Last spring and summer, Iran-supplied ballistic missiles coursed into Saudi Arabia from Houthi rebel strongholds in Yemen.
The missiles—which appeared to be an Iranian-made variation of a Scud, called the Qiam-1—were intercepted by Saudi Air defenses over Riyadh, including at the Saudi capital’s airport. The rebels’ ability to project force deep into Saudi territory is a major threat to that country, despite the shameful media silence about the necessity of the Gulf coalition’s involvement in Yemen.
While these missiles were more robust and potentially more dangerous than the hundreds launched by the Islamist terror group Hamas deep into Israel over the last several days, the memory of these attacks, made possible by an assertive, mischievous Iran, goes a long way toward explaining why we haven’t seen the traditional condemnation of Israel from prominent Islamic countries.
In fact, we’ve seen the opposite.
Tweets from radical, anti-Israel, left-wing activists and Democratic Members of Congress like Rashida Tlaib and Illan Omar have been considerably more hostile to Israel—and supportive of Hamas—than most of the Middle East.
Tlaib ignored Hamas’ missile attacks completely; Omar only addressed the over 600 rockets obliquely, tweeting that, “the status quo of occupation and humanitarian crisis in Gaza is unsustainable. Only real justice can bring about security and lasting peace.”
As Gaza is not under occupation by Israel (and she neglects to condemn Hamas, the Islamist terror group governing the territory), it’s not altogether clear what kind of “real justice” she means, other than the elimination of the Jewish State entirely.
In the Middle East, however, people’s patience with the Muslim Brotherhood movement (of which Hamas is a part) has grown thin. The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) has collected Tweets from authorized Saudi accounts raging against the Islamist group. A sampling:
Muhammad Al-Kahtani, a Saudi user from Riyadh, tweeted: “[Message from] Saudi Arabia: We stand with our cousins in Israel following the terror attack of the terrorist Hamas, [in which] over 200 rockets have been fired on unarmed civilians. May Allah protect Israel and give it victory over the terrorist Hamas and everyone who supports it.”
Saudi intellectual and researcher ‘Abd Al-Hamid Al-Hakim, the former director of the Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Studies in Jeddah, who frequently writes in support of Israel, expressed hope for peace with this country and its people, and called on the region and the world to take responsibility and confront Hamas.
He tweeted: “Our hearts are with you. May Allah protect Israel and its people. We will not let the treacherous hand of Iran and its agents in Gaza reach the Israeli people. It’s time to say this out loud: confronting the terror of Hamas is the responsibility of all the countries in the region and of the international community [as a whole], not only of Israel. I say to the Arabs…: Do you want these murderers and agents of Iran to rule Jerusalem?!”
After three days of rocket attacks from Gaza and Israeli Defense Forces reprisals, a ceasefire has gone into effect and seems to be holding. Before then, however, Israel wisely assassinated a key Hamas official, Hamad al-Khodar, who was the conduit for transfers of “large sums of money” from Iran to armed factions in Gaza.
Many Saudi commentators noticed the obvious link to Iran, also.
Senior Saudi journalist Muhammad Aal Al-Sheikh, who writes for the Saudi daily Al-Jazirah, tweeted that the firing of rockets from Gaza is carried out on orders from Iran, in retaliation for the tightening of the U.S. sanctions: “The Persian ayatollahs have instructed their servants, Hamas, to escalate [the conflict] with Israel, and they obeyed. The result is seven Palestinians dead, versus one Israeli wounded. The Persians are tightening the pressure on the U.S. and Israel in retaliation for Trump’s decision, and the victims are the people of Gaza.”
At this point, the flurry of condemnation of Hamas and Iran from Saudis and other anti-Islamist Gulf Arabs is only shocking if you haven’t been paying attention.
As I’ve been writing and saying for some time, a New Middle East has developed largely in reaction to the Obama administration’s embrace of the twin scourge of Sunni Islamism and Shia hegemony in the region. This realignment has potential to change the world for the better—and everything we can do to encourage it is worthwhile.