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As I said, ‘Only Arab states aligned with Iran will oppose Zionism’

November 2, 2023 at 12:03 pm

People attend the Pro-Palestine demonstration as they hold banners and flags at the Revolution street in Tehran on October 13, 2023 [Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency]

Three years ago, I opined that “Only Arab states aligned with Iran will oppose Zionism”. I argued that the Iranian-led Axis of Resistance, which comprises both state and non-state actors, would be the only force actively opposing the threat of Zionism in the region.

It would seem that, in light of current events, this assessment still holds true, especially given Tuesday’s announcement by Yemen’s Houthi-aligned armed forces that they had launched another salvo of missiles and drones towards Israel.

Effectively declaring that the country is at war with Israel, army spokesman Yahya Saree stated: “In response to our dear Yemeni people and the demands of the free peoples and our oppressed people in Gaza, the Yemeni armed forces had to carry out their duty by relying on God and achieving victory over the historical oppression of the Palestinian people.”

These strikes will continue “until Israeli aggression stops,” he warned, noting the “weakness of the official Arab regimes and the collusion of some with the Israeli enemy.”

The initial article was written several months after the US-brokered Abraham Accords in 2020, which saw the UAE and Bahrain normalise relations with the occupation state of Israel. They were joined later by Morocco, which re-established its relations with Israel, and Sudan, which signed up under pressure from the US.

The intention was that the Trump administration initiative would usher in a wave of peace between Arab governments and the apartheid state, while the Palestinian people and their cause would slowly fade into obscurity. The jewel in the crown of normalisation was to be the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This was also accompanied by repeated provocations in the occupied West Bank and violations of the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem by Zionist forces and settlers.

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However, the prospects of this “peace” were dealt a severe blow earlier this year when regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran set aside their differences and resumed diplomatic relations. Tehran’s longstanding ally, Syria, was readmitted to the Arab League, after over a decade of international isolation amid a foreign-backed regime-change war, while Riyadh and the Houthi-led, de facto government of Yemen have engaged in historic direct peace talks.

Saudi Arabia was lined up to be the next Arab state to recognise Israel, but that is no longer the case. This shift is not only due to the genocidal war unleashed against the Palestinians in Gaza, which has brought their cause to the forefront of global consciousness, but also the need to maintain the diplomatic progress achieved between the Kingdom and the Islamic Republic. The underlying goal of the accords was to establish an Arab-Israeli alliance aimed at countering the Axis of Resistance.

As I stated in 2020, “The truth is that without Iran’s support for its allies, both state and non-state actors alike, the region would submit to the interests of the US and the settler-colonial state of Israel, neither of which have Palestinian statehood on their agenda.”

Since the Hamas-led resistance Operation Al-Aqsa Flood on 7 October, other members of the Resistance Axis have become more involved, including Hezbollah in Lebanon. The movement has engaged in cross-border combat along Israel’s northern front, resulting in the deaths of at least 120 occupation soldiers.

There have also been rocket attacks originating from Syria aimed at the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Moreover, Iraq’s Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) have carried out a series of drone and missile strikes against US bases in Iraq and Syria. The PMF issued warnings to Washington not to get involved directly in the Zionist war. However, it appears to be doing so already with the deployment of US Special Forces to assist the occupation army as “advisors”.

Factions of the PMF have also been mobilised in South Lebanon, as has the commander of Iran’s Quds Force, Esmail Qaani, who reportedly arrived in the country a day after the Hamas operation was launched. Despite Tehran’s official denials about its involvement in the resistance operation, the Joint Operations Room, which is led by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, suggests otherwise. After all, the operation apparently “required months of planning and training that only Iran and Hezbollah could have provided.”

The overarching strategy involves the implementation of the “Unity of Fronts,” a coordinated, multi-front war against the occupying state by the Resistance Axis, which includes Palestinian factions Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The nuclear-armed apartheid state is acutely aware of this threat and has conducted military drills to counter this existential challenge. How effective they will be remains to be seen, while the Axis must plan its entry into the conflict carefully.

Nevertheless, with the civilian death toll in Gaza rapidly approaching 10,000, the credibility of the Axis members is on the line, even as they remain the primary actors taking military action against the oppressor while the rest of the Arab governments look on. Israel’s atrocities and long-awaited ground invasion of Gaza have also crossed significant “red lines” into uncharted territory, increasing the likelihood of the conflict evolving into a regional crisis.

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In a message to the Palestinian resistance shared on social media, a statement purported to be from Hezbollah states, “We took up arms to support Al-Aqsa Mosque and victory is our promise.” This is a strong indicator that, like the Houthis, the Lebanese resistance faction will step up its engagement and commitment in joining the conflict. It is likely to be addressed if not confirmed by Secretary-General Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah’s speech scheduled for tomorrow.

It is certainly a major cause of concern for both Israel and the US for a northern front to be opened by Hezbollah, which is “10 times stronger than Hamas,” according to Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant. To date, Hezbollah is the only force to have successfully ended an Israeli military occupation through armed struggle, expelling its troops back in 2000 and humiliating them again six years later.

At the time of writing, Yemeni armed forces spokesman Saree has announced that they have “launched a large batch of drones during the past hours at several targets deep within the Zionist entity in occupied Palestine, and they reached their goals.” In contrast, Saudi Arabia is currently showcasing its Riyadh Season festival.

Evidently, when it comes to actively opposing Zionism, the Arab states are not on the same page. It is noteworthy that among the Arab states and entities within the Resistance Axis, the governments have taken steps to criminalise and prohibit normalisation with the occupation state.

Although Qatar is an exception among the Arab Gulf states, it is still constrained in its actions due to its alignment with the West and status as a major non-NATO ally. Furthermore, while non-Arab state and NATO member Turkiye champions the Palestinian cause, it maintains diplomatic and economic ties with Israel.

In his latest speech, senior Hamas political leader and former democratically-elected Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said: “I salute all resistance fronts in Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen and Syria for their advanced positions and legitimate struggle.” Among the Arab states that have remained steadfast in their support for the Palestinians and their struggle for national liberation, it is those aligned with Iran that are leading the resistance against the Zionist state and are opposed to the US military presence in the region. If this wasn’t obvious before, it is now.

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