Iran Supreme Leader Asks Hamas to Silence Calls for Iran, Hezbollah Intervention in War

An Iranian woman wraps herself in the Palestinian flag in front of an anti-US graffiti in Tehran (Reuters)
An Iranian woman wraps herself in the Palestinian flag in front of an anti-US graffiti in Tehran (Reuters)
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Iran Supreme Leader Asks Hamas to Silence Calls for Iran, Hezbollah Intervention in War

An Iranian woman wraps herself in the Palestinian flag in front of an anti-US graffiti in Tehran (Reuters)
An Iranian woman wraps herself in the Palestinian flag in front of an anti-US graffiti in Tehran (Reuters)

Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei delivered a clear message to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, when they met in Tehran in early November, indicating that Iran and Hezbollah group will not wage the war on behalf of the movement because it was not given a warning of the Oct. 7 attack.

According to Reuters, Khamenei told Haniyeh that Iran, a longtime backer of Hamas, would continue to support the group politically and morally but wouldn't intervene directly, Iranian and Hamas officials with knowledge of the discussions said on condition of anonymity.

A Hamas official told Reuters that Khamenei urged Haniyeh to silence the voices in the Palestinian movement calling for Iran and its Lebanese ally, Hezbollah, to join the battle against Israel with full force.

Reuters reported, citing three sources close to Hezbollah, that the group was also surprised by the attack launched by Hamas last month and that the group's fighters were not on alert even in the villages near the border, which formed the frontlines in its war with Israel in 2006.

"We woke up to a war," said a Hezbollah commander.

Hezbollah group is engaged in its heaviest clashes with Israel in nearly 20 years.

Iran-backed armed factions targeted US forces in Iraq and Syria, and the Houthi group also fired missiles and drones at Israel.

- Hamas is frustrated

Hamas is fighting for its survival in the face of retaliation from Israel, which has vowed to eliminate the movement and launched an attack on the enclave, killing over 11,000 Palestinians.

On Oct. 7, Hamas' military leader Mohammed Deif called on the allies of the resistance axis to join the struggle.

"Our brothers in the Islamic resistance in Lebanon, Iran, Yemen, Iraq, and Syria, this is the day when your resistance unites with your people in Palestine," Deif said in an audio message.

Frustration appeared in subsequent public statements by Hamas leaders, including Khaled Meshaal, who thanked Hezbollah for its actions thus far but said, "The battle requires more."

Iranian officials have repeatedly said that all alliance members make their own decisions independently.

The General Coordinator of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said his forces "yearn for the orders of the Iranian leader to go to Gaza."

Iranian officials have threatened to intervene if Tehran was attacked by Israel or the US, according to six officials with direct knowledge of Tehran's thinking who declined to be named due to the sensitive nature of the matter.

Instead, Iran's rulers plan to continue using armed groups, including Hezbollah, to launch missile and drone attacks on Israeli and US targets across the Middle East, the officials said.

The strategy aims to show solidarity with Hamas in Gaza and exhaust the Israeli forces without entering into a confrontation with Israel that could attract the United States.

Former senior US diplomat specializing in the Middle East, who now works at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy think-tank, Dennis Ross, said that it was their way of trying to create deterrence.

"A way of saying: 'Look, as long as you don't attack us, this is how it will remain. But if you attack us, everything changes," he added.

- Hezbollah's internal problems

Hezbollah, the strongest partner in the resistance axis, which includes 100,000 fighters, has exchanged fire with Israeli forces across the border on an almost daily basis since Hamas entered a war with Israel, and more than 70 of its fighters have been killed.

However, Hezbollah, like its supporter Iran, avoided the whole confrontation.

Sources familiar with Hezbollah's thinking said the group calibrated its attacks in a way that kept violence mainly limited to a narrow strip of territory at the border, even as it has escalated those strikes in the past few days.

One source said that Hamas wants Hezbollah to strike deeper inside Israel with its massive arsenal of missiles, but the party believes that this will push Israel to destroy Lebanon without stopping its attack on Gaza.

- US is under fire

The US is also keen to avoid the war spreading beyond Gaza.

President Joe Biden has so far sought to limit the US role in the Gaza crisis primarily to ensuring military aid to Israel. Washington moved two aircraft carriers and fighters to the eastern Mediterranean, aimed partly at warning Tehran.

Tensions have escalated with at least 40 drone and missile attacks launched on US forces by Axis factions in Iraq and Syria since the start of the Gaza war in response to Washington's support for Israel, according to the US Department of Defense.

US officials say that Washington carried out three sets of retaliatory strikes against facilities in Syria used by armed factions linked to Iran.

On Monday, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned against opening another central front in the conflict.

Austin told a press conference in Seoul, "What we've seen throughout this conflict, throughout this crisis, is tit-for-tat exchanges between Lebanese Hezbollah and Israeli forces."

