Iranian influence grows while all eyes are on Gaza

Arab states are being picked off one at a time, with the latest targets of Iran and its proxies being Jordan and Egypt. The time to get coordinated is now.

Iranian influence grows while all eyes are on Gaza

While everyone is preoccupied with the brutal war being waged by Israel against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Jordan faces an escalating onslaught.

The Kingdom currently finds itself trapped between the territorial aspirations of Iran on one side and Israel on the other, two states with different interests and aims.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II appeared to have made overtures towards Syria, driven by the belief that restoring relations with President Bashar al-Assad could potentially mitigate Iranian aggression against Jordan’s security and stability, but this does not seem to have worked.

Many suspect that Iranian-affiliated militias, collaborating with the al-Assad regime, are behind the illicit transportation of drugs from Syria into Jordan, which has increased, along with the smuggling of weaponry, ammunition, and explosives.

Jordanian forces along the border with Syria, who intercepted shipments in September, find themselves in a heightened state of alert, as if in a state war with an unidentified adversary.

A threat unanswered

This strategic threat has not garnered the attention it deserves. Indeed, the threat extends far beyond Jordan, encompassing other nations in the region that have succumbed — and continue to succumb — to covert or overt Iranian influence.

For years, the Iranian threat to the region was a known concern that, regrettably, did not meet with the necessary response. Instead, it was allowed to proliferate.

No one has tried to set up a unified (or even minimally coordinated) strategy to counter Tehran’s encroachment on Arab nations, some of whom have started to fall under Iranian influence.

Iranian officials now openly proclaim their ascendancy in successive Arab capitals in a project that did not begin with the fall of Baghdad or the Israeli invasion of Beirut, which led to the formation of Hezbollah.

No one has tried to set up a unified, or even minimally coordinated, strategy to counter Tehran's encroachment on Arab nations.

Rather, it was an intrinsic and foundational element of Iran's policy from the moment the Supreme Leader assumed power in Tehran. What they called "exporting the revolution" was, in fact, exporting Iranian influence.

In Syria, which has become an Iranian colony, there were expectations that Russian military intervention against the Syrian revolution would curtail Iran's dominance. Clearly, this has not transpired.

The regions that Russian President Vladimir Putin said would remain untouched by Iranian militias have in fact transformed into staging grounds for Iran's covert campaign against the stability of nations such as Jordan.

The national security of several countries now hangs in the balance, subject to the activities of Iranian militias in collaboration with the al-Assad regime. The political landscape cannot be viewed in isolation from the geographical context.

As Iranian militias have been eyeing Jordan, Houthi militias have been posing a huge threat to global navigation in the Red Sea, conducting their assaults under the pretext of the Palestinian cause.

It is imperative to underscore that Palestine bears no responsibility for these actions.

Aims of displacement

Before the 'Al-Aqsa Flood' Operation by Hamas on 7 October and Israel's declaration of its brutal war against the Palestinians, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

In his address, he deliberated on the potential outcomes and effects of normalisation and peace agreements with Arab nations, highlighting their transformative role in the Middle East.

As Iranian militias have been eyeing Jordan, Houthi militias have been posing a huge threat to global navigation in the Red Sea.

He then presented a regional map in which Israel had completely swallowed Palestine. For him to swallow Palestine entirely, he would need to displace the entire Palestinian population, as outright elimination would prove unachievable.

A similar mass displacement has been seen in Syria since the Arab Spring, where Iran and al-Assad could not kill all Syrians, so they forced over half the population to leave their homes.

Israel dismisses the right of return for Palestinians uprooted from their homeland 75 years ago, just like al-Assad dismisses the right of return for Syrians displaced by Iran and its militias over the past 12 years.

Jordan, Egypt, and other Arab nations stand against the displacement of Palestinians, while the United States stands for the security of its ally, Israel. Yet the US has its hands full.

Joe Biden's administration, which delisted the Houthis as a terrorist outfit in 2021 (despite their attacks on Saudi Arabia) is now trying in to forge an international alliance aimed at countering Houthi assaults (using Iranian weapons) on vessels associated with Israel in the Red Sea. 

Tehran's ambitions

Jordan is not the end of Iranian ambitions within the Arab world, nor is Egypt out of the firing line. Recall that a little over ten years ago, Sami Shehab was convicted of setting up a Hezbollah cell in Egypt.

This should serve as a pertinent reminder of Iranian influence in the region. Indeed, like skilled artisans delicately crafting a Persian carpet, Iranian policymakers are meticulously executing their strategies.

While Israeli ambitions are widely known, Iranian ambitions are more murky.

It leverages religion as a tool to infiltrate societies and enlist the young, under the guise of sectarianism or of championing the Palestinian cause, yet both sectarian identity and Palestine remain innocent of Tehran's ambition.

Like skilled artisans delicately crafting a Persian carpet, Iranian policymakers are meticulously executing their strategies.

The primary foundation for thwarting Iran's expansionist agenda should be the establishment of a Palestinian state. This is essential not just for the sake of justice but to deprive Iran and its militias of their Palestinian pretext.

The Arab world must adopt a definitive Arab strategy to confront this covert occupation.

Activating the 'Protection of Arab Collective Security,' stipulated in the Riyadh Declaration of 2007, is crucial to meeting this objective, particularly among nations directly threatened.

Failure to do so will lead to a domino effect, and states who thought themselves immune from Iran's plans will soon be sucked down the same rabbit hole.

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