October 10, 2023 | Daily Mail

It’s the hidden hand of Khamenei’s regime in Iran that set the Middle East ablaze — and will trigger all-out war.

October 10, 2023 | Daily Mail

It’s the hidden hand of Khamenei’s regime in Iran that set the Middle East ablaze — and will trigger all-out war.

Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei has once again set the Middle East on fire.

For as the world watches videos and reads reports of savage Hamas terrorists murdering, raping and kidnapping Israeli civilians, to truly understand the evil purpose behind this slaughter one must look further east to the Islamic Republic.

After years of igniting wars in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and Iraq, Khamenei and his Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have returned to their main purpose: the destruction of what he sickeningly calls the ‘cancerous tumor.’

Iranian agents have long plotted to surround Israel with a ‘ring of fire,’ a phrase coined by a former Israeli National Security Adviser to describe a network of at least 19 armed groups on each of Israel’s land borders; Gaza in the south, the West Bank in the east, and Lebanon and Syria in the north.

The largest of these groups, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, collectively receive nearly $1 billion annually from their benefactors in Tehran.

Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups also rely on Iranian technology and logistical support to locally produce arms, such as rockets and armed drones.

What the terror group does not produce it smuggles into the Mediterranean enclave through tunnels under its southern border with Egypt.

Now, Khamenei has decided to activate this terror network.

Iranian officials reportedly gave the greenlight for the surprise Hamas assault on Israel during an October 2 meeting in Beirut.

The operation’s particulars were fine-tuned over the course of weeks by IRGC officers and representatives of four Iran-supported factions, sources inside the terror groups told the Wall Street Journal.

But evidence of Iranian manipulation of these terrorists is not new.

During the May 2021 Gaza War, Tehran reportedly established a joint command operation – a war room of sorts – in Lebanon to coordinate the IRGC, Hezbollah, and Hamas. And Israeli officials have long warned the United Nations that Hamas is covertly building a military force inside Lebanon.

In fact, much of this dark scheming is carried out in plain sight.

In May, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi publicly met with Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders during a visit to Syria during which he reportedly called for ‘unity and cohesion of the resistance forces.’

The following month, Khamenei and Raisi met again in public with ‘resistance’ forces in Tehran, where the Iranians congratulated Islamic Jihad leaders for an attack on Israel and urged more cooperation with Hamas.

But why, after years of planning, was Khamenei determined to strike now?

The primary reason was to derail a developing peace deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel that has been in negotiations for months and pushed by the Biden administration.

The agreement was an existential threat to Khamenei’s vision of a ‘Shiite crescent’ – an unbroken chain of Islamist theocracies stretching from Beirut to the Persian Gulf – all committed to the Iranian Islamic Revolution.

Standing in his way is the sole democracy in the region and the Arab nations that have increasingly found common cause with the Jewish state.

Iran’s Sunni enemy, Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman has offered an alternative to Khamenei’s extreme vision by building on the successful model of the Abraham Accords, negotiated under the Trump Administration, which normalized relations between Israel, the United Emirates and Bahrain.

To Khamenei, this is an existential threat that he needed to kill before it devoured him and his twisted dream.

However, Khamenei had another rationale to unleash Hamas: his belief that America is weak, or as his predecessor Supreme leader Ruhollah Khomeini once said: ‘America can’t do a damn thing against us.’

The Biden administration fed this confidence.

President Biden promised during the 2020 election campaign to abandon the Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign of crippling sanctions and international condemnation on Iran.

Then, as president, Biden persuaded Tehran to join talks to return to a nuclear weapons agreement that Trump abandoned in 2018.

In response, Iran dramatically escalated its illicit nuke program. And stunningly, the administration did little to deter it.

The Biden White House actually stopped enforcing sanctions leading to a sharp spike in Chinese oil purchases resulting in the flow of tens of billions of dollars into regime coffers.

More recently, the Biden team unfroze an additional $16 billion in sanctioned oil revenues, $10 billion from Iraq and $6 billion from South Korea, in exchange for Iran’s release of five imprisoned Americans.

And finally, after the calamitous U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, Biden’s unwillingness to use meaningful military force in response to recent Iranian-backed attacks on American troops, and divisions within the Republican Party over military support for Ukraine, Khamenei believes America is a paper tiger.

Even as the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group moves into the Eastern Mediterranean in a show of support of Israel, Khamenei believes he has little to fear from Washington.

How this all plays out in the coming days remains to be seen, as Israeli’s bombardment of Hamas militants and weapons caches in the Gaza Strip escalate in preparation for an expected ground invasion.

In a televised speech on October 9, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu compared the murder, torture and abduction of Israeli women, children, and elderly to the horrors of ISIS.

The United States and its allies responded to the atrocities of ISIS, with overwhelming military force. Israel expects American support to do the same.

Once Israel’s Gaza military mission is complete, Jerusalem should turn its full attention to Khamenei, the regime leadership, and terrorist operatives abroad in a campaign of targeted assassinations and covert actions that will make the pursuit of the Palestinian terrorists who massacred Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympic games look like a minor operation.

Potential strikes on Iranian nuclear sites can also not be ruled out.

Make no mistake – the prospects for a greater regional war are growing.

Perhaps that’s what Khamenei desired all along.

But he may live to regret his decision as he now contends with the fighting spirit of Israelis and a world – hopefully – awakened to the viciousness of the regime that rules Iran.

Mark Dubowitz is the chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a nonpartisan policy institute. An expert on Iran‘s nuclear program and global threat network, he was sanctioned by Iran in 2019.


Hezbollah Indo-Pacific Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran-backed Terrorism Israel Israel at War Jihadism Lebanon Palestinian Politics Syria