Iran Hints It Will Supply Air Defense Weaponry to Palestinians

Iraj Masjedi, a Qods Force commander and former Iranian ambassador to Iraq, meets with Qassem Soleimani, the late leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Qods Force.

“A day will come when… [Palestinians] will obtain air defense weapons.”

The advisor to the commander of the Qods Force, Iraj Masjedi, used the 3 January anniversary of the 2020 death of former Qods Force chief Qassem Soleimani to deride both the United States and Israel. The anniversary has become an annual commemoration in Iran.[i] Multiple Iranian politicians and military officers give speeches lionizing Soleimani and condemning the United States. While the Iranian population is inured to such bombast, the speech by Masjedi was noteworthy for its specificity about providing anti-air defenses to the Palestinians. In practice, support for Palestinians means support for Palestine Islamic Jihad and Hamas, both of which act as proxies for Iran.[ii] “A day will come when they [the Palestinians] will not allow bombardments by the Zionists and they will obtain air defense weapons,” he promised. Masjedi’s resume enhances the importance of his words. He was a former Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) general, Soleimani’s top advisor, and a former Ambassador to Iraq who today serves as a supreme advisor to the IRGC-Qods Force. If Iran can smuggle anti-aircraft missiles into Gaza, Hamas could target Israeli aircraft engaging in the Gaza fight and endanger commercial traffic servicing Ben Gurion Airport, with approach and departure routes over the West Bank.


“Sardar Masjedi: Filistiniha beh Salah Pedafandi Dast Miyaband” (General Masjedi: Palestinians to Get Defensive Weapons),” (nominally independent web portal close to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps), 8 January 2024.

The supreme advisor to the commander of the Qods Force [Iraj Masjedi] said that the strength of the Islamic Resistance is increasing daily. He said, “The Palestinians are fighting with rockets today, but a day will come when they will not allow bombardments by the Zionists and they will obtain air defense weapons,” he added.

Referring to America’s evils in the region, Masjedi said, “What is the commander of CENTCOM doing in Israel?” American planes are regularly sending weapons and bombs to Israel. The United States claim to stand for human rights when in fact they are the parents of terrorism.

The Americans have the largest army in the world but I tell you, they do not base one division of it in the United States itself, and instead it is spread out in the world. What are U.S. bases doing in the region? By what right are they based all over the world? Armies are responsible for maintaining their own territorial security. Where in the world do the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Islamic Republic of Iran Army have military bases? In this situation, the Americans tell others that Iran is interfering in the world, but this is very shameful.

He also referred to the weakness of the Israeli army in confronting the Palestinian resistance, saying that the Israelis have a special force called the Golani Brigade, which is considered to be a special force to deal with the Palestinians, but this brigade was so badly hit by the resistance forces that it was ordered to withdraw and the other five brigades of the Israel Defense Forces were forced to withdraw.The Supreme Advisor to the commander of the Qods Force also emphasized that the regional resistance forces with the support of the Iranian resistance force will break the hands of the enemies.


[i] Against the backdrop of the Israel-Hamas war, this year’s commemorations of Soleimani’s death stretched on for a week with senior political and military  officials including, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, making statements testifying to Soleimani’s embodiment of the revolutionary values Iran seeks to espouse.

[ii] Iran initially embraced late Palestinian chairman Yasser Arafat and his Palestine Liberation Organization, the Iranian regime began to shift its support to Hamas following Arafat’s decision to begin negotiating with Israel at the end of the Reagan administration and largely broke with the PLO and the Palestinian Authority it dominated following the Oslo Accords. For an earlier discussion of Iran’s concept of strategic boundaries extending to its west, see: Michael Rubin, “Khamenei Speaks On Necessity Of Palestinian ‘Resistance,’” OE Watch, 06-2022.

Image Information:

Image: Iraj Masjedi, a Qods Force commander and former Iranian ambassador to Iraq, meets with Qassem Soleimani, the late leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Qods Force. Source:

China’s Economic Interests at Risk With Rise of Houthi Shipping Attacks

Chinese container ship off the coast of Los Angeles, California.

China is the customer for 90% of the oil exported by Iran. The chances of the Houthis firing on ships of a state-owned Chinese company are therefore very low, raising questions about the reasons for COSCO’s decision”

The Israel-Hamas conflict and the conflict’s subsequent spread to Yemen and the Red Sea is challenging Chinese economic interests and policy in the region. In early January, Chinese shipping giant China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO) and Hong Kong–based subsidiary Overseas Orient Container Line announced that they would cut service to Israeli ports in response to Houthi attacks on ships destined for Israel. According to the first excerpted articles from the Israeli business news publication Globes, China has in effect sacrificed trade with Israel to maintain shipping access to the Red Sea. While the article vilifies the Chinese position, China is in a bind because both Israel and Iran are significant regional trading partners with China. The Houthis are militarily and diplomatically supported by Iran. China must balance its priorities in the region between Iran and Israel—and any regional war would be bad for China’s Middle East interests.[i] In the second excerpt, taken from a speech delivered by China’s UN Ambassador less than a week after the COSCO announcement, the Ambassador noted that “the waters of the Red Sea are an important transportation channel for goods and energy” and called on the Houthis to “to immediately stop harassing merchant ships and respect the navigation rights of merchant ships from all countries in the Red Sea waters, in accordance with international law.”[ii] Not long after, a Houthi official interviewed by Russian news source Izvestia stated that all Russian and Chinese ships would be safe navigating the Red Sea but that ships aligned with Israel would be subject to targeting. The Houthi spokesman continued “Our goal is to raise the economic costs for the Jewish state to stop the carnage in Gaza.” However, despite these assurances, any economic pain that Israel might feel because of reduced shipping to its ports also transfers to China, complicating its economic strategy in the Middle East.


