Iran’s Plan to Topple Arab Leaders

First published by The Gatestone Institute

by Khaled Abu Toameh

  • Hamas’s call on Moroccans to revolt against their leaders contradicts its own declared policy that it does not intervene in the internal affairs of the Arab countries. “Hamas does not meddle in the internal affairs of Arab and Muslim countries,” said senior Hamas official Salah Bardaweel. If true, why is Hamas denouncing Morocco’s decision to establish relations with Israel?
  • Showing Hamas’s hypocrisy out in the sunlight, Hamas maintains continuous communication with Egypt, the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel. Just last week, Egyptian intelligence officials again visited the Gaza Strip….
  • Hamas would not dare to fire one rocket or bullet toward Egypt. Evidently, Hamas leaders know that the moment they attack Egypt, they and the entire Gaza Strip would pay a heavy price, most likely by having a huge military offensive launched against the Islamist movement.
  • These Arabs say that they hope to see the new US administration endorse a tough policy toward Iran and not send a message of weakness to the mullahs. Any attempt to appease Iran or ease the sanctions on it will only embolden the mullahs and increase their appetite to instigate coups to overthrow various Arab countries.
Islamists are calling on the Moroccan people to revolt against their government and King Mohammed VI. This call shows that the Islamists have shifted from rhetorical attacks on Arabs who establish relations with Israel to calls to violence against the Arab rulers and governments. Pictured in foreground: King Mohammed VI of Morocco. (Photo by Fadel Senna/AFP via Getty Images)

Iran’s Islamist proxies in the Arab world have resurfaced to condemn last week’s normalization agreement between Israel and Morocco just as they did with similar accords reached in the past few months with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.

As usual, the Islamists and their patrons in Tehran, who seek the elimination of Israel, are using texts from the Koran and sayings attributed to the prophet Mohammed to justify their opposition to the normalization of relations between Arabs and Israel.

After the Israel-Morocco deal, however, the Islamists have stepped up their campaign of incitement against Arabs who want to make peace with Israel.

Now, the Islamists are calling on the Moroccan people to revolt against their government and King Mohammed VI. This call shows that the Islamists have shifted from rhetorical attacks on Arabs who establish relations with Israel to calls to violence against the Arab rulers and governments. By urging the Moroccans to “resist” the normalization agreement, Iran’s proxies are sending a message to the people of Morocco to topple their “treacherous” regime by using all available methods, including terrorism.

The Iranians were among the first Muslims to condemn the Israel-Morocco agreement, paving the way for their proxies to follow suit by urging Moroccans to rise against their regime.

Morocco’s normalization of relations with Israel was a “betrayal” and a “stab in the back” of the Palestinians, said Hossein Amir-Abdollahanian, an adviser to Iran’s parliamentary speaker.

Shortly after the Iranian announcement, Hamas, the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamist movement that rules over the Gaza Strip, released a statement, condemning the Israel-Morocco agreement:

“Normalization with the Zionist entity is a deplorable step that is not worthy of Morocco and does not reflect the positions of the brotherly Moroccan people who have stood with Palestine, Jerusalem and the al Aqsa Mosque in all circumstances and stations.”

In an indirect appeal to Moroccans to revolt against their government and monarch, Hamas called on “the authentic Moroccan people and all the free peoples to reject this agreement and all the cheap normalization agreements and to continue boycotting the Zionist occupation and not accepting it at all, notwithstanding the circumstances and temptations.”

Hamas’s call on Moroccans to revolt against their leaders contradicts its own declared policy that it does not intervene in the internal affairs of the Arab countries. “Hamas does not meddle in the internal affairs of Arab and Muslim countries,” said senior Hamas official Salah Bardaweel.

If true, why is Hamas denouncing Morocco’s decision to establish relations with Israel? Moreover, why is Hamas calling on the Moroccan people to “reject” an agreement reached by the Moroccan monarch? What is this call but a blatant intervention in the internal affairs of an Arab country?

Showing Hamas’s hypocrisy out in the sunlight, Hamas maintains continuous communication with Egypt, the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel. Just last week, Egyptian intelligence officials again visited the Gaza Strip for talks with Hamas leaders about maintaining security and stability in the Hamas-ruled coastal territory. In the past few years, Hamas officials have been regularly visiting Cairo for talks with Egyptian security officials on the situation in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas is terrified of uttering a word against Egypt because it is afraid that the Egyptians might retaliate by closing their shared border with the Gaza Strip or imposing sanctions, including travel restrictions, on Hamas leaders. It is one thing to condemn the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco, which do not have shared borders with the Gaza Strip, and a totally different thing to lash out at your powerful neighbor, Egypt.

