Archive for the ‘Iran and Hamas’ category

Why Iran Supports Palestinian Terror Groups

July 19, 2018


Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards General Gholamhossein Gheybparvar. (Image source: Tasnim via Wikimedia Commons)

by Khaled Abu Toameh
July 19, 2018 Gatestone Institute

Source Link: Why Iran Supports Palestinian Terror Groups

{Iran’s obsession with the destruction of Israel will be their undoing. – LS}

  • The Iranian general did not offer to build the Palestinians a hospital or a school. Nor did he offer to provide financial aid to create projects that would give jobs to unemployed Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. His message to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip: Iran will give you as much money and weapons as you need as long as you are committed to the jihad (holy war) against Israel and the “big Satan,” the US.
  • The same Hamas that is telling UN representatives that it wants to improve the living conditions of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is the one that is reaching out its hand to Iran to receive funds and weapons.
  • Now, someone needs to step in and stop Iran from setting foot in the Gaza Strip and using the Palestinians as cannon fodder in Tehran’s campaign against the US and Israel. How might someone do that? It is not so complicated. Any international aid to the Gaza Strip must be conditioned on ending Iran’s destructive effort to recruit Palestinians groups as its soldiers. It is that simple.

While the United Nations, Israel and the US are proposing plans to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinians in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Iran is pledging to continue its financial and military aid to Palestinian terror groups.

Iran’s meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians is not new. The Iranians have long been providing Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups with money and weapons. Were it not for Iran’s support, the two groups, which do not recognize Israel’s right to exist, would not have been able to remain in power in the coastal enclave.

Iran’s support for the Palestinian terror groups has a twofold goal: first, to undermine the Palestinian Authority, which is headed by Mahmoud Abbas, and which Tehran sees as a pawn in the hands of the US and Israel; and second, to advance Iran’s goal of destroying Israel.

Just this week, we received yet another reminder of Iran’s true goal. The leader of Iran’s “Islamic Revolution,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said that the Palestinians will win over their enemies and will “see the day when the fake Zionist regime” vanishes. He said that US President Donald Trump’s “evil policy” is doomed to failure.

So, Iran does not care about the harsh conditions of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Instead, its leaders are hoping that the Palestinians will live to see the day Israel is eliminated. This is also why Iran continues to support any Palestinian group that seeks to destroy Israel.

On the same day that Khamenei made his statement in Tehran, one of his senior generals, Gholamhossein Gheybparvar addressed a conference held in the Gaza Strip and Tehran simultaneously. Gheybparavar is a senior officer in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and commander of its Basij forces — the “Mobilization Resistance Force.” This force’s main mission is to suppress protests against the regime in Tehran.

In his speech via video conference, the Iranian general told representatives of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other terror groups that he was “proud” of their “resistance” against Israel. He said that the conference, which was being held under the title, “Wet Gunpowder/Resistance Is Not Terrorism,” was an expression of Arab and Islamic unity against the enemies of the Arabs and Muslims. The Iranian general said that Iran and the “axis of resistance” were not afraid of Trump’s “threats.”

The Palestinian terror groups said after the conference that they were encouraged by the Iranian general’s pledge to support them in their fight against Israel and the US.

Khader Habib, a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad official in the Gaza Strip, said that the Iranian-Palestinian conference was both “symbolic and significant.” The conference, he said, served as a reminder that Iran continues to support the Palestinian “resistance” and would deter Israel from attacking the Gaza Strip in response to terror attacks on its citizens. The speech by the Iranian general, he added, was aimed at sending a message to the many countries to support the Palestinian “resistance” groups in the Gaza Strip. “Israel is a potential threat to the Arabs and Muslims,” Habib said.

Buoyed by the Iranian backing, several speakers at the conference called for the formation of a “unified Arab-Islamic front” against Israel and the US. They also stressed that the terror attacks against Israel would continue and praised Iran for its full support for the Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip.

By promising to continue helping the Palestinian terror groups, Iran is offering the two million residents of the Gaza Strip more bloodshed and violence. The Iranian general did not offer to build the Palestinians a hospital or a school. Nor did he offer to provide financial aid to create projects that would give jobs to unemployed Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. His message to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip: Iran will give you as much money and weapons as you need, as long as you are committed to the jihad (holy war) against Israel and the “big Satan,” the US.

The Iranian message to the Palestinian terror groups came at a time when several international parties are trying to resolve the “humanitarian and economic” crisis in the Gaza Strip. These efforts are spearheaded by the UN’s Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, who in recent weeks has been on a mission to prevent another war in the Gaza Strip.

These efforts are unlikely to succeed, however, as long as Iran continues its support of the Palestinian terror groups. Iran apparently wants to retain control over its Palestinian proxies to prevent any peace and stability between Arabs and Israel. Iran is not helping the terror groups out of love for the Palestinians, but in order to advance its goal of eliminating the “fake Zionist regime.”

