Dangerous escalation

Published April 3, 2024

MONDAY’S attack by Israel on Iran’s consulate in Damascus marks a dangerous escalation in an already volatile region. It is also the continuation of a belligerent posture by an aggressor unbound by the principles of proportionality or respect for sovereign entities. Less than a week ago, Israel carried out air strikes in Syria’s Aleppo, killing more than 40 people. It has routinely launched attacks against its neighbours in search of what it says are existential enemies. Using the momentum from its Gaza invasion and the support it has received from Western countries, despite its shocking excesses in the devastated Strip, it is now rapidly wading into a wider conflagration. The Damascus attack, which killed at least seven individuals, including two Iranian top commanders, has sparked vows of retaliation from Tehran. The destruction of a diplomatic facility — a move that flagrantly violates international conventions — underscores a troubling readiness to lay waste to any entity Israel deems an obstacle. The latest act of aggression is part of a broader pattern of military engagements, particularly evident in the protracted siege of Gaza over the past six months, where almost 33,000 people have been butchered, and where famine-like conditions prevail.

The global reaction to the strike has been a mix of condemnation and calls for restraint. While Syria and Iran’s allies have vocally decried the strike, the international community is in a diplomatic bind. As it urges de-escalation, it is faced with the reality of a complex, multifaceted conflict that defies easy resolution. The US, though distancing itself from the attack, saying it had “no involvement” and “did not know about it ahead of time”, did express concern over any action that could escalate the conflict. Meanwhile, an emergency meeting of the Security Council has been convened at the request of Russia, a close Iranian ally. Israel, emboldened by unconditional US support, disregards the collateral impact on diplomatic norms, regional stability, and human life. The urgent need for Tel Aviv to reassess its approach and rein in its bloodlust cannot be overstated. Washington and its allies must acknowledge that they have already lost their moral authority and need to do more than issuing hollow platitudes. The international community, particularly the UN, must take a more assertive stance in holding Israel accountable for adventurism that threatens to ignite a wider conflict.

Published in Dawn, April 3rd, 2024

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