Iran Might Have Miscalculated in Gaza

(Wall Street Journal) Walter Russell Mead - What really matters in the Middle East is the battle between Iran, increasingly backed by Russia and China, and the loose group of anti-Iranian powers that includes Israel and the American-backed Arab states. So far, Iran isn't getting what it wanted from the war. Iran's objective in arming, training and encouraging Hamas wasn't solely to cause Israel pain. The real goal was to disrupt the gradual deepening of strategic ties between Israel and its most important Arab neighbors. Iran's rulers, believing that controlling the Middle East's energy resources and religious sites would make the country a world power, want to establish themselves as the dominant force in the region. Sunni Arabs have long viewed Iran as a religious rival and a security threat. More recently, as Iran's march to hegemony left a trail of ruined countries and bloody corpses, suspicion solidified into terror and loathing. Tehran's support for Bashar al-Assad in Syria is responsible for many times more deaths and refugees than all the Israeli-Palestinian wars combined. Iran's support for Hizbullah converted once-prosperous Lebanon into a poverty-stricken Iranian satellite. Tehran hoped that Hamas' dramatic attacks would electrify public opinion in the region against Israel, the U.S. and the Arab rulers willing to work with them, forcing these rulers to placate their angry publics by abandoning any plans to work closely with Israel. So far, Bahrain, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have all signaled that they intend, once the storm has passed, to go on working with Jerusalem for a safer, more stable Middle East. Instead of dividing Israel from the Arab states, the Hamas attacks reminded sensible people across the Middle East how important it is to hold Iran in check. Iran and its murderous proxies are mortal threats to the economic future that Arab rulers want and their people need. The Israeli-Palestinian problem, while real and consequential, pales before Iran's unappeasable drive for power as the region's leading cause of war and unrest. The writer, a fellow at the Hudson Institute, is Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College.

2023-11-07 00:00:00

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