Iran’s Fortunes Rising in a Middle East Vacuum – Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
(dailyalert.org, Mar. 19, 2014)
On March 12, 2014, Israel was hit by massive rocket fire from Gaza by Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). PIJ is completely dependent on Iran for its funding and equipment, and some of its operatives have also undergone training in Iran for the manufacture of rockets and explosives and for guerrilla warfare. There have also been recurring attacks on IDF border forces in Israel’s north as well – including along the Syrian border – where Hizbullah’s ties with Iran are well-known. All of these attacks on Israel come in the wake of the green light given by Iran against the backdrop of changing power equations in the broader Middle East.
Iran has been leading an “axis of evil” as it devises and implements an ambitious plan to increase its influence across the Middle East and mold it in line with its revolutionary Islamic ideology. Central to that plan is ejecting the U.S. and the West from the region, along with what remains of their influence.
The change in Iran’s behavior reflects its growing self-confidence since the recent rounds of nuclear negotiations with the West began, along with America’s rapidly declining regional and international status (vivid in the Ukrainian crisis as well). The more the United States’ regional and international status sinks, the more Iran’s self-confidence rises.
Iran regards the U.S., and the West in general, as lacking the capacity to use military force to stop its nuclearization, or to curtail Iran’s assertive measures against the Gulf States and in the Middle East generally. Iran sees an opportunity to continue driving the U.S. and the West out of the region.
Iran views Hizbullah and the Palestinian terror organizations as major components in its national security strategy, part of its long arm. Iran acts ceaselessly to provide these actors with rockets and the knowledge to manufacture them, along with other weapons. The latest developments, coupled with Iran’s growing realization that it is immune to a Western military attack, could lead it to make even bolder moves by itself and through its proxies.
U.S. policy is increasingly impelling states in the Middle East to alter their framework of alliances. They view the U.S. as less and less reliable, and are seeking an alternate power instead. Possibilities include Russia, China, or – closer to home – Iran.