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What Starts in Gaza - and Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Venezuela - Starts in Iran.

- by Pete Hoekstra for The Gatestone Institute - 11.10.23


There should be little doubt that the war that began when Hamas terrorists attacked Israel on October 7, 2023, actually originated in Iran. The multi-pronged, highly coordinated and murderous attacks could not have happened without Iranian government assistance and approval.


Leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah, according to the Wall Street Journal, have acknowledged that the Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has been working with Hamas since August in planning these attacks.


The pattern of actions is clear: the Iranian regime, now funded by the Biden administration -- who carefully looked the other way while Iran acquired $60 billion by evading US sanctions, then threw in an additional fungible $6 billion on top of that -- has been, and continues to be, a state actor sponsoring terrorists, terrorist organizations and terrorist attacks.


The Hamas attacks on Israel were sanctioned by Tehran to help fuel tension in the region, probably to disrupt the possibility of an Abraham Accords-style normalization of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Such an agreement would have had a seismic positive impact on the geopolitics of the Middle East. It appears, at least for the moment, any agreement between Israel and the Saudis is tabled. Ironically, after seeing the Israeli Defense Force in action, the Saudis might wish to have Israel as an ally more than ever.


Canceling this transfer makes even more sense in light of the Iranian president bragging that Iran would spend the funds as it saw fit, and not just for humanitarian purposes as the Biden administration disingenuously insists it will. Having a line of credit simply means taking funding already allocated for humanitarian purposes and re-purposing it for terrorism and the nuclear weapons program.


Iran, while still advocating "Death to America," is not only exporting its military hardware but also its battle-tested military tactics, techniques and procedures, including to Latin America.

Will the Biden administration really continue to do everything possible -- as it has with inflation, the fentanyl crisis and migrants pouring over America's southern border -- to avoid saying that what everyone can see in plain sight is not so?


There should be little doubt that the war that began when Hamas terrorists attacked Israel on October 7, 2023, actually originated in Iran. The multi-pronged, highly coordinated and murderous attacks could not have happened without Iranian government assistance and approval. Pictured: Iran's "Supreme Leader" Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (right) greets Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Tehran on February 12, 2012. (Image source: khamenei.ir/AFP via Getty Images)


There should be little doubt that the war that began when Hamas terrorists attacked Israel on October 7, 2023, actually originated in Iran. The multi-pronged, highly coordinated and murderous attacks could not have happened without Iranian government assistance and approval.


Leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah, according to the Wall Street Journal, have acknowledged that the Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has been working with Hamas since August in planning these attacks.


Hamas's unprovoked aggression on October 7 follows a pattern of terrorist attacks aided by Iran around the world. In 1983, a suicide bombing at the U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, Lebanon killed 241 American service members. In 1994, Iran was implicated in the bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Argentina in which 85 people were killed and more than 300 people were wounded. In 2006, the U.S. identified that Iran was arming opposition fighters in Afghanistan, going as far as offering a bounty of $1,000 for every American killed. The Netherlands and Belgium have both arrested and expelled Iranian officials implicated in terrorist plots in their countries.


Iran has instigated scores of attacks on American assets in the Middle East, attempted to assassinate a Saudi diplomat on American soil, and may still be trying to murder Americans who served as officials in the Trump administration.


The pattern of actions is clear: the Iranian regime, now funded by the Biden administration -- who carefully looked the other way while Iran acquired $60 billion by evading US sanctions, then threw in an additional fungible $6 billion on top of that -- has been, and continues to be, a state actor sponsoring terrorists, terrorist organizations and terrorist attacks.


The Hamas attacks on Israel were sanctioned by Tehran to help fuel tension in the region, probably to disrupt the possibility of an Abraham Accords-style normalization of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Such an agreement would have had a seismic positive impact on the geopolitics of the Middle East. It appears, at least for the moment, any agreement between Israel and the Saudis is tabled. Ironically, after seeing the Israeli Defense Force in action, the Saudis might wish to have Israel as an ally more than ever.


The Hamas attack is consistent with Tehran's most recent activity in Europe, where it has become the biggest military sponsor of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. In the last 18 months, Iran has provided Russia with hundreds of drones, including suicide, attack, and surveillance drones. Iran also has provided hundreds-of-thousands of artillery shells and at least a million rounds of ammunition. The ties between Russia and Iran are so close that the U.S. has sanctioned dozens of entities and individuals because of these relationships.


Iran also has benefited from its close ties with Russia. Russia reportedly has offered to share critical information on missiles and air defense with Tehran. But perhaps most importantly, Iran has received direct feedback from the battlefields in Ukraine on the most effective ways to employ the weapons systems Iran has provided the Russians to fight in Ukraine. These lessons learned were evidently shared with Hamas as it planned and executed its brutal attack against Israel, including the use of overwhelming rocket attack barrages, drone-dropped munitions, and kamikaze drones. Iran, while still advocating "Death to America," is not only exporting its military hardware but also its battle-tested military tactics, techniques and procedures, including to Latin America.


The question now is how the U.S. and the West will respond to the attack, especially as Israel engages in a military response that might last longer than the unaffected international community thinks. The U.S. has sent its newest aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald Ford and its strike group to the eastern Mediterranean along with other ships, aircraft and equipment.

While some nations in the European Union (EU) have suspended assistance to Gaza, the European Commission as a whole could not reach the consensus it needed to act as a bloc. Germany and Austria are among those who have announced a halt to bilateral assistance, while Italy and Luxembourg have indicated they will continue to provide humanitarian aid.


As EU member states collectively and individually debate how much assistance to provide the Palestinians, it will answer in part the question of the West's resolve to confront, contain and defeat the threat posed by Hamas as well as its regime-backers in Tehran. Another answer will come from the U.S. if it decides, as it should, to withhold the planned $6 billion ransom payment the Biden administration planned to make to Tehran as part of a prisoner exchange that included unfreezing Iranian funds and transferring them to Qatar.


Canceling this transfer makes even more sense in light of the Iranian president bragging that Iran would spend the funds as it saw fit, and not just for humanitarian purposes as the Biden administration disingenuously insists it will. Having a line of credit simply means taking funding already allocated for humanitarian purposes and re-purposing it for terrorism and the nuclear weapons program.


Also watching how the West responds will be China, as it continues to bluster about its plans for Taiwan. The West, given its catastrophic abandonment of Afghanistan and its failure to halt Russia's invasion of Ukraine, may no longer be seen as a credible deterrent. A confused or muddled response to the Hamas attack could further the perception that the West does not have the resolve to support its allies and partners in major conflicts.


After almost 45 years of repeated Iranian acts of terrorism, the West hopefully will unite to finally address the danger posed by Iran and its support for terrorists and destabilization around the world. The decisions being made by Western leaders in the coming days will determine whether Iran is held accountable for its state sponsorship of terrorism or whether we risk increased Iranian-backed terror expanding in North America and Europe? Will the Western alliance of freedom-loving countries stand firm against evil or will a lack of resolve and conviction embolden Iran, China, Russia and North Korea. The answer to these questions will determine the safety and security of the West and our allies worldwide in the coming years.


Even Hamas has admitted Iran's involvement. Will the Biden administration really continue to do everything possible -- as it has with inflation, the fentanyl crisis and migrants pouring over America's southern border -- to avoid saying that what everyone can see in plain sight is not so?



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Peter Hoekstra is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute. He was US Ambassador to the Netherlands during the Trump administration. He also served 18 years in the U.S. House of Representatives representing the Second District of Michigan and served as Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee.


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