Iran, the Pales­tini­ans’ se­duc­tive ally

It’s too early to say that his­tory has passed the Pales­tini­ans by, but their in­flu­ence is weak­ened by Ha­mas’ alliance with Iran

The Washington Times Daily - - COMMENTARY - By Jed Bab­bin

Al­liances be­tween na­tions as well as be­tween na­tions and non-state ac­tors ap­pear and dis­ap­pear, pushed by the tides of his­tory and geopol­i­tics.

NATO is a shadow of its orig­i­nal self, as is the Arab na­tions’ alliance with the Pales­tini­ans. The rea­son is Shi­ite Iran, which has se­duced the Pales­tini­ans away from the Sunni Arab na­tions and has al­lied it­self with the Pales­tinian ter­ror­ist group Ha­mas. As a re­sult, the Arab na­tions are be­ing forced to re­duce their al­le­giance to Ha­mas and the Pales­tinian Au­thor­ity, with which Ha­mas is vy­ing for

po­lit­i­cal power over all Pales­tini­ans.

As the Mid­dle East Me­dia Re­search In­sti­tute re­ported, Ha­mas has cho­sen to ally it­self with the Ira­nian regime and its pri­mary ter­ror­ist force, the Ira­nian Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guard Corps (IRGC).

Ha­mas and the IRGC have been al­lied at least since late 2017. Yahya AlSin­war, Ha­mas’ po­lit­i­cal di­rec­tor, con­firmed that in De­cem­ber 2017 when he re­counted Ha­mas’ agree­ment with Gen. Qassem Sole­mani, com­man­der of the IRGC. Mr. Al-Sin­war said Gen. Sole­mani told him that, “We place all our ca­pa­bil­i­ties at your dis­posal in the bat­tle for the de­fense of Jerusalem.” Mr. Al-Sin­war added that Gen. Sole­mani “... did not ask [for or] set con­di­tions, or en­cour­age us to em­ploy any spe­cific type of re­sis­tance.”

The enor­mous ef­fect of Ha­mas’ shift in al­le­giance was im­me­di­ate and the Arab na­tions’ re­ac­tions to it not long in com­ing. They are, more rapidly than one could ex­pect, dis­tanc­ing them­selves from the Pales­tini­ans.

The most com­pelling ev­i­dence of the grow­ing gap be­tween the Pales­tini­ans and their Arab al­lies came in an April in­ter­view with Saudi Ara­bia’s Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man. In an­swer to a ques­tion about the Jew­ish peo­ple’s right to a na­tion-state in at least part of their an­ces­tral home­land, he said, “I be­lieve that each peo­ple, any­where, has a right to live in their peace­ful na­tion. I be­lieve the Pales­tini­ans and the Is­raelis have the right to have their own land.”

In that same in­ter­view, the prince spoke very harshly of Iran’s supreme leader, Ay­a­tol­lah Ali Khamenei, say­ing that Mr. Khamenei “makes Hitler look good.” The prince’s fa­ther, King Sal­man, tried to reaf­firm the Saudis’ com­mit­ment to the “Pales­tinian cause,” but the im­pli­ca­tions of the prince’s words — and the rea­son for them — are en­tirely clear.

Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man and the other lead­ers of Arab states, re­al­ize that their na­tions face an ex­is­ten­tial threat from Iran. The ay­a­tol­lahs’ regime has spread its power across Iraq and Le­banon into Syria in an alliance with both Rus­sia and Tur­key.

Saudi Ara­bia, whose great­est fear is a re­volt in its eastern prov­inces by the Shi­ite ma­jor­ity in those prov­inces, is lead­ing a coali­tion of na­tions fight­ing a proxy war against Ira­nian-backed Houthi forces in Ye­men. That war is stalled, but ap­par­ently is tilt­ing in the Ira­ni­ans’ fa­vor. On April 3, the Houthi rebels launched a mis­sile at­tack on an oil tanker com­ing out of a Saudi port. Though the ship was not se­ri­ously dam­aged, Iran has en­cour­aged the Houthis to con­duct more such at­tacks and is sup­ply­ing the mis­siles to en­able them.

Other Sunni na­tions, such as Jor­dan, are se­ri­ously threat­ened by their pop­u­la­tions of which, in Jor­dan’s case, a ma­jor­ity iden­tify them­selves as Pales­tinian.

It is per­haps too early to say that his­tory has passed the Pales­tini­ans by, but their in­flu­ence is se­ri­ously weak­ened by the Ha­mas alliance with Iran. The closer they ally them­selves with Iran, the fewer will be the num­ber of Arab rulers who sym­pa­thize with the Pales­tini­ans.

Or­ches­trated by Ha­mas and en­cour­aged by Iran, tens of thou­sands of Pales­tini­ans from the Gaza Strip have tried to force their way into Is­rael ev­ery Fri­day for the past few weeks. They rush the bor­der, under the cover of clouds of smoke from hun­dreds of burn­ing tires, throw­ing rocks and fire­bombs at Is­raeli sol­diers.

Dozens of Pales­tini­ans have been killed and hun­dreds wounded by Is­raeli sol­diers de­fend­ing the bor­der. In past years, these ri­ots would have been used by the Pales­tini­ans’ al­lies — the Arab na­tions — to be­stir in­ter­na­tional con­dem­na­tion of Is­rael. That hasn’t hap­pened be­cause the Arab na­tions are rapidly com­ing to un­der­stand that the Pales­tini­ans are no longer their ally.

This all amounts to an his­toric op­por­tu­nity for Is­rael. It, too, is threat­ened ex­is­ten­tially by Iran. For­mer Pres­i­dent Obama’s nu­clear weapons deal with Iran in 2015 had many ef­fects, the least pub­li­cized of which is the grow­ing ties be­tween Is­rael and sev­eral of the Arab na­tions, in­clud­ing Saudi Ara­bia. It is too much to ex­pect that the Arab na­tions will drop all out­ward signs of sup­port for the Pales­tini­ans, nor will the Euro­pean apol­o­gists for the Pales­tini­ans cease all of their sup­port. But the sun is set­ting quickly on the Pales­tini­ans.

At the same time, Is­rael is strug­gling to blunt the threat of Iran’s bases in Syria. Last week, an Is­raeli air strike on one of those bases re­port­edly killed sev­eral Ira­ni­ans, in­clud­ing, ac­cord­ing to The In­ves­tiga­tive Project, the Ira­nian colonel su­per­vis­ing Iran’s drone flights over Is­rael.

As the pres­i­dent gath­ers al­lies to par­tic­i­pate in an at­tack on Syria in re­sponse to its lat­est chem­i­cal weapons at­tack on civil­ians, he and our al­lies should de­cide to give Is­rael ev­ery sup­port against Iran and its ter­ror­ist prox­ies, in­clud­ing Ha­mas. Iran is the great­est threat in Syria. It should be dealt with ac­cord­ingly.

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