Under the bluster, Iran is worried about the pounding of its proxy

NY Times:

These should be heady days for Iran’s leaders. Hezbollah, widely regarded as its proxy force in Lebanon, continues to rain down rockets on Israel despite 17 days of punishing airstrikes. Hezbollah’s leader is a hero of the Arab world, and Iran is basking in the reflected glory.

Yet this capital is unusually tense. Officials, former officials and analysts say that it is too dangerous even to discuss the crisis. In newspapers, the slightest questioning of support for Hezbollah has been attacked as unpatriotic, pro-Zionist and anti-Islamic.

As the war in Lebanon grinds on, Iranian officials cannot seem to decide whether Iran will emerge stronger — or unexpectedly weakened.

They are increasingly confident of an ideological triumph. But they also believe the war itself has already harmed Hezbollah’s strength as a military deterrent for Iran on the Israeli border.

And foreign policy experts and former government officials said that Iran had come to view Israel’s attack on Lebanon as a proxy offensive. They now view the war as the new front line in the decades-old conflict with Washington.

“They are worried that what’s happened in Lebanon to Hezbollah is the United States’ revenge against Iran,” said Hamidreza Jalaipour, a sociologist and former government official. “The way they are attacking them and fighting against them is like waging a war against Iran.”

...

No matter how this conflict is resolved, Iranian officials already see their strategic military strength diminished, said the policy experts, former officials and one official with close ties to the highest levels of government. Even if a cease-fire takes hold, and Hezbollah retains some military ability, a Lebanese public eager for peace may act as a serious check.

In the past, Iran believed that Israel might pause before attacking it because they would assume Hezbollah would assault the northern border. If Hezbollah emerges weaker, or restrained militarily because of domestic politics, Iran feels it may be more vulnerable.

“This was God’s gift to Israel,” said Nasser Hadian, a political science professor at Tehran University and an expert in Iranian foreign policy. “Hezbollah gave them the golden opportunity to attack.”

...

“If Israel attacked us tomorrow, what are we going to do?” he said.

...
This is what I have been saying ever since Hezballah gave Israel the strategic opportunity to eliminate the threat of retaliation for a strike against Iran. The war is also going to cost Iran dearly in terms of its resources to help Lebanon rebuild. For all of Nasrallah's bluster and spin, he has been a miserable failure in this conflict and Iran is the big loser right now regardless of how they try to rationalize their defeat. The NY Times is only running two and a half weeks behind PrairiePundit.

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