It looks as if we are seeing the classic definition of “state-sponsored terrorism” in the Gaza strip. Hamas, increasingly close to Iran, is being subjected to Israeli air strikes and (as of this writing) a possible ground offensive by the IDF to root out and destroy the militant elements who have fired rockets and mortars into Israel.

Eventually, Iran (and Hamas) knew that Olmert would not stand by forever without action, and now that action has come. So, just what does Iran expect to gain from this situation? Here are a few ideas:

  • As in 2006, the fighting with Hamas will distract the world from Iran’s pursuit of nuclear capability, and when the world discovers Iran’s nuclear fait accompli, much of the Arab world can justify their inaction with the claims that Iran must be able to defend herself against Israel.
  • Iran’s economy has been in deep trouble with the collapse of oil prices. Much of the expansion of Iran’s military capability and ability to pay for nuclear technology (both supplied by Russia) depends on oil prices being much higher than current levels, driven down by world demand in the wake of the economic doldrums. This conflict between Israel and Hamas, and its potential second and third order effects, have driven oil prices to near $40 a barrel again overnight. More of the same would be fine with Iran. And the rest of OPEC.
  • Iran seems to be in the lead to whip up even more vitriolic anti-Israeli sentiment in the Muslim world. Will this allow Iran herself to have more sympathy among Middle Eastern countries previously cool toward her actions, particularly those actions in pursuit of nuclear capability?

What is also important to consider is the response of Iran’s benefactor, Russia, to the situation in Gaza. The Russians have been very quick to issue a strong public condemnation of Israel. This, without any real public statement critical of Hamas and the rocket attacks into Israel. Keep in mind that a revival of higher oil prices would be of great benefit to Russia, whose economy is also in very deep trouble. An Iran with the the ability to pay for nuclear technology and military hardware from the Russians sweetens the pot even further.

Posted by UltimaRatioReg in Foreign Policy

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  • FOD Detector

    This is sad to see from USNI. I’m sure we’ll soon see a discourse on Obama’s birth certificate and revelations concerning the murder of Vince Foster.

  • Byron

    The point of this blog is discussion of the topic. If you disagree, man up and state your case. I think USNI is pretty damn brave for allowing bloggers to put up articles, and letting anyone, including you and myself, to voice our opinions.

  • KW64

    This projection of blame on Iran seems like a more reasonable analysis than the notion that the Gazan People are gaining anything for themselves by rocketing Israel. The longer range rockets hitting cities deeper in Israel were not made in Gaza. We know where they came from. Why did they send them? To provide for Gaza’s defense? Do not make me laugh. They are too inaccurate to have any military value, they are only a terrorist weapon. It is Iran that profits from their use.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    From the Associated Press:
    TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – A group of influential conservative Iranian clerics launched an online registration drive on Monday seeking volunteers to fight against Israel in response to its air assault on the Gaza Strip. About 3,550 people registered Monday with the Combatant Clergy Society’s Web site. The weeklong online campaign gives volunteers three options on ways they can fight Israel: military, financial and propaganda.

    The group, which has considerable political and economic power in Iran, did not provide further details on the program including how it would contact the volunteers or implement the program.

    The conservative clerics decided to sign up volunteers after Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued a religious decree on Sunday that said anyone killed while defending Palestinians in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip against Israeli attacks would be considered a martyr.

    Khamenei’s religious decree was not considered a government decision and did not oblige the government to launch attacks against Israel.

    But Iran considers Israel its archenemy, and its President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for the destruction of the Jewish state. Iran also is Hamas’ main backer, though Tehran denies sending weapons to the Islamic militant group that took control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007.


  • FOD Detector

    Byron: There’s a distinction between “brave” and “foolish.”

    Sadly, USNI is drifting toward the latter.

    URR: The AP article does not state what you alluded to; i.e.; “state sponsored terrorism.”

    Is Iran willing to propagandize the Israel/Hamas conflict? You bet. As will most of the ME; some of whom would like to see Hamas disappear. Such as Egypt and Jordan.

