Hazem Saghieh

When Iran Speaks Frankly, We Refuse To Believe It!

Putting to one side the catchy, upbeat rhetoric about “shaking the ground under the feet of the Zionists,” “undermining the foundations of occupation” and so on, Iran’s response to the consulate strike can be interpreted in one of two ways:
* One is that this was a military failure. The attack yielded very poor results and little fruit, leaving Iran in a worse position than the one it tried to avenge and confirming that its offensive and defensive actions, as well as its high and low intensity military operations... are all equally prone to failure. If it is true that Tehran managed to paint a beautiful fiery scene in the skies of the Middle East, the fact remains that aesthetics, as far as we know, are not our concern here, and it is the last thing on the minds of Iran’s rulers in the first place.
* The second is that Iran had deliberately planned to fail, as indicated by the statements of senior officials and military figures within the Khomeinist regime. Indeed, it seemed that the military operations were declared over almost before they had begun. Their action cannot even be called a “hit and run,” because it did not hit anything. Now, these officials have confirmed that Iran did not intend to target the United States or Iran’s neighbors. Rather, the officials have stressed that they had told the US and countries in the region about the operation in detail. Another step they took in order to avert an expansion of the conflict and prevent the battle from getting out of hand and becoming difficult to control, was to leave the Iranian proxies closest to Israel geographically out of the operation.
In fact, they went even further in their effort to reassure their adversaries, stressing that they did not target any of the “Zionist enemy’s” “economic and civilian sites” and that their strikes were “precise,” whereby they did not do any real damage. And so, the focus quickly shifted from an event that seems to have never occurred to one that everyone fears could occur, Israel’s reprisal. As for the campaign against the countries that helped the Jewish state repel the attack, it is meaningless because Iran had itself behaved like it was calling on these countries to come to the Jewish state’s aid.
The fact is that the two interpretations converge around a single conclusion: both failure and deliberately foiling its own attack mean that Iran does not want to go to war, regardless of the genocidal campaign that Israel has launched on the population in Gaza, and of course, of the virtues that Iran’s allies attribute to it. While some have claimed that the attack falls within the framework of its conflict with Israel and that it was launched in isolation of the war in Gaza, the fact remains that such an assessment is excessively generous; even within this framework, the attack did nothing but “save face.”
Avoiding war is well within the rights of Iran, which is burdened by an economic collapse, technological decline, and deteriorating domestic conditions, so long as this avoidance is not accompanied by actions like urging others to go to war and funding conflicts in neighboring countries.
Leaders and patrons cannot push their soldiers to fight without fighting in perpetuity, or without striving for victory for fear of its repercussions.
The formula of an officer who pushes his soldiers to behave with a heroism that he steers clear of himself is an anathema to all doctrines of military science. There are probably many factors that have allowed for the implementation of this formula, including the pain and suffering that Israel’s crimes have inflicted on the Palestinians, which laid the foundations for this broad receptiveness to Iran’s traditional claims. However, the more potent factor is a shade of political culture, at the forefront of which is a peculiar conception of victory.
When we do not suffer overwhelming defeat, we declare victory, and our fantasy is reinforced by the arrogance of those Israelis who see themselves as having been defeated when they do not achieve a sweeping victory. Today, with Israel having been hurt by real and severe damage to its economy and image, a few lights in its sky have become enough to prove that we achieved a great historical breakthrough, making us forget the Jewish state’s relentless mass killing, occupation, man-made famine, and displacement, leaving all that outside our assessments of losses and gains.
With such a frame of mind, accountability becomes impossible, as our vision becomes so blurred that images become a blur and the blur becomes the images.
But will this capacity to believe the unbelievable endure after everything that happened?
To be fair, Iran did not lie to us this time. True, its claims of being keen on peace in the region cannot be taken seriously. However, the claim is a sort of ruse to avoid telling the blunt truth that Iran has said in various different ways: it does not want to fight. However, some among us have taken the projection of their desires onto the real world so far that they refuse to believe Iran when it does not lie. It is painful enough when our mind stubbornly refuses to get off its unruly horse, declaring victory with a wink, then winking with its other eye to announce the end of the world, and continuing on its path regardless of what is happening under its nose and before its eyes.
All of that is cause for deep sorrow.