Understanding Iranian policies after Gaza

Iran wages a war, many wars… What will America do?

Wednesday 26/05/2021
IRGC chief, Major General Hossein Salami, speaks during a during a demonstration of solidarity with Palestinian people in Tehran. (REUTERS)
IRGC chief, Major General Hossein Salami, speaks during a during a demonstration of solidarity with Palestinian people in Tehran. (REUTERS)

There is no reason to be surprised about what is happening in the Middle East and the Gulf.

All there is to it is that there is a war or there are wars, that Iran is waging on several fronts, from Yemen to Gaza, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. It wants to assert that it is the main actor in the region.

The recent bombing of the Ain al-Assad base in Iraq or what happened in Gaza, can only be understood against the background of this multifaceted war.

In Palestine, the essentially-Iranian rockets of “Hamas”, threatened Tel Aviv and closed Ben Gurion Airport in Lod for several days. The message seems very clear, that the “Islamic Republic” has what it takes to respond to Israel in its own territory and that it is capable of reprisals.

Iran has already taken revenge for everything it has been exposed to recently, starting with the theft of files related to its nuclear programme in 2018 to the assassination of its most prominent nuclear scientist, Mohsen Nour Bakhsh, in a location not far from Tehran … in mysterious circumstances.

In any case, Iran taught Israel an important lesson and revealed that its proxies allow it respond without the need for direct Iranian military intervention.

There are Palestinians who are willing not only to hijack the Jerusalem uprising for the sake of Iran.

These Palestinians are also ready to sacrifice every citizen in Gaza and every building and public facility there in order to prove that they are at the service of the Iranian expansionist project in the region.

With its Iranian missiles, “Hamas” hijacked the uprising of the people of Jerusalem, which had triggered a wave of international sympathy with the Palestinians and their cause.

The people of Jerusalem have proven that they can resist injustice of all kinds, including the injustice inflicted on them by the Donald Trump administration, which moved the US embassy to the holy city and recognised unified Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

However, the people of Jerusalem could not prevent Hamas from hijacking their uprising.

The anger of Jerusalemites was directed as much at the Palestinian National Authority, as it was toward Hamas.

Their uprising was against the occupation and the Palestinian political behaviour in general in light of the blockage of all options before the President of the National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas “Abu Mazen”, who had invoked Jerusalem as his reason to postpone the Palestinian legislative elections!

The Hamas rockets came to take the uprising of the people of Jerusalem to the place where Benjamin Netanyahu wanted it to be. The salvoes caused the Israeli right-wingers to huddle around the prime minister who had been abandoned in favour of the centrist Yossi Lapid.

The biggest loser now seems to be the Palestinian National Authority and Abu Mazen, in particular.

It is true that US President Joe Biden contacted Abbas recently, but it is also true that the President of the National Authority has no means whatsoever to influence events.

These can be influenced by the one who owns missiles, which today means “Hamas”. In the final analysis, the decision of “Hamas” is an Iranian decision. And these days, it is more Iranian than ever.

What applies to Palestine applies to Iraq, where Iran is establishing new militias that are more effective than those affiliated with the broad umbrella of “the Popular Mobilization Forces”.

These militias bomb American targets, such as the US embassy in Baghdad or military bases housing Americans.

The important thing is that Iran, through these militias, can say that Washington must yield to its demands for a return to the nuclear agreement signed in 2015 without any amendments, with all that means in terms of lifting the sanctions imposed by the Donald Trump administration.

These sanctions have exhausted the Iranian economy and exposed its vulnerability.

Iran’s insistence on staying in Syria, through its militias and the groups affiliated with the “Revolutionary Guards”, cannot be separated from the war waged by the “Islamic Republic”.

The same applies to the Houthis’ continued launching of missiles and drones towards Saudi territory. Who are the Houthis? Where did they get their missiles and drones? The answer is one word: Iran.

Likewise, it is not possible to separate the Lebanese collapse and the obstacles that President Michel Aoun and his son-in-law Gebran Bassil are putting in front of efforts to form a government, led by Saad Hariri, outside the war waged by Iran on several fronts.

Had Hezbollah been willing to accept it, a Lebanese government would have been formed long time ago. However, what happens to Lebanon and to the Lebanese is among the least concerns of Iran. Lebanon is nothing but a battle-field just like the one in Gaza.

In the Gaza war, Lebanese soil was used in the sense that  Hezbollah allowed Palestinian factions to fire a few rockets towards Israeli territory. The militant party sent the message that Iran wanted to send.

The substance of that message is that Gaza did what it did to Israel by relying on just about 4,000 rockets, so what if Hezbollah also fired its own rockets?

Well, the new US administration wanted to avoid the Middle East and the Gulf. It paid attention to Iran and its nuclear programme. It was attentive to Yemen from a humanitarian perpsepective. But it could not follow this policy for long. The Middle East ended up taking Washington by storm.

It is not known what the Biden administration will do after it has sent its Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to Jerusalem, Ramallah, Cairo and Amman.

What can Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas “Abu Mazen” do for it after Hamas snatched Palestinian decision-making away from it?

The Biden administration needs a different approach. It is not enough to announce its support for the two-state option in order for it to find a magic solution in Palestine, where Hamas was able to  keep Benjamin Netanyahu afloat politically.

A Palestinian state is the last option “Bibi” wants to discuss. The Israeli prime minister does not want to hear about anything except new settlements and transforming Palestine into a land without its people.

There is nothing wrong with the Biden administration borrowing some pages from the policy manual of the Trump administration towards Iran. The Trump administration was able to contain Iran and reduce its hostility, based on its full knowledge of Iranian behaviour in the region.

The starting point is realising that what is more important than the Iranian nuclear programme at the present time are the Iranian missiles and the militias that are fighting the wars of the “Islamic Republic” throughout the region.

If there is a lesson that can be learned after the Gaza war, it is that Iranian missiles are supposed to be on the table in any negotiations of any kind with Iran. Iran wages a war, many wars… What will America do?