“Chinese shipping giant COSCO to stop visiting Israeli ports,” Globes (Israeli business news), 7 January 2024.

Chinese state-owned shipping giant COSCO Shipping has stopped visiting Israeli ports, “Globes” has learned. The company, the fourth largest container shipping line in the world, with about 11% of world trade, decided on this step even though it is not much threatened in the Red Sea, because of the very fact that it is Chinese, and because of China’s ties with Iran, the patron of the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Besides the effect on trade between the Far East and Israel, COSCO’s decision is significant because it cooperates with Israeli shipping line ZIM, which will have to operate more ships on the Far East routes, which is liable to will lead to higher shipping costs, since XIM will be short of ships.

The second direct effect will be on the Haifa Bayport, which is operated by another state-owned Chinese company, SIPG. The port is dependent on the many COSCO ships that visit it.

The Houthis are threatening to attack vessels of any company that sails to Israel, but China is the customer for 90% of the oil exported by Iran. The chances of the Houthis firing on ships of a state-owned Chinese company are therefore very low, raising questions about the reasons for COSCO’s decision, of which international shippers have yet to be notified.

A pointer to COSCO’s step was the recent announcement by its Hong Kong-based subsidiary OOCL that it was ceasing to sail to Israel because of “operational problems”. That announcement, intended to enable it to sail in the Red Sea without interference by the Houthis, led to wide criticism. In the end, the company caved in, like Singapore-based shipping line ONE (Ocean Network Express).

“常驻联合国代表张军大使在安理会红海局势紧急公开会上的发言 (Speech by Ambassador Zhang Jun, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, at the Security Council’s emergency public meeting on the Red Sea situation),” PRC Permanent Mission to the United Nations, published by Ministry of Foreign Affairs People’s Republic of China, 12 January 2024.

Mr. President: China thanks Russia for its initiative to hold this emergency meeting and thanks Assistant Secretary-General Kyali for his briefing. The United States, Britain and other countries have carried out air strikes on targets in Yemen, further escalating tensions in the Red Sea region. China expresses serious concern about this.

The waters of the Red Sea are an important transportation channel for goods and energy. For some time, the Houthi armed forces have repeatedly attacked and seized merchant ships in the Red Sea waters, disrupting international trade order and not conducive to regional stability. China has repeatedly called on the Houthis to immediately stop harassing merchant ships and respect the navigation rights of merchant ships from all countries in the Red Sea waters in accordance with international law. China also calls on all parties, especially influential major powers, to play a constructive and responsible role in jointly safeguarding the safety of waterways in the Red Sea.

We regret to see that the brazen military actions taken by relevant countries against Yemen not only caused infrastructure damage and civilian casualties, but also aggravated security risks in the Red Sea waters and did not help protect the safety of commercial ships and freedom of navigation. Relevant military actions may also impact the political process in Yemen. We fail to see how such a military operation could achieve the stated intended objectives.

It must be noted that the Security Council has never authorized any country to use of force against Yemen. The military actions taken by relevant countries run counter to the purpose of Resolution 2722 just adopted by the Security Council. China reiterates that no country shall misinterpret or abuse international law and Security Council resolutions to create new tensions in the Red Sea waters.

Mr. President: The current tensions in the Red Sea are one manifestation of the spillover effects of the conflict in Gaza. Letting the conflict in Gaza prolong while hoping that the conflict will not expand may be wishful thinking. It is even more contradictory and irresponsible to advocate preventing conflicts from spilling over, while at the same time adding fuel to the fire and provoking military confrontation. The Middle East is already on the brink of extreme danger. What we should avoid most at the moment is reckless military adventurism. What we need most is calmness and restraint to prevent further expansion of conflicts. We urge all relevant parties, especially the influential powers, to abide by the UN Charter and international law, adhere to the correct direction of dialogue and consultation, and make practical efforts to maintain peace and stability in the Red Sea and the Middle East. Thank you, Chairman.

В «Ансар Аллах» гарантировали безопасность судам РФ и КНР в Красном море (Ansar Allah guaranteed the safety of Russian and Chinese vessels in the Red Sea),” Izvestia (Russian news source), 19 January 2024. В «Ансар Аллах» гарантировали безопасность судам РФ и КНР в Красном море | Новости мира | Известия | 19.01.2024 (

Representative of the al-Buheiti movement: the Houthis will not attack Russian and Chinese ships

The Yemeni Houthi movement Ansar Allah is attacking US and British ships in the Red Sea; as for other countries, including Russia and China, their shipping in the region is guaranteed safety. A member of the Ansar Allah Politburo, Muhammad al-Buheiti, stated this on January 19 in an interview with Izvestia.

“As for all other countries, including Russia and China, their shipping in the region is not threatened. Moreover, we are ready to ensure the safety of the passage of their ships in the Red Sea, because free navigation plays a significant role for our country,” Al-Buheiti noted.

