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Iran’s attack – Large in Size, Harmless in Effect. What’s next?

Undertanding Iran's strike and what might come next - plus some potential solutions for the Red Sea crisis.

Welcome to the weekly Great Game, which is obviously dedicated to the situation in the Middle East. We covered Saturday’s attack on Israel in our Debrief right here, so in this post, I’ll try and look a bit ahead and give our take on what may lie ahead – both in the Israel/Iran conflict, but perhaps even more importantly in the Red Sea deadlock.

Understanding Iran’s strike


  • On Saturday evening, Iran attacked Israel in response to the April 1st bombing of the Iranian embassy in Damascus.
  • The Iranian attack consisted of several hundred drones and missiles and was unprecedented in scale.
  • Israel managed to shoot down 99% of the incoming drones and missiles and remarkably not a single Israeli casualty has yet been reported.


  • As predicted last week, Iran opted for a “self-made” strike against military targets in the outer regions of Israel. Obviously, it’s hard to be sure of this when Israel knocked 99% of the ordinance out of the sky, but the few drones and missiles that did hit their targets did so in the Golan Heights and the Negev Desert – far away from Israeli population hubs.
  • This kind of attack is based on a Russian blueprint used many times in Ukraine. Usually, Ukraine will have a 40-60% shootdown rate, but that is typically with no warning and at much closer range. And we know that Israel is exceptionally well prepared for drone and missile strikes against its territory. Before the attack, the US predicted that Israel would shoot down 85%, but that was based on a much higher expected number of drones.
  • This suggests that Iran knew that Israel would shoot down 90-95% or even more of the drones and missiles and that this attack would only do very little damage.
  • Iran chose not to engage with its air force (which would likely not have been more successful) and also chose not to engage with ground forces or simultaneous attacks from proxy groups.
  • All this leads me to the conclusion that Iran intentionally prepared this attack to be large in size, but harmless in effect. It may have seemed large and powerful, but caused so little harm that Israel are now having doubts over whether they should strike back.
  • The underlying message from Iran is clear, in my opinion. They hit back and ‘saved face’, but were very careful not to give the Israelis cause for a heavy retaliation.


What comes next:

  • The White House very clearly had the same reading of the Iranian attack and have been urging Israel not to retaliate.
  • Iran will hope that this matter is over even if they may have to stomach some kind of Israeli response.
  • The mere fact that the Israeli leadership seems divided on the question of retaliation speaks volumes as to just how measured and harmless the Iranian attack was.
  • The signalling from the Israeli leadership is that some kind of response will come, but I doubt it will be as massive in scale if it even occurs. Perhaps it will be directed at Iranian Republican Guard bases or Iranian missile factories.
  • That will most likely be the end of this stand-off and we can all get on with the more important subjects, such as:



When will the Red Sea open again?


  • The Red Sea shipping route has effectively been closed since New Years, when the Houthi militia in Yemen ramped up their attack on international cargo ships headed for the Suez Canal. Ever since, the traffic in the Red Sea-Suez route has almost completely moved to the route south of Africa (for European-bound ships) or shifted to the Pacific route for rail transport (for US East Coast-bound ships).
  • The US and allies have invested enormous naval resources in patrolling the waters and striking the Houthi militia, but to little effect – global shipping companies are still not convinced of the safety of the Red Sea-Suez route. This is causing huge disruptions to global shipping, especially while the Panama Canal is at lowered capacity.



Undertanding Iran’s strike and what might come next – plus some potential solutions for the Red Sea crisis.

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