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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 22 May 2024

Pick peace: Editorial on the ongoing Israel-Iran conflict

The US, China, Russia and other major powers — as also nations like India — must immediately push for a region-wide ceasefire. The world can only afford to pick one side in this crisis: that of peace

The Editorial Board Published 16.04.24, 08:16 AM
Representational image.

Representational image. File Photo

A widely-anticipated attack by Iran on Israel, using more than 300 missiles and drones, has significantly raised fears of a broad regional conflict emerging from Israel’s war on Gaza with implications that extend well beyond the Middle East. Israel, with help from the United States of America and the United Kingdom, managed to shoot down almost all of the Iranian projectiles. Jordan also shot down some missiles that passed through its airspace. Yet, Tehran’s attack, which followed the Israeli bombing of an Iranian consulate in Damascus, Syria, on April 1, in which eight people were killed, including two Iranian generals, has raised the risks of a military escalation that could suck in multiple other nations. Israel has said it is weighing its options for retaliation. Iran has already warned that any fresh strike from Israel will invite more attacks from Tehran. Washington has reportedly told Tel Aviv that it will not support any Israeli attack on Iran, even as the US Congress is likely to discuss fresh aid for Tel Aviv.

While many critics of the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, have accused him of trying to provoke a wider conflict to hold on to power amid mounting domestic opposition, Mr Netanyahu and his team will be well aware of the risks of a war that spins out of control. Iran, which had attacked Israel through proxy militant groups but not directly before, also knows well that any further escalation is not in its interests: Israel’s powerful military could embarrass Iran in ways that could shake up the credibility of the Islamic republic. But in the current, surcharged atmosphere, all it needs is one miscalculation to nudge countries off script. Already, the wider consequences of the tensions are becoming clear — from the 17 Indian sailors captured by Iran when it seized an Israel-linked ship last week near the Strait of Hormuz to the multiple flight disruptions resulting from countries closing their air space near Iran and Israel. The oil market and the shipping industry, already on edge because of the Gaza war, will take deep hits from any military confrontation. The US, China, Russia and other major powers — as also nations like India — must immediately push for a region-wide ceasefire. The world can only afford to pick one side in this crisis: that of peace.

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