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Iran Downplays Role in Hamas Operation

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

Iran's Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, is visiting Lebanon and Syria, solidifying Iran's stance on the ongoing Gaza crisis. He urged Israel to immediately halt its attack in the Gaza Strip and warned that the "Axis of Resistance would use its capabilities.

The Iranian Foreign Minister met with President Asad and key "Axis of Resistance" leaders from Hamas and Islamic Jihad, including the Deputy Chief of Hamas's political bureau, Saleh al-Arouri, and the Secretary General of the Islamic Jihad, Ziad Al-Nakhleh. He also met with Hezbollah's Secretary General, Hassan Nasrallah, who informed Amir-Abdollahian that the Resistance Front" is "ready for all possible scenarios" and finds itself in an "optimal state."

While advocating for an immediate halt to Israeli actions in the Gaza Strip, Amir-Abdollahian underlined Iran's unwavering political and media support for Palestinian resistance, simultaneously highlighting its non-participation in the recent Hamas offensive against Israel. Amir-Abdollahian Visits Doha to Discuss Ongoing Israel-Hamas Conflict with Qatari Leadership on 14th October" and held a meeting with Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh, and other high-ranking members of the group in Qatar

Amir-Abdollahian meeting with Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh

Iran is worried about the potential fallout from Hamas operations. It has been minimizing its role in the recent operation, emphasizing a hands-off stance and asserting that decisions and actions taken in the region were purely Palestinian. Despite allegations and media reports suggesting Iranian involvement, high-ranking Iranian officials have consistently rejected these claims, insisting that the Islamic Republic was not engaged in planning or executing attacks. Iran continues to underscore its verbal support for the Palestinian resistance yet maintains a narrative of non-involvement in specific militant activities or strategic decisions.

On October 13, Iran's Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, touched down in Lebanon, issuing a stark warning to Israel that the "ongoing war crimes against Palestinians" could spark wider regional conflict, including the opening of new fronts unless Netanyahu ceases his aggressive campaign against the Gaza Strip. He committed Iran to perpetuating its political and media backing for Palestinian resistance. Within Iran, tens of thousands have mobilized, vocalizing support for Palestinians and condemnation of the US and Israeli actions.

Amir-Abdollahian convened with Hezbollah's Secretary General, Hassan Nasrallah, and also held talks with Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati. He emphasized that the US "must rein in Israel to prevent a wider regional war...if Israel persists in its criminality, the Axis of Resistance will deploy additional capabilities... Without containment of Israel's offenses, the unfolding developments are unpredictable."

Hezbollah's deputy chief Naim Qassem has said that Hezbollah is "fully prepared and committed " to engage in the battle of resistance and liberation against Israel "when the time comes…Hezbollah knows its duties well… we are present and fully prepared, monitoring the situation moment by moment".

Amir Abdullahian held meetings with Ziad Al-Nakhleh, the Secretary General of the Islamic Jihad, and Saleh al-Arouri, the Deputy Chief of Hamas's political bureau. The Iranian Foreign Minister remarked, "Based on acknowledgments from certain Western authorities, the Al-Aqsa storm has demonstrated that the Palestinian cause remains vibrant. Contrary to some perceptions, the Palestinian issue won't be resolved merely by a few countries normalizing their ties with the Zionist regime." According to Iran's Foreign Ministry, Nasrallah informed Amir-Abdollahian that the "Resistance Front" is "ready for all possible scenarios" and finds itself in an "optimal state."

Iranian FM MET with Ziad Al-Nakhleh, the Secretary General of the Islamic Jihad, and Saleh al-Arouri, the Deputy Chief of Hamas's political bureau.

Iran persists in synchronizing the Axis of Resistance's operations yet refrains from directly engaging in the Gaza conflict. Additionally, there appears to be an attempt to understate its connections with Palestinian groups, possibly due to concerns that the overly successful Hamas operation might impact Iran directly. Thus, in most state-run media reports, mentions of Saleh al-Arouri and Ziad Al-Nakhleh names have been conspicuously absent.

Additionally, Amir-Abdollahian engaged in dialogue with his Lebanese counterpart, Abdullah Bou Habib, where, during a subsequent press conference, he reaffirmed Iran's preparedness to facilitate an emergency meeting with the foreign ministers from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states.

Before Lebanon, Amir-Abdollahian's journey took him to Iraq, where he engaged with the prime minister and security chief as part of a broader regional endeavor to amass support for Hamas. Though he was purportedly scheduled to visit Syria, Israeli air raids on October 12th at airports in Damascus and Aleppo might have disrupted these plans.

Abdollahian, advancing his regional tour, landed in Damascus on the evening of Friday, October 13, engaging in discussions with the Syrian President to deliberate and share views regarding the unfolding events in Palestine. He articulated that while the support of Iran and Syria for the Palestinian nation's resistance is apparent to all, "the recent operation by the Palestinians was entirely a Palestinian decision, plan, and action." He added that "the resistance can oppose the Zionist regime for an extended period."

Iran's UN ambassador has refuted baseless claims regarding Iran's participation in Hamas's recent operation against Israel. In a letter to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Amir Saeid Iravani countered recent allegations made by the Israeli envoy, emphasizing that Palestinian decisions solely drove the operation.

This clarification followed a report by The Wall Street Journal suggesting Iran's involvement in planning Hamas's offensive against Israel. Senior Iranian figures, including the Leader Khamenei and President Ebrahim Raisi, have e previously dismissed such claims while underscoring Iran's backing for the Palestinian resistance. Iravani, in his letter to Guterres, stated, "Iran firmly and unequivocally denies any speculative assertions of its role in Palestine's reprisals against Israeli encroachments and hostility."

On 14 October, a day after he visited Syria, Amir-Abdollahian returned to Lebanon and, during a live press conference, reiterated Iran's official stance that it had no involvement in the Hamas-initiated strike against Israel on 7 October. "Regardless of the outcome - whether it's the escalation of the war, creation of new battlefronts, or a ceasefire - the decision rests with the Resistance,"

Izz-al-Din al-Qassam spokesperson, Abu Obeida, asserted that the accomplishments of the Al-Qassam Brigades in the ongoing conflict "exceeded our expectations and plans," noting that "the pace and development of coordination with the "Axis of Resistance" regarding the future conflict with Israel have intensified, even preceding the battle."

Aligning Strategies with the Axis of Resistance Prior to the Operation

The "Axis of Resistance" symbolizes a regional coalition, predominantly led by Iran, involving terror movements (such as Hizballah, Hamas, PIJ, Iran-backed Shiite militias active in Iraq and Syria, the Houthi rebels in Yemen, and Bahraini opposition) and governments that oppose Israel and the United States.

Iran-supported Iraqi militias, specifically Kataib Hezbollah (Hezbollah Brigades), along with the Houthis in Yemen, issued warnings on October 10th to target US bases in Iraq and nearby regions should US forces "intervene in the ongoing war between Palestinian factions and the IDF." In light of the unfolding situation, the US has dispatched an aircraft carrier to the region.


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