by: Khaled Abu Toameh ~ Gatestone Institute
Friday, 13 May 2016 | The Iran nuclear deal does not appear to have had a calming effect on the Middle East. The Iranians seem to be deepening their intervention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in general and in internal Palestinian affairs in particular. This intervention is an extension of Iran’s ongoing efforts to expand its influence in Arab and Islamic countries. The general sense among Arabs and Muslims is that in the wake of the nuclear deal, Iran has accelerated its efforts to spread its influence.
Iran’s direct actions in the Palestinian arena are still ignored by the world. That Iran provides financial and military aid to Palestinian groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad has never been a secret. Iran funnels money to these groups because they share its desire to eliminate Israel and replace it with an Islamic empire.
But puppets must remain puppets. Iran gets nasty when its dummies do not play according to its rules. Relations between Iran and Hamas floundered a few years back over the crisis in Syria. Defying their masters in Tehran, Hamas leaders refused to declare support for the Iranian-backed Syrian dictator, Bashar Assad. Things between Iran and Hamas have been pretty bad ever since.
Islamic Jihad got it next. Iranian mullahs woke up one morning to realize that Islamic Jihad leaders have been a bit unfaithful. The Iranians discovered that Islamic Jihad was still working closely with their erstwhile allies in the Gaza Strip, Hamas. Iran had had high hopes for Islamic Jihad replacing Hamas as Tehran’s major proxy in the Palestinian arena. But here were Islamic Jihad leaders and activists working with their cohorts in Hamas, in apparent disregard of papa Iran.
Outraged by Islamic Jihad’s apparent disloyalty, Iran launched its own terror group inside the Gaza Strip: Al-Sabireen (The Patient Ones). This group, which currently consists of several hundred disgruntled ex-Hamas and ex-Islamic Jihad members, was meant to replace Islamic Jihad the same way Islamic Jihad was supposed to replace Hamas in the Gaza Strip—in accordance with Iran’s scheme.
Al-Sabireen has also failed to please its masters in Tehran and is not “delivering.” Palestinian sources in the Gaza Strip say that Iran has realized that the investment in Al-Sabireen has not been worthwhile because the group has not been able to do anything “dramatic” in the past two years. By “dramatic,” the sources mean that Al-Sabireen has neither emerged as a serious challenger to Islamic Jihad or Hamas, and has not succeeded in killing enough Israelis. So Iran has gone running back to its former bedfellow, Islamic Jihad.
For now, Iran is not prepared fully to bring Hamas back under its wings. Hamas, for the Iranians, is a “treacherous” movement, thanks to its periodic temporary ceasefires with Israel. The Iranian leaders want to see Hamas killing Jews every day, with no break. Ironically, Hamas has become too “moderate” for the Iranian leadership because it is not doing enough to drive Jews out of the region.
In a surprise move, the Iranians hosted Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Shalah and senior officials from his organization, in a renewed bid to revive Islamic Jihad’s role as the major puppet of Tehran in the Gaza Strip. Islamic Jihad officials said that the visit has resulted in the resumption of Iranian financial aid to their cash-strapped organization.
One thing is clear: The Iranians are taking advantage of the nuclear deal to move forward with their efforts to increase their influence over some Arab and Islamic countries. Iran is also showing that it remains very keen on playing a role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—one that emboldens radical groups that are bent on the destruction of Israel and that share the same values as the Islamic State terror group.
Iran’s latest courtship of Islamic Jihad is yet another attempt by the mullahs to deepen their infiltration of the Palestinian arena by supporting and arming any terror group that strives to smash Israel. For now, it seems that Iran’s scheme is working, largely thanks to the apathy of the international community, where many believe that Iran has been de-clawed by the nuclear deal.
If this keeps up, the Iranians themselves will puppeteer any Palestinian state that is created in the region. Their ultimate task, after all, is to use this state as a launching pad to destroy Israel. And the Iranians are prepared to fund and arm any Palestinian group that is willing to help achieve this goal.
Posted on May 17, 2016
Source: (Excerpt of article originally published by Gatestone Institute on 9 May 2016. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)
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