The Secretary asserted that no one wants to see another conflict break out in the north.

- Israel looks to the north

Austin stressed the need to avoid any regional escalation when he spoke with his Israeli counterpart Yoav Galant over the weekend, according to a transcript of the call.

Two Israeli security sources, who requested to remain anonymous, said Israel is not seeking an expansion of hostilities but added that Tel Aviv was ready to fight on new fronts if necessary to protect itself.

They said security officials believed the strongest direct threat to Israel comes from Hezbollah.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday that neither Iran nor Lebanon want any involvement in the crisis and will not participate unless provoked.

During a television interview with RT channel, Lavrov said, "I believe that neither Iran nor Lebanon wants any involvement in this crisis. They certainly have Hezbollah in Lebanon, an organization which is devoted to defending the Palestinian cause, the cause of Arabs in the Middle East."

He believed that the US wanted the conflict to go beyond regional borders, according to RT.

Iran does not recognize Israel's existence, while Tel Aviv has long threatened military action against Tehran if diplomacy fails to curb its disputed nuclear activity.

Iran specialist at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think-tank Karim Sadjadpour said that in the current crisis, realpolitik might prevail for 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."

- Amirabdollahian and Cohen in Geneva

The Iranian Foreign Minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian, arrived late Tuesday in Geneva and held discussions with UN and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) representatives, including the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk.

On Wednesday, Amirabdollahian called for "immediate and effective measures" to stop Zionist attacks and allow urgent delivery of sufficient humanitarian aid to Gaza.

He called for the formation of an investigation committee of experts to document Israel's actions in the Strip, according to the government-run Mehr Agency.

"The amount of humanitarian aid sent to Gaza is very small and almost zero, and the UN must take immediate and serious action in this regard," Amirabdollahian said in a meeting in Geneva with Griffiths, according to the AFP.

Amirabdollahian warned that the ground is more prepared than ever for the spread of war and the situation in the region to spiral out of control.

He noted that the only thing that can control the current situation is to stop the attacks on Gaza, dispatch humanitarian aid, and stop the displacement of the people of Gaza.

The Iranian minister said Haniyeh informed him during their meeting in Doha three weeks ago that Hamas agreed to release non-military prisoners, but the Israeli side did not provide the conditions that would accelerate the release of non-military prisoners.".



Azerbaijan Proposes Document on Principles of Peace before Full Deal with Armenia

FILE PHOTO: Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev delivers a speech at the 10th Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting and the 2nd Green Energy Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan, March 1, 2024. REUTERS/Aziz Karimov/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev delivers a speech at the 10th Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting and the 2nd Green Energy Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan, March 1, 2024. REUTERS/Aziz Karimov/File Photo
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Azerbaijan Proposes Document on Principles of Peace before Full Deal with Armenia

FILE PHOTO: Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev delivers a speech at the 10th Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting and the 2nd Green Energy Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan, March 1, 2024. REUTERS/Aziz Karimov/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev delivers a speech at the 10th Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting and the 2nd Green Energy Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan, March 1, 2024. REUTERS/Aziz Karimov/File Photo

Azerbaijan is proposing to sign a document with Armenia on the basic principles of a future peace treaty as an interim measure as they wrangle over a broader deal, a senior Azerbaijani official said on Sunday.
Both Armenia and Azerbaijan have repeatedly said they want to sign a peace treaty to end the conflict over the former breakaway Azerbaijani region of Nagorno-Karabakh, reported Reuters.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said on Saturday a text of a treaty was 80%-90% ready but repeated it was impossible to sign it before Armenia amended its constitution to remove an indirect reference to Karabakh independence, which Armenia has rejected.
Karabakh's ethnic Armenian inhabitants enjoyed de facto independence from Azerbaijan for more than three decades until September 2023, when a lightning Azerbaijani offensive retook the territory and prompted around 100,000 Armenians to flee.
Both countries have in recent months sought to make progress on the peace treaty, including the demarcation of borders, with Armenia agreeing to hand over to Azerbaijan four contested border villages.
A document on the basic principles could be considered as a temporary measure and form the basis of the bilateral ties and ensure neighborly relations between the two countries, Hikmet Hajiyev, foreign policy adviser to the president, told Reuters.
It can be signed until Azerbaijan holds COP29 climate summit in November, Hajiyev added.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in June that a peace treaty with Azerbaijan was close to completion but that his country would not accept its demands that it change its constitution.
After he made those comments, clashes broke out between police and demonstrators, the latest in a series of protests denouncing his policies, including the handing back of ruined villages to Azerbaijan, and demanding his resignation.
On July 5, Constitution Day in Armenia, Pashinyan said the country needed a new constitution "which the people will consider to be what they created, what they accepted, what is written in it is their idea of the state they created and the relations between people and citizens in that state".