Iran made very public overtures to both Jordan and Egypt this week in what can
be seen as its ongoing attempts to extend its influence in the
Tehran’s ambassador to Jordan, Dr. Mostafa Mosleh- Zadeh, said
late on Wednesday that Tehran is ready to supply Jordan with free oil and energy
for the next 30 years, in return for goods the Islamic Republic
Mosleh-Zadeh said that Tehran is seeking to increase “diplomatic
and commercial relations” with Jordan, in comments made on the Fi al- Samim
program aired by Jordan’s Josat TV, according to Jordanian news outlet Petra
The Iranian ambassador’s comments come weeks after a decision by
the Jordanian government to cut fuel subsidies sparked mass and sometimes
violent popular protests, including calls for the overthrow of King Abdullah
Jordan’s economic situation has been exacerbated by the loss of
financial support from oil-rich Gulf states, particularly Saudi Arabia, Iran’s
Last year, Saudi Arabia gave Jordan a last-minute $1.4
billion cash handout to keep Jordan afloat, but it withheld aid this year,
officials have said.
As well as offering Jordan a way out of its crisis
and a way of bypassing Saudi aid, the Iranian ambassador also appealed to
domestic fears about Syria and the Palestinians, and said Amman and Tehran were
united by a common enemy – Israel.
Referring to but not naming Israel,
Mosleh-Zadeh said Jordan and Iran faced a shared foe who “was and still is
trying to divide the Muslims in order to dominate and control the
Playing on local fears, Mosleh-Zadeh raised the issue of the
“Alternative Homeland,” a much-debated conspiracy theory that postulates a
US-backed Israeli plot to create a Palestinian state in Jordan, around 70
percent of whose population are Palestinian refugees.
“I think that the
‘Alternative Homeland’ is the largest project of the 20th and 21st century, and
America does not have a solution to the Palestinian crisis, the biggest crisis
of the past 60 years, except for the “Alternative Homeland,” which establishes a
Palestinian state but outside of Palestine and has Israel ruling over the whole
of Palestine,” Mosleh- Zadeh was quoted as saying.
that the crisis in Iran’s regional ally Syria is “an introduction to this
The plot intended for “the government in Syria to fall first,
then the country will be divided up into small Alawite, Druse, Sunni and
Christian states, which will change the map of the Middle East,” he
More Syrian refugees would then “flood into Jordan seeking
statehood,” Mosleh-Zadeh cautioned.
Jordan has experienced a large influx
of refugees from Syria, which has prompted fears that anti-Assad rebels would
recruit jihadists in Jordan, which could lead to a backlash by forces loyal to
President Bashar Assad.
Iran has supported Assad’s fight against rebel
forces. In a recent report, Lebanon’s As-Safir cited Iranian sources as saying
that Syria is “a vital part of the resistance and opposition
Also on Thursday, Iran expressed interest in increased ties
with Egypt, with whom it has courted stronger relations since the election this
summer of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi.
Again using the
strategy of appealing to a common enemy, the speaker of Iran’s parliament Ali
Larijani said that stronger ties between Iran and Egypt were “in the interest of
Muslims” and would “serve the common goals of all Islamic countries in the face
of its enemies.”
Larijani made his remarks during a meeting with the head
of Egypt’s interests section in Tehran, Khalid Emara, who has been in his role
Iran’s parliamentary speaker also emphasized the
importance of dialog between Iranian and Egyptian religious scholars “in
response to extremist currents in the Muslim world.”
were published in the Arabic-language service of Iran’s Mehr News agency, a
clear sign that this is a message intended for an audience in the Arab
Iran’s attempts to expand its influence in the region – including
in Gaza – have sparked Arab concerns that these “Persian aspirations” are
endangering Arab national security, according to an editorial in As-Safir this
“In addition to their material effect, Iranian military
capabilities reaching Gaza play another role in this time of deep polarization.
They prove that the conflict with Israel can transcend ever-increasing sectarian
barriers and fears, whereby the Shi’ite Islamic Republic of Iran does not
hesitate to offer support to the Sunni Palestinian resistance movements in their
fight with the common enemy,” the newspaper wrote.
This week Iran has
directed considerable efforts both at home and abroad in capitalizing on the
latest crisis in Gaza, not only by publicly announcing it had supplied weapons
technology to Hamas and other Gaza terrorist groups but even claiming that its
missiles were solely and directly responsible for Hamas’s
However, Iran’s control over Hamas has weakened because of the
Syria crisis, after Hamas publicly turned against Assad over his repression of
On Wednesday night, Hamas’s political chief Khaled Mashaal
appeared to downplay Hamas’s relationship with Iran when he told CNN that while
the Gaza terrorist group still has a relationship with Tehran, it was “affected
by [Hamas’s] disagreement about Syria.
“[Hamas’s relationship with Iran]
is not as it used to be in the past, but there is no severing of – of relations.
But it is different according to the circumstances.
The Syrian crisis
impacted our relationship with the Iranians. But we still have Iran in
relationship in other fields,” he told CNN.
Mashaal also emphasized that
Iran was not the only country from which Hamas obtained support. “Hamas, as a
movement of resistance... for a people living under occupation, we see not just
wait to get support, financial support, military support, political support from
all over the world, from all the states in the world. Everyone giving us
support, whether it’s from Iran or Europe,” the Hamas political leader said.