Yesterday’s exchange of missile and air attacks between Iranian forces stationed in Syria and Israel was the most violent and overt exchange so far between them in their “secret war”. In this shadowy conflict, Tehran is making strenuous efforts to consolidate its military foothold in Syria, gained by being the military savior—along with Russia and with proxy Shiite militias—of the Assad regime, into a permanent presence. The Islamic Republic also hopes to improve its strategic capabilities there, especially surface-to-surface missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, and air defense. Israel is determined to prevent such an eventuality: Since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War, it has carried out, without taking credit until the last few weeks, over one hundred airstrikes against the Hezbollah and Iranian strategic capabilities in Syria.
Afghans celebrated the new access that Iran’s Chabahar port provides the country, but this victory may turn out to be a pyrrhic one. As recent as May 2016, India, Iran, and Afghanistan signed their first-ever trilateral partnership agreement allowing Indian goods to reach Afghanistan and Central Asia via Iran, while also inserting new geopolitically competing players into the region. Over one year later, in October 2017, the first shipment of Indian wheat arrived in Zaranj, Afghanistan, via Chabahar port.
The current protests throughout Iran are unprecedented in its post-revolutionary history. They are driven primarily by a popular sense of economic indignity borne of decades of mismanagement, rampant cronyism, low oil prices, and tough sanctions; in other words, the catalysts are not ideological. The protests are spread across the country, remarkably making their way to the capital, rather emanating from it. They are at present leaderless, unlike 1979 or 2009. And distinct from the latter year’s Green Movement, when perhaps less than one million Iranians possessed smartphones, over 47 million now have them at their disposal. When the revolution eventually comes, it will be streamed.