    You are free to speculate this is all Iran’s (or Russia’s or the Trilateral Commission’s) doing but you have precious little evidence beyond a desire to believe it.

    Israel doesn’t believe bombing the crap out of Gaza is going to stop rocket attacks. Nor will any suggested ground attack. It will very likely lead to Hamas actually getting stronger as recruitment will increase and ME dollars flow to Hamas.

    So why is Israel doing this? I can’t believe they’re stupid enough to not have learned the lessons of 2006. Let me suggest a far more likely scenario as to why. Barak is showing that he and his party are tough guys before the election. Barak realizes he doesn’t have to deal the US for nearly a month as the Bush admin is just phoning it in at this point.

  • FOD Detector:

    Let’s be clear about one thing: The USNI blog is an open forum…we allow individuals to convey their ideas to encourage thoughtful debate. This is not our voice…it’s yours.

    Our charter, since 1873, has been the independent forum. We are not ‘drifting’ toward anything. That is why all of our bloggers are guest bloggers, why we do not have a blog roll, nor do we link to other sites, other than the to bloggers that have voluntarily agreed to blog here (as to not inadvertantly favor any one person above another) and we have posted all but 3 spam comments.

    Call us foolish – but we are deeply dedicated to the ideal that free speech matters (as I am sure you are, as well). What is so foolish about what we are doing here? Would you prefer that we reviewed and sanctioned posts? Wouldn’t that be a censorship of sorts in this community? Wouldn’t that be counter to our mission?

    Let’s stick to the discussion of the issue. Let us dare to read, speak and write…

  • UltimaRatioReg

    More foolish free speech…

    Nobody said this current situation was all Iran’s doing, or Russia’s doing, only that they stand to gain from the conflict, particularly if we are too naive to realize that fact. When the dust settles, we may have a nuclear Iran and an even more intractable and resurgent Russia, funded by windfall petro-dollars from high energy prices. Such a situation would present very grave challenges to the US.

    Analysts have speculated on the Russia-Iran alliance and the Iran-Hamas relationship for quite some time. “Iran also is Hamas’ main backer” certainly alludes to sponsorship of Hamas’ activities.


  • Byron

    FOD, in case you missed it, Admin didn’t post this. Someone else is. Feel free to shoot holes in the argument if you choose to do so. Otherwise, it’s censorship on your part for insisting that USNI is posting something it shouldn’t. Free speech and all that. That stuff that Americans have shed blood for. You remember, right?

  • This is as much, if not more, about the political split between Hamas and Hezbollah and control of the Palestinians as it is about some presumed greater Iranian ploy to jack up oil prices. The strikes of a few days ago were a long time in planning and stemmed, in no small part, from the ongoing rain of Qassam rockets and mortars onto the Israeli populace w/in 20km of the Gaza strip – 3,000+ rockets since April 2001 and over 2400 rockets and mortars this year alone. All from Hamas.
    And just to scratch the “it has to be naval” posting impetus, ponder this. You are the CO of USS Freedom (LCS 1) given charge to providing support to a small contingent of Marines and Seabees ashore to prepare an SPOD for arrival of a larger contingent waiting over the horizon, when Qassam rockets begin to strike. Damage is light with minimal casualties – so far. What are you going to do?
    – SJS

  • FOD Detector

    Byron: USNI is providing a forum for this nonsense. ‘It’s your voice, not ours’ is disingenuous. But if USNI wants to trade their name to attract the Little Green Footballs/Ann Coulter set–it’s their prerogative. All I’m saying is there is no shortage of rightwing blogs where ‘Iran is behind everything’ plays on an hourly basis.

    SJS: It’s not so much about ‘it has to be Naval’; ‘though, USNavalI and all. It’s about putting out uninformed speculation and bad gouge.

    Re your LCS scenario, we can hardly compare Israel’s response to what one or two 60Rs in an SUW config can do, can we?

