Although Tehran is still isolated from the West due to sanctions over it dubious nuclear aspirations, its regional sphere of control is growing in leaps and bounds.
At its epicenter is a crescent of military and political control that ranges from Gaza to Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and now Yemen.
Relations with Iran took off when the PLO supported the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran but received a boost during the second Intifada in 2000 when Arafat released Hamas and Islamic Jihadist prisoners who identified with Iran. Despite calls from PLO/Fatah leaders to Tehran to stop meddling in internal Palestinian politics, Iran’s influence grew stronger as Hamas’s power grew within Palestinian politics and once Hamas won the elections in 2006, Tehran became Palestine’s main sponsor. That sponsorship isn’t only financial since Tehran supplies Hamas with military support and knowledge.
During a Quds Day rally in Tehran, Sadegh Larijani, head of Iran’s Judiciary was quoted by Alef News as saying, “Countries that have remained silent in the face of such Zionist atrocities, and defend this inhumane regime, are partners in crime with the Zionists.
Mehr News Agency reported that during Friday prayers in Mashaad, prayer leader Ayatollah Ahmad Alam al-Hoda called Israel a “cancerous tumor,” and that “Quds Day rallies around the world have frustrated Israel.”
Fars News Agency quoted Gholam Ali Haddad-Adel, parliamentarian and an adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during a Quds Day rally in Palestine Square in Tehran as saying, “Those who chanted the slogan ‘Neither Gaza nor Lebanon, my life for Iran,’ (during the post-2009 election protests) were inhumane.”
Mehr News Agency published a set of photos of Iranian actors and actresses that participated in Quds Day rallies in Tehran as a group.
Fars News Agency published a set of photos of former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as well as a number of other top government officials.
On the sidelines of Quds Day rallies in Tehran, ISNA quoted Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency as saying, “The Supreme Leader’s red lines are clear, and the nuclear negotiating team is working within the framework that has been determined by him.”
A hard line Raja News editorial argues that Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei continues to make contradicting statements regarding the ongoing nuclear negotiations. According to the writer, Velayati has on a number of occasions criticized and questioned the performance of Iran’s former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, “but yet continues putting all his efforts towards supporting and defending Iran’s new negotiating team.”
On the sidelines of a Tehran Quds Day rally, Tehran chief justice of the Judiciary Gholamhossein Esmaili confirmed the arrest of Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian and his wife, and said their case “is still in the preliminary stages.” He added, “The security forces have the whole country under surveillance and are well aware of the enemies movements. They won’t allow our country to be used by the enemy and their agents.“
Mehr News Agency reported that President Rouhani’s chief of staff, Mohammad Nahavandian said, “Tehran and Rome are determined to develop economic cooperation and trade,” and that “of all the European countries, Italy will be the first trading partner of Iran.” Nahavandian added that the economic climate in Iran had to improve “to create a calm business atmosphere so that diplomatic activities and foreign investors will both return to Iran.”
According to Fars News Agency while meeting with an Italian economic delegation, Valiallah Afkhami Rad, Iran’s deputy minister of Industry, Mine and Commerce said, “Iran is ready for Italians to invest in Iran’s automotive industry by offering tax breaks, entry visas, as well as other incentives.”
According to Mehr News Agency Massoud Soltanifar, the deputy head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization announced that his organization is working with Iran’s foreign ministryto extend Iran’s tourist visa from two weeks to up to a month.
Mojtaba Khamenei, son of the Supreme Leader, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif attend Friday prayers at Tehran University.
The Assyrian Evangelical Church in Tehran held a service condemning “terrorist crimes and atrocities in Iraq, Gaza, and Syria.”
Construction on the Mehr housing project in Tabriz began years ago under former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and remains unfinished, and plagued with problems.
Senior Iranian leaders are messaging a concerted effort to provide weapons and other support to Palestinians fighting against Israel in Gaza and the West Bank. The messaging comes from the Supreme Leader himself and subordinates who are usually reliable in representing his views. It includes statements that the Supreme Leader and President Hassan Rouhani have issued instructions regarding this support that are being executed. It is possible that Iranian leaders mean to intervene in the current conflict in Gaza in ways that might provoke an escalation or expansion of the fighting.
The occasion for these statements was Qods Day (Jerusalem Day), an annual opportunity for Iranian fulminating about Israel and support for the Palestinian cause. The concreteness of the statements and the centrality of their authors to regime decision-makers, however, merit elevated concern.
