De-escalation, the only word that brings together Iran, Israel and the world

De-escalation. This is the key word to try to read the next steps of the Middle Eastern crisis. In fact, with the symbolic response that Israel has entrusted to its drones to counterbalance the Iranian retaliation, Jerusalem is sending a message to the world. And first of all in Tehran. “You are not our target” the war cabinet implicitly clarified by targeting Isfahan this night, “we don't want to open another front but we will focus on finishing the job in Gaza” the subtext.

Moreover, starting an open conflict with Iran – today as tomorrow – would be unthinkable madness for Jerusalem. Furthermore, such a scenario would drag with it other countries such as Saudi Arabia and Jordan, which want everything except to remain entangled in wars that they are not even remotely equipped to fight. For this reason, and also to satisfy Washington, the good will to proceed with a de-escalation was clearly communicated by the Israeli war cabinet through an act of which the Americans had been made aware in advance, and of the importance of which they Iranian officials and media themselves have downplayed it. A sign that both sides do not find any benefit from continuing along this ridge of upward challenge.

A fact that the White House appreciates very much, probably more than all the actors involved. In exchange, Jerusalem negotiated with the Biden Administration a green light (obviously informal, the State Department would strongly deny) from the Americans to the battle for Rafah, the last bastion of Hamas resistance in the Gaza Strip. Here, in fact, by the Israelis' own admission, are the last two of the six battalions that collectively made up the Palestinian jihadist militias. And this is where all efforts must be concentrated, without opening other fronts and wasting further energy. Especially considering that the military campaign in the Strip is not going exactly as the Netanyahu government hoped.

If, therefore, after having trapped Hamas on the border with Egypt, Jerusalem is now preparing for the “final battle”, on the other hand it is a question of understanding how Iran will manage this new post-retaliation phase: that is, whether it will continue to provide financing and logistical-military support to the Axis of Resistance (i.e. the armed groups scattered across Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen) with a purely anti-Israeli function, or if it instead decides to concentrate above all on its own internal problems, first and foremost public order, which is certainly not lacking.

After the death of Iranian general Qassem Suleimani, creator of the Axis of Resistance and the strategy of progressive encirclement of Israel, the Pasdaran seem to have progressively lost interest in those proxy war adventures that have characterized the last decade, but without significantly affecting the redesign regional geopolitics. If anything, the new generation military caste has decided to focus on maintaining power in Iran; and, to achieve this objective, they are even undermining the ayatollahs who, in the long term, could even constitute an obstacle to their idea of ​​government.

The Pasdaran, in fact, fear that the unstoppable wave of protests against the religious restrictions of the ayatollahs – considered by many not only excessive, but out of time – could harm the process of consolidation of the “guardians of the Islamic revolution” as the sole referents of power absolute in Iran.

They are indeed military but “spurious”, in the sense that they are built as a paramilitary body, a militia organized for the defense and support of the revolutionary institutions in Iran, starting from the republic proclaimed by Ayatollah Khomeini. Therefore, they implicitly represent a sort of counter-power to the armed forces themselves. And in fact the general commander of the Pasdaran sits in the close council of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, alongside the chief of staff of the regular army.

To date, the Revolutionary Guards consist of around 125 thousand units, but they are not regimented and still largely separated from the regular armed forces. It is no coincidence that they have their own air force, as well as a navy and infantry, of which the Al Quds brigades are the spearhead.

Above all, however, the Pasdaran hold the heart of Persian economic power, since they directly and indirectly control strategic sectors such as energy, telecommunications, shipbuilding and infrastructure. The country's major economic institutions are managed, financed or jointly owned by them and them alone. Which makes them theoretically impervious even to the diktats of the religious and of their Supreme Guide, Ayatollah Al Khamenei, given that the Pasdaran are also responsible for the tasks of political police and moral police which the Shiite clergy uses to impose the respect for conservative and orthodox policies.

If Iranian civil society had to choose, perhaps it would even more willingly entrust the government of the Islamic Republic to the Pasdaran and not to the ayatollahs. All this is obviously unprovable, but it has a certain weight on the internal reasoning and crucial decisions of the current government in Tehran. In a nutshell, the ayatollahs now only guarantee the continuity of the 1979 Revolution, while the Pasdaran represent the caste that controls the purse strings. Which, in a country where the economic crisis grips the majority of the population, makes them the balance. And perhaps even impatient with the ayatollahs, despite the civilian victims of the central government occurring at the hands of the Guardians of the Revolution (but by “divine law”).

For the same reason, however, the Pasdaran are the only ones who could put an end to the senseless brutality of the regime, which puts demonstrators to death for “acts against God”, or for arbitrary crimes according to a vague formula suitable for every season, alienating progressively the support of the population. Much better to focus on nuclear progress, to make Iran a hegemonic power in the Middle East: this is the true strategic political objective of the new generation Pasdaran. The alternative is to remain a parasitic caste, attached to a power that does not evolve and produces nothing other than economic crises alternating with geopolitical crises.

Precisely for this reason, Israel observes with great attention what is happening in Persia – especially in relation to nuclear progress – and, in the meantime, as it lays siege to Hamas and seals the border with Lebanon, together with Washington it works behind the scenes to expand the Agreements of Abraham first and foremost to Saudi Arabia. The future balance of the region will depend on this, and on the support it will obtain at a diplomatic level. A balance from which both Jerusalem and Iran could emerge transformed, with new governments and better bilateral relations.

There was a time, at the dawn of the birth of the State of Israel, in which Tehran (at the time led by the secular Palhavi monarchy) considered the birth of Jerusalem an inevitable fact and a resource for the region: this is demonstrated by the fact that, after Turkey, Iran was the second Muslim-majority nation to officially recognize Israel. From then and for the next quarter of a century, the two countries maintained a fruitful and positive collaboration, made up of dialogue and intense commercial exchanges, energy and security projects, with the embassies of the respective capitals working hard to cement a collaboration advantageous between the parties.

All this will not return as long as the ayatollahs hold the final say (Iran still being a theocracy today). Iranian activists at home and abroad, and perhaps the Pasdaran themselves, are working on this. Of course, American and Israeli intelligence is also working on it. But first for Israel the entire Gaza Strip must be conquered, after which the Middle East will inevitably enter a new phase, including a negotiation one, where there will perhaps be a new American Administration to deal with.