Iran, a longtime supporter the leaders of Gaza and Hamasfound himself in a dilemma while trying to manage the spiral of crisis because of the war between Israel and Palestine, according to nine Iranian officials with direct knowledge of the thinking within the clerical establishment polled by Reuters Agency.
Stepping aside in the face of Israel’s full-scale invasion of Gaza means a key failure of Iranian strategy of regional predominance held for more than four decades, according to the people who asked to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the discussions in Tehran. However, any major attack against a US-backed Israel could harm Iran and fueled public anger against the clerical rulers in a country already mired in economic crisis, the officials said, describing different military, diplomatic and domestic priorities being weighed.
Three security officials say a consensus has been reached among Iran’s top decision-makers, for now: give up their blessing of cross-border attacks limited actions by his Lebanese group Hezbollah against Israeli military targets, more than 200 kilometers from Gaza, as well as against American targets other allied groups in the region. But, at the same time, prevent any major developments that could drag Iran itself into the conflict.
Sign of weakness
But Iran’s inaction on the ground can be considered a sign of weakness by forces, which have been the main weapon of Tehran’s influence in the region for decades, according to the three officials. The same sources explain that it may also affect the position of Iran, which has long defended the Palestinian cause against Israel, a country it refuses to recognize and presents as an evil occupier. .
“The Iranians are faced with the dilemma of whether they will send Hezbollah into the fight to try to save their armed arm in the Gaza Strip or maybe they will release this arm and surrender it,” he said. Avi Melamed, former Israeli intelligence official and negotiator during the first and second intifadas. “This is where the Iranians are,” he added. “Calculate your risks.”
“For Iran’s top leaders, especially the supreme leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei), the top priority is the survival of the Islamic Republic,” said a senior Iranian diplomat. “That’s why Iranian authorities have used strong rhetoric against Israel since the start of the attack, but refrained from direct military involvement, at least for now.”
Three senior Israeli security sources and one Western security source told Reuters that Israel does not want a direct confrontation with Tehran and that even the Iranians are training and arming Hamas, there is no indication that they had prior knowledge of the October 7 attack. Khamenei, the supreme leader, denied that Iran was involved in the attack, although he praised the damage inflicted on Israel.
Israeli and Western security sources believe that Israel sI will only attack Iran if it is directly attacked of Iranian forces from Iran, although they warned that the situation could change quickly and that an attack on Israel by Hezbollah or Iranian proxies in Syria or Iraq causing many casualties could change Israel’s approach, one of the Israeli sources added.
US officials have made it clear that their goal is to prevent the conflict from spreading and prevent others from attacking US interests, while keeping Washington’s options open. White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby reiterated that Washington wants to prevent conflict. “There is no intention to put American troops on the ground in combat,” he told reporters.
“Everyone is nervous”
Jon Alterman, a former State Department official who now heads the Middle East program at the CSIS think tank in Washington, thinks leaders Iranians will feel pressure to show tangible support, and not only rhetorically, to Hamas, but warns about the possibility of events that cannot be controlled. “Once you get into this environment, things happen and there are consequences that no one wants,” he added. “Everyone is nervous.” A former senior official close to Iran’s top decision-makers said China’s role further complicated matters.
The role of the Iranian people
Meanwhile, the Iranian people can play an important role. Iran’s rulers cannot afford to get directly involved in the conflict as they struggle to quell growing dissent in their country, fueled by economic problems and social restrictions, according to two separate officials. The country has seen months of unrest sparked by Masha Amini’s death in custody last year and continued state repression.
Economic problems, caused mainly by crippling US sanctions and mismanagement, have led many Iranians to criticize the decades-old policy of using funds to expand the influence of the Islamic Republic in the Middle East. East. The slogan “Neither Gaza nor Lebanon, I sacrifice my life for Iran” has become the signature chant of anti-government protests in Iran over the years, highlighting the people’s frustration. “Iran’s nuanced position highlights the delicate balance that must be maintained between regional interests and internal stability,” the former senior Iranian official said.