The politician also added that any Israeli ships or those connected with Israel will not have the slightest opportunity to sail through the Red Sea – attacks on them will continue.

“Ansar Allah does not pursue the goal of capturing or sinking this or that sea vessel. Our goal is to raise the economic costs for the Jewish state to stop the carnage in Gaza. If the crews of the ships that came under our fire had not ignored our warning signals and changed their direction, the further escalation that the American side caused in the interests of protecting Israel could have been avoided,” he said.

Earlier, on January 17, the military representative of the Ansar Allah movement, Yahya Saria, said that it launched a missile attack on the American ship Genco Picardy in the Gulf of Aden. According to him, the Houthis recorded a direct hit on the ship.

On the same day, the UK Navy’s Maritime Trade Coordination Center (UKMTO) reported that a drone attacked a ship off the coast of Aden, Yemen, which led to a fire on board the ship. A previous attack on a ship in the Red Sea was reported the day before. The Houthis then took responsibility for it and confirmed the fact of a missile attack on the bulk carrier Zografia, which was flying the Maltese flag.The Houthis began attacking shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden from November 2023 to protest Israeli actions in the Gaza Strip…


[i] For a previous perspective on the conflict in Gaza’s impact on China interests in the region see: “Israel’s close economic ties with China worked well – until the Gaza conflict,” South China Morning Post, 2 November 2023.

[ii] A wide range of global reporting has indicated that China is also said to have put pressure on Iran to rein in the Houthis, while the United States has asked China to take more of a role in mediating the conflict in Israel.

Image Information:

Image: Chinese container ship off the coast of Los Angeles, California.
Source: Corey Seeman
Attribution: CC By-NC-SA 2.0

African Government Support for Palestinian Territories Spreads

Tunisians protest in support of Palestine in 2021. Since the Hamas attack on Israel in October, governments and civil societies around the African continent have shown a disproportionate amount of support for Palestine.

“Hamas is a liberation organization and mujahideen struggling to liberate the Palestinian land from Jews, we will not accept to call it a terror group.”

While the earliest days of the war between Israel and Hamas elicited the greatest amount of support for the Palestinian Territories from civil societies in North Africa, increasingly, both governments and civil societies in other locations around the African continent are similarly choosing sides, typically in support of the Palestinian Territories.[i]

The most vociferous calls in support of the Palestinian Territories, and Hamas, have come from some of the continent’s Muslim-majority states. According to the first article from the Mogadishu-based Shabelle Media, Somalia’s prime minister, Hamza Abdia Barre, has rejected calls to label Hamas a terrorist organization. Instead, he publicly declared that “Hamas is a liberation organization… struggling to liberate the Palestinian land from Jews: we will not accept to call it a terror organization.” Such rhetoric from Somalia’s government is particularly interesting given that it faces its own significant threats from Al-Shabaab, itself one of the world’s most violent jihadist terrorist groups. According to the second excerpted article from the pan-African news aggregator, similar manifestations of support for the Palestinian Territories have emerged in Libya. Though the country is currently divided into two warring factions vying for official recognition, the eastern side’s parliament, overseen by General Khalifa Haftar and the Libyan National Army (LNA), recently released a statement urging the expulsion of entities that support Israel and the cessation of the export of oil and gas to those countries that support Israel. It particularly decried what it deemed to be hypocritical rhetoric on the support of human rights by the United States, the U.K., France, and Italy, which the parliament argued “support the Zionist entity [Israel] in its crimes.” For its part, Senegal’s president, Macky Sall, has led his state to a slightly more balanced outlook. According to the third article from the Senegal-based DakarActu, Sall has decried deaths in Gaza, urged a two-state solution, but has still shown some degree of preference in proposing the creation of a global solidarity fund to support the people of Gaza. Outside of these pro-Palestinian government policies, African civil society support of the Palestinian Territories has also been evident, even in non-Muslim majority states. According to the fourth article from the South Africa-based news site GroundUp, large pro-Palestinian marches have occurred in Cape Town, with protestors urging the closure of the Israeli Embassy in South Africa. African states in which the U.S. Army operates are demonstrating opposing views on the issue that have the potential to cause diplomatic friction given ongoing U.S. military aid to Israel.


“Somali PM says Hamas is not terrorist organization, calls it a liberation group,” Shabelle Media (Mogadishu, Somalia-based news publication), 2 November 2023.

Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre said that the government of Somalia refused to call Hamas a “terrorist organization” and did not heed pressure.

“Hamas is a liberation organization and mujahideen struggling to liberate the Palestinian land from Jews, we will not accept to call it a terror group,” added Barre…

The Muslim world was divided, made enemies of each other, and forced to call Hamas a terrorist organization. We don’t say it, and we don’t accept it,” said the prime minister….

The Somali Prime Minister said the solution is to find two states – Israel and Palestine,” We will not compromise until we see a Palestinian government with Jerusalem as its capital.

Somalia is among many Muslim countries, including Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Yemen that do not recognize Israel as a state.

Jerry Chifamba, “Libya’s Parliament Orders Out of Countries Supporting Israel,” (pan-African news aggregator), 26 October 2023.

The Libyan parliament on Wednesday, October 25, requested that ambassadors from countries that “support” Israel in its conflict with Hamas in Gaza leave the country…

In an announcement posted on its official website, the parliament located in the east, supported by military leader Khalifa Haftar in Libya, which is divided between two opposing administrations, threatened to shut off energy supplies if “massacres” against Palestinians continued.

