On 15 January, an Iranian missile strike hit a house in Erbil, Iraq, resulting in civilian casualties. The strike was ostensibly targeting an Israeli espionage centre, but civilian casualties cast doubt on the validity of the Iranian claim. Nonetheless, the strike has increased regional tensions. The context of these events is critical for understanding the delicate interplay of deterrence and restraint shaping current Middle Eastern geopolitical dynamics.
Key Judgement 1. It is highly likely the targeted house in Erbil was not a Mossad espionage centre.
Key Judgement 2. Iran and its affiliated militias are highly likely to conduct strikes that would not escalate to a direct confrontation.
Key Judgement 3. The United States will highly likely respond to the continued attacks with a calibrated show of force, aimed at deterring Iran-backed militias while avoiding a broader conflict.