16.11.2023 Author: Alexandr Svaranc

Iran will not officially intervene in the Hamas-Israel conflict …

Iran will not officially intervene in the Hamas-Israel conflict ...

Uncertainty continues over the immediate outcome and the development of the military confrontation that has been raging between Hamas, which commands the Palestinian Gaza Strip, and the Israel Defense Forces since October 7 of this year.

The IDF General Staff and Israeli intelligence agencies function on the principle that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for the complete annihilation of Hamas. Tel Aviv has received strong political, military, and financial assistance from its primary allies: the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. As is well known, the leaders of the aforementioned countries successively visited Israel and met with the Hebrew State’s leadership, allegedly assuring them of their solidarity and support.

Israeli experts like Yaakov Kedmi claim that the US will continue to aggressively back Israel with military-technical equipment and other aid despite the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian crisis. As Yaakov Kedmi rightly notes, the truth is that Ukraine lacks some types of armaments that Israel possesses, such as F-15 and F-16 fighter jets. Likewise, the kinds of ammunition that the Israeli Air Force requires—such as American bombs—are just not given to Ukraine, though the IDF may soon get access to the required supplies.

However, for a variety of apparent reasons, the Israeli army’s ground forces have taken a little longer to cleanse the Gaza Strip. With the assistance of coalition troops, the Air Force, Navy, and IDF General Staff are working to better prepare for this ground offensive. Along with two aircraft carriers and 2,000 marines, the US also dispatched combat generals with expertise in managing urban warfare to Israel.

For instance, US military advisors have been assigned by the Pentagon to Israel. Among them is Major General James Glynn, Commander, United States Marine Corps Special Operations Command, who earlier served in the Iraqi Muslim city of Fallujah during the intense fighting, and led special forces against ISIS (an international terrorist group banned in Russia). The mission of General Glynn’s is to offer the approaching IDF ground assault in the Gaza Strip the highest amount of special support possible. This includes guidance on fighting with adversaries in dense urban areas, minimizing their losses, and minimizing civilian casualties in urban battles.

Of course, it is not a simple task for any army, and the Israeli army in particular, when launching a ground assault in the Gaza Strip against Hamas militants, who are concealed behind the local population and have numerous underground communications. Time is needed for careful planning, efficient force and resource coordination, and high-quality intelligence gathering. However, Yaakov Kedmi and numerous other Israeli analysts assert that the cleansing of the Gaza Strip is not too long to wait; as they put it, “the game will be held rain or shine.” The Israelis say that precision weapons will be used in the ground operation. They will simply blow up entrances and exits, cut off water and light, and possibly even let in gas to damage the enemy’s underground communications and shelters.

However, what would be the outcome of a ground assault like this in the Gaza Strip? How would the Islamic world respond if a part of Palestine were destroyed? Turkey, on behalf of President Erdoğan, claims that Israel is allegedly carrying out a genocide against the Gaza Strip population with the tacit approval of the West, led by the US. Tel Aviv is accused by Ankara of crimes against humanity, including obstructing the delivery of aid to the northern part of Gaza. It appears that the Turkish Air Force has consented to fly some humanitarian aid, including medical supplies, into the Gaza Strip and, if needed, to treat injured victims and civilians impacted by the aerial attacks in its hospitals.

Israel is unlikely to agree to an “air bridge” connecting Turkey and the Gaza Strip for the following reasons: a) transfer of military supplies for Hamas to the front lines of the conflict; b) removal of Hamas members from the area of conflict who Israel has designated as terrorists and criminals. In terms of air target destruction, Israeli air defense systems are on par with Turkish systems.

Yaakov Kedmi predicts that there is very little chance that the confrontation between Israel and Hamas will become international. He also believes the Palestinian Authority will get control of the Gaza Strip upon clearing it up. However Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas believes that Israel must guarantee a broad peace, not just the subordination of the Gaza Strip to Ramallah. In other words, Abbas demands that Israel recognize Palestine as an independent state within the borders of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, or in accordance with the 1967 UN resolutions. However, it is unlikely that the United States, to whom the Palestinian leader is expressing his views, will agree to this.

Therefore, even after the ground assault, the Israeli side remains certain that Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Egypt, and, most crucially, Iran won’t intervene in the battle with Hamas. According to Kedmi, the Muslim Brotherhood makes Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria suffer. It is a terrorist Islamic organization whose officials were unfairly released from detention due to the position of former US President Barack Obama’s administration. The Middle East is in a state of anarchy as a result of Washington’s political short-sightedness, since the Muslim Brotherhood has been the catalyst for uprisings and has given its ally, Hamas, a footing in the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, the only country where Muslim Brotherhood supporters have a foothold in power in the Middle East remains Turkey and its leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has previously supported Hamas against Israel.

As a result, Yaakov Kedmi, the former head of Israel’s Nativ liaison bureau, believes that neither Lebanon, Syria, nor Iran will boost the Muslim Brotherhood and descend into direct combat with Israel. Furthermore, in the event of a different scenario, US and UK aircraft and missile systems, along with IDF combat planes and artillery, would all launch significant attacks against Iran, which would be the primary anti-Israeli force. In addition, if needed, the United States will deploy a third aircraft carrier, complete with a fleet of combat jets, missiles, and drones, to the Middle East. The Israelis think that any resistance by pro-Iranian proxy forces in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, and Iraq will be contained and eliminated.

Whether this is true or whether there remains a threat to Israel if Iran is brought into a military battle is a big question mark. In any case, Israel threatens to destroy all Iranian companies, communications, power plants, and other facilities without deploying weapons of mass destruction, throwing the Islamic Republic back 150-200 years. However Iran will also not sit idle. As Yaakov Kedmi points out, if Tel Aviv is not going to use weapons it allegedly does not possess, then where is the assurance that Tehran will not employ weapons of a similar nature?

