Propaganda and perception: New tactics for Iran (

The killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani by the Americans in January has brought a change in tactics for Iran and its proxies. Tehran’s allied militias have mounted fewer attacks and they have been on a smaller scale (and yes, that includes the harassment of US naval vessels in the Persian Gulf), but they have been hyping them up more. 

Indeed, even the launch of a supposed “military satellite” this month still needs to be evaluated for whether it is a real game changer or yet more hype. For in truth, Iran’s bark now is worse than its bite.

When Israel used drones to kill two Hezbollah operatives in Syria last summer for plotting a drone attack of their own, Hezbollah responded by firing guided anti-tank missiles across the Lebanon-Israel border. After the attack, the Israelis conducted what looked like an evacuation.

In fact, the “evacuees” were mannequins. Hezbollah – unaware that the “dead” and “wounded” were plastic dummies – immediately celebrated. When Israel showed that none of its soldiers had been harmed, Hezbollah insisted the Jewish state was lying.

Similarly, after the US killed militia czar Soleimani, Iran’s retaliation was to fling a dozen missiles at Iraqi bases hosting both Iraqi and American troops. Washington said the attack produced no casualties, apart from some dozens of cases of non-fatal concussion; Tehran insisted hundreds of American troops had been killed or wounded.

Israel is still conducting air raids on Iranian targets in Syria and the occasional one in Iraq. The Imam Ali base on the Syria-Iraq border, where the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps recruits, trains and houses militia fighters and stores arms caches, has taken a particular pounding from the Israeli air force.

Yet Iran has not worked out a response to this relentless onslaught. The last Israeli attack on April 15 targeted Mustafa Mughniyah, son of Imad Mughniyah, one of the founders of Hezbollah. The Israelis had killed Mughniyah senior in 2008 and another son, Jihad, in 2015, but Mustafa survived.

A few days after the latest attack against Mustafa Mughniyah, three holes were discovered in the fence erected by Israel along the border with Lebanon. Hezbollah hyped it up as retaliation for the attack on Mughniyah, flooding the Internet with pictures of the damaged fence and claiming that this proved it could sneak into Israeli territory at will.

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