“We demand that the ambassadors of the states which support the Zionist entity (Israel) in its crimes leave the territory (of Libya) immediately,” the statement read.

“If the massacres committed by the Zionist enemy do not stop, we demand that the Libyan government suspend the export of oil and gas to the states that support it,” it said.

The acts of “the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Italy” were condemned “in the strongest terms” by the parliament. According to the statement, the leaders of these countries “lecture on human rights and the right of peoples to self-determination” while they “support the Zionist entity in its crimes” in Gaza, it said…

“Bombardements à Gaza: Macky Sall propose ‘la mise en place d’un fonds de solidarité en faveur du peuple palestinien,’” (“Bombings in Gaza: Macky Sall proposes “the establishment of a solidarity fund for the Palestinian people”), DakarActu (private Senegal-based news site), 11 November 2023.   

From Riyadh where he is, the head of state, Macky Sall, says he is concerned about the situation prevailing in Gaza. He called for the establishment of a solidarity fund for the Palestinian people.

“As we sit here, I think of the unbearable human tragedy in Gaza. Senegal reiterates its serious concern at so many deaths, injuries and destruction.”…

Thus, he said: “I call for the establishment of a solidarity fund in favor of the Palestinian people. Only a peaceful settlement, establishing two independent and sovereign States, Israel and Palestine, each within secure and internationally recognized borders, in accordance with relevant United Nations resolutions, will bring peace for all.

Matthew Hirsch, “Thousands march in Cape Town, call for ceasefire in Gaza,” GroundUp (private South Africa-based news site), 22 October 2023.

Several thousand people marched through the streets of Salt River, Cape Town, on Sunday in a show of solidarity for the people of Palestine.

The march was organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the Salt River Heritage Society. It was one many pro-Palestine marches across the world this weekend…Protesters held placards and flags, while chants of “free Palestine” and “stop the genocide, stop the hate” were heard.The protesters demanded that the Israeli embassy be shut down. They also called for an immediate ceasefire and for support for humanitarian aid for Gaza. They called for South Africans who serve in the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) to be prosecuted.


[i] For more on early support for Palestine emanating from northern Africa, see: Jason Warner, “North Africa Shows Wave of Support for Palestinians at Start of Israel-Hamas War,” OE Watch 10-2023.

Image Information:

Image: Tunisians protest in support of Palestine in 2021. Since the Hamas attack on Israel in October, governments and civil societies around the African continent have shown a disproportionate amount of support for Palestine.
Attribution: BY-SA 4.0

Israel’s Operation in Gaza Compounding Logistical Delays for India’s Armed Forces

Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the India-Israel Business Summit, in New Delhi on January 15, 2018

“Consequently, in light of the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and now in Gaza, Russia and Israel, he warned, could well end up either failing to meet India’s numerous materiel requirements or delaying deliveries interminably.”

Two months after Russia began its invasion of Ukraine in 2022, India began to experience delays in deliveries of weapons and equipment from Russia. The Israeli operations in Gaza have only compounded the delays.[i] The accompanying excerpted article from the independent English-language news website The Wire reports on the ongoing delays of military equipment from not only Russia, but now Israel, as it carries out its Gaza operation. The article examines how two of India’s main suppliers of weapon systems and equipment, Russia and Israel, are currently engaged in conflicts. It also notes how Israel has not provided India with major platforms or systems like Russia has but provided components for various systems as well as different munitions. These components have been implemented into systems of all branches of the Indian Armed Forces making it difficult to quantify the number of Israeli systems in Indian platforms. The author of the article ends by mentioning that Russia’s and Israel’s conflicts could motivate India to pursue alternatives to continue building its defense industry. While the article does not offer specifics on how India will deal with the delays, the situation may push India to seek other partners to find short and long-term solutions to grow the country’s defense industry.


Rahul Bedi, “Ukraine and Gaza May Impact Russia and Israel’s Ability to Sustain Materiel Exports to India,” The Wire (an independent English-language news website in India), 14 October 2023.

The involvement of India’s two principal materiel providers – Russia and Israel – in their respective wars and conflicts has the potential to impact the inflow of defence equipment supplies into the country, warned a cross-section of service veterans and military analysts.

…This equalled a whopping 55% or so of Russian and Israeli military imports for India…

Retired Brigadier Rahul Bhonsle of the Security Risks Asia consultancy in Delhi said that while the BJP-led government had launched the atamnirbhar initiative to indigenise Indian military needs, Delhi still topped the global list of defence equipment importers.

Consequently, in light of the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and now in Gaza, Russia and Israel, he warned, could well end up either failing to meet India’s numerous materiel requirements or delaying deliveries interminably.

Unlike Russia, Israel does not provide India any major platforms, but supplies critical and innovative force multipliers like unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), assorted missile, guidance and avionics systems, precision-guided munitions, diverse sensors and surveillance and targeting radars, amongst other equipment.

Most of this was fitted onto combat aircraft, helicopters, warships, submarines and armoured vehicles.

But such equipment and component diversity made it difficult to quantify the exact or even near-precise percentages of Israeli military equipment in service with India’s armed forces.

