Iran’s Quds Force Commander Visits Iraq
Iran’s Quds Force Commander Visits Iraq
Iran’s Quds Force Commander Visits Iraq
The Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Quds Force, Esmail Ghaani, reportedly visited Iraq this week as part of an Arbaeen pilgrimage. Ghaani was pictured on social media walking to Iraq and standing alongside the deputy chief of operations for the IRGC Abbas Nilforoushan in Karbala. Such trips carry added importance as Iraq’s political scene remains stalemated in disputes over government formation.
Israel and the Palestinian Territories
Ismail Haniyeh Says Hamas Agrees with Moscow’s Foreign Policies
Hamas Politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh, during a visit to Moscow, told Russian media that ties “between Russia and Palestine, in recent years, have taken on a regular nature, and we share several of Russia’s foreign policy stances. In exchange, Russia is attentive to Palestine’s problems, particularly the Arab-Israeli conflict, the situation in Jerusalem, and carrying our requests to Israel.” Haniyeh did not elaborate on precisely which Russian foreign policies Hamas agreed with Moscow.
Haniyeh had led a delegation to Moscow this week that met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and also held discussions on judicial and security issues and cooperation between Hamas and Russia on the Middle East. Russia had extended an invitation for the Hamas delegation to visit the capital.
In an interview with Russia Today, Haniyeh said there were “three dimensions” to discussions between Hamas and Russian officials during the Palestinian militant group’s delegation’s visit to Moscow. “The first relates to the Palestinian cause and the nature of the conflict with the Israeli occupation; the second relates to the Arab and Islamic region and attempts to form a Middle Eastern NATO; and the third relates to the international stage and the great occurrences going on there.” In the interview, Haniyeh also commented on the historic Russian-Palestinian ties, “dating back to the Soviet Union,” and expressed gratitude that Russia “always stands with Palestinian rights.” He also noted that the Hamas delegation had delivered a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin – “the first of its kind to reach him from us directly,” in Haniyeh’s words – via Foreign Minister Lavrov that “raised several special issues which we will follow up on later.”
In the interview, Haniyeh also expressed his gratitude for Iran’s role in aiding his group, saying that while other countries helped Hamas, “the Islamic Republic of Iran is unique in its multidimensional support, which includes military, financial, and technical [assistance].” He stressed that Hamas is not ashamed at all to declare that Iran is at the forefront of its supporters.
Hamas Politburo Member Hossam Badran commented on the visit, saying it reflected Hamas’ importance as a regional and Palestinian actor, and as part of the continuation of the “old and stable” relationship between Russia and the Palestinian militant group. He also said that the visit focused on how the Palestinians could “get their house in order in a manner that would serve the national project in confronting the Occupation, [i.e. Israel].”
Israel is Set to Connect Offshore Gas Rig Threatened by Hezbollah to Gas Grid
The Israeli Energy Ministry said Friday it was set to conduct tests on a maritime field claimed in part by Lebanon, ahead of connecting it to Israel’s gas network. The ministry announcement comes less than 10 days after Energean announced it was “on track to deliver (the) first gas from the Karish development project within weeks.”
Israel says the Karish field is located entirely within its exclusive economic zone, but Lebanon insists that part of the field falls within its own waters. Hezbollah, which launched drones toward the Karish gas field in July, had threatened attacks if Israel proceeds with gas extraction in the disputed area. On Thursday, Israel’s national security adviser Eyal Hulata addressed Hezbollah’s threats, noting an agreement to export gas to energy-starved Europe. “Israel will not be deterred by these threats and continue to realize its energetic interests, activate Karish and fulfill the important contracts it signed, including with Egypt and the EU,” he said at a conference at Israel’s Reichman University in Herzliya.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz had also warned on Thursday that Lebanon would suffer dire consequences if the Hezbollah terror group torpedoes U.S.-mediated talks between Israel and its northern neighbor over a maritime dispute. Gantz said Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah “is welcome” to disrupt the ongoing maritime border demarcation negotiations between Lebanon and Israel with an attack, “but Lebanon will pay the price.”
Hamas, Islamic Jihad said to Offer $200 Per Shooting Attack if Video Posted
Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups are reportedly offering cash incentives for shooting attacks on Israelis, on condition that a video of the assault is published on social media. The two groups are offering about $200 for a shooting in an effort to encourage more attacks, in particular as Israel enters its three-week High Holiday period, which begins with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, next week, Israeli Channel 12 news reported on Tuesday. Videos must be published on the TikTok video sharing application in order to qualify for a payout, according to the report. Security officials are concerned that videos of shooting attacks will create so-called “internet heroes” encouraging others to follow their example, according to Channel 12.