If anyone is worried about the Iranian meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians, it is Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his ruling Fatah faction. “We don’t want to become a pawn in the hands of Iran,” said Ra’fat Elayan, a senior Fatah official. “Iran is using Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad as a maneuvering card against Israel and the US, and this will have a negative impact on the just Palestinian cause. We have repeatedly warned the two groups of the Iranian intervention in Palestinian affairs.”

Meanwhile, it appears that Hamas wants to have it both ways. On the one hand, Hamas wants the international community to step in and help the people of the Gaza Strip. On the other hand, Hamas wants Iran to continue funding its terrorism. The same Hamas that is telling UN representatives that it wants to improve the living conditions of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is the one that is reaching out its hand to Iran to receive funds and weapons.

We can take a tip from Abbas’s and Fatah’s anxiety: If they are worried about Iran’s ongoing efforts to infiltrate the Palestinian arena, the US and the rest of the world need to find ways to stop Iran from using the Palestinians as a weapon in its battle to extend its control over more and more countries in the Middle East and carry out its deadly schemes.

Iran has brought nothing but disaster to Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and Syria. Now, someone needs to step in and stop Iran from setting foot in the Gaza Strip and using the Palestinians as cannon fodder in Tehran’s campaign against the US and Israel. How might someone do that? It is not so complicated. Any international aid to the Gaza Strip must be conditioned on ending Iran’s destructive effort to recruit Palestinians groups as its soldiers. It is that simple.

 

Hamas Leader Acknowledges Iranian Support Amid Fall-Out From Gaza Clashes

May 24, 2018

by IPT News May 23, 2018 The Investigative Project on Terrorism

Source Link: Hamas Leader Acknowledges Iranian Support Amid Fall-Out From Gaza Clashes

{A proxy love affair. – LS}

While many analysts and most of the international community refuses to acknowledge Iran’s role in fueling tensions on Israel’s border with Gaza, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar this week boasted of his organization’s “strong and warm” ties with Iran and Hizballah.

In an interview Monday with Lebanon’s Al-Mayadeen TV channel, Sinwar admitted that Iran funnels “a lot of money, equipment and expertise” to Hamas’ military wing and other Gaza-based terrorist organizations,reports the Middle East Media and Research Institute (MEMRI),

For helping Hamas develop its capabilities, Sinwar thanked “first and foremost the Islamic Republic of Iran, which has provided the Al-Qassam Brigades (Hamas’ military wing) and the other factions of the resistance a lot of money, equipment, and expertise,” adding that “our ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran, with brother Qasem Soleimani and the other brothers in the IRGC leadership are very strong, powerful, and warm. Our relations with the Islamic Republic are excellent.”

In December, senior Hamas official Saleh Al-Arouri bragged about Hamas’ ties with Iran and Hizballah, and formally credited the Islamic Republic for arming Palestinian terrorist groups.

“Who supports the resistance in Gaza and Palestine? Iran. It is Iran and Hizballah that confront that entity [Israel] along with us,” Al-Arouri said in a Dec. 30 interview on Al-Quds TV.

He admitted that “the aid Iran provides to the resistance is not merely symbolic” and that “nobody but Iran gives us [Palestinian terrorist groups] any military support.”

In his latest interview, Sinwar also discussed “excellent relations” with Hizballah and revealed that both terrorist groups “coordinate and are in touch on an almost daily basis.”

This is the latest in a growing number of statements from senior Hamas and Hizballah leaders acknowledging that relations have reached new heights – to the point where Hizballah is helping Hamas build military infrastructure in south Lebanon to threaten Israel.

These connections and public admissions are ignored by Israel bashers in the West.

Prominent American Islamists, like Linda Sarsour, continue to propagate the narrative that Israel massacred peaceful, unarmed Palestinian protesters on the Gaza border in recent weeks. Even articles in respected policy outlets like Foreign Policy tow this view.

Hamas leaders, on the other hand, openly admit that they coordinated the violent demonstrations and orchestrated several attacks on the border with Israel.

“This is not peaceful resistance… so when we talk about ‘peaceful resistance,’ we are deceiving the public,” Mahmoud Al-Zahhar said in a May 13 interview with Al-Jazeera, adding that Hamas’ efforts at the border are “bolstered by a military force and by security agencies.”

Iran and its main proxy Hizballah are actively supplying Hamas with weapons and talking on a near daily basis to coordinate terrorist operations against the Jewish state.

This nuance is largely omitted from mainstream media analyses – further promoting Hamas public deception campaign, knowingly or not.

Iranian Officials Inconsistent in Describing Protestors’ Motives and Goals

December 30, 2017

Iranian Officials Inconsistent in Describing Protestors’ Motives and Goals, Iranian News Update, Edward Carney, December 30, 2017

Please see also, The First Anti-American President, the thrust of which is

Donald Trump is certainly the opposite of an anti-American president, and he has no affection for our enemies. He has enabled the Ukrainians to fight, perhaps effectively, against the Russians. So why can’t he enable the Iranians to fight against the ayatollahs?

