There’s not much of a news cycle on the weekends, but regardless, you’ve probably heard about Israel bombing in Gaza in response to an uptick in the Hamas rocket strikes. Needless to say, this is not the most productive tactic for promoting peace, and indeed, will likely further solidify anti-Israeli/American resentment.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, meanwhile, called on all Muslims to “defend the defenseless women, children and people in Gaza in any way possible. Whoever is killed in this legitimate defense is considered a martyr.”
For those unaware, Hamas is a staunchly Sunni group, and though Iran tends to be more practical than anything, they are at least on the surface a Shia nation. Cooperation has been growing between Iran and Hamas over the past several years, but it’s very important to note the impetus for such relations stems directly from Iran’s ability to exploit Palestinian resentment to trump secterian conflict.
People tend to obsess about Iran’s nuclear capabilities, but it’s almost a red herring. The more immediate concern is that Iran essentially controls Lebanon, has heavy influence with Iraqi leadership, and has increasing influence with Palestinians. What’s more, Iran has the capability to shut off the Straight of Hormuz, and a bit less likely, but no less feasible, invade Saudi Arabia. Of course, this need not be viewed purely through Iran; Turkey was not particularly pleased either.
In the meantime, threatening invasion and bombing positions in Gaza accomplishes little bit give greater cause for Muslim solidarity in opposition to Western forces. The United States and other Western nations will need to lean hard if any meaningful progress is to be made. Peace in the Middle East will not be found so long as it appears that the West supports a war on Islam.