The following statements were reported on July 24:
- Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: „We believe that the West Bank must be armed like Gaza.“
- The Basij Organization expressed its „expectation“ that the Rouhani government will send legislation to the Iranian Parliament „urgently“ for „arming the West Bank like Gaza.“
- Mohsen Rezaei, Expediency Discernment Council Secretary and former commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC): „Your fight continues and yourneeded arms and ammunition will reach you even if they come from underneath a rock. Israel’s attack on Gaza will certainly transform into a new intifada…“
- Mohammad Esmail Kowsari, Member of Parliament and former IRGC general: „The Parliament will use all of its capacities to fulfill the Supreme Leader’s orders in this regard.“
- 500 university students in fields related to the missile industry reportedly issued a statement to the IRGC HQ, Artesh HQ, Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL) HQ, and the Palestinian embassy in Tehran, reaffirming the Supreme Leader’s call to arm the West Bank and pledging to „strengthen the missile capability of the global oppressed front against global blasphemy.“
- Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham announced that the first shipment of Iranian medical and food aid to Gaza, an order issued by President Rouhani, is in Cairo awaiting the Egyptian government’s permission to use the Rafah crossing by Gaza.
The following statements were reported on July 22:
- Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naghdi, head of the Basij Organization: „It is necessary for popular resistance groups in Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria to sign a defense and security agreement to confront external threats, particularly the present danger of the Zionist regime. Any assault against these countries will be considered an assault on all and they can enter action within the framework of a single unit.“
- The Supreme Leader’s Representative to the IRGC, Hojjat-ol Eslam Ali Saidi: „The support of the Iranian nation and the Supreme Leader of the Resistance have been and will continue to be a turning point in the power and movement of the Resistance. It will be followed by the strengthening of Resistance forces at the regional and the international levels…“
Source: American Enterprise Institute
The war in Gaza seems to be very high on the Iranian agenda. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei spoke twice within three days calling on Muslims to unite. “The Gaza incidents are utterly disastrous, and the Zionist regime is carrying out the current atrocities by taking advantage of the negligence of the Islamic world,” he said, adding, “The killing of the people of Gaza by the usurping Zionists should spur Islamic governments and nations to resolve their differences and become united.”
For years, Israel and the United States accused Iran of arming Palestinian militant groups in Gaza, mainly Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Iran never denied doing so, but since President Hassan Rouhani assumed office in June 2013, Iranian officials became more cautious when addressing the issue. On March 5, Israel announced the capture of an Iranian ship carrying advanced rockets to Gaza. Tehran denied the claim while Israel said the ship, en route to Gaza, was loaded with rockets and military equipment.
According to the official in Tehran, Iran is committed to the Palestinian cause. He said, “We will always stand side by side with the resistance in Palestine and Lebanon. Even in Syria, if there’s any group whose objective is liberating the occupied land, we will back them and support them.” He added, however, that sending arms isn’t always the best way. “We know how much our brothers need support. Israel always claims Iran is sending arms to them. What I can say is that Iran wants to see a strong and self-sufficient resistance. Yes, we are sending rockets and military aid, but not the traditional way.”
What was the Iranian official hinting at?
According to information acquired by Al-Monitor from sources in Tehran, Gaza and Beirut, a new strategy was adopted after the July-August 2006 war in Lebanon with respect to military support. The main goal was protecting the fighting groups from the danger of a military siege by making them capable of producing as many rockets as they need on the spot.
“The main goal was letting our men gain the knowledge, and then everything is easy,” said Amin, a Palestinian official Al-Monitor interviewed via telephone. “This was the idea of Imad Mughniyeh, the Hezbollah military commander. He thought that having (rocket-making) knowledge in the brains of experts would mean that Israel would not be able to achieve anything even if it destroyed the entire rocket stockpile; that doesn’t mean halting the rocket support.”
During the reign of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, smuggling arms into Gaza was very complicated. The tunnels were very useful, yet very dangerous, so more knowledge needed to be transferred to Gaza. In 2007, the main two rockets used by the Palestinian groups were the Qassam and al-Quds, homemade rockets with much more psychological than destructive power, according to Israel officials.
“Several brothers were brought to Tehran, where they met military commanders and experts,” said Amin, adding, “The training courses took time. At the beginning, the Iranians were surprised by our achievements. It’s true our activists needed guidance, but they were smart enough to grasp quickly.”
After the fall of Mubarak during the January 25 Revolution, the borders between Egypt and Gaza were loosened by a lack of security and the chaos that dominated the country. The revolution in Libya was taking place and loads of rockets were available for whoever could pay for them.
