24 October 2023

If Hamas Goes, Iran will be the 'Biggest Loser'

Israel's aerial blitzkrieg against Hamas is unrelenting even as it is getting ready to launch a full-scale ground assault in Gaza with a single goal: put Hamas out of existence by taking out its top leadership and destroying its massive arms and ammunition. 

If Hamas Goes, Iran will Lose Big Time
I believe that the biggest loser in the current West Asian situation is Iran. The daily threats and warnings emanating from Tehran mean nothing; the Clerics in Tehran may threaten Israel with doomsday rhetoric – but it is just that.

Tehran will not participate directly in the ongoing Israel–Hamas War. Tehran is beset by several handicaps: an economy in doldrums, widespread prevalence of unemployment, especially among the youth, rising domestic dissent for funding various actors in Syria (President Bashar Al-Assad), Iraq (a Shia dominant country and purportedly a playground for Iran’s strategic play), Lebanon (Hezbollah), Yemen (Houthi), and Palestine (Hamas).

Iran hates Israel more than it loves Hamas. For Tehran, Hamas is just a shoulder from which it fires at its archenemy Israel. However, if Israel takes down the top leadership of Hamas and destroys its sizeable weapons arsenal in the Gaza Strip, Iran may lose its political and military influence in Palestine and its voice in advocating the Palestinian cause in the wider Islamic world.

Tehran’s most powerful external militia arm is Hezbollah. Though militarily powerful, Hezbollah’s home country, Lebanon, is in political and economic ruin. If Hezbollah launches a full-scale attack against Israel, it may stretch the Israeli military on two fronts—along the Gaza Strip and the Lebanese border—but this will invite a heavy reprisal from Israel. There is a great deal of anger among the beleaguered Lebanese against any military action by Hezbollah against Israel. To me, two things confirm the idea that Hezbollah looks like it is paying attention to the ground situation in its home country: it has launched very few rockets against Israeli targets and the top leadership of Hezbollah, led by Hassan Nasrallah, has been eerily silent ever since the Israel–Hamas war broke out.

(To be concluded.)