Iran On The Borders Of Israel – OpEd

It is not simple for Israeli aircraft to destroy a building in Damascus where leaders from the Quds Force meet. It is not simple for the coffins of those who were targeted to return to Iran to join those who preceded them. Israel has indeed carried out assassinations and attacks on Iranian territory itself, but it is also true that what comes after the Al-Aqsa Flood is not the same as before the operation.

Are we seeing the Iranian-Israeli conflict replace the Arab-Israeli conflict? Do we have to accept that we will live with the bloody and resounding strikes for a long time and that the key to the future of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is in Tehran? How can we talk about solutions if the Iranian leader expects the downfall of Israel in a period not exceeding three decades and when clocks have been set up in Tehran to count down the remainder of the life of the “cancerous tumor?”

Saturday’s Israeli raid on the Mezzeh area in Damascus was extremely dangerous and significant. Has Israel decided to invite Iran into a war in which the US can only engage? Does Benjamin Netanyahu believe that there is no way out of the current impasse other than expanding the conflict, despite its risks and costs? It is clear that Iran does not want a large-scale war. It prefers to fight it in installments and phases through its allies and proxies.

The US itself has been struggling for months to prevent the expansion of the war. But the conflict has expanded, albeit at a reduced pace. There is the parallel war that Hezbollah is waging across southern Lebanon in increasing and decreasing doses. There is a war of missiles and Houthi drones in the Red Sea. There is also the war of expelling US forces from Iraq at the hands of Iraqi factions. The Mezzeh raid fueled tension on the Syrian front, despite its Russian and realistic conditions and controls.

There are new facts that must be observed in part of the Middle East. Suppose a successor to Netanyahu announces support for the “two-state solution.” It will certainly be conditional on full recognition of Israel’s right to exist. Can the Lebanese government, which is residing in Hezbollah’s custody, sign the recognition of Israel? Can the Syrian government recognize Israel, which would deprive Iran of the most important cards that facilitated its influence in the “Crescent of Resistance?” Can the Iraqi government recognize Israel after the law issued by the Iraqi parliament criminalizing any normalization?

Several scenes help us to understand Israel’s role in reaching the current situation. In 1998, Palestinian-Israeli talks were held in Wye River, sponsored by President Bill Clinton. The session almost failed because Ariel Sharon wanted to make sure in advance that he would not have to shake hands with Yasser Arafat. As he entered the hall, Arafat greeted him “general to general” and extended his hand, but Sharon ignored the initiative and sat next to Netanyahu.

When Sharon assumed the premiership, he found pleasure in besieging Arafat and destroying his headquarters. Sharon’s behavior constituted the climax of political blindness. He was busy eliminating the man who had opened the window for the Oslo Accords, accepting concessions that no one else had dared to accept.

But the major contribution to the drive toward disaster came from Netanyahu. He participated in closing the two windows that had been opened, namely the Oslo Accords and the Arab Peace Initiative. He used the post-Sept. 11, 2001, climate and the US invasion of Iraq to undermine any chance of reviving an understanding with a “Palestinian partner.”

He was known for his short-sightedness when he considered undermining the Palestinian Authority a victory for Israel, even if this led to the rise of Iranian-backed organizations. Throughout his long tenure, Netanyahu has refused to read the transformations taking place in some maps of the region, the birth of roaming “Iranian armies” there and the approach of Iranian “advisers” to his borders.

The contribution of successive US administrations in creating the current situation in the Middle East was certainly immense. They all failed to acknowledge the importance of saving the Oslo Accords. They also did not realize the significance of the Arab Peace Initiative and the necessity of pressuring Israel to stop its attempts to write off the “Palestinian partner.”

One particular scene expresses the US’ lack of foresight. At the session of the UN General Assembly that was held in light of the Sept. 11 attacks, Arafat went hoping to meet President George W. Bush, or at least shake his hand, especially after it became clear that the attacks were the work of Al-Qaeda. Bush refused to receive Arafat. At the party reserved for the heads of delegations, he told Secretary-General Kofi Annan: “This man (Arafat) thinks I will shake his hand. He should shake his own hand.” Bush inherited from Clinton an assessment that the Palestinians were not serious about seeking peace. Clinton was acting as if he was taking revenge for the failure of the Camp David talks.

On the other hand, Iran was moving on several fronts. Through suicide operations by Islamic Jihad and Hamas, it contributed to the undermining of the Oslo Accords. It dealt with the Sept. 11 attacks with extreme caution. It initially coexisted with the US invasion of Iraq, then participated in the depletion of the US military presence there. It succeeded in exploiting the emergence of Daesh to its advantage. It also worked, with Russia’s help, to save the vital Syrian circle due to its path to the Mediterranean. Qassem Soleimani was the architect of the Iranian thread linking Baghdad to Beirut via Damascus, in addition to the Yemeni breakthrough represented by the Houthis’ control.

When Yahya Sinwar launched the Al-Aqsa Flood on Oct. 7 and Israel responded with its brutal war in Gaza, the Iranian thread had intensified on the four maps. Whether Iran was aware of the moment of the flood or not, its occurrence would have been impossible without its policies and arsenals that are scattered throughout the region.

It seems clear that Iran is now residing on Israel’s borders through its arsenals and policies. The ceasefire process has new conditions, so does the “two-state solution.” Its problem is no longer with Sinwar, but with Iran’s spiritual guide.

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