M.E. shifts may weaken Iran’s influence with Palestinians

Iran for years has supplied Hamas with weapons as part of its own struggle against Israel, but the conflict in the Gaza Strip reveals a shift in regional dynamics that may diminish Tehran’s influence with Palestinian militant groups and strengthen the hand of Egypt.

The longer-range missiles fired by Hamas over the last week — believed to be modifications of Iran’s Fajr 5 missiles — startled Israel by landing near Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. A front-page story in Iran’s conservative daily, Kayhan, boasted: “The missiles of resistance worked.” Tehran would not confirm the weapons’ origin, except to say it sent rocket “technology” to Hamas.

Instead, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters: “What is important is that the people of Palestine must be equipped to defend themselves, and it is the responsibility of all countries to defend the rights of the people of Palestine.”

But the Gaza fighting erupted during a new era in the Middle East brought about by the rise of Islamist governments, notably in Egypt, that have replaced pro-Western autocrats. The political catharsis has spurred anti-Americanism, which Iran relishes, but it also has upset Tehran’s regional designs.

In Syria — which along with the militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah has been Iran’s proxy opposing Israel — a revolt inspired by the “Arab Spring” could force President Bashar Assad from power and bring in a government less friendly to Tehran. Hamas angered Iran by opposing Tehran’s continued support of Assad and siding with the Syrian rebels, who are mostly fellow Sunni Muslims.

Iran’s immediate concern in Gaza is keeping Hamas from strengthening its ties to Arab capitals. This may be difficult, as evidenced by the fact that Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, which inspired the founding of Hamas and now is in charge of the Egyptian government, played a key role in brokering the cease-fire announced Wednesday.

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is likely to press the militant group not to further agitate the region — and Egypt’s many domestic problems — with sustained violence against Israel. But Egypt has been criticized for tacitly arming Hamas by not tightening its border with Gaza to stop weapons smugglers from Libya and Sudan.

“The Iranians [had] better understand the paradigm is shifting in the Middle East,” said Nabil Fahmy, former Egyptian ambassador to the U.S. and founding dean of the School of Public Affairs at the American University in Cairo. “Hamas needs Cairo tremendously. It really has no other interlocutor to deal with Israel.”

But he added that the region is so fluid and unsettled that it is too early to predict winners and losers: “If there are peaceful resolutions, this will lead to a reduced Iranian role. If, on the other hand, you have an increased use of violence,” he said, “then ultimately any player that has been supportive of a more aggressive posture will gain ground.”

Iran characterized Hamas’ rocket fire on Israel as part of an effort to keep the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu off balance. Netanyahu has threatened to attack Iran’s nuclear program, and some suggest the airstrikes on Gaza have been a warm-up exercise. Tehran viewed the Gaza conflict as a means to distract Israel and further inflame anti-Jewish sentiment in a region tipping increasingly toward Islamists.

“Hamas’ ties with Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt’s current government are different from its ties with Iran,” said Nader Karimi, a journalist and political analyst in Tehran. “In peace, when diplomacy is needed, Hamas is closer to Egypt at the expense of Iran. But when it’s at war with Israel, Hamas’ relations with Iran are more important.”

Khaled Meshaal, Hamas’ political chief, acknowledged as much after the cease-fire was announced Wednesday. “Iran played a role in this achievement as well,” he said. “We have differed with Iran on the Syrian issue, but we agree against the oppression and occupation of Zionists.”

The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt “let down Hamas in the current war,” said Hamid Reza Taraghi, a conservative Iranian analyst who criticized Cairo for not opening Egypt’s border with Gaza to supply Hamas with arms. “Hamas now realizes that Iran is the genuine supporter of the Palestinian cause.”

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was suspicious of both Hamas and Iran. Mubarak, a close U.S. ally, had no formal ties with Iran for decades. Morsi visited Tehran last summer and indicated a change in tenor, even as he has angered Iran by condemning Assad’s mass killings of Syrians.

But Egypt’s domestic problems, including economic turmoil, the battle over a new constitution and gas and water shortages, are his steepest challenges. Morsi also is attempting to stem increasing instability in the Sinai Peninsula, where resurgent militant groups, some believed to be aided by Hamas, have killed Egyptian security forces and launched attacks at Israel.

Trouble in the Sinai jeopardizes Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel but plays into Iran’s efforts. Analysts suggest that Cairo will work to rein in Hamas, and other rivals of Iran including Sunni Muslim Persian Gulf nations such as Qatar will also be more deeply involved. The emir of Qatar, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani, visited Gaza in October and promised $400 million in aid.

Egypt, however, poses the biggest obstacle to Iran’s plans in Gaza. Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood regard Cairo as the unquestioned regional mediator between the Palestinians and Israel.

“Egypt has historic, geographic and religious ties with Palestine and Gaza. These ties cannot be bought,” said Sadegh Hosseini, an expert on Iranian politics. “Gaza is the backyard of Egypt. In recent years, we have seen that ideologically Hamas is another branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.”

LA Times

  • wargame1

    The Muslim Brotherhood with its Mursi will be in a big trouble soon. The revolution is coming back and this time Mursi will be chased out of Egypt Inshallah. Mubarak took a good decision to step down and avoided a great bloodshed. Egyptians have realized that their revolution is being hijacked by the Israeli proxy Iran and in every passing day the resentment is growing among the Egyptians.The coming revolution will be bloody as this Mursi and its backers will do the same as Bashar Al-Qaeda is doing to quell the revolution. Egypt is a vital strategic point for Iran/Israel and its allies so fall of Mursi will force these party to send boots on the ground. Percent Sunni Muslim in Egypt: 90% but the commander in chief is from the Free masonic group Muslim Brotherhood.This group is run by Sufi a Cult existed before the advent of Islam and have firm allegiance with the Shia. 