In the Ukrainian case we’re talking about military weapons; in the Iranian conflict the weapons are political.

If the Iranians rose up against the regime when Obama entered the White House, you can be sure they are at least equally motivated to do it with Trump in office. There are many protests in Iran today, and the Khamenei/Rouhani regime has responded by executing half as many Iranians as in the past. We should relentlessly expose this mass murder, and we should publicize the ongoing protests.

The target audience for such exposes is the great mass of the population. Paradoxically, Iranians are better informed about events in Jerusalem and Washington than in Iranian Kurdistan, the southern oil regions, and cities like Mashad and Qom.

— DM)

[T]he protest against foreign intervention has taken on a life of its own, with activists chanting such slogans as “forget about Syria; focus on us” and “no Gaza, no Lebanon; I will give my life only for Iran.” Despite the prevalence of these sorts of messages in social media and public accounts of the demonstrations, Iranian officials continue to maintain that the regional military prestige of the Islamic Republic remains broadly popular. For instance, the Huffington Post quotes hardline cleric Ahmad Alamolhoda as claiming that only about 50 protestors had expressed regional concerns within a gathering of several hundred.

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On Friday, mass protests continued throughout Iran after having started the previous day in reaction to rising rates of inflation and other uncontrolled economic conditions that had contributed, for instance, to a doubling of the price of eggs in just one week’s time.

Deutsche Welle quotes one Iranian lawmaker as blaming these problems on “illegal financial institutions” that had been established under the administration of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The closure of one such bank, called Mizan, reportedly had a particularly marked impact on Iran’s second most populous city, Mashhad, which has been the focal point of protests that spanned much of central and northern Iran as of Thursday.

The lawmaker’s account of the protests seemingly absolves the current government of responsibility for the conditions that are being protested by victims of a widening income gap in the Islamic Republic. But the DW article also points out that a major target of those protests has been current President Hassan Rouhani’s slow progress in following through on a promise to reimburse citizens whose investments were wiped out by the collapse of state-linked financial institutions.

 

At the same time, DW and various other outlets have highlighted a trend toward broader focus in those protests, targeting not just rising prices and not just financial indicators as a whole but also the Rouhani administration’s failure to uphold a wide variety of promises regarding domestic reform. Insofar as the abandonment of these promises represents closure of the political gap between Rouhani’s political allies and those of hardline authorities like Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, the protests seemingly double as an expression of opposition to the clerical system as a whole.

Indeed, the BBC refers to the demonstrations as “anti-government” protests in its reporting on Friday, as well as identifying them as the most serious and widespread such gatherings since the 2009 Green Movement, which emerged out of protests against Ahmadinejad’s disputed reelection. Those protests lasted for eight months and ended with a severe crackdown by government authorities, but many Iran watchers have observed that the resentments voiced by that movement continued to simmer under the surface in anticipation of another mass demonstration.

 

This is not to say that there have been no major protests in the ensuing year. Indeed, the National Council of Resistance of Iran has identified thousands in the past year alone. But these have tended to be more geographically confined than the current demonstrations, and many have been focused not on politics but on specific demands such as the payment of overdue wages.

The content of Thursday’s and Friday’s protests was evidently broad enough in scope that even some Iranian officials were compelled to acknowledge the “anti-government” nature of chants and slogans, even while downplaying the scope of their appeal. The Associated Press reports that the governor of Tehran, Mohsen Hamedani, had acknowledged the spread of the protests to the Iranian capital, yet insisted that the gathering involved fewer than 50 people, most of whom dispersed after being warned by police.

Hamedani added that those who remained were “temporarily” arrested, and these remarks seemed also to downplay the severity of the government’s response to what might be regarded as a serious threat to its legitimacy. However, social media posts from various cities depicted peaceful protests being met with tear gas and water cannons, and the crowds in each of those gatherings numbered in the hundreds or in the thousands. By the end of Thursday, there had been at least 52 arrests in Mashhad alone, according to the BBC.

This is not to say that there have been no major protests in the ensuing year. Indeed, the National Council of Resistance of Iran has identified thousands in the past year alone. But these have tended to be more geographically confined than the current demonstrations, and many have been focused not on politics but on specific demands such as the payment of overdue wages.

The content of Thursday’s and Friday’s protests was evidently broad enough in scope that even some Iranian officials were compelled to acknowledge the “anti-government” nature of chants and slogans, even while downplaying the scope of their appeal. The Associated Press reports that the governor of Tehran, Mohsen Hamedani, had acknowledged the spread of the protests to the Iranian capital, yet insisted that the gathering involved fewer than 50 people, most of whom dispersed after being warned by police.

Hamedani added that those who remained were “temporarily” arrested, and these remarks seemed also to downplay the severity of the government’s response to what might be regarded as a serious threat to its legitimacy. However, social media posts from various cities depicted peaceful protests being met with tear gas and water cannons, and the crowds in each of those gatherings numbered in the hundreds or in the thousands. By the end of Thursday, there had been at least 52 arrests in Mashhad alone, according to the BBC.

