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While the mainstream media has focused solely on Hamas and Israel in the current ongoing war, there has been less attention given to the major role that the Islamic Republic of Iran has been playing in ratcheting up the conflict with its military assistance to Hamas fighters, including Iranian-built Fajr 5 and M-75 with ranges of approximately 75 kilometers.
These are missiles and rockets that can target cities like Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
It is worth noting that the export of arms as well as military and weaponry assistance by the Islamic Republic to Hamas is legally prohibited by the United Nations Security Council, written in UN Resolution 1747.
Although Iranian leaders often deny that they are supporting Hamas militarily, some, including former Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, admitted that the Islamic Republic has been supplying military aid and technology to Hamas in the Gaza Strip. On the Iranian parliament’s website, Larijani stated, “We are honored to provide the Palestinian people with military aid, while all Arabic countries do is hold meetings. Palestinian people do not need lectures and meetings.”
In addition, the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Mohammad, Ali Jafari, admitted that Iran is supplying weapons to Hamas and other groups: “Iran provides technical assistance to all Muslims who fight against world arrogance.”
What is Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s stance? Is he truly a moderate? Rouhani’s stance on arming Hamas and standing against Israel is no different from his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The Iranian president recently projected Iran’s leadership by calling Kuwaiti Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, and pointing out that tthe Arab League, the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation, and the international community, ought to take immediate and serious steps to assist Hamas and the Palestinians.
After all, Iranian presidents are all loyal to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.
In fact, across Iran’s political spectrum, there is no difference with regard to their position towards arming Hamas and fighting Israel. They all share anti-Israeli and pro-Palestinians views. In addition, whenever the international community or the United States has attempted to broker a peace, Iranian leaders have attempted to scuttle it. Their view is the same as what Ahmadinejad previously conveyed: “Who gave them [Mahmoud Abbas’ negotiating team] the right to sell a piece of Palestinian land? The people of Palestine and the people of the region will not allow them to sell even an inch of Palestinian soil to the enemy. The negotiations are stillborn and doomed.”
The Iranian leaders hypocritically and frequently point out that the reasons they support the Palestinians and Hamas are humanitarian. Nevertheless, the main reason is advancing Iran’s regional hegemonic ambitions and its strategic, geopolitical and ideological goals.
In addition, the Islamic Republic has been seeking to project its regional hegemonic supremacy by supporting not only Shiite groups such as Hezbollah (Lebanon), Bashar Al Assad (Syria), and Nori Al Maliki (Iraq), but also penetrating the Sunni communities and supporting groups such as Hamas.
Since the Islamic revolution in Iran, the main foreign policy objectives of the Islamic Republic have been rivalry and antagonism towards the United Sates and its ally Israel.
The Islamic Republic attempted to find or create any group possible to stand against US foreign policy in the region (as well as those of Israel), in order to advance Tehran’s ideological, strategic and geopolitical objectives in the region.
The major force in Iran supporting Hamas are the Quds forces, an elite branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps which fight abroad, under the leadership of Khamenei and headed by Qasem Suleimani.
Another admission from the Islamic Republic on arming Hamas came from its own press, surprisingly. Last week, Javan newspaper, an Iranian state newspaper, stated, “The Islamic Republic of Iran is the only country in which a consensus on the Palestinian issue exists between the regime and its people. Together with popular support for the Palestinian fighters, the [Iranian] regime also provides important aid to the Palestinian fighters, including military weaponry… This measure by the Islamic Republic – arming the Palestinian groups – is carried out publicly, and not in secret, and has even been publicly emphasized by the leader [Khamenei],” according to Algemeiner and MEMRI’s translation of the Persian text.
Accordingly, the Islamic Republic has also provided Hamas with Fajr 5 missiles and Abadil drones before the war.
Across Iran’s political spectrum, Iranian leaders follow the words of the founder of this theocratic regime, Iran’s former Supreme Leader, Ayatollah and Ali Khomeini, who repeatedly attempted to rally people against Israel and the United States, “To liberate Qods [Jerusalem], Muslims should use faith-dependent machine guns and the power of Islam and keep away from political games which reek of compromise… Muslim nations, especially the Palestinian and Lebanese nations, should punish those who waste time indulging in political maneuvers.”
Under the presidency of Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s foreign policy has not shifted and it is crucial to draw attention to Iran’s intervention and military assistance as the Islamic Republic is major player in ratcheting up the ongoing war.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, an Iranian-American political scientist and scholar, is president of the International American Council and serves on the board of the Harvard International Review at Harvard University. Rafizadeh is also a senior fellow at the Nonviolence International Organization based in Washington, DC and is a member of the Gulf project at Columbia University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Dr. Rafizadeh at @majidrafizadeh.