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

Iran… The Profits of Incitement are Clear

A popular Arabic proverb teaches us that “The profits in gratuity are clear” - that is, it is easy to calculate profits when there are no costs. However, in our region, the profits of incitement are also clear, and the simplest example is Iran’s relationship with what is falsely called the axis of “resistance and defiance.”

Since October 7, Iran has had two narratives. One, it pushes publicly, glorifying the Hamas operation and preaching about the victory of the “resistance.” The second narrative is being voiced through diplomatic channels, and it is that Tehran has nothing to do with what happened and that Hamas had not informed it of the operation.

Then Hassan Nasrallah came out with his first speech, in which he stressed this point and explained that militia leaders in the region take their decisions, without asking for the input of Tehran. All of this was said despite the fact that the Iranian Foreign Minister had been threatening for three weeks that “fingers are on the trigger” across the region.

Today, the situation has changed. We are faced with two inseparable developments. First, the Iranian Supreme Leader has told Hamas that since it had not informed his country of its operation in Israel, Iran would not be entering this war on its behalf. The second was Washington’s announcement of releasing $10 billion to Tehran.

Regarding the news reported by Reuters, the agency quoted three senior officials as saying that the Iranian leader sent a clear message to Ismail Haniyeh when they met in Tehran, telling him that Hamas did not inform Iran of its attack on Israel, and therefore Tehran would not enter the war on its behalf.

The Supreme Leader told Haniyeh that Iran would continue to provide political and moral support, but would not be intervening directly. He also asked Haniyeh to silence the voices openly calling on Iran and Hezbollah to enter the battle against Israel.

Although Hamas has denied the reports - this is a game the region is familiar with, information is leaked and then denied - three sources close to Hezbollah have also told Reuters that the group was surprised by the attack. A party leader said: “We woke up to war.”

Reuters quoted Karim Sajadpour, an Iran specialist at the Carnegie Endowment, as saying that in the current crisis, the voice of political realism could prevail in Tehran. “Iran has shown a four-decade commitment to fighting America and Israel without entering into direct conflict. The regime's revolutionary ideology is based on opposition to America and Israel, but its leaders are not suicidal, they want to stay in power."

Accordingly, it can be said that Iran was the first Muslim country to condemn the Hamas misadventure, doing so publicly through the leak. We saw how Mohammad Javad Zarif, the former Iranian Foreign Minister, welcomed the wise decision to not enter the war.

Iran did all of this although it has been the exclusive and permanent financier of Hamas arms. This militia, considered to be among Iran's proxies in the region, has allowed the Quds Force to avoid firing a single bullet to protect Palestine, or the Aqsa Mosque itself. It even helped Iran obtain $10 billion.

As Gaza continues to face the brutal Israeli killing machine, Hamas leaders remain in hotels or tunnels. Meanwhile, the Arabs continue to condemn and denounce the assault, but none have told Hamas that enough is enough and that steps must be taken to save the lives that can be saved.

Thus, the profits of incitement are clear, while championing rationality and reason is expensive and difficult in this region.