Capture of US drone provides respite for Iran
The National / Michael Theodoulou

"Satan's eye has been gouged out," a jubilant Iranian daily trumpeted yesterday, referring to Iran's capture of an unmanned US surveillance drone that was apparently staking out the Islamic republic's nuclear facilities. And the deputy chief of Iran's armed forces warned that "the US government will have to pay a high price for its unacceptable actions".

Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri declared: "Our defensive actions will not be limited to our geographical borders." A leading parliamentarian, Esmail Kowsari, chipped in by warning that if another drone tried to fly over Iran, the country would "target every US military base anywhere in the world."

Despite the lurid threats, however, analysts doubt Iran will retaliate militarily, given its inability to match American firepower. Tehran's propaganda and intelligence coup in netting the radar-evading, RQ-170 Sentinel drone last week can instead be used by the increasingly isolated regime to drum up domestic support while bolstering its claims that Iran is the victim of American aggression.

The episode has also helped to distract attention from ever-tightening sanctions and the diplomatic fallout from the recent storming of the British Embassy in Tehran.

"It is far better to use the prospect of a western threat, which is always hanging there, to get the population to mobilise behind the regime … than actually taking action," said Scott Lucas, an expert on Iran and US foreign policy at Birmingham... >>>

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