John Kerry arrives in Israel, July 23.
(photo credit: MATTY STERN, US EMBASSY TEL AVIV)
While war in Gaza rages on and the West dumps on Israel for having the effrontery to defend the lives of its people, attention has strayed from the most important actor in the region, Iran.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is actively involved in the Gaza war. Relations with Hamas which had deteriorated over Syria are back on track. Iran armed Hamas and Islamic Jihad with rockets and other weapons and is reportedly now directly instructing Hamas commanders in the Gazan tunnels.
Osama Hamdan, who runs Hamas’s foreign relations, says it is continuing to coordinate its positions with Iran and its proxy army in Lebanon, Hezbollah.
Hamas’s deputy political head Mousa Abu Marzouk says he hopes “the Lebanese front will open and together we will fight” against Israel. The Hezbollah chieftain Hassan Nasrallah has pledged “all means of support” to the Palestinian “resistance.”
Israel cannot dismiss this as saber rattling.
After the discovery of the massive network of tunnels from Gaza into Israel, posing the strategic threat of establishing an Islamist beachhead across southern Israel through infiltration, the suspicion must be that Iran is planning a similar strategy for northern Israel too.
A US federal judge recently ruled that North Korea and Iran had assisted in building “a massive network of underground military installations, tunnels, bunkers, depots and storage facilities in southern Lebanon.” As Brig.-Gen. (res.) Shimon Shapira of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs told analyst Lee Smith, the Gaza tunnels might provide a horrifying explanation of what Nasrallah meant when he said that Hezbollah had a twopart operational plan. “One is rocket fire on Tel Aviv and two is conquest of the Galilee,” said Shapira. “Nasrallah means Hezbollah is going to penetrate Israel through tunnels.”
In recent days, Iran’s rulers have been stepping up their bellicose rhetoric – urging war on Israel not just from Gaza but also from a second front in the West Bank. Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has said that “until that heartless and child-killer [Zionist] regime is destroyed” armed resistance is “the only path” and that the West Bank should be armed just like Gaza.
This prompted similar calls from other Iranian leaders including Amir Mousavi, the former adviser to Iran’s defense minister, who said Tehran would arm the West Bank with “strategic weapons” including missiles to target Tel Aviv and Haifa.
Not to be outdone, the West’s Iranian sweetheart Prime Minister Hassan Rouhani asked Muslim states to help Gaza, declaring that the “unity of Muslim countries against the enemies is a vital matter at this stage” and adding that the “resistance” displayed by Gaza would undoubtedly lead to the “defeat of the Zionist regime.”
So the principal terror-promoting state in the world, at war against the West for the past 35 years and committed to the genocide of the Jews, is waging a proxy war of extermination against Israel which it announces it is now to step up. Yet astoundingly, the US-led P5+1 coalition is continuing to negotiate with Iran over its nuclear program, as if its leaders really are the moderates the West so risibly claims them to be.
The negotiations have been extended for another four months, with the US lead negotiator Wendy Sherman insisting there has been “significant progress in the negotiating room.” This from people whose interim agreement signed with Tehran last January effectively acknowledged Iran’s right to enrich uranium – junking the West’s previous nonnegotiable redline.
Now the US is to give Iran another $2.8 billion in unfrozen assets, in addition to the $4.2b. it unfroze after the interim deal was reached. No wonder Sen. Marco Rubio has denounced these negotiations as a “dangerous national security failure.”
America’s craven capitulation in these talks, not to mention Obama’s shocking demand that Israel unilaterally surrender to Hamas, has empowered Iran to ratchet up its aggression against Israel. For Iran understands that – astonishing as this sounds – under Obama the US is actually on its side.
America is tacitly supporting Iran as an ally. Last month a Pentagon spokesman, Adm. John Kirby, noted that the Iranian Quds Force was training both Iraqi security forces and Shi’ite militias in Iraq. He then added: “Iraq has the right to reach out to its neighbors for support.” The right? The US has named Iran as the world’s principal terror supporter and lists the Quds Force as a terrorist organization.
The British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom has called this legitimization of the Quds Force “a dangerous policy.” It also pointed out that Iran’s military supply to Iraq is in flagrant violation of the UN Security Council resolution which explicitly prohibits Iran from supplying military materiel to anyone.
The British Parliamentary Committee has expressed alarm about Iran’s growing military interference in Iraq and warned it is destabilizing the region. Yet the US is enabling Iranian terrorist militias to further destabilize Iraq and thus pose an additional threat to the West.
That’s because, in the wider civilizational conflict being waged against the free world by Islamic fanatics, Obama has positioned the US on the wrong side.
He has lined up America not just with Hamas but with its backers, Qatar– with which he has just signed an $11b. arms deal – Turkey and Iran. His aim is, on one side, to empower the Muslim Brotherhood through using Qatar and Turkey against Egypt, whose actions against Hamas have derailed the Brothers’ otherwise seamless progress to power in the region. On the other side, his aim is to empower Iran which – on the most benign view of his intentions – be believes with amoral idiocy will maintain a balance of power in the region against Saudi Arabia.
Accordingly, the US is simultaneously supporting both the Sunni and Shia wings of the Islamic jihad against the West. Quite a position for the one-time defender of the free world. And of course, Israel is utterly expendable. That’s the fix Israel is in. It is having to fight for its survival not just against Hamas, Iran, Turkey and Qatar. It is having to fight against America too.Melanie Phillips is a columnist for The Times (UK).