Are Israel and Iran Stuck on a Collision Course?

Just last month, the long-simmering Israeli-Iranian conflict came out of the shadows when Iran sent a drone across the Jordanian border into Israel, and Israel retaliated with air strikes on several targets including the Iranian drone operators at a Syrian base in Palmyra, northeast of Damascus. The two sides appear to be on a collision course as Iran penetrates further into a hollowed-out Syria and Israel tries to frustrate that effort. The current status quo, where Israel limits itself to enforcing its publicly stated red lines in Syria, is likely to continue. However, new events that change the intentions of the parties could lead to miscalculation and uncontrollable escalation.

Iran’s strategy since signing the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement was to trade short-term nuclear weapons capability for regional expansion and ballistic missile build up. The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ali Khamenei came away from the deal with the ‘P-5 plus 1’ with what critics of the deal see as an option to pursue a nuclear weapon in the future.

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