 

Political imprisonment is rampant in the Islamic Republic, and the BBC report also indicates that this was one of the topics that had been advanced by some protestors. But political focus of any given participant in the demonstrations might be different from those of any other, as evidenced by media reports identifying chants as targeting economic issues, political imprisonment, Iran’s paramilitary interventions in the surrounding region, and so on.

This latter topic is closely related to the economic issues that reportedly sparked the protests, since the Iranian government has spent billions of dollars in recent years on propping up the Syrian dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad, as well as on promoting the growth of the Houthi rebellion in Yemen and the various Shiite militias operating in Iraq. A recent editorial in Forbes points out that the new Iranian national budget, introduced by Rouhani in early December, includes the provision of 76 billion dollars to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and its foreign special operations Quds Force, at a time when tens of thousands of victims of a November earthquake are still awaiting basic shelter and government services.

 

But the protest against foreign intervention has taken on a life of its own, with activists chanting such slogans as “forget about Syria; focus on us” and “no Gaza, no Lebanon; I will give my life only for Iran.” Despite the prevalence of these sorts of messages in social media and public accounts of the demonstrations, Iranian officials continue to maintain that the regional military prestige of the Islamic Republic remains broadly popular. For instance, the Huffington Post quotes hardline cleric Ahmad Alamolhoda as claiming that only about 50 protestors had expressed regional concerns within a gathering of several hundred.

Interestingly, the same report also quotes Alamolhoda as advocating for an intensified crackdown on the protestors. In absence of this, he suggested, enemies of the regime would claim that the government had lost its “revolutionary base”. The Huffington Post indicates that Tehran security personnel have promised that any demonstrations in the capital would be “firmly dealt with”. This seems to be at odds with the Tehran governor’s commentary about temporary arrests and also with the initial reaction from Mashhad Governor Mohammad Rahim Norouzian, whom the AP quoted as saying that security forces had shown “great tolerance”

 

Since that initial reaction, Iranian officials seem to have increasingly justified crackdowns through acceptance of the broader characterizations of the protests’ grievances and goals. Norouzian himself came to describe the protests as having been organized by “counter-revolutionaries”, according to DW. According to other sources, officials have also referred to the organizers as “hypocrites,” a term often applies to members of the leading Iranian opposition group the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran.

The PMOI has also been a driving force in a number of activist campaigns within the Islamic Republic, including the push for international attention and independent inquiry into the 1988 mass execution of political prisoners, which primarily targeted that same resistance organization. In a Huffington Post editorial on Friday, former US Ambassador Ken Blackwell sought to connect that massacre, which killed an estimated 30,000 people, to the current protests. He said that Thursday’s and Friday’s chants of “death to the dictator” emerged out of “a political climate punctuated by growing demands for justice for the regime’s massacre.”

But even if the initial economic focus of the latest protests had been voiced in isolation, there is an argument to be made that this also would constitute an expression of opposition to the continued rule of the clerical regime. In fact, this argument was made by historian Ellen Ward on Friday in an editorial published by Forbes. Ward observes that despite some officials’ efforts to blame the previous presidential administration for ongoing problems, it is really the underlying clerical system that is responsible for the economic future of the Iranian people.

This is to say that it is the clerical authorities, and not the elected branches of government, who establish and enforce policies with tremendous economic impact, including the interventionist foreign policy. Ward’s argument is reminiscent of the statement put out on Thursday by the PMOI’s parent coalition the National Council of Resistance of Iran. That statement quoted NCRI President Maryam Rajavi as saying that the economic prospects of the Iranian people cannot be expected to improve until the resistance movement has brought about the emergence of democratic governance in place of the theocratic dictatorship.

 

Hamas: Iran Has Pledged ‘All Capabilities’ To Help Us Fight Israel

December 27, 2017

Hamas: Iran Has Pledged ‘All Capabilities’ To Help Us Fight Israel, Breitbart, December 26, 2017

AP Photo/ Khalil Hamra

The director of Israel’s Shin Bet security agency on Sunday told a select group of Israeli ministers and lawmakers that the Gaza-based group is being careful to avoid a full conflagration with Israel along the Gaza border, but was actively trying to sow chaos in the West Bank.

The security service’s chief Nadav Argaman said Hamas was preparing for a takeover of the West Bank, and added that the group’s efforts are dangerous especially in light of the political weakness of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

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TEL AVIV — A top Hamas official said Monday that a senior Iranian official gave him his word that all of Iran’s military might would be available to help the Gaza-based group fight Israel and take over Jerusalem, according to a report in the Times of Israel.

“All our of capabilities and potential are at your disposal in the battle for the defense of Jerusalem,” Yahya Sinwar quoted the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ elite Quds Force Qassem Soleimani as telling him over the phone.

