Iran and the conflict in Gaza

Press review – week from Jan.5 to 9, 2009

The American and Israeli press echoed the involvement of Iran, so often regarded as the greatest Eastern threat by those two countries, in the confrontations in Gaza. By contrast, Europe seems less worried or at least less talkative about the Iran role to Gaza.

In the French press, priority is given to analysis. In Le Figaro, the Iranian political analyst Davoud Hermidas Bavand says he believes that the goal of Iran is to mobilize the masses through the Arab-Muslim world by supporting the Palestinian cause and at a national level to strengthen the conservative wing, approaching the presidential election of next June. Iran has never hidden its primarily strategic support to Hamas, said the political analyst. However, he thinks that « it is wrong to think that Hamas is acting under the orders of Tehran » because « Iran has no interest to provoke a regional confrontation, which would serve as an ideal argument for Israel to tackle to its nuclear facilities”. « Today, it is more useful for Iran to become an unavoidable regional player during the peace talks. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has also sent 22 officials to several countries to seek the cessation of Israeli attacks and the end the blockade upon Gaza. However, if analytical articles about Iran over the Gazan situation can be found in the European press, they are largely minority since for Europe, the current situation is above all a clash between Hamas and the Israeli forces.
Yet, for Israel, the role of Iran seems to be obvious and the consequences on Iran of the Israeli operation in Gaza are analyzed. The Israeli President Shimon Peres told the Italian daily La Repubblica that Israel « wants to ensure that Gaza will not become a satellite of Iran. »

In the Jerusalem Post, Yossi Kuperwasser, former head of the Research and Assessment Division of Military Intelligence declared that “Iran tries to draw attention away from the country’s nuclear program thanks to the crisis in Gaza”. Speaking at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), Kuperwasser said he holds Iran to blame for the Gaza situation. « The Iranians are clearly behind this operation because they supplied Hamas with money and weapons”, he added. According to the Jerusalem Post, Larijani, the Secretary of the Security Council of Iran, visited Syria and Lebanon in part to assess whether the Islamic Republic could open a new front against Israel to relieve pressure on Hamas in Gaza.

Besides, a journalist even writes in the Jerusalem Post that it is important to note that “the war today, like the war in 2006, is a war between Israel and Iran. Like Hizbullah, Hamas is an Iranian proxy. And just as was the case in 2006, Iran was instrumental in inciting the current war”, adding that “in contrast to the situation in 2006, today Iran seems to have little interest in expanding the war”.

On the American side, Iran is also considered as a full protagonist of the situation in Gaza. For the Washington Post, “Israel launched the Gaza operation to disrupt the enervating proxy warfare that Iran wages through Hamas and to demonstrate to Iran that Israel can not be ignored”. According to the journalist, what is at stake is “countering Iran in Gaza and beyond” and to allow the United States to reaffirm its position towards Iran, while recalling the American support to Arab “moderate States”.