Algeria to Host Palestinian Unity Summit in November
According to Hamas Politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh, Algeria is expected to host a Palestinian unity summit that would include Hamas and its rival Fatah. Haniyeh said, “I think there is a call on both of these factions to meet around the end of this month in Algeria, and from there we would hold an expanded Palestinian summit.”
Hamas Politburo Member Hossam Badran also commented on this upcoming Algerian-hosted summit, saying it was the result of efforts by Algerian President Abdel Majid Taboun, who attempted to host a meeting of Palestinian factions prior to the Arab Summit expected to be held in November. Badran said Algeria is interested in continuing its efforts to “order the Palestinian national house and unify [Palestinian] ranks, in a manner commensurate with the importance of the Palestinian cause to the Algerian leadership and people.” Badran said communication between Algeria and Hamas have been ongoing since the Palestinian militant group visited the North African country at the beginning of 2022.
Algeria has historically adopted a stance aligned with Palestinian militants and rejectionism, as part of a broader anti-Western and anti-imperialist orientation. In recent years, Algeria has also strengthened ties with Iran, which is a patron of Hamas, and Tehran’s most powerful proxy, Hezbollah. Algeria’s neighbor, Morocco, accuses Algiers of hosting training camps for the separatist Polisario group – dedicated to separating the Western Sahara from Morocco – where the separatist group’s militants receive training from Hezbollah and Iranian advisers.
Hamas Announces it will Resume Ties with Assad Regime in Syria
Hamas issued a statement this week announcing that it would be resuming ties with the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. In the statement, Hamas said that, as part of the group building ties with its Islamic and Arab surroundings, it “confirms it will continue with building and developing durable relations with the Syrian Arab Republic, by resuming its relations with fraternal Syria, in service of Palestine…” Hamas also expressed its “gratitude to the Syrian Arab Republic, both leadership [i.e. President Bashar al-Assad] and its people; for their role in standing by the Palestinian people and its just cause, and we look forward to Syria regaining its role among the Arab and Islamic nations.” In the statement, Hamas also commented on Israeli airstrikes in Syria for the first time, saying the group “strongly condemned the repeated Zionist aggression on Syria, particularly the recent strikes on the airports of Damascus and Aleppo lately, and we confirm that we stand with our fraternal country Syria in confronting this aggression.”
The statement comes in the wake of a visit of a high-ranking Hamas delegation to Moscow. After the visit, London-based Asharq Al-Awsat reported that a source close to Hamas had said the visit would have a “great impact on the [group’s] relationship with Russia, and a return to Syria, and building bridges with its other allies in the region.” The report also said that the resumption of Syrian-Hamas ties came as part of negotiations held with the group by Iran and Hezbollah. Recalling one of its prior reports on the matter from June, Asharq al-Awsat noted that Hamas’ decision to resume ties with Syria had been taken 10 months ago, in light of changes within Hamas’ leadership and the rise in the fortunes of leadership cadres that are close to Syria and Iran.
Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Meets with a Houthi Delegation
On Friday, the Secretary-General of Iran-backed Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah hosted a delegation from the Houthis. Al Mayadeen reported that the delegation discussed with Nasrallah the issue of the ceasefire between the Saudi-backed Coalition and the Houthis, in addition to solutions to outstanding issues. This comes after this same Houthi delegation visited Tehran in recent days and demonstrates how active Nasrallah has become in helping to manage Iran’s interests as a part of the broader Axis of Resistance, following the death of the late Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani.
IDF Detects Limited Iranian, Hezbollah Withdrawal from Syria
The Israel Defense Forces have detected a limited withdrawal of some Iranian militia forces as well as Iranian and Hezbollah operatives from Syria. The withdrawal comes after a report in the Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that reported Russian officials demanded that the Iranians leave several sites in Syria, including its military headquarters in the western Hama province, situated next to the Syrian army’s Regiment 49 base. According to the report, Moscow made the request in order to remove potential targets for Israel that are located near Russian military sites. A senior IDF officer, however, told reporters that the apparent withdrawal of these forces from Syria is a “result of the IDF strikes” in the country.