The Platform

Photo illustration by John Lyman

Initially, Tehran did not assign blame for the drone attack in the central city of Isfahan on January 29th that targeted a factory that in all likelihood was producing military hardware. At one point, and without any evidence, Iran blamed Ukraine and warned of “serious consequences” unless Kyiv distanced itself from the attack. Meanwhile, some again, without evidence, claim that Azerbaijan – whose embassy in Tehran was recently closed amid rising tensions – may have also played a role on the side of Israel.

The attack did however raise tensions between Iran and Azerbaijan, which last October carried out a military maneuver near the border it shares with Iran, which maintains close relations with Israel.

Whatever the case, analysts across the ideological spectrum speculate that the drone attack came in response to the failures of the United States and Western powers to come to an agreement with Iran regarding its ongoing nuclear program which the Israelis and the Saudis vehemently oppose.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in an interview with CNN, said “I never talk about specific operations” in Iran, but didn’t take credit for this specific attack. “Every time some explosion takes place in the Middle East, Israel is blamed or given responsibility — sometimes we are, sometimes we’re not,” Netanyahu said.

Amir Saeid Iravani, Iran’s United Nations envoy, blamed the attack on Israel in a letter to António Guterres, the UN Secretary-General, writing that “early investigations suggest that the Israeli regime was responsible for this attempted act of aggression.”

“Iran reserves its legitimate and inherent right to defend its national security and firmly respond to any threat or wrongdoing of the Zionist regime wherever and whenever it deems necessary,” Iravani wrote. “This action undertaken by the Zionist regime goes against international law.”

The drone attack prompted Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ Al Sudani to warn of the negative impact on relations with Iran and to announce his readiness to play a direct role with Washington. Anwar Gargash, an advisor to Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the president of the United Arab Emirates, said that the Israeli escalation in Jenin is dangerous and disturbing and undermines international efforts to push for negotiations with Iran, pointing out that the Isfahan attack represents another event in the “dangerous escalation in the region.”

Last year, the UAE was targeted by missile and drone attacks, purportedly by Ansar Allah in Yemen. “It is not in the interest and future of the region,” Gargash wrote on Twitter. Although the region’s problems are complex, there is no substitute for dialogue. Certainly, this is what Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Qatar’s foreign minister did at the conclusion of talks that took place in Tehran hours after the Isfahan attack. The talks centered on negotiations aimed at reviving the nuclear agreement, bilateral relations, and regional security.

Iran’s foreign minister said in a joint press conference with his Qatari counterpart that Tehran had received messages from the parties participating in the nuclear agreement through Qatar.

Qatar’s foreign minister stressed the importance of strengthening regional security, and the need to reduce tensions in the region, which is in the interest of all parties.

Najah Mohammed Ali is an investigative freelance journalist from Iraq writing on issues of politics, society, human rights, security, and minorities. His work has appeared in BBC Arabic and Persian, RT Arabic, Al Arabiya, Al Jazeera, and Al-Quds Al-Arabi, among many other outlets.