Sinwar’s comments were carried by pro-Iranian Lebanese news outlet al-Mayadeen.

Soleimani, according to the report, told Sinwar that “Iran, the Revolutionary Guards and Quds Force stand with all they have with our people in order to defend Jerusalem so that Jerusalem will endure as the capital of the state of Palestine.”

Since U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Hamas has been trying to inflame the Palestinian street and issued calls for “days of rage” and a third intifada.

There have been riots near the Old City of Jerusalem after Friday morning prayers, but Israeli security forces have so far succeeded in quelling them with few casualties.

The director of Israel’s Shin Bet security agency on Sunday told a select group of Israeli ministers and lawmakers that the Gaza-based group is being careful to avoid a full conflagration with Israel along the Gaza border, but was actively trying to sow chaos in the West Bank.

The security service’s chief Nadav Argaman said Hamas was preparing for a takeover of the West Bank, and added that the group’s efforts are dangerous especially in light of the political weakness of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The Iran-Hamas-Hezbollah Connection

November 8, 2017

The Iran-Hamas-Hezbollah Connection, Gatestone InstituteKhaled Abu Toameh, November 8, 2017

Hamas has already stated repeatedly that it has absolutely no intention of laying down its weapons as promised for the “reconciliation” agreement with the Palestinian Authority.

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Now that the Iranians have sole control over Lebanon, their eyes are set on the Gaza Strip.

Hamas, for its part, is thirsting for Iranian resources. Hamas knows that it will have to pay a price.

Iran and Hezbollah are working with Hamas to establish a “joint front” against Israel.

The Lebanese Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, has had enough. Last week, Iran finalized its takeover of Lebanon when Hariri resigned, and reportedly fled to Saudi Arabia.

Hariri, denouncing Hezbollah and its Iranian backers, said he feared for his life. Hariri has good reason to be afraid of Hezbollah, the powerful Shia terror group and Iranian proxy that effectively controls Lebanon.

Indications show that Iran and Hezbollah are also planning to extend their control to the Gaza Strip. Iran already provides Hamas with financial and military aid. It is precisely the support of Iran that has enabled Hamas to hold in power in the Gaza Strip for the past 10 years. It is also thanks to Iran that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, another major terror group in the Gaza Strip, are in possession of thousands of missiles and rockets. It is Iranian money that allows Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad to continue digging terror tunnels under the border with Israel.

Relations between Iran and Hamas have grown stronger in the past few weeks. Last month, a senior Hamas delegation visited Tehran to attend the funeral of the father of the senior Iranian security official, Qasem Soleimani. A few weeks earlier, another senior Hamas delegation visited Tehran to brief Iranian leaders on the latest developments surrounding the “reconciliation” agreement reached between Hamas and Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority (PA).

It was the first time senior Hamas officials visited Iran since relations between the two sides became strained in 2011. That year, Iran suspended its ties with Hamas over the latter’s refusal to support Syria’s dictator, Bashar Assad, against his opponents in its civil war. The sudden rapprochement between Hamas and Iran has raised concerns among Abbas and his Palestinian Authority officials regarding Hamas’s sincerity in implementing the “reconciliation” agreement. President Abbas and his officials wonder why Hamas rushed into arms of Iran immediately after reaching the “reconciliation” accord under the auspices of the Egyptian authorities.

Iran and Hezbollah are no fans of Abbas and the Palestinian Authority. Abbas is terrified that Hamas is trying to bring Iran and its Hezbollah proxy into the Gaza Strip.

Abbas and his PA are eager to return to the Gaza Strip, but the presence of Iran there creates a serious problem. Like Hariri, Abbas would have good reason to fear for his life if Hamas brings the Iranians and Hezbollah into the Gaza Strip.

Abbas’s fear is also not unjustified. Earlier this week, a senior Hamas official, Musa Abu Marzouk, disclosed that his movement and Hezbollah were working towards strengthening their relations. “Relations between Hamas and Hezbollah were never cut off,” Abu Marzouk stated.

“We have ongoing contacts and understandings. But we preferred to keep them away from the spotlight. Hamas and Hezbollah are in one line in the fight against Israel, and we coordinate our positions regarding the Palestinian cause. Hamas will continue to cooperate with resistance groups that support the Palestinian resistance.”

The alliance between Hamas and Hezbollah is a direct result of the renewed relations between Iran and Hamas. With the help of Hezbollah, Iran has managed to take control of large parts of Syria. With the help of Hezbollah, Iran already controls Lebanon. Now that the Iranians have sole control over Lebanon, their eyes are set on the Gaza Strip. They know that the only way to access the Gaza Strip is through the Hamas door. Iran wants to see Hezbollah inside the Gaza Strip. Hamas, for its part, is thirsting for Iranian resources. Hamas knows that it will have to pay a price: allowing Iran and Hezbollah to set foot in the Gaza Strip. Judging from the remarks of Abu Marzouk, Hamas appears to be happy to pay the price.

