Tariq Al-Homayed
Saudi journalist and writer, and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

Iran and The Search For a Seat

It is clear that Iran's current objective is to get a seat at the next negotiation table, irrespective of where negotiations will be held or what is discussed, be it the release of Israeli hostages or ending the war in Gaza. At the same time, it wants to ensure that the infrastructure of Hamas’s power is not severely undermined and that Hezbollah is not dragged into the conflict.

Thus, Tehran insists that it had not known about the October 7 operation. Hassan Nasrallah began his speech on Friday by denying that either Iran or his party had been told about the attack, claiming that the "resistance movements" in the region and the "leaders of the resistance" make their own decisions.

In my opinion, believing that Iran had been unaware that Hamas and Al-Qassam would launch the operation on October 7 - even privy to the minute details - or that Tehran is oblivious to the actions of its militias in the region, is akin to believing that anyone could increase their credit card balance without the bank noticing.

The international community, after Israel, could perhaps come to accept the idea that Iran was not involved, in order to avoid an escalation in the region. This sentiment resonates internationally, and especially in Israel, as no one wishes to broaden the scale of military confrontations.

Indeed, Iran does not wish to sacrifice Hezbollah. Its primary objective is safeguarding Tehran and its interests, not resolving the Palestinian question or any other matter. Tehran cannot tolerate the idea of Hezbollah fighting a war at present, especially given the naval fleets that the US and others have sent to the Mediterranean.

Iran is also well aware that any genuine military action from the Syrian front would change the dynamics there, potentially severing supply lines from Iraq to Syria. Above all, Iran's gravest concern is that any military escalation could end with the collapse of the Syrian regime.

Therefore, Iran's objective is to avoid clashing with Israel and the broader international community, especially given the unprecedented global support for Israel, which appears to be in a frenzy and be consumed by an overwhelming drive to annihilate everything as it vies to reinstate deterrence.

Moreover, Iran wants to avoid a change to the status quo that removes Hamas from power in Gaza, especially through the establishment of interim international authorities that eventually hand over the Strip to the Palestinian Authority. Iran wants to be represented in any future negotiations on this matter.
Iran clearly understands that the current war in Gaza is fundamentally different from those that preceded it. The most certain and perilous fact is that none of the regional players, including Israel, are certain about how the war will develop. No one knows its ultimate scope, duration, or objectives.

The last thing Iran wants is a tactical defeat. It does not want to lose one of its key assets of disruption in the region or its seat at the negotiating table that could reshape the status quo and, consequently, the fundamental strategic balance.

Tehran does not want everything to end with the reinvigoration of the peace process that could lead to a two-state solution. Ismail Haniyeh endorsed this outcome last Wednesday, to the astonishment of all the parties concerned.

As a result, we have seen this campaign of trying to deny that Iran had known about the operation amid empty Iranian statements about the mendacious “Axis of Resistance.”