    • 5thDrawer

      My goodness! You got those Stone-Masons into it again. !! Lodge a complaint !! Or a movie …. :-))

      • wargame1

        I have read about Freemason , Illuminati ,Bohemian grove ,Jewish Kabbalah, Skull and bones, Knights Templar,GogMagog, One world government,One Eyed Dajjal( Anti Christ) etc. These are not fiction but reality.I obtain knowledge from different source but verify it with Islamic eschatology. If you see the back of a one Dollar Bill you will see a floating eye on the Pyramid. That is the eye of the Dajjal the forth coming one eyed Antichrist.If you carefully observe the promotion of one eye in movies,cartoon,Logo then please do not think that these are happening by accident. If you see “passion of truth” you will see Jesus(Peace be upon him) was shown as one eyed with another defective eye  I do not believe in shape shifting Lizard though. 

        Do you know which one is the dome of the rock and which one is the Al Aksa Mosque? May be you know both of them but when I mention these two things which image appear in to your imagination? Hope to hear from you this answer.Youtube the following for some information”Exposing Masonic agenda of Iranian Regime”

        • Mahdi Kenaani

          Heeeey i wasnt aware of the fact that we have something in common. i love fiction novels of dan brown as well. believe it or not i have just read the lost symbol. a very recommendable book btw… i can give you a summary if you like? my absolute favorite book of dan brown is the da vinci code though 

        • 5thDrawer

          I agree with Mahdi on this one … In a lifetime I have never seen the magic, no matter how many of these stories I have read. I loved all the fairy tales and ate science fiction. My imagination can run as wild too. But I became a realist because I saw the difference, and the disappointment that reality holds for us dreamers. You can mention things built for the sake of  a dream, but I see a man-made dome or a building encasing a thought. And humans have built many wonderful-looking things for a thought, a dream.
          The only possible magic in them is that human feeling we cannot explain or express well enough – and then make feeble attempts to do so by shaping the world around us – love.
          Immagination can be powerful.
          Can you show me the magic?
          Trying to create the magic alone, or en-mass, could be mankind’s downfall, of course. We do seem to write about it often enough.
          Refusing to accept reality? Something like Nintendo. But It is you who has the thumbs on the buttons.

        • Hannibal

          But we have nothing to worry about wargame… The Holly Spirit will be born again in Jesus and bring in salvation. At that point the Jews will know that they crucified the real Messiah and weep… 

  • wargame1

    The Muslim Brotherhood with its Mursi will be in a big trouble soon. The revolution is coming back and this time Mursi will be chased out of Egypt Inshallah. Mubarak took a good decision to step down and avoided a great bloodshed. Egyptians have realized that their revolution is being hijacked by the Israeli proxy Iran and in every passing day the resentment is growing among the Egyptians.The coming revolution will be bloody as this Mursi and its backers will do the same as Bashar Al-Qaeda is doing to quell the revolution. Egypt is a vital strategic point for Iran/Israel and its allies so fall of Mursi will force these party to send boots on the ground. Percent Sunni Muslim in Egypt: 90% but the commander in chief is from the Free masonic group Muslim Brotherhood.This group is run by Sufi a Cult existed before the advent of Islam and have firm allegiance with the Shia. 

    • 5thDrawer

      My goodness! You got those Stone-Masons into it again. !! Lodge a complaint !! Or a movie …. :-))

      • wargame1

        I have read about Freemason , Illuminati ,Bohemian grove ,Jewish Kabbalah, Skull and bones, Knights Templar,GogMagog, One world government,One Eyed Dajjal( Anti Christ) etc. These are not fiction but reality.I obtain knowledge from different source but verify it with Islamic eschatology. If you see the back of a one Dollar Bill you will see a floating eye on the Pyramid. That is the eye of the Dajjal the forth coming one eyed Antichrist.If you carefully observe the promotion of one eye in movies,cartoon,Logo then please do not think that these are happening by accident. If you see “passion of truth” you will see Jesus(Peace be upon him) was shown as one eyed with another defective eye  I do not believe in shape shifting Lizard though. 

        Do you know which one is the dome of the rock and which one is the Al Aksa Mosque? May be you know both of them but when I mention these two things which image appear in to your imagination? Hope to hear from you this answer.Youtube the following for some information”Exposing Masonic agenda of Iranian Regime”

        • Mahdi Kenaani

          Heeeey i wasnt aware of the fact that we have something in common. i love fiction novels of dan brown as well. believe it or not i have just read the lost symbol. a very recommendable book btw… i can give you a summary if you like? my absolute favorite book of dan brown is the da vinci code though 

        • 5thDrawer

          I agree with Mahdi on this one … In a lifetime I have never seen the magic, no matter how many of these stories I have read. I loved all the fairy tales and ate science fiction. My imagination can run as wild too. But I became a realist because I saw the difference, and the disappointment that reality holds for us dreamers. You can mention things built for the sake of  a dream, but I see a man-made dome or a building encasing a thought. And humans have built many wonderful-looking things for a thought, a dream.
          The only possible magic in them is that human feeling we cannot explain or express well enough – and then make feeble attempts to do so by shaping the world around us – love.
          Immagination can be powerful.
          Can you show me the magic?
          Trying to create the magic alone, or en-mass, could be mankind’s downfall, of course. We do seem to write about it often enough.
          Refusing to accept reality? Something like Nintendo. But It is you who has the thumbs on the buttons.

        • Hannibal

          But we have nothing to worry about wargame… The Holly Spirit will be born again in Jesus and bring in salvation. At that point the Jews will know that they crucified the real Messiah and weep… 

  • Mahdi Kenaani

    silly propaganda

  • Mahdi Kenaani

    silly propaganda