FILE- In this Sept. 18, 2016 file photo released by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, center, attends a meeting in Tehran, Iran. The long shadow war between Israel and Iran has burst into the open in recent days, with Israel allegedly striking Iran-linked targets as far away as Iraq and crash-landing two drones in Lebanon. These incidents, along with an air raid in Syria that Israel says thwarted an imminent Iranian drone attack, have raised tensions at a particularly fraught time. Israel said Soleimani masterminded the alleged drone attack. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP, File)
Qassem Soleimani flew to Iraq on Wednesday. AP Photo

Iran has chosen its way of war but the West failed to see it

The defining trait of Iranian statecraft has been the extension of its tentacles across the Middle East despite all efforts to coax the country in from the cold.

John Raine, senior adviser for geopolitical due diligence at the International Institute of Strategic Studies, warns there is nothing inadvertent in Iran’s position as the pressure from sanctions and containment policies have taken aim at the wrong issues.

In particular Iran’s promotion of allies from Hezbollah in Lebanon to the Houthis in Yemen has granted Tehran a strategic windfall.

"This is a chosen way of war for the Iranians, it has not come about by a series of accidents," Mr Raine told The National.

“Iran’s using an array of unconventional techniques, one end of which is taking hostages plus other unacceptable state policies, and other end is fighting through third parties.

"We have fixed on Iran's ballistic missiles and nuclear but we have not fixed on this which, in theatres of conflict, is their main effort."

Since the bruising experience of the Iraq-Iran war, Tehran has been determined to find alternatives to state-on-state conflict while maintaining an aggressive regional outlook.

With US President Donald Trump walking away from the 2015 nuclear deal and imposing a policy of maximum pressure through economic sanctions, the question of how Iran has stayed its course is at the top of the global diplomatic agenda.

The IISS in London set out to provide a comprehensive dossier on how Iran’s approach was working despite its weak international position.

Breaking down its regional intervention, Mr Raine said the Iranians had proven to be highly adaptive.

In Lebanon, neither Hezbollah or Iran have sought to take over the state, despite the movement's strong position.

“What enabled them to make judgments, like to know when they needed to double down or pull back, was closeness to the people they are working with,” Mr Raine said.

“What they don’t do is give up their gains.”

The intervention in Syria allowed Iran to proclaim it was defeating ISIS and protecting Shiite shrines, but it was also keeping its supply routes open to Hezbollah and gaining a “firing base” on Israel-occupied Golan.

“In those five, six years they were able to prove quite a lot,” he said of the Syria intervention.

“What they didn’t achieve, of course, was they didn’t get the sanctions lifted. They didn’t get Iran rehabilitated.

"In the cold logic of developing and consolidating power they did well. In the warmer logic of making friends with people and getting back into the international community, they didn’t.”

Since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, meanwhile, Iran has gained unrivalled influence within its neighbour.

To Mr Raine the “ascendancy” now held by Iran is cyclical.

“Iran temporarily enjoys the strategic advantage,” he said. “Our refusal to acknowledge this is a capability is the difficulty here.”

Where there has been pushback, Iran has retreated.

“We point to positive examples of where closing down the space has been effective, like Bahrain,” Mr Raine said.


What is Financial Fair Play?
Introduced in 2011 by Uefa, European football’s governing body, it demands that clubs live within their means. Chiefly, spend within their income and not make substantial losses.

What the rules dictate?
The second phase of its implementation limits losses to €30 million (Dh136m) over three seasons. Extra expenditure is permitted for investment in sustainable areas (youth academies, stadium development, etc). Money provided by owners is not viewed as income. Revenue from “related parties” to those owners is assessed by Uefa's “financial control body” to be sure it is a fair value, or in line with market prices.

What are the penalties?
There are a number of punishments, including fines, a loss of prize money or having to reduce squad size for European competition – as happened to PSG in 2014. There is even the threat of a competition ban, which could in theory lead to PSG’s suspension from the Uefa Champions League.

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
Company Profile

Company name: myZoi
Started: 2021
Founders: Syed Ali, Christian Buchholz, Shanawaz Rouf, Arsalan Siddiqui, Nabid Hassan
Based: UAE
Number of staff: 37
Investment: Initial undisclosed funding from SC Ventures; second round of funding totalling $14 million from a consortium of SBI, a Japanese VC firm, and SC Venture

Cracks in the Wall

Ben White, Pluto Press 


Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates


Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)


Engine: Four-cylinder 2.5-litre

Transmission: Seven-speed auto

Power: 165hp

Torque: 241Nm

Price: Dh99,900 to Dh134,000

On sale: now


Uefa Champions League last-16, second leg:

Real Madrid 1 (Asensio 70'), Ajax 4 (Ziyech 7', Neres 18', Tadic 62', Schone 72')

Ajax win 5-3 on aggregate


Director: Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah

Starring: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Joe Pantoliano

Rating: 3.5/5

UAE tour of the Netherlands

UAE squad: Rohan Mustafa (captain), Shaiman Anwar, Ghulam Shabber, Mohammed Qasim, Rameez Shahzad, Mohammed Usman, Adnan Mufti, Chirag Suri, Ahmed Raza, Imran Haider, Mohammed Naveed, Amjad Javed, Zahoor Khan, Qadeer Ahmed

Fixtures: Monday, first 50-over match; Wednesday, second 50-over match; Thursday, third 50-over match


Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside



Rating: 4/5

Produced by: Poetic License Motion Pictures; RSVP Movies

Director: Ritesh Batra

Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sanya Malhotra, Farrukh Jaffar, Deepak Chauhan, Vijay Raaz

Springtime in a Broken Mirror,
Mario Benedetti, Penguin Modern Classics


6.30pm: Al Maktoum Challenge Round-3 Group 1 (PA) | US$95,000 | (Dirt) 2,000m
7.05pm: Meydan Classic Listed (TB) ) | $175,000) | (Turf) 1,600m
7.40pm: Handicap (TB) ) | $135,000 ) | (D) 1,600m
8.15pm: Nad Al Sheba Trophy Group 3 (TB) ) | $300,000) | (T) 2,810m
8.50pm: Curlin Handicap Listed (TB)) | $160,000) | (D) 2,000m
9.25pm: Handicap (TB)) | $175,000) | (T) 1,400m
10pm: Handicap (TB) ) | $135,000 ) | (T) 2,000m