‘Resisting’ Israel from Jordan, Iraq and Yemen

‘Resisting’ Israel from Jordan, Iraq and Yemen

‘Resisting’ Israel from Jordan, Iraq and Yemen
Jordanian police keep protesters away from the Israeli embassy in Amman on April 6, 2024, to prevent violence. (Reuters)
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For the past six months, Iran and its proxies have toyed with the Gaza war; dialing tensions up and down for their own propaganda ends, while shying away from any significant escalation that could cast them fully into the conflict. Tehran has consistently sought to diminish threats facing it directly by dragging the maximum number of Arab states into the conflict’s front lines, starting with Lebanon and Syria and expanding to Jordan, Iraq, Yemen and beyond.
Matters took a further escalatory turn last week, when Israel unleashed an unprecedented strike on Iran’s Damascus consulate. Among the Revolutionary Guard fatalities was Quds Force commander Mohammed Reza Zahedi, the top official responsible for Iran’s machinations in Syria and Lebanon. Iran’s leaders have raged about retaliating via “our men” in the region. This alludes to the fact that Tehran itself will likely franchise out the risks of retaliation to distant proxies.
Iran gloated that the US got in touch to distance itself from the Damascus attack, dispatching its own written response saying that “the Islamic Republic of Iran warns US leadership not to get dragged in (Benjamin) Netanyahu’s trap for the US: Stay away so you won’t get hurt.”
Iraq’s Kata’ib Hezbollah has announced that it is preparing “to arm the Islamic resistance in Jordan” by donating 12,000 fighters and “tonnes” of weaponry, while threatening to sever land routes between Jordan and Israel. This occurs in the context of soaring tensions inside Jordan, with concerns that militants are exploiting mass pro-Palestinian protests to exert broader control, in a manner akin to the 1970 Black September disturbances.
Hamas leaders like Ismail Haniyeh have been energetically inciting unrest in Jordan, seeking to force Amman’s hand on matters like its peace accord with Israel. Khaled Meshaal urged the “amassed nation” in Jordan to participate in the “Al-Aqsa Flood battle” and “mix Arab blood with Palestinian blood.” There has been widespread Arab outrage at these inflammatory comments, given that any deterioration in Jordan’s stability would be a gift to Israeli extremists, who have long promoted Jordan as an alternative Palestinian homeland, while putting millions of Jordan-based Palestinians in the line of fire. All this is particularly regrettable given that Jordan is one of about nine key regional states that had hitherto remained stable. None of this bodes well for the Palestinian cause, or Arab world stability.

Likewise, Iran’s use of Houthi militias to attack unrelated ships passing through the Red Sea neither helps Palestinians nor inconveniences Israel, while having a massive wider impact on regional stability and trade and throwing Yemen back into open-ended conflict.
In a bellicose Quds Day speech, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah threatened that the Damascus consulate strike marked a “turning point” and resistance forces were “ready” to respond, adding “be certain the Iranian response is inevitably coming.” Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said Israel would be “punished.” Revolutionary Guards commander Hossein Salami thundered that: “No act by any enemy against our holy system will go unanswered and the art of the Iranian nation is to break the power of empires.”

Iran’s use of Houthi militias to attack unrelated ships passing through the Red Sea neither helps Palestinians nor inconveniences Israel

Baria Alamuddin

Iran has spent years supplying missile technology to its various proxies. If these paramilitaries desired, they could unleash tens of thousands of missiles and drones against hundreds of targets. Hezbollah alone is estimated to possess more than 150,000 missiles, some with a range in excess of 200 miles, along with tens of thousands of troops at its disposal. “We have not employed our main weapons yet, nor have we used our main forces,” Nasrallah latterly warned.
The miniscule American and Israeli death toll from such strikes indicates Tehran’s desire to diminish attacks to irritating pinpricks; allowing posturing paramilitaries to style themselves as the heroic “Islamic resistance,” while refraining from any actions that could have a strategic impact. Indeed, the vast majority of Lebanese and Arab citizens are hugely relieved at the resistance’s failure to live up to its rhetoric — thus avoiding the horrifically ruinous specter of regionalized war.
When the US this February embarked on a serious response to some 170 missile strikes by Iraq-based militias, most of these factions timidly announced an immediate cessation of attacks. These factions calibrate rocket strikes with the objective of poking the bear, without goading him into full-on retaliation.
It is easy to be cynical about the acres of speculation in the Western media in recent days about the possible regional consequences of an Iranian response. Iran’s response will likely be what it has always been after the dozens of occasions in recent years when Revolutionary Guard commanders or nuclear scientists have been assassinated: the bare minimum necessary to save face without bringing the sky down on their heads. Since Oct. 7, Israel has killed at least 18 Quds Force members, including four senior commanders. Hezbollah has named 267 members killed by Israel, along with dozens of Lebanese noncombatants.
Many of us recall the hubristic rhetoric of past generations, when zealous Arab forces were mobilized en masse, only to confront humiliating defeat, including the loss of Jerusalem, additional Palestinian territories and the temporary occupation of Sinai. Impressionable youths should think twice about why the agents of Tehran are seeking to stampede Arab nations into fruitless and potentially ruinous wars against Israel and its amassed Western allies.
Hezbollah and Tehran’s predicament over retaliation boils down to fundamental contradictions in the objectives and propaganda of the “resistance axis,” whose fundamental justification for existing and bearing arms is supposedly to confront the “Zionist occupier.”
Despite the grotesque rhetoric and empty stunts, all these factions have achieved since Oct. 7 is to tie themselves in knots over conspicuous reluctance to engage in a straight fight with Israel — offering no material assistance to the people of Gaza while further destabilizing a succession of Arab countries.
This highlights the fact that the primary enemy of these proxy forces has never been Israel, but is actually the legitimate governing authorities in the countries they occupy — with the ultimate goal of turning proud Arab nations into failed states and smoking ruins.
A “resistance” that has no desire to “resist” by definition serves no purpose in existing. If any good is to come of the Gaza catastrophe, it is putting a definitive end to these malign servants to hostile foreign agendas.

Baria Alamuddin is an award-winning journalist and broadcaster in the Middle East and the UK. She is editor of the Media Services Syndicate and has interviewed numerous heads of state.

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