"The Houthi's missiles and drones nearly hit the holy sites in Mecca and Medina. How can Iran invest in the bombing of Saudi Arabia while claiming... that it seeks to liberate Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque? Iran's claim to support Islamic holy sites is not related to any religious beliefs. It is related to regional ambitions, expansionist dreams, and striving to export the Iranian revolution to various countries in the region." — Mohammed Hassan Mufti, Saudi author, Okaz, June 3, 2021. Pictured: Smoke billows from an Aramco oil facility in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia, following a drone attack launched on the facility by Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi militia, on September 14, 2019. (Photo by AFP via Getty Images)
Iran is continuing to exploit the Palestinian issue to promote its expansionist schemes in the Middle East and meddle in the internal affairs of Arab countries, including Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen and Bahrain.
Iran is doing so while its representatives continue to conduct indirect negotiations with the US administration in Vienna on reviving the 2015 "Iran nuclear deal," which Iran never signed.
Diplomats from Britain, France and Germany who are negotiating with the Iranians seem oblivious to the growing concern in the Arab world over Tehran's support for terrorism and its ongoing intervention in the internal affairs of several Arab countries.
The accusation that Iran is using the Palestinian issue to advance its schemes in the region was made by many Arabs in the aftermath of the recent war between Israel and Hamas, which ended with an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire on May 21.
During and after the 11-day war, Iran went out of its way to make known that without Tehran's financial and military support, Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip would not have been able to fire thousands of rockets at Israel.
Many Arabs, however, are scoffing at Iran's claims and accusing it of taking advantage of the last round of fighting between Hamas and Israel to present itself as the defender of the Palestinian cause, Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Arabs clearly see what the Biden administration, Britain, Germany and France are refusing to see -- that Iran has ambitions not only to acquire a nuclear bomb, but also aggressively to export its "Islamic revolution" and terrorism on a global scale.
The Arabs have pointed out that Iran's Quds Force, a branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), has done nothing to defend Jerusalem and the Palestinians since its establishment in 1982. It is also important to note that one of the missions of Quds Force is to "liberate Jerusalem and Palestine," a euphemism for the elimination of Israel.
"The notorious Quds Force has committed crimes against Arabs and has been busy creating militias consisting of Arab traitors in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, noted Saudi writer Abdullah Al-Anzi. "Iran uses the Palestinian issue to pass its expansionist agenda and extend its ideological and political influence to the Arab countries. Iran wants to show that it is the defender of the Palestinians."
A Lebanese activist, who did not reveal his name, recently posted a video on social media in which he mocked Iran's Quds Force for its ostensible plan to "liberate Jerusalem and Palestine." In the video, which has gone viral on various social media platforms, he asked:
"Iran has a force called Quds Force. Isn't it the duty of this force to come to Jerusalem to help the Palestinians? Or is its duty just to go to Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Bahrain? This force has gone to many Arab countries, but never to Jerusalem."
The words of the Lebanese activist struck a chord with many Arabs who have long accused Iran of working to destabilize their countries with the help of its terrorist proxies, especially Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and the Houthis.
Referring to the Iranian-backed Houthi militia in Yemen, which has been attacking Saudi Arabia with missiles and drones for the past few years, Saudi writer Walid Al-Ghamidi commented:
"The Quds Force is in Yemen to launch attacks on Mecca and Medina and their surroundings [in Saudi Arabia]. The goal of the mullahs in Tehran is to attack Muslims and inflict the greatest possible harm on them."
Saudi author Mohammed Hassan Mufti said that he was "completely baffled" by the "strange" statement of Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif expressing Iran's intention not to abandon its duty toward Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
"The truth is that such a statement may delude some people into thinking that Iran has never, and will never, actually abandon its support for the Palestinian cause, and that it has never failed to seek to liberate the Al-Aqsa Mosque," Mufti remarked.
"Isn't Iran the country that supports the Houthi militia with money and weapons to attack Saudi Arabia? The Houthi's missiles and drones nearly hit the holy sites in Mecca and Medina. How can Iran invest in the bombing of Saudi Arabia while claiming with the utmost enthusiasm that it seeks to liberate Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque? Iran's claim to support Islamic holy sites is not related to any religious beliefs. It is related to regional ambitions, expansionist dreams, and striving to export the Iranian revolution to various countries in the region."
According to Mufti, the extent of Iran's manipulation of the minds of young Iranians was exposed during the Iran-Iraq war. Iranian soldiers who were captured by the Iraqi army told their interrogators that the mullahs in Tehran had convinced them that "the road to Jerusalem passes through Iraq," the Saudi writer revealed. "There is no dispute among experts and political analysts that Iran is a direct cause of the complete destruction of at least four Arab countries."
Saudi columnist Bader bin Saud warned that the Biden administration's insistence on negotiating with the Iranians about reviving the Iran nuclear deal at a time when the mullahs in Tehran are boasting of their financial and military support for Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad will intensify tensions in the Middle East.
