Iran’s anti-Israel bluster is getting old

Iran often uses bombastic and inflammatory rhetoric to shore up its supporters both in Iran and in the wider Arab world.

It should come as no surprise to most but Iran has made yet another threat to annihilate Israel, this time promising to destroy the Jewish state within 25 years.

In a not-so-shocking statement, the head of Iran’s Army, Major-General Abdolrahim Mousavi, said during a ceremony in April in Tehran that his country’s military had its “hands on the trigger and missiles are ready and will be launched at any moment,” Iran’s Tasnim News Agency reported. His comments came after Iranian Brigadier-General Hossein Salami threatened Israel’s “annihilation” and promised that his country would make Israel “fade away” in the next 25 years.

Considering US President Donald Trump’s scrapping of the disastrously flawed Iranian nuclear deal following intense Israeli lobbying, such comments out of Iran might be considered fighting talk. Tehran is, after all, quite keen on rehabilitating itself into international markets, while pursuing its expansionist agenda in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon.

However, it is clear from history that Iran often uses bombastic and inflammatory rhetoric to shore up its supporters both in Iran and in the wider Arab world, who see Israel and the United States as aggressors. Simultaneously, Iran is happy to cut deals with the United States and — you guessed it — the “Zionist enemy” Israel.

Since its foundation under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979, the Islamic Republic of Iran has been threatening to destroy Israel and Zionism and to liberate the Palestinian territories. Khomeini even instituted “al-Quds Day,” an annual protest of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.

This all seems very pro-Palestinian but it is a smokescreen. Iran uses symbolic gestures and threats against Israel to ingratiate itself with the Arab and wider Muslim public who see Israeli violations of Palestinian rights and are incensed. Tehran paints itself as a defender of Palestinian rights and the Holy Land in a propaganda stunt that has fooled most of the Islamic world at one point or another.

Iran’s charade is far from the truth. How else would one explain the continuous Iran-sponsored attacks against Palestinian refugees in places such as Yarmouk in Syria? Or the fact that Iran-backed Shia jihadists stormed Palestinian refugee camps in Iraq, accused them of being Saddamists and killed, tortured and persecuted them?

Getting morally skewed Palestinian militant groups such as Hamas to disgracefully sing Iran’s praises while Tehran inflicts a strategy of mass starvation against Palestinians in Syria certainly does not make Iran a friend of Palestinian rights.

Look at Iran’s history since Khomeini instituted his radical Shia Islamist regime. While he and his cronies swore bloody death and mayhem against Israel in public, in private they had no qualms about sharing intelligence with Tel Aviv about Iraq’s nuclear research facility that the Israeli Air Force bombed during Operation Opera in 1981. They also raised no complaints when Israel facilitated mass arms transfers to Iran during the Iran-Iraq War, which lasted for most of the 1980s, in the United States’ infamous Iran-Contra scandal.

It is surprising to see people falling for Iran’s theatrics and its lies that manipulate and take advantage of the Palestinians’ legitimate struggle for self-determination.

Iran’s record is easy for anyone to see and that record is replete with examples of Tehran ordering the death or betrayal of Palestinians while collaborating with Israel throughout the Khomeinist rule in Iran.

After decades of bluster, Iran has done nothing but talk and people are starting to wake up to the fact that the mullah regime does not care one jot for Palestine.

This article was originally published in The Arab Weekly.