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Which Side Are You On: Iran or Israel?

Which Side Are You On: Iran or Israel?

Friday, 11 May, 2018 - 11:45
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad.

It is a very embarrassing question because it violates all the concepts on which our political culture was built.

Yesterday, Israel attacked 50 bases run by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Syria in retaliation to 10 missiles fired toward Israel. It was claimed that the Revolutionary Guards had retaliated against an Israeli attack a night earlier.

Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid al-Khalifa volunteered to explain the stance. He wrote on Twitter: “As long as Iran has breached the status quo in the region and invaded countries with its forces and missiles, any state in the region, including Israel, is entitled to defend itself by eliminating sources of danger."

Sheikh Khalid’s stance is consistent with any state that stands against Iran’s crimes in the region.

In politics, stances change in line with interests and necessities. If we ask the majority of the Syrian people about their opinion, they would chant and support Israel in targeting Iranian forces and their militias in Syria.

There is no excuse stronger than defending the right of 600,000 people killed and 10 million displaced as a result of the crimes committed by Iran’s forces and allies. Stances have their justifications and they are not always sacred.

The stance is with Iran if it supports the Palestinians, with Israel when it strikes Iran’s forces in Syria, with the Palestinians when Israel attacks them, with the Lebanese-Iranian “Hezbollah” when it had claimed to be liberating Lebanon from Israeli occupation, and with Israel when it targeted “Hezbollah” after attacking the Lebanese and participating in the murder of Syrians. Support is always to a party that has come under attack against the aggressor.

Is it difficult to understand this logic? This is the required rational in a region suffering from turmoil. The ideologues are the only ones who are probably incapable of accepting it.

If you ask any Syrian or Lebanese woman whose son was killed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, she will not hesitate to pray for victory to Israel and for the loss and defeat of its rivals. This does not give the Israelis the right to occupy Palestinian territories or to persecute the Palestinian people.

We are facing a different phase and an unprecedented war. For the first time, Israel and Iran are in direct confrontation on Syrian territories rather than fighting proxy wars like they used to.

For the first time ever, we see the Revolutionary Guards that dominated the region, in Iraq, Yemen and Syria, paying a heavy price and realizing that they have crossed the red line.

As they usually do in Lebanon, the Revolutionary Guards claimed in an official statement that they are not responsible for firing the 10 missiles towards Israel, blaming Assad’s forces.

The Israelis will not go to court and will not wait for international inspection commissions to address this issue. They don’t need evidence to know that Qassem Soleimani’s forces are behind it and that they will not be safe by hiding behind the powerless Syrian regime troops.

Tehran must have heard about the stance of the Syrian regime – Soleimani says he’s willing to sacrifice the last standing Iranian soldier for Assad’s sake – that it is willing to give up on Soleimani and the Iranians in any political deal.

Assad will cooperate with any power that achieves victory on Syrian territory. Now that Israel is involved in the war, Iran is probably the biggest loser. Meanwhile, the Russians do not heed the new developments.

The picture is today clearer: The aim is to force Tehran’s regime to back off. The plan includes US President Donald Trump’s decision to scrap the nuclear agreement and reinstate economic sanctions.

This is in addition to getting Israel’s military involved via the painful strikes that destroyed Iranian sites, and convincing the Russians of neutrality by becoming mere bystanders rather than threatening to use their missiles against Israel’s strikes.

All this aims to serve the same purpose after the Tehran government refused international calls to militarily retreat to its borders, and to stop interfering in the affairs of the region’s countries and toppling their governments.

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