“From 2011 until 2012, Grad rockets were smuggled into Gaza, while larger rockets, mainly the ones designed in Iran and Syria, were brought in parts and built inside Gaza,” said Amin. “Palestinian resistance experts, from [Islamic] Jihad and Hamas, each worked alone on building these rockets and some even added new specifications, equipping them with the needs of the field.”
The Iranians essentially smuggled in rockets via the brains of Palestinians, keeping rocket-making knowledge intact despite wars and attacks. It’s the same strategy the Iranians adopted in their nuclear program, under the philosophy that knowledge can’t be bombed.
Queen Rania makes an urgent plea on behalf of all the civilians living in Gaza for a „humanitarian ceasefire“ and for the international community to do all it can to help alleviate the suffering.
This video ist from 2009, but it is the true about the situation today in Gaza. Stop the war against humans!
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”… Article 1, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person”… Article 3, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Over the past 41 years, the people of Gaza have been living under occupation. Over the past 18 months, they have been living under siege. And for the past 10 days, the people of Gaza have been subject to a cruel and continuous military attack.
Either the declaration is not so universal, or the people of Gaza are not human beings, worthy of the same “universal” rights. This is the message the world is sending out today.
Extent of the crisis
Today, I am here with representative members of the UN family, to share with you the extent of the humanitarian crisis that is Gaza.
But not only is there a humanitarian crisis in Gaza – there is a crisis in our global humanity. Nelson Mandela once said that “our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.” Today, I tell you, our humanity is incomplete without theirs. It is incomplete. It is not universal.
This is the message I am sending world leaders: Our humanity is incomplete when children, irrespective of nationality, are victims of military operations.
More than 70 dead children. Close to 600 injured. What does the world tell to their mothers? To the Palestinian mother who lost five daughters in one day? To the mothers watching their children cry in pain, huddle in fear, and deal with more trauma than any of us will experience in an entire lifetime?
That they are collateral damage?
That their lives don’t matter?
That their deaths don’t count?
That the children of Gaza do not have “the right to life, liberty and security”?
What do we tell them?!
Push for a ceasefire
It is imperative that every nation acts to end the fighting and open all crossings, especially Karni, to permit the uninterrupted passage of wheat, fuel, medicine and other vital supplies.
At the very least, we must push for a ceasefire, a humanitarian ceasefire, a ceasefire for children, to help the wounded, to look for those buried under the rubble, to tend to the sick and elderly trapped in their homes, and to bring in vital medical supplies, equipment and staff.
At the very least, governments should, governments must, contribute to UNRWA’s emergency appeal for $34 million to meet the immediate needs of Gaza’s innocent civilians.
The children of Gaza, the dead and the barely living … their mothers … their fathers … are not acceptable collateral damage; their lives do matter, their loss does count. They are not divisible from our universal humanity. No child is, no civilian is.
Bundestag: Öffentliche Anhörung des Auswärtigen Ausschusses – „Die Entwicklung des Politischen Islam in der MENA-Region“
Die 81. Sitzung des Auswärtigen Ausschusses findet statt als öffentliche Anhörung am:
Mittwoch, dem 20.03.2013, 09:00 Uhr, 10557 Berlin,
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Thema der öffentlichen Anhörung:
Die Entwicklung des Politischen Islam in der MENA-Region
- Thomas Birringer – Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Leiter Team Afrika und Naher Osten
- Dr. Michael Bröning – Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Internationale Entwicklungszusammenarbeit, Referat Naher und Mittlerer Osten/Nordafrika
- Prof. Dr. Mathieu Guidère – Universität Toulouse/Frankreich, Fachbereich Islamische Studien
- Prof. Gudrun Krämer – Freie Universität Berlin, Lehrstuhl für Islamwissenschaften
Ruprecht Polenz, Mdb
Please stop the war
Please stop the rockets.
Please don’t enter Gaza.
It will lead only to more death.
We are going to get trapped in another bloody circle and at the end it will serve no one.
We can stop now.
Stop the rockets.
Stop the marching orders.
Talk before it s too late.
This is The only solution to this madness.
Even in this difficult moment, even after all the rockets, the bombing, the dead, it is not to late.
As an Israeli, my heart goes to my people in the south of Israel, to the mothers and children of Ashdod, Ashkelon, to the families who lost their loved one, to the people who have been living in fear for years.
As a human being my heart goes also to the mothers and children of Gaza, to the families who lost their loved one, to the people living in fear for years.
More bombs on both side won t change a thing. They will just prove right the extremists and take all of us down.