…(though) Israel’s ongoing war in Gaza against Hamas was ‘unlikely’ to impact military hardware and spares supplies to India in the short term, they cautioned that an extended conflict could jeopardise deliveries.

…Once diplomatic ties with Israel were instituted under Prime Minister Narasimha Rao in 1992, the two sides fast-tracked their strategic and defence relationship based on mutual security and commercial interests.

Israel, for its part, rightly perceived a commercial opportunity, while India looked upon Tel Aviv as a reliable and ‘no-questions-asked’ materiel provider, especially of varied ammunition and missile systems which India’s military badly lacked, and still does.

Nonetheless, it still took another six-odd years and the BJP’s ascent to power under Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee for Israel’s defence machinery to definitively establish itself in India…

However, it was the 11-week long Kargil war with Pakistan in 1999 that catapulted Israel’s defence industry to centre stage domestically.

As the seriousness of the deadly conflict unfolded, commercially savvy Israel dug deep into its military reserves to supply India high-end hardware, especially badly-needed 155mm rounds for its FH-77B Bofors howitzers, laser-guided munitions and other ordnance that contributed largely to the Pakistan Army vacating the mountainous region’s siege and ending hostilities.

Two decades later, the Indian Air Force’s (IAF’s) Mirage 2000H fighters in their attack on a Pakistani militant training camp at Balakot in Pakhtunkhwa in February 2019, fired specifically configured Israeli Crystal Maze Mk2 missiles (variants of the Rafael Advanced Defence Systems AGM-142 Raptor Have Nap/Popeye missile)…

…And though India had reduced its dependence on Russia for military equipment by some 33% between 2011 and 2020 in an effort to diversify its network of materiel suppliers, switching entirely to alternate sources was not an option military-planners in Delhi desired, as it entailed colossal expenditure, reworked infrastructure, inordinate delays and doctrinal changes.Perhaps the individual wars in Ukraine and Gaza and the constraints these could impose on Russia and Israel’s ability to export defence equipment may end up providing alternative routes to sustain and modernise India’s military through indigenous efforts.


[i] For more information on India’s issues with deliveries of ordnance since the war in Ukraine began, see: Matthew Stein “India Takes a Step Away from the Russian Defense Industry,” Journal of Indo-Pacific Affairs, 31 July 2023.

Image Information:

Image: Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the India-Israel Business Summit, in New Delhi on January 15, 2018
Attribution: Government Open Data License – India (GODL)

Syrian Regime, Opposition Wary of Hamas Despite Support for 7 October Attacks on Israel

Damage in Gaza Strip during the October 2023

“Syrians received the news of the operation as a historic, heroic act that was able to break the prestige of the Israeli occupier…”

On the surface, Hamas seems to enjoy widespread support in Syria among backers of both the government and the anti-government Sunni Arab opposition.[i] Media outlets associated with each side have used laudatory rhetoric to describe the 7 October Hamas “al-Aqsa Flood” operation. The first accompanying excerpt from the anti-Syrian-government news website Syria TV,describes the Hamas raid as “a source of pride for the Arab and Islamic nation in every sense of the word.” The second excerpt, from the pro-Syrian government daily al-Watan, states that Hamas’ raid “will be recorded in history in golden letters that time will not erase.” In addition to widespread support for the operation itself, outlets affiliated with both the Syrian regime and the opposition strongly oppose Israel’s military actions in Gaza. Thus, according to the author of the third accompanying excerpt from the Qatar-aligned al-Araby al-Jadeed, events in Gaza have forged the first “consensus among the various components of the Syrian people…since the beginning of the revolution.” And yet, while they agree with the operation, the Syrian government and its opposition also concur in being wary of Hamas. Hamas was an ally of the Syrian government until 2012, when it broke with Damascus and sided with members of the Syrian rebellion. In 2017, however, Hamas’s new leadership steered the group back into the pro-Iran camp, and in 2022, Hamas formally reconciled with the Syrian government.[ii] Many in the Syrian opposition resent Hamas’s return to supporting the Syrian government, as expressed in the fourth accompanying excerpt from the Syrian opposition news website SyriaDirect. Similarly, the Syrian government remains skeptical of Hamas despite their recent rapprochement. Last August, Syrian President Assad accused Hamas’ leadership of “betrayal” for siding with Syrian rebels and against his government for much of the 2010s.[iii] Indeed, since the “al-Aqsa Flood” attack on 7 October, the Assad government has taken steps to remove military assets from areas near the border with Israel, in a sign that it seeks to avoid becoming militarily entangled on Hamas’ side.[iv] This shared perspective between the Syrian government and opposition – widespread support for the  “al-Aqsa Flood” operation, strong opposition to Israeli military activity in Gaza, and a general distrust of Hamas – is likely generalizable to other segments of the broader Arab public.


طوفان الأقصى وأسطورة الجيش الذي لا يقهر 

Fayez al-Asmar. “Al-Aqsa Flood and the myth of the invincible army,” Syria TV (Syrian opposition news website), 12 October 2023.طوفان-الأقصى-وأسطورة-الجيش-الذي-لا-يقهر 

In fact, the Hamas operation is an unprecedented military operation in terms of size and method of implementation in the history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and it in itself is a source of pride for the Arab and Islamic nation in every sense of the word. 

