Iran and Pakistan fire missiles at each other

Iran carried out missile strikes against targets in Pakistan this week which it says were aimed at killing terrorists from a rebel militia group based there. Attacks were also carried out against Erbil in the Iraqi Kurdish region and targets in Syria. Pakistan retaliated by firing missiles at targets on Iranian territory. Europe's press analyses Tehran's motives and assesses the danger of further escalation in the Middle East.

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Avvenire (IT) /

Revolutionary Guards flexing their muscles

The domestic situation is obliging Tehran to make a show of strength, Avvenire explains:

“A series of devastating terrorist strikes and blatant Israeli attacks on the military leadership of the powerful Pasdaran, whose forces are stationed in the region, have humiliated Tehran in recent weeks and shown the world its vulnerability both outside and within the country. This is an untenable situation for the powerful Revolutionary Guards, who are now the strongest element of the regime: their rise, built on geopolitical and military successes abroad, is being undermined by the constant blows dealt to them within the country.”

Independent Türkçe (TR) /

Iran can afford to attack Iraq

Iran wants to divert attention from its domestic problems, Independent Türkçe explains:

“Whenever the Tehran regime finds itself in a tight spot and feels the need to manoeuvre, it tries to relieve its internal pressure and cover up the problems it faces by launching an attack on an easy target. ... The attack on Erbil comes at no cost for Iran. Moreover, in this way it is punishing the Kurdistan Democratic Party for resisting it and not surrendering. Iran wants to shape the region according to its own ideas. There are no longer many forces left in Iraq that could put up resistance.”

El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

Tehran wants to be involved everywhere

El Periódico de Catalunya believes Iran is weaker than it portrays itself to be:

“The fervour with which it wants to demonstrate resistance to its many enemies could lead to an unbearable retaliation. Many actors are fanning the flames in the Near East (above all Israel and Hezbollah) and in the Middle East (above all the Houthis), and Tehran can't control them all as it sees fit. One gets the impression that it wants to be present in all that occurs in these regions and feels the need to demonstrate a strength that it does not have. It is focusing on attacking secondary targets in the hope of not angering those who can make its life even more miserable than it already is.”

Diena (LV) /

Strikes agreed upon in advance?

The mutual missile attacks were a set-up, Diena is convinced:

“There is no disagreement between Iran and Pakistan about the need for a decisive fight against radical separatist groups on both sides of the border. ... In this case all the démarches were over the fact that Tehran launched a missile attack on Pakistan's territory without informing Islamabad in advance. ... Such actions are perfectly in line with the methods of traditional Eastern diplomacy, and are regularly used in the region as a cover for pre-arranged plans. The latest events look suspiciously like a case in point.”

ABC (ES) /

Danger of regional escalation

ABC sees Iran's new strategy as very dangerous:

“Three countries - Iraq, Syria and Pakistan - have been hit by missiles from Tehran. ... With this show of force, the ayatollahs want to show their people that they are capable of reacting to the double attack in Kerman at the start of the year. However, the region is too tense and unstable right now, and this reaction in three different directions could result in a dangerous escalation. ... Iran is in the habit of fighting by proxy through allies (Hezbollah, Houthis, etc.) in order to spare its own territory. But in recent months it has been forced to realise that this activism comes at a price, as Kerman demonstrated.”

The Spectator (GB) /

The situation has never been so tense

Iran's airstrikes on Pakistan are a cause for concern for The Spectator:

“Tehran's military action has no direct or obvious connection with the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, but it will do nothing to ease fears that the Middle East is slowly succumbing to a wider and much more unpredictable conflict. The timing of the latest Iranian attacks could not be worse ... It all points to unprecedented levels of tension and mutual suspicion throughout the wider Middle East. All it would take is one misunderstanding or false move to spark an all-out war: Lebanon, the Red Sea, Yemen, Iraq and Syria have all become spillover conflict zones from the Gaza war.”

Radio Kommersant FM (RU) /

The war virus is spreading

Radio Kommersant FM observes more and more lines of conflict opening up in the Middle East:

“Turkey also decided to fire a few missiles, also at the Kurds, but in Syria. There doesn't seem to be a major war in the Middle East. But of course the situation can't be described as calm either. The war virus is clearly spreading in the region. Conflicts that before were only smouldering are starting to flare up again. Tehran is not openly opposing the Western coalition and Israel but is quenching its thirst for revenge on those who are weaker and cannot react so harshly.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Part of Iran's strategy

Iran's actions are focused on weakening the West, La Stampa comments:

“The goal remains the same. To force the enemy to shift its resources to a secondary front. The Yemeni militiamen have succeeded in this in spectacular fashion. But the game in Kurdistan remains just as crucial. So much so that Washington has decided to send another 1,500 National Guard troops to Iraq and Syria. The pawns are moving, the war will be long.”

Visão (PT) /

Tehran working with Moscow and Damascus

The termination of the nuclear programme with Iran was a serious mistake, political scientist Bernardo Pires de Lima criticises in Visão:

“Iran is now part of an alliance of support with Moscow, Damascus and Pyongyang. This is a growing problem for every Western country that saw the agreement to monitor Iran's nuclear programme as an opportunity to bind parts of the anti-theocratic civil society and weaken the regime. With the deal torn up by Trump and no European or UN force to uphold it, Tehran is now increasingly the pivot of an axis of insecurity.”