As a result, pro-Iranian groups in Iraq and other Middle Eastern nations have begun to protest and threaten US military outposts, and all this makes the USA and Mr. Biden uneasy. (the more so, as the date of the presidential election is approaching).

Israel expresses, at least publicly, faith in Iran’s declared non-interference in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and not just out of desire or the public rhetoric of its top specialists threatening Iran. It is clear that Mossad and the CIA together with SIS are working on many scenarios, one of which has a sensitive impact on Iran in the form of a potential new military clash close to the northern borders of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It could specifically be the possibility that Azerbaijan will attack Armenia again as a result of the Zangezur corridor disagreements. How would Iran react in this case?

Iran is reported to have frequently communicated its stance on the Zangezur issue to its counterparts, including Azerbaijan, Turkey, Russia, and Armenia. Tehran specifically opposes the Zangezur extraterritorial corridor and supports maintaining Armenia’s sovereignty and the direct Armenian-Iranian border; if these conditions are not maintained, Tehran threatens to intervene in the dispute. Rather than Zangezur, Iran offered Azerbaijan its territory in exchange for access to Nakhchivan and Turkey.

In the meantime, on October 23, this year, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signed a protocol on Sweden’s NATO membership and suggested that the nation’s parliament take the matter under consideration and ratify it. In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey, the “Mustafa Kemal Atatürk 2023” joint military exercise began on the same day throughout Azerbaijan, notably in Nakhchivan, which borders Armenia, and Nagorno-Karabakh where Azerbaijani troops are deployed. NATO F-16 fighter jets have been brought to Azerbaijan’s training grounds, and the country’s military gear participating in the exercise is marked with the “!” character in an attempt to continue the slogan “Karabakh is Azerbaijan!”

According to Time, this is a sign of Azerbaijan’s approaching invasion of Armenian Zangezur. Furthermore, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is a Jew by origin and is naturally concerned about Israel’s fate, apparently discussed this danger with several congressmen in the United States a week ago. The meeting of the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia, set for the end of October in Brussels, will be canceled due to “lack of time.”

A possible explanation for such swift actions could be to spark another military escalation in the South Caucasus. It is about possible attack plan by the Turkish-Azerbaijani tandem, in which one of the parties is a NATO member in Armenia. The so-called “cleansing of 40 km of the territory of the Syunik region of independent Armenia” from the so-called Armenian terrorist forces like Voma or Poga may have served as the impetus for this, or casus belli. These are actually military-patriotic public organizations that work to organize training and leaning of self-defense for people. The plan is similar to the one Turkey occasionally employs against the Kurds in the border regions of Syria and Iraq. But in this instance, the subject is Armenia, a sovereign state that is a member of the UN and continues to be a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), rather than Kurdish rebels.

It is no accident that Erdoğan signed the protocol pertaining to Sweden’s participation in NATO and submitted it for ratification to the TBMM on the same day that joint military exercises between Azerbaijan and Turkey began close to Iran’s borders. By taking this action, Turkey is essentially pleading with the United States to grant it access to updated F-16s and financial support for its struggling economy, as well as actual approval to trigger a new war in the South Caucasus to divert Iran’s attention away from the Israel-Hamas conflict. If the invasion against Armenia proves successful, Turkey will have a straightforward path out of Azerbaijan and on to the Turkic countries of Central Asia, enabling NATO’s expansion into the post-Soviet south and east and the completion of the Great Turan project. Russia will definitely remain non-interventionist in this scenario, leaving Iran alone with threats to the north and south.

On the same day, October 23, this year, a meeting of foreign ministers in the “3+3” format was conducted in Tehran, with officials from Iran, Russia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Armenia participating (Georgia has so far declined to participate). All heads of foreign delegations were greeted by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, who declared that Islamic nations shouldn’t collaborate with the Zionist regime. The message from the Iranian leader was addressed mainly to Ankara and Baku. However, Turkey, despite its public anti-Israeli rhetoric and “telephone diplomacy,” and Azerbaijan, despite its official abstention from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, have yet to make promises to Iran that they will follow Tehran’s approach in relations with Israel, to the detriment of their own interests.

Some believe that Hamas launched the confrontation with Israel in order to derail a mutual recognition and security deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel, as well as to obstruct “Indian transit” to Europe via the UAE, KSA, and Israel. In this circumstance, there is no assurance that Azerbaijan will not launch a new battle over the Zangezur corridor to divert Iran’s attention away from the confrontation with Israel and to prevent the “Indian transit” through Iran and Armenia to Europe.

As a result, Azerbaijan and Turkey will assist Israel and the US in containing the threat posed by Iran and its proxy forces in the Middle East, and Sweden’s admission to NATO will be the price for the US not intervening in Baku’s next aggression against Armenia in exchange for NATO’s advancement in the South Caucasus and Central Asia. Given Armenia’s current leadership, represented by Nikol Pashinyan’s government, there is no guarantee that in the event of an alarm signal of invasion, Yerevan will not strike a deal with the Turkish-Azerbaijani tandem on the Zangezur.

In such a scenario, Russia, Iran, and China get nothing but the dictates of Turkey and NATO in the post-Soviet southeast. This poses a greater threat to regional security in the South Caucasus, and the succession of coincidences can derail even the most carefully crafted hawks’ plans. As we can see, interfering in the Israeli conflict is extremely costly and dangerous.


Alexander SVARANTS – Doctor of Political Sciences, Professor, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

Related articles: