Nadim Koteich

Khaled Meshaal… Is Neither The First Nor The Last

Instead of seeking more blood in Gaza and giving up on his pursuit of an illusional victory by raising the number of Palestinian casualties, Khaled Meshaal, the head of the Hamas's office in the diaspora, wants to expand the scope of war and death.
In a video recording, Meshaal addressed his “Jordanian brothers," calling on the "masses of the nation to engage in the battle of Al-Aqsa Flood" and stressing the need for "blending blood of this nation with the blood of the people of Palestine, so that it can attain honor and decide this conflict in our favor, Inshallah." Meshaal's remarks, which Amman considers dangerous incitement, were made around 6 months into the Gaza war instigated by the Hamas attack on October 7, 2023, that has led to the deaths of tens of thousands of Palestinians, the displacement of Gazans to Rafah on the border with Egypt, and the total destruction of the Strip.
Notably, Iran did not engage in this war, which, according to Meshaal, is a major step towards a glaring victory. According to Reuters, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei asked Chairman Hamas Political Bureau Ismail Haniyeh, during their first meeting in Tehran, to silence the voices calling on Iran to support Gaza and open fronts against Israel. Khamenei bluntly told Mr. Haniyeh that Hamas had not consulted anyone before launching the attack and that Iran would not fight for them.
For its part, Hezbollah contented itself with skirmishes with Israel and retaliations that have not at all been proportional to the unprecedented Israeli assault that has violated all of Lebanon, as well as making significant progress in weakening the party on the ground.
As for the role that Iraqi militias have played in this war of support, it diminished around a month ago following a painful US drone strike in Baghdad that took out prominent Iraqi Hezbollah leaders: head of logistics Abu Baqir al-Saadi, and Arkan al-Alayawi, who runs the group’s information system.
In parallel, the Houthi militia has waged its own conflict in the Red Sea in the name of the Gaza war. While the militia claims its actions are meant to support Gaza, they have had no real impact on the course of the disaster befalling the Strip and its inhabitants.
Iran behaves like a partner in profits only, while refusing to be a partner in losses. It is striving to discourage Hezbollah from taking risks that could leave the party meeting the same fate that has befallen Hamas in Gaza, as Iran is aware that the party had raised expectations with its rhetoric and bravado before the war to a degree that makes merely standing aside untenable.
Meshaal made his perverse attempt at inciting Jordanians against their state, security, and stability against the backdrop of the Resistance Axis’s inaction, while he has yet to really criticize the limited support that Iran and its proxies have provided.
On the surface, his incitement seems to be the result of the despair within the Movement following the unprecedented war that has been waged against it and the shock of being abandoned by its allies. The sources of this despair are many. Hamas made several losing bets - from the theory of the “unity of fronts” being put into action to exploiting the sentiments of Muslims during Ramadan - that it thought would allow for expanding the war, as well as imposing suicidal realities and destroying the overall security and stability of the Middle East.
It is as though Hamas, after having failed to drown Israel in the blood of Gaza's people, now seeks to drown it with more blood, starting with that of the Jordanians.
However, the incitement is rooted in different considerations as well. It seems that some elements of the Muslim Brotherhood seek to resume their war against the Arab political system. Jordan is the first target in their sights, but they are looking further as well. Following the Brotherhood’s fall from power in Egypt and Tunisia, its decline in Morocco, its collapse in Sudan, and its Turkish patron's shift towards reconciling with the Arab political system, the Gaza war has opened as a new window from which the Brotherhood - now armed with the discourse of resistance and the theory of "unity in collapses" rather than unity of battlefields - can rear its head.
Khaled Meshaal is no fool. He was aware of the consequences that the October 7 operation would give rise to. However, he sees, in the tragedies of his people in Gaza, a political opportunity to traffic in resistance and invest in disaster. If that were not the case, why haven't we heard Meshaal call on the people of the West Bank to join the glorious holy war that his organization has waged? Why is he not bewildered by the fact that the West Bank and its sensible people are trying to preserve what remains of their land in order to build their national project over it? Why would Iran try so hard to turn the tables in the West Bank, and why would it have to resort to smuggling arms as - as was revealed last week - if the West Bank's people were in favor of the military option?
The attempts to destabilize Jordan have been relentless, taking many forms, from suicide drones and border skirmishes through organizations and smugglers linked to Iran, to "Captagon incursions," to Iraqi militias targeting US bases on the Iraqi-Jordanian border. We have now seen the most dangerous step to date following Khaled Meshaal's call for engagement in the Gaza war, through a clash between the Jordanian people and their state!
Hamas's attempt to force the Jordanian front open is a dangerous game that goes beyond a military strategy aimed at expanding the scale of its confrontation with Israel. This is an effort to mobilize Islamists under the guise of supporting Gaza which undermines Jordan's unity and prosperity. It is the abhorrent resumption of the ideological struggle in the Arab world, a systematic battle against the peace camp in the region, and an effort to ensure that the Arab world remains an alternative that can be exploited by Iran.
Unfortunately, defending the legitimate grievances of Palestinians has long been accompanied by policies that exploit these grievances to incite internal Arab conflicts and to get ahead in broader struggles for influence. Meanwhile, immediate and long-term consequences for the stability of the region and the lives of millions are neglected. This dangerous feature, which has characterized much of Palestinian national action, is not new to Hamas. What is new is that this time, the Palestinians alone will bear the costs of undermining prospects for peace and the manipulation of their basic interests by those purporting to speak on behalf of their future.