Iran finds receptive ears in the Middle East in its anti-US message

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Gaza, Rafah, Iran, Muslim nations, Palestinians, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, China

With Israel’s ongoing war in Gaza and recent advancement towards Rafah, while the prospect of peace in that part of the world is gradually getting slimmer, some Western analysts say – Iranian leadership has been a direct beneficiary of this war. Meanwhile, support in favor of Palestinian people is on rise throughout the world. Tehran’s rejection of a world order dominated by Washington is gaining enhanced support and credibility in the Muslim world – with every missile Israel fires targeting Palestinians in Gaza and now in Rafah. Meanwhile, police actions and arrests of protesting students and teachers in the American and European campuses are gradually pushing the situation towards a possible mass-revolt, where these anti-war demonstrators may at one stage turn renegades against their own governments. Even a few years ago, Iran’s foreign policy based on key-principles of anti-Americanism rejecting Washington’s unjust domination and bullying other countries were not finding support of the popular masses in the Muslim world – mainly due to Sunni-Shia divide. But now things are changing, where Saudi Arabia and Qatar – two prominent leaders of the Arab world are deepening relations with Iran, while Tehran’s support in the non-Arab Muslim world is on rise. Witnessing Israel’s military actions on Palestinians, Muslims now see Iranian policymaker’s attitude towards the United States as genuine.

According to analysts, although Washington tried to backtrack from its earlier one-sided support towards Israel and has been repeatedly calling upon Israel to refrain from violating human rights during the war – damage has already been done to America – as it is perceived – to American policymakers – Israel remains as priority, where human rights or sufferings of Palestinian people is greatly ignored. Moreover, Muslim countries – no more see the belated US warnings to Israel as genuine.

In one opinion survey by the Washington Institute in late October 2023, for instance, just 7 percent of respondents said the US had a positive impact on the war, compared to 40 percent who viewed Iran’s role as positive.

And in December last year, Arab Barometer reported that approval ratings for the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had surpassed those of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and Emirati president. Meanwhile, rise in Iran’s acceptability and popularity in the Muslim world has already generated fear within political elites in a number of Middle Eastern countries – particularly Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. It may be mentioned here that Bahrain being a Shia-majority country is under Sunni rule, which is not taken easily by Tehran.

Meanwhile, according to analysts, the April 13 Iranian missile and drone attacks on Israel was attuned to achieve two key objectives. Policymakers in Tehran sought to uphold the country’s image as the head of the “axis of resistance”, while Iran also wanted to demonstrate the effectiveness of its deterrence model, which is based on the threat of retaliation against Israeli aggression through its proxy actors and expanding missile and drone technology.

They said Iran could not afford to ignore a response to the Israeli attack on its diplomatic mission in Damascus, although Tehran did not want to begin a war against Israel. Iranian policymakers thought, if they did not respond to Israel’s Damascus attack, Iran would be seen as a weak country. In that case, pro-Iran forces in the Middle East would feel seriously diminished.

While launching missile and drone attacks on Israel, Iranian leaders tried to design it in a way that would cause minimal damage, Furthermore, through this attack, Iran has succeeded in showing the world its missile technology that is capable of hitting Israel at any time.

During annual military parades, Iran has repeatedly shown its missiles, which are capable of hitting Israel – if the nation is threatened by the Jewish State. Now after April 13 attacks, it is proved beyond doubt – Tehran can attack Israel anytime with its sophisticated missile and drone.

In this case, analysts are also saying that Israel did not give an equal response to Iran’s missile and drone attacks as it wanted to avert another war. It may be mentioned here that Iran has fired more than 300 missiles and drones targeting Israel on April 13.

There is a long-term impact of this attack, which is more favorable to Iran. This April 13 missile and drone attack was a direct lesson for the Middle Eastern nations, as they now know, Iran is a powerful country, which can reject foreign policies of the Sunni nations in the Middle East – particularly their positive approach towards Israel.

Following this attack, when Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi visited Pakistan, a Sunni nuclear nation, he was greeted like a celebrity, as the majority of Pakistani populace are extremely anti-Semite and anti-Israel. During this visit, Tehran and Islamabad agreed to boost bilateral trade to US$10 billion a year, which is almost five times the current volume. Leaders of the two Muslim nations also released a joint statement calling on the UN Security Council to take action against Israel claiming it has “illegally” targeted neighboring countries and foreign diplomatic premises.

Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi offered a message of support to Iran saying – “China noted Iran’s statement that its action was restrained and was an act of self-defense in response to the attack on its embassy”. It may be mentioned here that, in current scenarios in the Global South where every country is focusing on Alternative World Order, China remains one of the key leaders of this process.

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