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Flares from explosions in the sky over Tel Aviv as Israel's anti-missile system intercepts missiles and drones from Iran. Alamy Stock Photo
Middle East

Tom Clonan: After Iran's attack on Israel, the 'world now holds its breath'

Clonan believes “past behaviour is the best prediction for the future behaviour” when judging what Israel’s response will be.

MANY OF THE world’s leaders view last night’s attack on Israel by Iran as a frightening escalation in the spiralling Middle East conflict, but what is likely to happen next?

Security and defence analyst and senator Tom Clonan believes it raises the possibility of states “losing control” of the conflict and it drawing in other states.

While Iran’s attack, comprising more than 300 missiles and drones, was mainly repelled by Israel and its allies, Clonan said it needs to be viewed as “much more than a PR stunt”.

“This is a state on state attack and now the world just has to hold its breath, see what Benjamin Netanyahu will do and how he will respond,” Clonan told The Journal.

This came about following a suspected attack by Israel on an Iranian consulate building in Damascus in Syria.

When judging what comes next, Clonan believes “past behaviour is the best prediction for future behaviour” for Israel’s response will be to last night’s attack.

He argued that Israel’s “unique selling point” in recent years has been its willingness to use “indiscriminate use of force” when managing its foreign policy.

“It’s always been about showing who is in charge here. They haven’t had any diplomatic initiatives,” Clonan said.

featureimage Tom Clonan, who is a former army peacekeeper and a member of the Trinity College Seanad panel. Norma Burke / PA) Norma Burke / PA) / PA)

This makes its a “very dangerous moment” in the conflict, the independent senator continued.

“The situation has now changed. There’s this thought that Netanyahu will shrug this off and America will talk to him and say ‘listen, let’s not have a regional war’.

“My fear is that the cat is now out of the bag. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think Netanyahu will ignore this – and Israel will retaliate against Iran, and they will also retaliate against targets in Syria and Lebanon.”

Clonan warned that America may struggle to “control how Netanyahu will respond” because of the nature of Iran’s attack last night.

“It will be very hard to tell Benjamin Netanyahu how to respond to an attack on his country by another state. The gloves are off and this gives him an opportunity to prolong his own political survival.”

“There is the danger of a very heavy-handed use of force because that’s what they’ve done in Gaza, that’s what they’ve done to the Palestinian people, where they’ve butchered more than 30,000 people,” he added.

‘Bad news’ for other regions

Clonan added that these developments have implications for other regions, including Ukraine and Taiwan, and that strong leadership is necessary to prevent conflicts from escalating.

The ammunition and resupply that “Ukraine so desperately needs” for its own air defence against Russia risks being “diverted if this escalates into into a massive war” with Iran.