Hariri, Abbas and many Sunni Arab countries, such as Saudi Arabia, felt betrayed by the Obama Administration’s policy of détente towards Iran — a policy that emboldened the Iranians and gave them a green light to meddle in the internal affairs of Arab countries to try to establish, as they seem to have done, a “Shiite Crescent” from Persia through Yemen and now Lebanon, clear to the Mediterranean Sea.

The Sunni Arabs are apparently particularly worried about the nuclear deal signed between the Obama Administration and Iran. They feel that the Obama Administration’s attempt to appease the Iranians has emboldened the country that is the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism. Iran has since taken advantage of the nuclear deal to threaten and try to terrorize America, its friends and its Arab allies.

Abbas has multiple reasons to be worried about the Hamas-Hezbollah alliance. Here is another one: a recent meeting in Beirut between Hamas leader Saleh Arouri and Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah was yet another sign of Hamas’s effort to pave the way for Iran and Hezbollah to infiltrate the Gaza Strip and meddle in the internal affairs of the Palestinians.

A recent meeting in Beirut between Hamas leader Saleh Arouri (left) and Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah (right) was another sign of Hamas’s effort to pave the way for Iran and Hezbollah to infiltrate the Gaza Strip. (Image source: Hezbollah via Al Manar)

Hamas has already stated repeatedly that it has absolutely no intention of laying down its weapons as promised for the “reconciliation” agreement with the Palestinian Authority. Hamas is prepared to cede to PA President Mahmoud Abbas limited civilian control of the Gaza Strip, but has been clear that it will never dismantle its security apparatus or military wing. Hamas wants to bring the Iranians and Hezbollah into the Gaza Strip to counterbalance pressure from Abbas and Egypt and other countries to disarm and hand control over to Abbas. If Abbas ever returns to the Gaza Strip, he will find himself sitting not only with Hamas, but also with Iran and Hezbollah, who consider him a traitor and puppet in the hands of Israel and the US.

Alarmed by the rapprochement between Hamas and Hezbollah and Iran, Saudi Arabia earlier this week summoned Abbas for urgent talks in Riyadh. The Saudis have been following with concern the visits by Hamas leaders to Iran and Hezbollah, and are worried that Abbas may face the same fate as Hariri.

Abbas may well wish to steer clear of the Gaza Strip: Iran and Hezbollah are working with Hamas to establish a “joint front” against Israel. Hamas’s decision to tilt towards Iran and Hezbollah discloses the truth: it is not headed towards moderation and pragmatism, but the very opposite. This does not bode well for the current Trump Administration’s efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East.

Without stopping Iran and Hezbollah from spreading their influence and control to the Gaza Strip and Arab countries, the prospects of peace seem rather dim. In fact, the prospects of war seem pretty close, as Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad meet in the middle to discuss their plans for war against Israel. Failing to stop Iran and Hezbollah would mean that Abbas may soon find themselves hiding with Hariri in Saudi Arabia.

Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist, is based in Jerusalem.

Hamas Rejoins Iran’s Terrorist Axis

October 26, 2017

Hamas Rejoins Iran’s Terrorist Axis, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Yaakov Lappin, October 26, 2017

(Please see also, The Iran-Hamas Plan to Destroy Israel. — DM)

One immediate result of the Iranian-Hamas reconciliation is the new Hamas outpost being built in Lebanon.

Lebanon is under the firm control of Iran’s proxy, Hizballah. It is now seeing the arrival of Hamas members who have set up a new command center. From there, Hamas could set up terrorist cells in the West Bank.

Hamas’ new presence in Lebanon could also be used to create a rocket-firing base, or cross-border terror cells operating from Lebanon, with Hizballah’s and Iran’s approval.

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Hamas is deepening its ties with Iran and its radical Shi’ite axis. Iranian cash is once again expected to fund Gaza’s war preparations and arms build-up program.

Before the 2011 outbreak of the war in Syria, Sunni Hamas and Shi’ite Iran were united by their goal to destroy Israel. Iran helped arm and fund Hamas’ terrorist-guerilla army in Gaza.

But the two fell out after finding themselves on opposite sides of the sectarian fence in the bloody Syria war. Iran, largely through its Lebanese proxy Hizballah, has committed troops and weapons to prop up dictator Bashar Al-Assad.

Now, out of cash and isolated, Hamas is in search of backing from a major regional power, and it is returning to Iran’s orbit.

The Iranians have been indicating that past fall-outs are history, and that Hamas will get all of the help it needs to prepare for future war against Israel. Israel’s intelligence community is closely monitoring these developments.

The Islamic Republic will grant Hamas “all assistance that it requests,” a senior Iranian official told the Lebanon-based Al Mayadin TV network, according to Israel’s Ynet website.

“Relations with Iran are excellent and Iran is the largest supporter of the [Hamas armed wing] Izz Al-Din Kassam Brigades with money and arms,” Hamas’ chief in Gaza, Yehya al-Sinwar said.

