Is WWIII going to start in the Middle East
America’s willingness to turn a blind eye to Iran’s regional antics allows Tehran to tighten its grip on the Middle East • As Iran gets a step closer to developing a nuclear weapon, Israel still hopes Washington will come to its senses.
The Middle East is currently experiencing a precarious, absurd situation, courtesy of the United States.
The framework nuclear agreement reached between the West and Iran last week has all but ensured the international community’s blessing to Tehran’s nuclearization, and the Middle East is struggling to come to grips with the unthinkable: While Iran continues to oil the wheels of the war across the region and faces the pan-Arab coalition’s Operation Storm of Resolve in Yemen, Tehran’s officials have informed the world that they have been able to bend the West to their will and remain adamant in their desire to destroy Israel.
Given U.S. President Barack Obama’s appeasement policies, it seems Iran can afford this brazen attitude. Tehran rejoices, while the Arab regimes around it crumble. After all, it has survived the turmoil.
Luckily for the Arab nations, which are currently under Iranian attack in Yemen, some in Washington have recently come to their senses, prompting the end of the cold shoulder shown to Egypt since President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi took power, and resuming U.S. military aid to Egypt.
Cairo has been struggling to stabilize its economy and social situation, and the change in U.S. policy has allowed the Egyptian president to become the clearest and most decisive voice in the Arab coalition, pledging to protect the security of the Persian Gulf states as he does Egypt’s. He even outdid Pakistan, which pledged its support to Saudi Arabia vis-a-vis Iran.
The Iranian crisis in the Persian Gulf is a complex one. Tehran’s regional antics might have be amusing if not for the fact they are drenched in the blood of thousands of innocent people across the Middle East: Iran’s al-Hashd al-Shaabi militia, which includes Revolutionary Guard troops, is clobbering the Islamic State group in Iraq with indirect military assistance from the U.S., while Iranian troops, with the help of Iraqi Shiite militias, butcher the country’s Sunnis.
The long arm of Tehran is felt in Syria as well. Syrian President Bashar Assad, a protégé of the ayatollahs’ regime, continues to slaughter civilians and rebel forces alike. Since Obama’s failure to live up to his pledge to strike Syria if Assad used chemical weapons, the Syrian ruler has used chlorine gas on his opponents, and his use of unconventional weapons has only increased.
This situation, which is taking place as the Americans’ eyes remain widely shut, is reminiscent of the administration’s pledge in the 1990s, that North Korea — the resident nuclear evil of the day — will be disarmed. What is Israel to make of the fact that this promise failed to hold water, and of the policy precedents, past and present, it now faces?
The Russian angle
Another player in the regional theater is Russia, which is lending the Iran-Syria axis military aid. Preserving the Assad regime is a Russian interest, as Moscow seeks to protect its access to its naval facility in Tartus. Russia is also trying to weigh in on the crisis in Yemen, where all of a sudden Moscow has demanded timed cease-fires and the establishment of “humanitarian corridors.”
The Russians are eyeing the strategic strait Bab-el-Mandeb, which connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden, and are therefore encouraging the Iranian-backed Houthi insurgency.
Both the Yemeni government and the commander of the Arab coalition have accused Russia of using its humanitarian aid shipments to the area to smuggle arms to the Houthis, and Moscow’s fingerprints are evident in the region, be it through its offers to arm Iran with advanced anti-aircraft missile batteries, or its offers to various Arab nations to help them develop “peaceful” nuclear programs.
Russian President Vladimir Putin seems adamant to export the Cold War to the Middle East as part of his vision to recapture Russia’s superpower status, and his desire to exact revenge on the U.S. over its positions on the Ukraine and Crimea crises.
The Arab coalition is aware of the Russian interests, and the Saudis have already announced that if Putin tries to stop Operation Storm of Resolve through a U.N. Security Council resolution and the U.S. refrains from vetoing it, the coalition would still forge on with its mission, backed by Pakistan and Turkey.
