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Revealing Iran’s Support for Hamas & Influence in the Middle East

The Palestinian fighting group, Hamas, has been in the spotlight in recent times. On October 7, with full weapons, this group managed to penetrate the border between the Palestinian enclave, Gaza and Israel and then carried out an attack on the territory of the Jewish State.

This surprised many people considering Israel’s security capabilities are known to be very good. Several parties also pointed to Tel Aviv’s number one enemy in the region, Iran, as the party that supported Hamas in planning its attack.

Iranian leaders have warned that the world is now closer to a regional war in the Middle East due to this conflict and that Israel has crossed a red line. In his words, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, “can force everyone to take action”.

However, Iran is in a difficult situation. The country is believed to want to avoid direct confrontation but, on the other hand, has relied on proxy militias throughout the region.

The use of proxy forces, including Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza, has become a hallmark of Iran’s foreign policy. Iran says that although it supports these “resistance forces” proxies, they act independently.

Hamas’ dependence on Iran

Hamas’ origins lie in the Muslim Brotherhood, a Sunni Muslim group, and those roots have in the past actually been an obstacle to relations with Iran. The outbreak of the Syrian war in 2011, for example, worsened Hamas-Iran relations, as Shiite-led Tehran supported the Assad regime and Hamas supported the Sunni-majority opposition.

During the 2012 Gaza conflict, Hamas launched Iran’s Fajr-5 long-range rockets at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. After the 2021 Gaza crisis, Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh praised Iran for enabling the intense bombing and said Tehran “does not hold back when it comes to money, weapons and technical support”.

Hamas itself said a general from Iran’s main branch of the armed forces, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), had “armed and guided them”. In January 2021, IRGC aerospace forces commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh stated: “All the missiles you may see in Gaza and Lebanon were created with Iran’s support.”

Former Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said in a talk last week that Israel had lost since the myth of its invincible country had been destroyed. With Iran aligning with previously divided Arab states, Iran is in a stronger position than before.

Iranian Proxies Apart from Hamas

1. Hezbollah in Lebanon

Hezbollah is often described as the jewel in the crown, with its long-time spiritual leader, Hassan Nasrallah. Hezbollah has a political party and a military force that, for more than three decades, has built relations with Iran based on mutual trust and interests.

The campaign of attacks, bombings, piracy, and direct military confrontation with Israel in the 1990s and 2000s has achieved Tehran’s strategic objectives in the Middle East without any direct military confrontation with Israel.

Since October 7, rocket fire from southern Lebanon has increased, and Hezbollah fighters have been killed. However, Iran is reluctant to carry out a second war like the one that occurred in 2006 which destroyed Lebanon.

2. Houthi di Yaman

At no small cost, Iran has provided weapons to the Shia Houthi rebel forces known as “Ansar Allah” that have tied Saudi Arabia, and to a lesser extent, the United Arab Emirates, for years.

3. Assad regime in Syria

Syria’s president, Bashar Al Assad, is indebted to Iran because Tehran supplied a ground force of 80,000 men, mostly from Hezbollah, who worked with Russia’s air force to crush the uprising. A study by the Joosor Center shows Iran has 98 military sites in eastern Syria.

4. Nujaba in Iraq

The Nujaba Movement, an Iran-backed Shiite paramilitary, criticized Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shia’ Al-Sudani’s rejection of attacks on US military bases in the country by claiming that “there is sufficient legal and religious permission for resistance”. But there is a strong constituency in Iraq, especially the younger generation, who want an end to Iran’s influence.

Iran Relations and its Proxies

Emile Hokayem, of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, has conducted in-depth research to trace the relationship between Iran and its proxies. According to him, Tehran has its own style in building its relations with proxies.

“It empowers, supports, guides, but rarely commands. Western societies have a problem because of the way they conceptualize this chain of command,” he said, quoted by The Guardian , Wednesday (1/11/2023).

Iran’s partners are like junior but trustworthy brothers in arms. Hamas and even Hezbollah did not expect immediate and sustained assistance from Iran during the conflict. Even so, Iran’s partners took a decision and asked for Iran’s approval.

Source : CNBC