“The relationship today is developing and returning to what it was in the old days,” Sinwar told Reuters.

“This will be reflected in the resistance [against Israel] and in the agenda to achieve the liberation,” he said. “Liberation” is a reference to Hamas’ ideological long-term commitment to destroy Israel and replace it with a Palestinian-Islamist state.

One immediate result of the Iranian-Hamas reconciliation is the new Hamas outpost being built in Lebanon.

Lebanon is under the firm control of Iran’s proxy, Hizballah. It is now seeing the arrival of Hamas members who have set up a new command center. From there, Hamas could set up terrorist cells in the West Bank.

Hamas’ new presence in Lebanon could also be used to create a rocket-firing base, or cross-border terror cells operating from Lebanon, with Hizballah’s and Iran’s approval.

One of the Hamas members seen in Beirut recently is its No. 2 man, Saleh Al-Arouri. He has been responsible for remotely setting up terrorist cells in the West Bank. Until recently, Al-Arouri operated out of Hamas’ headquarters in Turkey.

Al-Arouri has been appointed Hamas deputy leader. He took part in a senior Hamas delegation to Iran earlier this month.

Those ties with Iran are one reason why Israel’s cabinet rejected recognition of a fledgling Hamas-Fatah unity government. Israel will not recognize the new Palestinian government until Hamas agrees to give up its weapons, recognize Israel, and cut links with Tehran.

“Our presence in Iran is the practical denial of the third precondition — cutting ties with Iran,” Arouri said. “Undoubtedly, the Palestinian resistance forces will never give up… their arms,” he was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, praised Hamas’ stance. Khamenei’s representative congratulated Hamas “for declaring that you will not set your weapons aside,” according to the semi-official Fars news agency.

Renewed Iranian support probably will take the form of suitcases of cash entering Gaza via smuggling tunnels.

Some tunnels linking Gaza to the Sinai Peninsula remain, though many others have been demolished by Egypt.

Iranian know-how in producing rockets, RPGs, mortars, and drones will also, once again, be used to train Hamas engineers, who are in charge of Hamas’ domestic weapons industry.

Iranian guerilla combat doctrines, which already have influenced Hamas greatly, could also reappear in Gaza, in updated forms.

Iran might also try to smuggle materials to make weapons into Gaza via small fishing boats.

Hamas has been open and frank about its intentions in renewing Iranian sponsorship. A senior Hamas official said it was about securing “Iranian financial and logistical support,” according to the Agence France-Presse.

Hamas’ new relationship with Iran will displease Sunni Arab countries who, like Israel, view the Iranians and their regional destructive behavior as a top threat.

But this is a risk Hamas’ leadership is prepared to take in its quest to replenish cash supplies for its military and terrorist operations.

Hamas’s isolation – the force that drove it into Iran’s arms – is also what caused it to enter a reconciliation agreement with its arch Palestinian rival, Fatah.

Seeking to avoid a collapse of its regime in Gaza due to dwindling cash and energy resources, and under pressure from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who had been reducing Gaza’s electricity flow, Hamas decided to feign compromise with Fatah.

This is a short-term tactical move designed to serve the longer-term radical vision. Both Hamas and Iran would like to eventually use the Palestinian reconciliation to depose Fatah from power in the West Bank.

Hamas can be expected to use the coming years to build up its political power in the West Bank, Fatah’s home turf, and then try to take it over through elections. Hamas’s end goal is to create two armed fronts against Israel – from Gaza and the West Bank – with Iran creating the third and most potent third front from Lebanon, in the form of Hizballah.

Hamas and Iran still have their differences, but Hamas’s new leadership, and its distress stemming from isolation, have led it firmly back into Iran’s orbit. So long as Egypt remains under a government that is hostile to Islamists and jihadists, Hamas will continue to see Iran as its state backer, despite the Shi’ite-Sunni divide.

Meanwhile, a senior Hamas member with a history of funneling tens of millions of dollars from Iran to the organization’s military wing has recently been unveiled as a new top-level overseas liaison, according to Israel’s Kan television news service.

Maher Salah, a senior Hamas financier, recently appeared at a Turkish rally for the deceased Egyptian former Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Mahdi Akef, in which he eulogized Akef as one who “loved jihad fighters and the jihad for Allah.”

The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Salah, together with Al-Arouri, in 2015.

“The fate of your country is to pass from the world,” Salah said, addressing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “The fate of your kingdom is to be eliminated. I promise him that his country will not live to celebrate 100 years.”

Salah could use his ties in Iran to restart large-scale terrorist financing efforts.

The Gaza Strip is the quietest it has been in 30 years, and Hamas today remains deterred by Israel’s military might.

But its recent actions and statements show that Hamas is exploiting the ceasefire to gear up for long-term and destructive conflict with Israel. It is returning to Iran’s fold to help it in this effort.