Unless the balance of power shifts, Yemen stands to be the first nation where the Iranian expansion efforts will be curtailed by the Sunni Arab states. Nevertheless, to achieve this objective, the Saudis and their allies will have to put boots on the ground.
Meanwhile, in Syria, the Russian-Iranian alliance is serving the Assad regime, assisted by Hamas loyalists the Aknaf Beit al-Maqdis group, which operates mostly in the Palestinian Yarmouk refugee camp. Aknaf Beit al-Maqdis operatives, however, have found themselves between a rock and a hard place, as the near-empty camp is bombarded by the Syrian air force on the one hand, and overrun by Islamic state gunmen on the other.
A district in south Damascus, Yarmouk is close to the Syrian capital’s seat of power, on which the regime is quickly losing its hold. Assad’s waning control of the country’s border crossings, some of which have fallen to the rebels, is stifling Syria, thus further undermining the regime.
The support lent by Aknaf Beit al-Maqdis to Assad indicates that the Syrian regime and Hamas have not actually divorced, and the rekindled romance includes Iranian support to Hamas in the Gaza Strip, including weapons, assistance in rehabilitating Gaza’s grid of terror tunnels, and sponsoring terrorist attacks.
Hamas and Hezbollah’s mutual dreams of Israel’s annihilation fuel, in turn, the Iranian ayatollahs’ murderous fantasies; and all of this is taking place during the short interludes when the Iranians are not laughing at the Americans’ expense, given the ridiculous agreement reached in Lausanne.
It is against the backdrop of this regional chaos that the U.S. has decided that now would be the best time to demand that Israel allow the inception of a terrorist state in Judea and Samaria, on top of the one that already exists in the Gaza Strip — a bizarre American initiative, to say the least.
With friends like these, who needs enemies? It seems some in the American administration believe — perhaps out of spite — that the destructive model of Hamas rule in Gaza, which seeks to undermine both Israel and Egypt from Sinai, is successful enough to warrant replicating in Judea and Samaria, where it will threaten Israel and Jordan.
The threat from the south is alive and well, it seems, as it the threat from the north, via Hezbollah. Under orders from Iran, the Shiite terrorist group’s operatives continue to fight and get killed in Syria, while Hezbollah — encouraged by Iran’s ability to “bend” the U.S. to its will, increases its arsenal of long-range missiles, and readies for conflict with Israel.
Prior to increasing its operations in the region through its Hamas and Hezbollah proxies, Iran is concentrating its efforts on Yemen. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani are seeing their momentum stemmed by the Arab coalition, and are using the Sultanate of Oman to threaten the Saudis. The coalition does not intimidate Iran, as the Islamic republic knows the Arab allies would never dare attack on its soil.
Meanwhile, emboldened by the impending lifting of the sanctions, the Iranians prepare to restock their arsenals, and when they finally do obtain a nuclear weapon, they would be able to subdue the Arabian Peninsula states and reorganize their military bearings. This will allow Iran, in the future, to demonstrate the earnest of its threats against its enemies — in the Gulf by boasting its nuclear ability, as well as by training its missiles on Israel, from Iran as well as from Lebanon.
Sheikh Mafouz Walad al-Walid, the retired Sunni mufti of al-Qaida, blames Iran for all that ails the Middle East. Despite the existential battle between Shiite Iran and the Sunni states over hegemony in the Middle East, al-Qaida still tries to undermine its brethren and bolster its position by staging attacks that claim dozens of lives.
It is exactly this atmosphere that makes Walid’s authentic analysis of the situation one that affords us a rare glimpse into the radical Sunni frame of mind. In a series of Al-Jazeera interviews, the mufti explained that the conflicts in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen can be traced back solely to Iran’s megalomania.
The Arab nations lack a shared vision of the future, Walid said, and therefore they cannot band together and effectively counter the Iranian aggressions. The Arab nations have forsaken the Palestinians, and Tehran has taken advantage of the situation, stepping in and enlisting the Palestinians to its cause, he added, and now Iran has the Chinese and the Russian doing its bidding as well, manipulating them by offering them attractive, massive business opportunities.
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