بين «طوفان الأقصى» والطوفان الجارف 

Rifaat Badawi. “Between the al-Aqsa Flood and the torrential flood,” Al-Watan (pro-government Syrian daily), 10 October 2023.بين-طوفان-الأقصى-والطوفان-الجارف/

The “Al-Aqsa Flood” operation will be recorded in history in golden letters that time will not erase, because it will remain engraved in the memory of the Palestinian and Arab generations who believe in resisting and defeating the Israeli occupation, for all of Palestine, from the river to the sea, and its capital will be Holy Jerusalem, no matter how many sacrifices are made and no matter how long it takes.

غزة التي وحدت السوريين

“Gaza, which unified Syrians,” al-Araby al-Jadeed (Qatari-aligned daily), 15 October 2023.غزة-التي-وحدت-السوريين

The “Al-Aqsa Flood” operation and the subsequent Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip formed a consensus among the various components of the Syrian people, with all their affiliations, the first of its kind since the beginning of the Syrian revolution. At the popular level, in all opposition-controlled areas, and in diaspora countries, Syrians received the news of the operation as a historic, heroic act that was able to break the prestige of the Israeli occupier.

من إدلب هنا غزة: السوريون يشاركون الفلسطينيين آلامهم ويستذكرون مأساتهم

“From Idlib to Gaza: Syrians share the pain of the Palestinians and remember their tragedy,” Syria Direct (Syrian opposition news website), 21 October 2023.من-إدلب-هنا-غزة-السوريون-يشاركون-الفلس/

Many Syrians feel let down by the Hamas movement, which restored relations with the Syrian regime in 2022, after ten years of estrangement that began when it left Damascus in February 2012. This in addition to Hamas’s close relations with Iran, the regime’s main ally in suppressing Syrians who protested against Assad in the spring of 2011, demanding freedom. However, their position on Hamas did not affect their sympathy for the Palestinian cause and support for the people of Gaza, as expressed by a number of sources who spoke to Syria Direct.


[i] For additional context see: “Syrians’ Reactions to the First Weeks of Israel-Hamas War,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy-Fikra Forum, 24 October 2023.

[ii] For additional details on Hamas in the region, see: Lucas Winter. “Hamas Rejoins the Resistance Axis,” OE Watch, December 2017.

[iii] “After Assad Insulted its Leaders, Hamas to Open Office in Damascus,” Syrian Observer, 15 August 2023.

[iv] “Al-Assad Was Absent from Nasrallah’s Speech,” Syrian Observer, 10 November 2023.

Image Information:

Image:  Damage in Gaza Strip during the October 2023
Source: Palestinian News & Information Agency (Wafa) in contract with APAimages,
Attribution: CC BY-SA 3.0

Iran Seeks To Assert Global Leadership in Determining International Cyber Policy

Mostafa Izadi, the Iranian Armed Forces’ commander for cyber threats, speaks at a conference in Gilan, 8-9 November 2023. Izadi is now making the case for Iran’s leadership in cyber and AI technology.

“If we can dominate the field, we can influence the whole world.”

Iran has sought leadership roles at the UN and other international organizations on issues relating to human rights and crime prevention, and now it seeks to shape international cyber policy. The Iranian regime has looked at internet and cyber access as its Achilles’ heel through which Western powers could influence and corrupt Iranian youth. However, Iranian officials appear ready to go on the offensive as regime confidence grows following the suppression of the 2022-2023 “Woman, Life, Freedom” protest movement and the expiration of some sanctions associated with the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.[i]

According to the excerpted article from the government-affiliated Iranian Students’ News Agency,Mostafa Izadi, a previous IRGC ground forces general who heads a new headquarters to address cyber threats, argued that Iran should lead cyber policy to increase its influence in the world rather than seek to isolate itself from the internet.[ii] His comments may signal the abandonment of Iran’s effort to cut itself off from the world, and a belief that it should instead seek to sway audiences abroad.[iii] Izadi cites the information operations accompanying the 7 October 2023 Hamas attack on Israel to underline the power of the internet when harnessed in Iran’s favor. Subsequent demonstrations in favor of Hamas against Israel and the West not only in the Global South but also in Europe and the West seem to have given Izadi confidence. Izadi’s argument conforms to a historical pattern in which Iranian leaders, after trying and failing to suppress new communication technologies, instead seek to co-opt them. Today Iran translates Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s website into ten languages ranging from Hindi to Russian to Spanish while state-owned and operated English-language PressTV pushes Iranian propaganda globally. Izadi’s discussion of artificial intelligence (AI) is also worth noting. While AI is a topic within regime rhetoric, Izadi’s discussion of its role in the fight for hearts and minds and his new role focusing on countering cyber and new threats suggests that the IRGC now actively seeks to utilize AI to counter liberalism and advance Iran’s line at home and abroad.


“Izadi: Hakmiyat bar Fezaye Sybari Ya’ani Tasirgozari bar kol Jihad” (Izadi: Sovereignty over cyber space means influencing the whole world),” Iranian Students’ News Agency (an ostensibly private news agency close to Iran’s security and intelligence apparatus), 9 November 2023.