"The Biden administration still insists on continuing the nuclear negotiations with Iran," bin Saud wrote.
"America's entry into the Iranian nuclear agreement will exacerbate matters and will enable the mullahs to obtain nuclear weapons and more than a billion dollars. Some of the money will go to Iran's agents in the region. The Iranian regime considers the Middle East an extension of its strategic depth and neo-colonialism, and calls for the universality of the Palestinian cause to justify its direct intervention in Palestinian affairs."
Dr. Dalal Mahmoud, a professor in the Faculty of Economics and Political Science at Cairo University, stated explicitly that Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood have done nothing for the Palestinian issue over the past years.
Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood, she told the Emirati newspaper Al-Ain, referring to the dispute between the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, have actually "contributed to increasing the complexity of the Palestinian issue, conspired against it and exploited it for their political calculations, and increased divisions among the Palestinian people."
Former Egyptian diplomat Mohamed Al-Orabi said that the relationship between Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood is "governed by opportunism and an interest in achieving the common goal of being present in the region, extending influence and destabilizing the security and stability of the region and the Gulf."
Prominent Syrian writer and journalist Faisal Al-Qassem said that many Arabs were ridiculing Iran's rhetoric about supporting the Palestinians and "liberating Jerusalem and Palestine."
"The strange thing is that Iran often asks the Palestinians to specify their role in the resistance in return for Iranian support... The Palestinians are required to mention Iran's name in their statements. Generally speaking, Iran has not and will not succeed in the public relations game to polish its image and benefit from the Palestinian uprising because most of the Arab street is making fun of it."
Qassem noted that polls on Twitter have shown that more than 85% of voters do not trust the Iranian position on the Palestinian issue. "How can those who have killed and displaced millions of Syrians, Iraqis, Lebanese and Yemenis help the Palestinians," he quoted some Arabs as saying.
"Does Iran want to liberate Jerusalem and give it to the Palestinians, or does it want to add it to the group of Arab capitals it occupies, such as Damascus, Baghdad, Beirut and Sana'a? When Iran claims that it supports the Palestinians in their fight against Israel, does it do that to help them liberate Jerusalem and annex it to the other four Arab capitals occupied by Iran?"
Qassem also pointed out that some commentators have come to prefer keeping Jerusalem under Israeli control over its liberation by Iran. He quoted one Arab as saying:
"Look at the capitals occupied by Iran: Baghdad has become, according to the United Nations, the dirtiest capital in the world, while Beirut has become the largest dumpster in the Middle East. As for Damascus, it turned into a ruin, while Sana'a returned to the Middle Ages."
Iraqi writer Dr. Bahera Al-Sheikhli also mocked Iran's claim that it is doing its utmost to help the Palestinians:
"During the past 30 years, the Al-Quds Force fought the Arabs everywhere and did not fire a single bullet to liberate Jerusalem or Palestine. Jerusalem and Palestine are the Trojan horse of the Iranian regime. Jerusalem is not in the mind of the regime. Rather, what concerns Iran is killing Arabs and occupying their countries. The only thing Iran did for the Palestinians was that it divided them into two entities – one led by the Palestinian Authority and another led by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Iran seeks to expand at the expense of the Arabs and their countries, and does not care about Jerusalem."
Emirati political analyst Abdel Munim Ibrahim said he also shared the view that Iran and its Quds Force have done nothing to "defend" the Palestinians. Instead, he pointed out, the Quds Force has "committed crimes against Arabs in their countries."
"The Iranian Quds Force is nothing more than a political cover that uses the Palestinian cause to play conspiratorial roles against Arabs... It is not concerned about what is happening in Jerusalem and Palestine. It is very interested in supporting its agents and armed militias in Iraq and Syria and smuggling missiles, drones, explosives and mines to the Houthi militias in Yemen. Only the delusional people in Palestine, the Gulf and the Arab countries were betting on the Quds Force to liberate Jerusalem and defend the Palestinians. The truth is that Iran established the Quds Force to occupy Arab countries, recruit Arab traitors into terrorist organizations to overthrow Arab governments, and threaten Arab national security."
The Arabs who are mocking Iran and exposing its malign behavior are mainly addressing those in the West who, against all reason, continue to believe that appeasing the mullahs of Iran is the path to security and stability.
The Arabs are also sending a message to the Biden administration and other Western powers that Iran's continued interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries – both directly and through its proxies – poses a risk to regional security and stability.
The Arabs, in other words, are telling the Americans and other Westerners that appeasing Iran by reviving the nuclear deal, lifting sanctions or giving it money will only assist its regime in perpetrating more crimes and increasing instability and terrorism in the region. This is the poisonous fruit of placating the mullahs.
Khaled Abu Toameh is an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem.