US Asks Iran to Let Israel Strike it “Symbolically”

Iran Missile
In this picture released by the official website of the Iranian Army on Jan. 19, 2024, a missile is launched during a military drill in southern Iran. [AP Photo/Iranian Army]

In what is seen as an unprecedented international diplomatic move, the White House has asked the Tehran government if it would allow Israel to engage in a “symbolic retaliatory strike” on Iran as a “face-saving formula” and to placate domestic pressure.

The American message delivered through the Swiss Embassy in Tehran which looks after US relations there is seen as highly irregular and has been major news on the social media and a butt of all jokes and sarcasm by many bloggers and commentators.

The breaking story first appeared on The Cradle news website which quoted an Iranian official speaking in anonymity saying the Iranian government received messages from different mediators to let Israel do a symbolic strike on the country to save face and has asked Iran not to retaliate. 

In turn, the source added the government in Tehran had outrightly rejected such a move. To drive their point home, the government let officials from the Islamic Revolution Guard Corp deliver a message to the USA via the Swiss Embassy, emphasizing it would respond in the strongest possible terms if Israel would strike Iran in any form.

Although most of the 300 weapons – drones, ballistic and cruise missiles – were brought down by US and British allies before they reached Israel, the Netanyahu government had been licking its wounds.

The missiles managed to penetrate some three military bases in Israel and is being seen in Iran as a major victory.

Since the series of strikes on Israel, in the early hours of Sunday morning, the Biden administration in Washington has been trying to persuade the Israeli government not to militarily respond and create a major conflagration in the Middle East.

US president Joe Biden is seeking to control the slippery-slope situation brought on by Israel’s 7-month war on Gaza. It is already facing a Houthi-led blockade in the Red Sea and the Bab Al Mandeb Straits as well as Hezbollah and other pro-Iranian Shia groups in the Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.

Therefore, it fears if Israel responds to the last Iranian attacks, it would put the whole region in a military tailspin and a prelude for a regional war.

But Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant says Israel has no choice but to respond military to the Iranian projectiles that were mainly seen over the skies of Jordan, and came from the south from Yemen fired by the Houthis.

Although they don’t like to admit it, the political and Israeli military establishments have been shocked about the scale of the Iran attacks. This is despite the fact, Israel virtually regards Syria as its military backyard with hundreds of sorties carried out on the country over the past 10 years.

It is clear Iran has penetrated the Israeli psyche this time around, although after the attacks Iranian officials let it be known through different intermediaries like Qatar, Turkey as well as the Swiss they don’t wish to escalate and their actions was in response to the Israeli strikes on their Consulate in Syria in which seven of their officials were killed.

Thus, the guessing game continues. Israelis, and from the statements of its officials continue to mull over the type of military response they want to undertake. Officials in Washington believe a hit is coming but they only ask they’d be told about in advance.

Meanwhile social media celebrities have been having a field do on Washington’s urging to Tehran to let Israel strike “symbolically.”  The views are from the X platform.

Social media reactions

Marin Prvan simply says “what is this, Kindergarten politics?,” while Sarah Wilkinson writes: “Hilariously, the US begged Iran to allow the Israeli regime to make ‘a symbolic strike’ against it to save it from embarrassment: no, says Iran.” On the other hand Alexa Heidar says: “What joke of a world we live in.” 

And the list goes on. Remove a ToryMP writes the US is begging Iran to let Israel have a pity-strike while Notinmyname says: “The United Slaves of America grovelling for Israel masters.” 

It is a reminder of the First Gulf War in January 1991 when the president Saddam Hussein of Iraq fired 42 scud missiles on Tel Aviv and Haifa. Then, the Israeli government was persuaded not to respond because the Bush administration was about to have its first war on Iraq.

Dr Asmar is a writer from Amman covering Middle East Affairs

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