How Iran Is Encircling The Gulf And Israel
by Khaled Abu Toameh
As U.S. President Barack Obama continues to seek a negotiated deal on Iran’s nuclear program, the Iranians have been working hard in recent weeks to infiltrate the Palestinian arena and re-establish ties with their erstwhile ally, Hamas.
Emboldened by Obama’s obsession with the nuclear negotiations, which are set to resume next month, Iran’s leaders apparently trust that the Obama Administration is prepared to turn a blind eye to whatever they do.
So the Iranians are apparently feeling free to meddle once again in the internal affairs of the Palestinians, to strengthen their hand still further in the Middle East.
With bases in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq, Iran has surrounded Saudi Arabia and all the oil fields of the Persian Gulf. This encirclement can be comfortably backed with Iran’s forthcoming nuclear weapons program.
Tehran’s main goal is to regain control over the Palestinian Islamist movement so that it can turn itself into a player in the Israeli-Arab conflict.
The Iranians already have Hezbollah sitting on Israel’s northern border. All they need now is another terror group in Gaza to the south, in order to create a similar encirclement. And they are working hard to achieve this goal.
Relations between Iran and Hamas had become strained after Hamas’s refusal to support the regime of Iran’s client, Syria’s Bashar Assad, in his fight against the Syrian opposition forces.
Iran and Hamas need each other badly. Iran wants Hamas because it does not have many Sunni allies left in the region. An alliance with Hamas would enable Iran to rid itself of charges that it is leading a Shiite camp fighting against the Sunnis.
Hamas, for its part, is desperate for any outside support, especially in wake of its increased isolation in the Palestinian and international arenas.
Hamas is also beginning to feel the heat at home in light of its failure to rebuild the Gaza Strip after last summer’s war with Israel. Hamas leaders are now hoping that Iran will resume its financial aid to the movement and avoid a situation where Palestinians might revolt against it.
Egypt’s tough security measures along its border with the Gaza Strip, including the demolition of hundreds of smuggling tunnels and the creation of a security zone, have also tightened the noose on Hamas.
Hamas leaders say they have taken a “strategic” decision to restore their ties with Iran. Ismail Haniyeh, the former prime minister of the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip, announced recently that his movement is working toward establishing “open relations” with Iran.
Another Hamas leader, Osama Hamdan, announced that the differences between his movement and Iran have been resolved. He said that Hamas establishes its relations with all parties on the basis of providing support for the Palestinian cause. “We welcome any party that supports the Palestinian cause,” Hamdan said. “Relations between Iran and Hamas have returned to normal.”
As part of Hamas’s efforts to appease the Iranians, the Islamist movement’s armed wing, Izaddin al-Qassam, issued a rare statement “thanking Iran for providing money and weapons” to Hamas and other Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip over the past few years.
Hamas knows that improving its relations with Iran also means rapprochement with Tehran’s proxies in Hezbollah. That is why Hamas has taken a number of steps over the past week to restore its ties with Hezbollah.
The commander of Izaddin al-Qassam, Mohamed Deif, last week sent a letter of condolence to Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah over the death of some senior Hezbollah operatives, who were killed in an Israeli air strike in Syria.
In his letter, Deif called on Hezbollah to join forces with Hamas against “the real enemy — the Zionist entity.”
The Hamas-Iran rapprochement is yet another sign of Tehran’s effort to use its allies in the Middle East to destroy Israel. Hamas leaders are now hoping that Iran will resume not only its financial aid to their movement, but the supply of weapons as well.
Iran is not interested in the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip or providing shelter to thousands of Palestinian families who lost their homes during the last war. The only thing Iran is interested in there is turning Hamas into another Iranian-backed army that would be used to attack Israel.
This is all happening at a time when the Obama Administration is busy preparing for another round of talks with Iran over its nuclear program. It is obvious by now that Tehran is using these negotiations to divert attention from its efforts to deepen its involvement in the Middle East, with the hope of taking over the oil fields and eliminating Israel.