The commander for cyber and new threats at the central headquarters for Khatam al-Anbiya of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, referring to the creation of new intellectual space in the field of cyber governance, said, “To fight the enemy’s artificial intelligence and cognitive warfare, it is necessary to address the needs of the day.” Major-General Mostafa Izadi, commander of the new command for cyber and new threats, said at the conclusion at the conclusion of the national conference on emerging maritime opportunities and threats in Gilan, stated that the country’s scientific progress in various fields has led to the strengthening of the holy system of the Islamic Republic, and stated, “Physical, informational and artificial intelligence issues have entered a new space in the world, and America has launched a cognitive war to penetrate different countries.”

Referring to the creation of a new intellectual space in the field of cyber governance, he said, “Governance in cyber space presents an opportunity for our country to achieve great success across a variety of fields….” Emphasizing the need to pay attention to the enemy’s cognitive warfare across politics, the economy, and culture, he stated, “But piety is the secret to our success.”Izadi added, “Today, our country is facing a hybrid war, and cyber, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and cyberspace have created a special situation that affects time, place and borders. If we can dominate the field, we can influence the whole world.


[i] The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, is the agreement reached in summer 2015 between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus the European Union restricting Iran’s nuclear program. For more information on the JCPOA see: “What is the Iran Nuclear Deal,” Council on Foreign Relations, last updated 27 October 2023.

[ii] The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and security forces initially sought to regulate the internet in Iran, banning VPNs, slowing access, and demanding all social media operators maintain servers inside Iran. For an overview of Iranian strategies toward the internet, see: Michael Rubin, “Evolution of Iranian Surveillance Strategies Toward the Internet and Social Media” in Munir Khasru and Riasat Noor, eds. The Digital Age, Cyber Space, and Social Media: The Challenges of Security & Radicalization. Dhaka: Institute for Policy, Advocacy, and Governance, 2019.

[iii] The IRGC later offered to operate a national intranet, firewalling Iran from the outside world. For background on the national intranet project, see: Michael Rubin, “Iran- Armed Forces Ready to Take Over National Intranet Project” OE Watch, October 2019.

Image Information:

Image: Mostafa Izadi, the Iranian Armed Forces’ commander for cyber threats, speaks at a conference in Gilan, 8-9 November 2023. Izadi is now making the case for Iran’s leadership in cyber and AI technology.
Attribution: Fars News Agency

Legacy Articles On Iran

2024-04-15 Spotlight on Vatanpour, Iran’s “Most Active” Airbase (Michael Rubin)
2024-04-15 Iran Hints It Will Supply Air Defense Weaponry to Palestinians (Michael Rubin)
2024-04-15 Iran Rationalizes Russia’s Pro-Arab Position on Disputed Islands (Michael Rubin)

2024-03-01 Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Seeks Dominant Role in Maritime Development (Michael Rubin)
2024-03-01 Iran’s Supreme Leader Announces Maritime Development Strategy (Michael Rubin)
2024-03-01 Iran Seeks To Assert Global Leadership in Determining International Cyber Policy (Michael Rubin)
2024-03-01 Belarus and Iran Form Alliance Against the West (Paris Gordon)

2024-01-03 Iran Announces Integration Of Artificial Intelligence Into Drone Fleet (Michael Rubin)
2024-01-03 Iran Equips Drones With Heat-Seeking Missiles (Michael Rubin)
2024-01-03 Iran Demands Disarmament Of Kurdish Dissidents In Iraq (Michael Rubin)

2023-11-08 Iran Promoting Medical Tourism To Generate Hard Currency (Michael Rubin)
2023-11-08 Iran’s Supreme Leader Accuses West of Ukraine War Conspiracy (Michael Rubin)

2023-10-03 Iran Claims Development of Cruise Missiles Guided by Artificial Intelligence (Michael Rubin)
2023-10-03 Requirements for Desirable Iranian Oil Ministry Jobs Revealed (Michael Rubin)
2023-10-03 Iran’s Supreme Leader Warns of Declining Fervor of New Generation (Michael Rubin)

2023-08-25 Iran Claims New Flight Simulator Will Enhance National Power (Michael Rubin)
2023-08-25 Iran’s Simorgh Transport Plane Makes Maiden Flight (Michael Rubin)
2023-08-25 Iran Indicates Plans To Commercialize Nuclear Technology, Sell Heavy Water (Michael Rubin)
2023-08-25 Iran’s Persistent and Growing Influence in Latin America (Ryan Berg)

2023-06-01 Iran Unveils New Thermobaric Warhead (Michael Rubin)
2023-06-01 Iran Opens New Helicopter, Drone Base in Southeastern Provincial Capital (Michael Rubin)
2023-06-01 Iran Ready To Help Syria Rebuild Its Defense Infrastructure (Michael Rubin)

2023-05-01 Iran Installs New Precision Missiles on Army Helicopters (Michael Rubin)
2023-05-01 Iran Seeks To Reestablish Embassy and Consulate in Saudi Arabia Before Hajj (Michael Rubin)
2023-05-01 Iran Considers Rapprochement With Pakistan (Michael Rubin)

2023-04-01 Iran Unveils Updated Yasin Training Jet With Possible Close Combat Applications (Michael Rubin)
2023-04-01 Iran’s Increased Defense Budget Leading to More Arms Exports (Michael Rubin)
2023-04-01 Iran Capitalizing on Post-Earthquake Conditions To Deepen Influence in Syria (Lucas Winter)

2023-03-01 Iran Praises Revolutionary Guards’ Proxy Afghan Brigade (Michael Rubin)
2023-03-01 Iran Profiles the Female Police Seeking To Quell the Women’s Protests (Michael Rubin)

