The Covert War between Israel and Iran Slips from Real Life into Television, and Back

Were it not for “diverse operations, most of which are covert,” said the former IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot in a recent interview, the Islamic Republic would have had nuclear weapons some seven years ago. Meanwhile, the ayatollahs have conducted their own share of cyberattacks, assassination attempts, and so forth in retaliation. The Mossad’s role in all this has even become the subject of a popular Israeli television drama, Tehran, which has made its way to Apple TV—and recently had a brush with reality, as Benny Avni writes:

An Iranian spy has reportedly attempted to infiltrate the set of an Emmy-winning television series, Tehran, and, in another case of life imitating art, Israel’s growing, real-life sabotage campaign inside Iran seems ripped off the pages of that series’ screenplay. The alleged Iranian plot targeting the fictional TV show was disclosed this week by its creator, Moshe Zonder. Despite its life-like street scenes, Tehran is filmed in Greece, far from the Iranian capital. There, according to Mr. Zonder, Iranian spies attempted to get an operator on the set.

At the same time, Israel seems to be intensifying a real-life campaign of attacks against the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, complete with drone attacks and assassinations of Revolutionary Guards commanders. Whether Israel’s infiltration of Iran has really deepened recently, or just became more apparent, is unclear to this reporter. Yet, reports on sabotage operations for which Tehran blames Israel are ever more frequent.

The [New York] Times reported last week that Israel had alerted America in advance of the killing of a colonel of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Sayad Khodayari, who was shot with five bullets earlier this month near his home at Tehran, after which his motorcycle-riding assailants quickly disappeared. Israeli officials said that by disclosing to the Times that they were responsible for the IRGC bigwig’s demise, Washington could undermine future clandestine activities inside Iran.

The acclaimed success of [the] series Tehran and its vast viewership inside Iran, where the series is ostensibly banned, might also help Israeli agents to recruit at the Iranian capital. The arts often closely portray real life, but the reverse may also be true.

Read more at New York Sun

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Mossad, Television

Iran’s President May Be Dead. What Next?

At the moment, Hizballah’s superiors in Tehran probably aren’t giving much thought to the militia’s next move. More likely, they are focused on the fact that their country’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, along with the foreign minister, may have been killed in a helicopter crash near the Iran-Azerbaijan border. Iranians set off fireworks to celebrate the possible death of this man known as “butcher of Tehran” for his role in executing dissidents. Shay Khatiri explains what will happen next:

If the president is dead or unable to perform his duties for longer than two months, the first vice-president, the speaker of the parliament, and the chief justice, with the consent of the supreme leader, form a council to choose the succession mechanism. In effect, this means that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei will decide [how to proceed]. Either a new election is called, or Khamenei will dictate that the council chooses a single person to avoid an election in time of crisis.

Whatever happens next, however, Raisi’s “hard landing” will mark the first chapter in a game of musical chairs that will consume the Islamic Republic for months and will set the stage not only for the post-Raisi era, but the post-Khamenei one as well.

As for the inevitable speculation that Raisi’s death wasn’t an accident: everything I have read so far suggests that it was. Still, that its foremost enemy will be distracted by a succession struggle is good news for Israel. And it wouldn’t be terrible if Iran’s leaders suspect that the Mossad just might have taken out Raisi. For all their rhetoric about martyrdom, I doubt they relish the prospect of becoming martyrs themselves.

Read more at Middle East Forum

More about: Ali Khamenei, Iran, Mossad