20 August '15..
Last week, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz let drop the fact that even the administration understood that the nuclear deal with Iran would lead to a rise in terror in the Middle East. As the State Department confirmed this year, Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. That means some of the $100 billion dollars in assets to be released to Iran under the agreement as well as the infusion of cash from a post-sanctions Tehran business boom will likely wind up in the hands of Hezbollah and Hamas. But Iran’s role in fomenting terror isn’t limited to being the sugar daddy of Islamist killers. As the Times of Israel reports today, Iran is also looking to play a pivotal role in Palestinian politics. Iran has reportedly repeatedly turned down requests from Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas to visit Tehran. We already knew that Iran is funding Hamas’s re-armament plans and the construction of new terror tunnels along the border with Israel. But it is now apparently also hoping to using its influence in the region — which has been enhanced immeasurably by the nuclear deal — to ensure that the Palestinians are focused on fighting Israel rather than making peace with it.
Iran was Hamas’ principal patron through much of the last decade funneling arms and money to the Islamists in Gaza so as to create a southern front against Israel. With Iran’s Hezbollah auxiliaries facing Israel in the north with tens of thousands of terrorist missiles, that gave Tehran a formidable strategic threat against the Jewish state that made its nuclear program even more ominous. But Hamas quarreled with Iran over the Syrian civil war. It sided with fellow Sunni Muslims backing the rebels against the Assad regime that was allied with Iran.
That split might have remained permanent had President Obama and other Western leaders taken action against Bashar Assad that might matched their rhetoric about him needing to go and the enforcement of “red lines” about his murderous use of chemical weapons. But Obama’s inaction —surely related to his hopes for an eventual détente with Iran that came to fruition with this year’s nuclear agreement — allowed that opportunity to pass. The intervention of Iran and Hezbollah in the war in Syria ensured that Assad would prevail as he split the country with ISIS terrorists rather than other forces that the West might have backed early in the conflict. So Hamas has thrown in the towel and made its peace with Iran.
That wise strategic move has led to the resumption of the flow of arms, money and equipment to Hamas’s military machine lending credibility to the threat of renewed warfare with Israel. But Iran’s influence goes farther than merely bolstering Hamas. The insult to Abbas, who would probably be as willing to break ranks with other Sunni Muslims to get some love from the ayatollahs, also undermines Fatah’s ability to keep control over its own forces.
As Palestinian Media Watch reports, the military wing of Fatah in Gaza is also appealing to Iran to fund them. Apparently these members of Abbas’s own party conducted a televised appeal that was shown on Iranian TV in which they showed off a 3.5 kilometer-long attack tunnel under the border with Israel they had constructed. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade was a mainstay of Fatah’s terror campaign against Israel during the Second Intifada, killing many Israelis and Americans in the process. But they think they can do better with Iranian money than by relying on the funds given them by Abbas.
The nuclear deal with the West won’t just give Iran a path to a nuclear weapon once the pact expires in a decade. In the meantime, their new status as a threshold nuclear power and the wealth that will pour into Tehran gives the Islamist regime the ability to advance their goals of regional hegemony and war on Israel. That gives them the ability to ensure that Hamas is ready to escalate the conflict with the Jewish state. But it also undermines Abbas and perhaps causes even the so-called moderates in Palestinian politics to get closer to war too.
The proof that President Obama’s hopes for Iran “getting right with the world” will never be realized can be seen along the Gaza border. With Iran becoming not just a funder of terror but wielding influence among the Palestinian factions, its clear that more violence may, as Moniz rightly confessed, be in the offing. The post nuclear deal world isn’t just one that has made an Iranian bomb a certainty. It’s also one in which an Iran-Hamas alliance may make a new Palestinian terror war against Israel more likely.