Real threat facing the Middle East is Iranian extremism

Real threat facing the Middle East is Iranian extremism

Published in the Arab News, Oct. 13, 2016

By Ray Hanania

RayHananiaColumnPodcast_Although much is made of the rising threat of ISIS and al-Qaeda in the Middle East, one axis more threatening, is the violent coalition of Syria and Hezbollah, led by Iran.

Iran is one of the most dangerous regimes in the greater Middle East region and their agenda has not changed since the Shah of Iran was ousted in February 1979.

Iran is the puppet-master in fueling a regional conflict that has given extremist movements like ISIS (Daesh) safe haven. Iran oppresses its own people, fuels conflicts with the West, and seeks to disrupt the Arab character of the Middle East.

Iranian leaders have based much of their regional political strategy by claiming to be champions of Palestinian rights. But their inflammatory rhetoric has been like gasoline thrown on a fire that fuels Israel’s continued oppression of the Palestinians. Iran’s empty rhetoric has created a havoc that has undermined Palestinian hopes for statehood.

Iran’s goal is simple, regional hegemony. Its politics is converted into violence through its puppets, the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad and Hezbollah, the Shia militia that built its power base on the backs of Lebanon’s continued suffering.

English: Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin,...

English: Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, U.S. president Bill Clinton, and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat. Česky: Izraelský premiér Jicchak Rabin, americký prezident Bill Clinton a předseda Organizace pro osvobození Palestiny (OOP) Jásir Arafat. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Together, this tri-partite Axis has destabilized the Middle East region. They are responsible for fueling extremism in the Arab World and have done everything to block compromise between Palestinians and Israel through constant provocations and threats.

Iran’s empty threats against Israel have given Israel all the ammunition it needs to reinforce the occupation, feed the continued expansion of illegal Jewish-only settlements, and reinforced Israel’s support from the West.

Giving Iran legitimacy through a worthless Nuclear Arms treaty is one of President Barack Obama’s biggest failures. Although the agreement is worthless, it has given Iran legitimacy to continue its vision of a nuclear powered military.

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Obama has naively asserted that last year’s Iranian nuclear deal will prevent Iran’s nuclear capabilities forcing Iran to: discard 25,000 pounds of enriched uranium by shipping it out of the country; dismantle and remove two-thirds of its centrifuges; remove the calandria from its heavy water reactor filling it with concrete; and provide access to its nuclear facilities and supply chain to international watchdogs.

Unfortunately, what it fails to do is strip Iran of its desire to build nuclear weapons. The treaty gives Iran a reprieve and only delays its goals temporarily. Iran now has breathing room to concentrate its efforts on spreading its brand of religious extremism regionally through Syria, Lebanon, the Gulf and in Iraq.

If Iran really cared about the Palestinians or World Peace, Iran would join the movement to bring Israel and Palestine back to the peace-negotiating table. Recognizing the peace process would have strengthened the success of the efforts of the late President Yasir Arafat, the assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the late Israeli leader Shimon Peres.

The 1993 peace accord Arafat, Rabin and Peres signed was a peace between enemies but a peace that opened the door to a better future for Palestinians.

Instead, Iran opposed the 1993 peace accords funded extremist groups not only in the Middle Eastern region but even in the United States where a large contingent of pro-Assad activists energetically bully and intimidate anyone who challenges Iran, it’s military proxies Hezbollah, and defends Assad against American military intervention.

Iran is responsible for bringing the spirit of the old Soviet Union back into the Middle East through its alliance with Russia and its president Vladimir Putin. It has done this by maintaining the Syria-Hezbollah-Iran axis and by promoting hate-driven rhetoric against the mainstream Arab nations, especially in the Gulf.

Iran could have funded efforts to strengthen Palestine’s society and its government, but instead it chose to fund Hamas; Iran has used Hamas to drive a religious-wedge between Palestinians and the dream of Palestinian Statehood.

If Palestinians will ever see a future free of Israeli aggression and occupation, it will not be in the finjan of Iranian coffee grinds.

The greatest threat to the Palestinians has been the strongest foundation of the Iran-Hezbollah-Syrian Axis, which is religious extremism. Religious extremism has kept the Palestinian people divided with Iran-backed Hamas for years using violence to disrupt and destroy the peace process.

Palestinians shouldn’t be lured by the false promises of Iranian extremism, an extremism that has turned Syria and Lebanon into devastated war zones.

What has Iran done for Syrian refugees? Nothing, which is what Iran will do for Palestinians.

Palestinians must shed the veil of religious extremism offered by Iran and its satellite puppets. They must embrace and live the moderate purity of the true principles of Islam and Christianity, religions that are siblings in the eyes of Allah, along with Judaism.

One day, thanks to the ruse of Obama’s nuclear treaty, Iran will surprise the world by unveiling a nuclear weapon. And that weapon it claims it will use to destroy Israel, will in fact also destroy Palestine and the Palestinian people.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning American Palestinian writer based in Chicago. He can be reached at

Categories: Middle East Topics

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