    Be clear, nobody is condoning the actions of Hamas. But Israel’s response is grossly disproportionate, not likely to stop the rocket attacks, and will very likely escalate hostilities in the entire region.

  • Byron

    FOD, what’s your version of “nonsense”? Should this blog be a forum for your views only? Isn’t the purpose of the Institute to bring a wide variety of concepts to the table to be discussed? Or is the discussion more lopsided than you’d like it to be? If so, welcome to democracy, feel free to toss your oar in the water anytime.

    Now, my opinion on this: Hamas is asking for what it’s getting, so give it to them. Israel is more Old Testament than New, what did you think you were going to get, the other cheek? Israel has bent over backwards and shown enormous patience so far with the Palestinians. And, if it were just the Palestinians, and without Hamas and Hezbolah muddying the water, I think a rational understanding between the parties could be had. But, so long as the Palestinian people desire to make their voice heard via terrorists, then they will never come close to achieving their goals.

  • FOD Detector

    Byron: Should a “wide variety of concepts” include conspiracy theories, revisionist history, and plain old BS? Congratulations, USNI, you’ve got it.

    Re Israel/Gaza, it is simplistic to offer a slogan that Israel is more OT than NT. What’s that mean? Israel should kill rebellious children? That slavery be allowed?

    If the goal of Israel is peace, they’re going about it in the wrong way. Think about it: do you really, really believe Israel is going to defeat Hamas by killing off large numbers of Palestinians? Do you honestly believe terrorism will be mitigated by making an already destitute area even more so?

    Has Israel “bent over backwards?” Tell me, have settlements on the West Bank decresed as promised by Israel?

  • Byron

    Ah, now we have a discussion 😉

  • UltimaRatioReg

    FOD, your point is not lost. Gaza remains a problem area with very deep roots and no easy solution. (How the Brits decided in 1917 that a strip of land with tree quarters of a million Palestinians living there was “empty” boggles the mind) Both sides have very legit gripes, to say the least, and the actions of each can be heavily criticized. But, if I were a lawyer, I would argue “interesting but irrelevant”. The fact is, as Melville would say, be he agent, or be he principle, Iran stands to benefit from the conflict, and we should be aware of that and behave accordingly.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    Iran’s official news agency said: “A large group of people and students entered the Gulhak Gardens, which are occupied by the British embassy to protest at Britain’s policies in supporting the Zionist regime and put up the Palestinian flag there.”

    The demonstrators had torched the British, US and Israeli flags, other Iranian media reports said.

    There appears to be little doubt that the Iranian regime orchestrated or at least inspired the attack on Gulhak. Just days ago Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, suggested his force should facilitate “revolutionary action” similar to the capture of the “Den of Spies” – the US embassy — on November 4, 1979.

  • It’s been my understanding that…

    While Iran does provide arms, equipment, training, and cash to HAMAS, Shia Iran does not have nearly as much control over HAMAS as the Sunni Moslem Brotherhood does. HizbAllah is Irans pet project, shared with Syria.

    [So who is pulling Palestinian Islamic Jihads strings these days? Because it sure doesn’t look like any of the above.]


    It seems to me that it is in fact quite possible to pound an enemy into complete submission. In some cases, without even the need for boots on the ground.

    It also seems to me that when that enemy has sworn the extinction of ones nation and ones people, said pounding is quite justified.

    Siege warfare is a very old set of rules.

    [if he’s gonna decorate his saloon with my friend, he should have armed himself]


  • UltimaRatioReg


    Excellent point on Iran-Hamas, and an unconnected dot. Could be an “enemy of my enemy” situation, too. And the extent to which Iran has gained influence with Hamas is subject of great speculation.

    Morning news is that Israel will not accept any cease fire without an international force of peacekeepers RESPONSIBLE FOR MAINTAINING IT. Could be interesting times for the collective security advocates in the “international community”.


  • I know people hate to hear it, but Obama is using Bush’s plan…same timetable…different guy in the White House…

  • Among the true tests of leadership may be the ability to recognize a difficulty before now you have an emergency.