Yaakov Lappin is a military and strategic affairs correspondent. He also conducts research and analysis for defense think tanks, and is the Israel correspondent for IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly. His book, The Virtual Caliphate, explores the online jihadist presence.

Article In Saudi Daily Slams Hamas: It Has Founded An ‘Iranian Emirate’ In Gaza And Is Completely Subordinate To Iran’s Ayatollahs

October 25, 2017

Article In Saudi Daily Slams Hamas: It Has Founded An ‘Iranian Emirate’ In Gaza And Is Completely Subordinate To Iran’s Ayatollahs, MEMRI, October 25, 2017

(Please see also, The Iran-Hamas Plan to Destroy Israel. — DM)

In an October 23, 2017 article in the Saudi daily Al-Riyadh, Saudi journalist and academic Baina Al-Mulhim leveled scathing criticism at Hamas. The article was written against the backdrop of the recent rapprochement between Hamas and Iran, reflected in a visit by a high-ranking Hamas delegation to Tehran and in statements by Hamas officials on the importance of tightening relations with Iran and of this country’s financial and political support of Hamas.[1] Al-Mulhim wrote that Hamas is experiencing a crisis of identity because, despite being a Sunni movement, it follows the Shi’ite Iranian model and has established an Iranian emirate in Gaza, and its leaders are completely subordinate to Iran’s ayatollahs. She added that Hamas, like Hizbullah, is not a resistance movement but rather a “contractor” implementing the Iranian agenda, and is exploiting the problems of the Palestinian people for political purposes.

The following are excerpts from her article:

The Hamas delegation meets with Iranian officials in Tehran (image: alray.ps, October 22, 2017)

“It has been only a short while since the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation [agreement] was signed, [during which] I wondered, in another article, if Hamas was really serious, and if the reconciliation would cause it to return to its sanity and Arabhood… [yet] behold, just days ago [a report] was published about a Hamas delegation headed by Salah Al-‘Arouri, deputy chairman of Hamas’s political bureau, that arrived in Tehran last Friday [October 20, 2017] for a meeting with Iranian officials, as confirmed by a Hamas official… The official, who asked to remain unnamed, disclosed that the high-ranking delegation included several [other] members of Hamas’s political bureau, and that it was to meet with several Iranian officials over several days. He stated that the purpose of the visit was ‘to inform the Iranian officials about the reconciliation agreement signed by Hamas and Fatah, and about [recent] political developments,’ adding that the delegation would also discuss ‘ways to strengthen and develop the bilateral relations between Hamas and Iran and ensure Iran’s financial and political support of the movement, as well as [its assistance in] weapons.’ Hamas’s leader in Gaza, Yahya Al-Sinwar, likewise stressed that ‘Iran is the greatest supporter of the Al-Qassam Brigades,’ Hamas’s military wing, ‘in terms of weapons, money and training.’

“As is known, Iran is patron, for political purposes, of Sunni movements that maintain views that are radical in nature, among them Hamas. No one disagrees that political support is one thing and sectarian support is another. One of the paradoxes that should give pause to anyone who has tried in the past to justify Hamas is that Iran is supporting the [Sunni] Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt more than it is supporting the Shi’ite Da’wa Party in Iraq.

“In Gaza, Hamas has established an Iranian emirate that is completely subject to the Ayatollah [i.e. Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei]. We have not forgotten [Hamas leader] Khaled Mash’al’s October 1, 2011 speech at Khamenei’s palace, which was basically a reiteration his loyalty and obedience [to Iran]. Mash’al was, after all, no more and no less than a clerk to Iran’s ayatollahs!

“The problem of ideological movements, such as Hizbullah and Hamas – which have marketed themselves as resistance movements while, according to the political path both have taken… are nothing but ‘contractors’ [for Iran] – is that their leveraging of in their people’s problems for political, economic, and material purposes is the dominant pattern of behavior in their activity and positions. This is proven by their position on the revolution in Syria – which corresponds to that of their patron, Iran!

“Hamas is experiencing an internal crisis – a crisis more of identity than political – vis-à-vis the Arabs or vis-à-vis several Arab countries, headed by Saudi Arabia and Egypt. [Hamas] fears both these countries, [and] chose Iran not because it [Hamas] is an outcast – as those who defend its [pro-]Iran position try to claim – but because Hamas considers Iran a model it aspires [to emulate] when it establishes an Islamic emirate in Gaza.

“Hamas’s return to the [bosom of the] Iranian regime, as evident from its visit [to Tehran] – when it knows full well that the path of return to the Arab [fold] passes only through Saudi Arabia – sends a message, that Hamas is still ‘marching in place.'”[2]

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[1] On the recent rapprochement between Hamas and Iran, see MEMRI Special Dispatch No.7144, Alongside Reconciliation With Fatah, Hamas Officials Tighten Relations With Iran, Call To ‘Wipe Israel Off The Map’, October 23, 2017.

[2] Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), October 23, 2017.