Hamas leaders know that the moment they criticize Egypt, the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt will be slammed shut. The Egyptian authorities will close the Rafah border crossing to all Palestinian travelers and goods. Hamas leaders also know that the moment they call upon the Egyptian people to revolt against the Sisi regime, thousands of Hamas supporters in Egypt would find themselves behind bars.

Even when the Egyptians do sometimes close the Rafah border crossing, Hamas would not dare to fire one rocket or bullet toward Egypt. Evidently, Hamas leaders know that the moment they attack Egypt, they and the entire Gaza Strip would pay a heavy price, most likely by having a huge military offensive launched against the Islamist movement.

The Egyptians have frequently sent warnings to Hamas not to meddle in Egypt’s internal affairs or threaten its national security. “If Hamas thinks about entering one inch of Egyptian territory, it will be their (Hamas’s) last day of existence,” an Egyptian military source cautioned. The warning, made in 2014, came in response to reports that Hamas was amassing its forces along the border with Egypt in preparation for launching terrorist attacks against Egyptians.

Notably, the Egyptians display patience with Hamas, an offshoot of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood terrorist organization, in spite of the Brotherhood’s ongoing meddling in Egyptian internal affairs and threats to Egypt’s national security.

Last month, in fact, the Egyptians did close the Rafah border crossing to vehicles and commodities because of “transgressions” by Hamas. Egypt did not provide details about what those might have been, but the Egyptian newspaper Egypt Today cryptically pointed out that Hamas “has a history of working against Egypt.”

The newspaper did list some of past “transgressions” of Hamas: 1) Hamas profits from food and commodities subsidized by Egypt for low-income Palestinians, trafficking them through illegal tunnels; 2) Hamas was involved in the murder of 16 Egyptian soldiers in Rafah in August 2010; 3) Trading in the Egyptian pound in exchange for the US dollar, which damages the Egyptian economy; 4) Hamas stormed the Egyptian border in 2008 and committed various crimes; 5) Hamas also stormed Egyptian prisons in 2011 and set convicted terrorists on the loose; 6) Hamas is accused of killing protesters in Tahrir Square (in Cairo) in 2011; 7) Hamas bombed gas lines in Sinai several times and was involved in targeting military sites there.

It is because of such allegations that Hamas treads very carefully in its dealings with Egypt. The last thing Hamas wants is for the Egyptians to wipe the Islamist movement off the face of the earth. That is presumably why in recent years Hamas has been behaving itself with regards to Egypt. This behavior, of course, does not apply to Morocco, whose king has never threatened to eliminate Hamas or attack the Gaza Strip.

Last week, Zahar called on the Moroccans to “confront the policy of normalization” with Israel. He also urged the Moroccan parliament to criminalize normalization with Israel and to enact necessary laws to combat peace with Israel. Not only is the Hamas leader inciting violence and unrest in an Arab country, he is also advising that country’s parliament what laws it needs to pass. One can only imagine Zahar’s response if a Moroccan official called on the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to rise up against their Hamas rulers.

In “keeping” with Hamas’s policy of not intervening in the internal affairs of the Arab countries, Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar also incited the Moroccan people to revolt against their monarchy. Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the second largest Iran-backed terrorist group in the Gaza Strip, has joined Hamas in inciting the Moroccans to revolt against their leaders.

“We are fully confident that the Moroccan people strongly reject normalization with the Zionist occupation, and the land of the Kingdom of Morocco will not be a hotbed for the Zionists, as the Moroccan people and their political forces will reject normalization and confront it,” PIJ said in a statement. “The Arab regimes and their leaders who are rushing toward the Zionist entity will be cursed.”

Similarly, Lebanon’s Hezbollah terrorist group, another Iranian proxy, said it was “betting on the free Moroccan people” to thwart the normalization agreement with Israel.

The threats against Morocco and other Arab countries by Iran’s proxies — Hamas, PIJ and Hezbollah — are worrying many Arabs in the Middle East. The Arabs, especially those who want to make peace with Israel, are fully aware that Iran and its Palestinian and Lebanese militias continuously seek to stir up trouble in the region and replace Arab leaders who want peace with Israel with Muslim extremists who report to the mullahs in Tehran. These Arabs say that they hope to see the new US administration endorse a tough policy toward Iran and not send a message of weakness to the mullahs. Any attempt to appease Iran or ease the sanctions on it will only embolden the mullahs and increase their appetite to instigate coups to overthrow various Arab countries.

Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem, is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at Gatestone Institute.

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