In the third week of June, Iran launched its first missile attack abroad in over 15 years, from western Iran into eastern Syria. The ground to ground missile launch was first portrayed as a retaliation for the twin attack which occurred on June 7, on the parliament and mausoleum, in Iran. The media followed a few interesting angles.
Reuters picked up on an inconsistency regarding the question of “who gave the order”. According to reuters one report by the Revolutionary Guard ascribed the attack to an instruction by the supreme leader, while another report attributed the directive to the security council.
An additional angle was the accuracy and deterrence aspect. Velayati, Head of the Iranian strategic research center, was quoted in tasnimnews stating that “the attack was a sample of Iran’s great deterrence”. The administration also followed suit, describing the attack as a display of great might. Later, when it became clear that most (if not all) of the missiles missed their target, the tables turned on Iran. One of the first to analyze and scrutinize this issue was the washingtoninstitute, which concluded that the attacks undermined Iranian deterrence, raised questions in relation to the effectiveness of Iran’s missile force and revealed potential military weaknesses. Perhaps, “knowing the truth” was one of the motivations behind the “low profile” approach adopted by the Foreign Ministry of Iran, describing the attack just as a “small slap and warning“.
Perhaps the central focus should have been the reasoning behind the attack. The knee-jerk reaction of the media was to follow the Iranian narrative and view the attack as an act of defense and vengeance. FM Zarif was quoted in en.abna24., describing the attack as an act of protection and self-defense. Following tasnimnews reports, which linked the missile launch to the attacks in Tehran, Reuters quoted that the message sent by this attack was “to the terrorists who carried out the attack in Tehran and their supporters”.
The initial logic displayed was the simple equation – targeting of ISIS infrastructure and facilities, in response to the ISIS acclaimed attack in Tehran. An eye for an eye. Just in this context, the media seemed to neglect to stress that besides the name “ISIS”, there is no real connection between the targets in Syria and the perpetrators of the attack in Tehran. It is a far call. Syria does not even have a common border with Iran. One may see in the attack an act of vengeance, but not an act of “self-defense”. With time, the wider warning message popped up. The washingtonpost described it as “a powerful message to archrival Saudi Arabia and the United States”. As quoted in the same article, the Iranians continued to issue threats saying “the bigger slap is yet to come”.
Iran truly sees itself as a super-power which teaches everybody a lesson when they want and how they want.