It is a very embarrassing question because it violates all the concepts on which our political culture was built.
Yesterday, Israel attacked 50 positions managed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Syria in retaliation for firing 10 missiles toward Israel. It was claimed that the Revolutionary Guards retaliated against the Israeli attacks a night earlier.
Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid al-Khalifa volunteered to explain the stance. He wrote on Twitter: “Since Iran violated the status quo in the region and violated countries’ (sovereignty) via their forces and missiles, then any country in the region, including Israel, has the right to defend itself by destroying the sources of threat.”
Sheikh Khalid’s stance is consistent with any state that stands against Iran’s crimes in the region. In politics, stances change according to the interests and necessities. If we ask the majority of the Syrian people about their opinion, they would chant and support Israel in targeting Iranian forces and their militias in Syria.
There is no excuse stronger than defending the right of 600,000 people and the 10 million displaced citizens from the crimes of Iran’s forces and allies. Stances have their justifications and they are not always sacred as they are about a little rationality and a little sentiment.
If you ask any Syrian or Lebanese woman whose son was killed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, she will not hesitate to pray for victory to Israel and for the loss and defeat of its rivalsAbdulrahman al-Rashed
The stance is with Iran if it supports the Palestinians, with Israel when it strikes Iran’s forces in Syria, with the Palestinians when Israel attacks them, with the Lebanese-Iranian Hezbollah when it said it was liberating Lebanon from Israeli occupation and with Israel when it targets Hezbollah when it attacks the Lebanese and when it participates in killing the Syrians. The stance is with the attacked party against the assaulter.
Is it difficult to understand this logic? This is the required rational stance in a mad region. The ideologues are the only ones who are probably incapable of accepting it.
If you ask any Syrian or Lebanese woman whose son was killed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, she will not hesitate to pray for victory to Israel and for the loss and defeat of its rivals. This does not make the Israelis right in occupying Palestinian territories or right in their persecution of the Palestinian people.
A different phase
We are facing a different phase and a war that’s new of its kind. For the first time, Israel and Iran are fighting as in the past the war between them was via their proxies. The fighting is now direct between them and it’s happening on Syrian territories.
For the first time ever, we see the Revolutionary Guards who dominated in the region, in Iraq, Yemen and Syria, pay a high price and realize that they trespassed their limits.
As they usually do in Lebanon, the Revolutionary Guards tried to evade responsibility and claimed in an official statement that they are not responsible for firing the 10 missiles towards Israel and blamed Assad’s forces for firing them.
The Israelis will not go to court and will not wait for international inspection committees to address this. They do not need evidence to know that who is behind this are Qassem Soleimani’s forces who will not be safe by hiding behind the powerless Syrian regime troops.
Tehran must have heard about the stance of the Syrian regime – Soleimani says he’s willing to sacrifice the last standing Iranian soldier for Assad’s sake – that it is willing to sell Soleimani and the Iranians in the first political deal as a result of the new military developments.
Assad will cooperate with whichever power wins in his land and now that Israel is involved in the war, Iran is probably the biggest loser. Meanwhile, the Russians do not mind the new developments.
The picture is today clearer and the aim is to force Tehran’s regime to retreat. The plan includes American President Donald Trump’s decision to scrap the nuclear agreement and reinstate economic sanctions.
This is in addition to getting Israel’s military involved via the painful strikes that destroyed Iranian sites and convincing the Russians to be neutral as after they usually voiced objections they now sit in the observers’ seat and are no longer threatening to use their missiles against Israel’s strikes.
All this aims to serve the same purpose after the Tehran government refused international calls to militarily retreat to its borders and to stop interfering in the affairs of the region’s countries and toppling their governments.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed.