October 7 and the war for the Middle East – opinion

Islamist militancy and Iranian state capabilities are complicit in Hamas’s murderous attack.


The Hamas attack from Gaza on October 7 and the resultant situation of war reflect the return to center stage in the region of two linked phenomena. These are, firstly, the Iranian project for the destruction of Israel through the prosecution of a long war maintained by client and proxy organizations and directed mainly against Israel’s civilian population, and secondly, the popularity at grassroots level across the region of Islamist and anti-Western politics, and the consequent continued vigor and dominance of Islamist militarized political movements in the Arabic-speaking world. The meeting point between these two processes is what made possible the Hamas offensive.So, to understand what is taking place, it’s worth taking a closer look at each of these phenomena, and seeking to understand the nature of the relationship between them.

The precise role of Iran in the Hamas surprise attack remains a matter of dispute. But the dispute is concerned only with a small part of the picture, namely, the extent to which Iran was or was not involved in real-time tactical decision-making on the day of the attack and in the period immediately preceding it.

Regarding this, the evidence remains inconclusive. But what is not under dispute is that the Hamas military capability is the product of the movement’s link with Iran.

Hamas’ allies and friends

Hamas has a number of state allies or friends, which assist or support it in the diplomatic and economic fields. Erdogan’s Turkey is one such friend (and the friendship, domiciling, and assistance remain, despite Turkey’s rapprochement with Israel). Qatar, which domiciles Hamas’s leadership and whose state media support the movement, is another. But the only ally offering military assistance and know-how is Iran. Hamas’s homegrown missile- and rocket-making capacity is the result of Iranian assistance.

Given Israel’s close surveillance of Gaza, it seems a near certainty that preparations and training for the October 7 attack (such as training on the use of paragliders) took place outside of the Strip. The provision of the long-range Iranian Fajr and Syrian M-302 missile systems to Hamas is obviously and straightforwardly the result of the alliance with Iran. And so on. That is, the military alliance between Iran and Hamas is not in dispute, and capacities deriving from this alliance were essential to the October 7 attack.

Why does Iran maintain this alliance? Iran projects power throughout the region by the utilization of proxy, almost exclusively Islamist political-military organizations. Its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has developed a methodology of the combination of political and paramilitary power, adapted to local circumstances, which is without peer in the Middle East. It has brought Tehran power and influence in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Gaza.

With regard to Israel, Islamist Iran holds to the view developed in its time by Arab nationalism that Israel is an inherently weak society protected by powerful military technology. The strategy therefore is to bypass the technological wall and strike at the civilian society itself. To achieve this, an effort is under way to surround Israel with spaces controlled by or accessible to Tehran’s militia instruments. This goal is now at quite an advanced stage: Iranian proxies control Lebanon and Gaza, have freedom of action in Syria and Iraq, and appear to have access to the West Bank via Syria and Jordan.

Israel has over recent years focused mainly on the Iranian nuclear threat. But the nuclear ambition is mainly intended as an insurance policy beneath which the strategy outlined here can be pursued. The nature and form of this strategy was neglected, or dismissed. The Iranian intention is that by the constant harassment and periodic violence of these militias, Israeli society will gradually and over time become untenable, as normal life for Israelis is demonstrated to be an impossibility. The October 7 attack, it hardly needs to be said, is being seen as an important episode in this process.

THE IRANIAN project is only feasible, of course, if it can find willing recruits among the Arab Muslim populations among whom it seeks influence. In its favor in this regard is the fact that the politics of Islamism remain without peer in terms of popularity and legitimacy at ground level in the Levant and in Iraq. From Egypt up to Iraq, and taking in the West Bank/Gaza, Lebanon and Syria on the way, Islamism has no serious rival at street level. In Iran’s disfavor is that it is a Shia power. This has served to limit its appeal. But Tehran has sought to invest heavily in the Palestinian cause in an effort to counteract this limitation by making the flag of a supposedly pan-Islamic project its own. Its success in this regard has been limited, as witnessed by the steep loss of popularity it suffered among Sunni Arab populations during the Arab Spring period when it supported the Assad regime in its suppression of a Sunni Islamist insurgency.

Nevertheless, Iran continues (probably with some justification) to believe in the pan-Islamic appeal of the Palestinian cause at popular level in the Arab and broader Islamic world, and hence continues to invest in it.


October 15, 2023 | 1 Comment »

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  1. I thought this article was well reasoned and helpful.

    While preparations for this war probably took place over a year or more, it is striking that Netanyahu’s UN discussion of potential discussions between Israel and Saudi Arabia preceded the war by only 2 weeks.

    The potential for Israel-Saudi negotiations must have felt to the Mullahs like a knife in the back, given the recent Iranian and Saudi handshakes and photo op with the Chinese that stunned a good deal of the Western world.

    The Iranians must have vowed then and there to turn the tables on Israel before any further discussions with Saudi Arabia could take place, and simultaneously draw Saudi Arabia back into the fold with a stunning victory for Muslims.

    The article makes clear the Iranian and Hamas calculation for maximizing civilian deaths, as they view Israel as a weak society with a technologically strong military. Thus the desire to hit the Israeli vulnerability hard.

    The fact that Islam is still powerful in the Muslim majority countries around the world is not a surprise: Islam, like any other totalitarian culture, requires of its people submission or death.

    And like all tyrannies and totalitarian states, its power is comprised of a tissue of lies.

    In addition, the Mullahs and other “strong men” of Islam are similar to “strong men” of other cultures, such as the Nazis, Mafia, or other criminal gangs. They view those who value life as “weak” or “losers.” Criminals have a perverse mentality in which criminal actions lead to “winning,” and being law abiding leads to “losing.” This sociopathy is built into Islam through the idea that lying and murder in the service of Islam is forgivable.

    We can see now with hindsight, that because Israel has always been a country that has abided by international law, Muslims could exploit this to their advantage. But we can also see in retrospect how ALL the Western so-called democracies, along with the Israeli left, ganged up on Israel to force it to submit to Islam’s criminal tactics that could have ultimately led to the destruction of Israel. It still can, and this is why Israel is now fighting for her very survival.

    The West and the Israeli left have brought Israel to this position, where her survival hangs on a thread. Now the Israeli Left has belatedly decided to unify with the majority of Israelis, now that Israel was brought to her knees with their help.

    I read today that the Leftist government that preceded the current Likud government, gave 17,000 work permits to Gazans, which explains how Hamas had such detailed maps of each community across the border.

    It is crucial for Israel to call upon all resources for this fight to defeat Hamas, and to never back down when the Western countries begin to pressure Israel into a TSS. There is no living next door to genocidal monsters. Israel cannot live next door to a Nazi state. It will mean the end of Israel. We can never again go back to the lies about the suffering Palestinians. We can never again accept their right to live, when their lives are focused on one thing and one thing only: death to Israel.

    The lives of the Palestinians are no different from the lives of German Nazi soldiers: to let them live is to let Nazism live to fight another day.

    But there are millions of people in the world that view the Palestinians as largely innocent people suffering because of Israel. The Obama Biden governments are loaded with people who believe this. There are even Jews in the US who believe this! And there are certainly Jews in Israel who believe this, including Israel’s Supreme Court members!

    Murder is never and will never be acceptable to Jews. But war has been declared on Israel and it is a war for the annihilation of Israel. Thus it is Israel’s painful but inevitable task to end the lives of those who want to annihilate Israel.