempted from mobilization because of this. Before he moved to Florida, he lost a court case in which he was convicted of defamation in Israel, which is why he allegedly moved out. The cascading effects, however, do not end with low blows and sporadic effects aimed at undermining Israeli unity from within.
The effects are also global. These attacks electrified the situation like never in the past fifty years when Russia openly sided with Iran. The support of Iran in the Security Council by the Russian permanent representative in the UN and the UN Security Council unequivocally confirms the strategic side of the effect achieved by Iran. In this context, we would also put the statement of General Chris Cavoli, the commander of US forces in Europe, in which he indicated that Russia is "fairly successful" in reconstituting its army after it intervened in Ukraine more than 2 years ago. In translation, to make the connection and the danger clearer, that, my dears, means that Russia's vast industrial and energy capacity has been mobilized. It is true that in 2023, 90 percent of Russia's microelectronics imports came from China.

But it is also true that the US and Europe also imported huge amounts of similar materials from China. The fact that the Chinese refused to cut themselves off from cheap Russian energy, but also to share common views on the idea of ​​revising the world order, together with what Iran has done is the dangerous axis that is not only fictitiously but also functioning in reality. This means that the ties are two-way and multi-faceted (mutual dependence for raw materials and energies and uniting against a common enemy).
If a diplomatic mode is not found (which seems to be too late), the danger of a conflict that will shake the world like never before is more and more certain. Hoping we have more celebrations of everyone being a winner as humanity takes a breather keep it up, we'll have plenty to debate on this topic.

(The author is a university professor, associate professor at Arizona State University, USA)


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