2023-02-01 Iran Moves Sea-Borne Drone Fleet Closer to Reality (Michael Rubin)
2023-02-01 Iranian General Reiterates Goal To Expel United States From Region (Michael Rubin)
2023-02-01 Iran Fires Indigenous Torpedoes From Submarines for First Time (Michael Rubin)

2023-01-01 Iran Asks Tajikistan Not To Use Iranian Drones in Dispute With Kyrgyzstan (Michael Rubin)
2023-01-01 Iran Claim of Hypersonic Missile Capability Probably Exaggerated (Michael Rubin)

2022-11-01 Iran Vaunts Persian Language as Marker of National Identity Despite Country’s Ethnic Diversity (Michael Rubin)
2022-11-01 Iran’s Proposal To Build Railroads and Housing in Syria Could Enrich IRGC (Michael Rubin)
2022-11-01 Iran Lauds Air Defense, Claims Sepehr Radar Will Soon Be Operational (Michael Rubin)

2022-10-01 Iran Wants Sukhoi-35 Fighters From Russia (Michael Rubin)
2022-10-01 Iran Intercepts Crystal Meth Shipment From Afghanistan (Michael Rubin)

2022-09-01 Iran Reportedly Using New Carrier, Submarines To Expand Reach of Drones (Michael Rubin)
2022-09-01 Iran Unveils Stealth Speedboats (Michael Rubin)
2022-09-01 Iran’s Flawed Statistics and Growing Drug Addiction (Michael Rubin)

2022-08-01 Iranian F-14 Crash Highlights Iran’s Need for New Fighter Contract (Michael Rubin)
2022-08-01 Iranian Trade With China Is Up, but So Is Political Risk (Michael Rubin)
2022-08-01 Iran’s Revolutionary Guards To Expand Drug Treatment Center (Michael Rubin)
2022-08-01 Iran Believes Turkey’s Rapprochement With Israel and Saudi Arabia Is a Threat (Ihsan Gunduz)

2022-07-01 Iran Unveils New Drone-Fired Cruise Missile (Michael Rubin)
2022-07-01 Iran Opens New Drone Plant in Tajikistan (Michael Rubin)
2022-07-01 Iran Warns UAE Against Allowing Israel in the Persian Gulf (Michael Rubin)

2022-06-01 Khamenei Speaks on Necessity of Palestinian “Resistance” (Michael Rubin)
2022-06-01 Iran Initiates and Defends New Bread Subsidies Amid Deteriorating Economy (Michael Rubin)
2022-06-01 Iran Seeks To Counter Misinformation Circulating on Social Media (Michael Rubin)

2022-05-01 Iran Digs into Central Syria, Filling Vacuum Left by Russia (Lucas Winter)
2022-05-01 Iran Tries To Justify Abstention in UN Vote Condemning Russian Invasion of Ukraine (Michael Rubin)
2022-05-01 Iranian Navy Joins Indian Naval Exercises (Michael Rubin)
2022-05-01 Iran’s New Damavand Destroyer Set To Join Navy (Michael Rubin)

2022-04-01 Iran: Emphasizing Religiosity in Regular Army Promotions (Michael Rubin)
2022-04-01 Iran Uses Online War Games To Teach Younger Generation of Officers (Michael Rubin)
2022-04-01 Iran’s Supreme Leader Condemns Alleged Corruption of the West (Michael Rubin)
2022-04-01 Iran Repositions Its Proxies in Syria as Russia Turns Focus to Ukraine (Lucas Winter)

2022-03-01 Iranian Authorities Arrest Alleged Deputy Leader of Royalist Terrorist Group (Michael Rubin)
2022-03-01 Iran’s Prosecution of Arab Separatist Highlights Supposed Saudi Ties (Michael Rubin)
2022-03-01 Russia and China To Help Iran Build New Airports (Michael Rubin)

2022-02-01 Iran and Syria Discuss Transportation Cooperation (Michael Rubin)
2022-02-01 Iran’s Purported Counter-Hijacking Record (Michael Rubin)
2022-02-01 Iran Busts Weapons and Ammunition Smuggling Ring (Michael Rubin)

2022-01-01 Iran-Pakistan Bolstering Naval Cooperation (Michael Rubin)
2022-01-01 Iran Agrees To Gas Swap with Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan (Michael Rubin)
2022-01-01 Iran and Syria Seek To Jumpstart Economic Ties (Michael Rubin)

2021-04-01 IRAN Unveils New Baman Radar System (Michael Rubin)
2020-10-01 Iran Stockpiling Supplies through Chahbahar (Michael Rubin)

2020-09-01 More Iran in Venezuela (Geoff Demarest)
2020-09-01 Iran Increases Range of Smart Bombs (Michael Rubin)
2020-09-01 Iran: Passive Defense Organization and Basij Sign Memorandum of Understanding (Michael Rubin)
2020-09-01 Iran: Khamenei Speaks on Sanctions, Enmity toward America, and Nuclear Power (Michael Rubin)

2020-08-01 Iran: Khamenei Speaks on Corruption (Michael Rubin)
2020-08-01 Iran: What’s Behind the Government’s Secrecy on Handing Over Kish Island to Chinese? (Michael Rubin)
2020-08-01 Iran Eager to Enter the Global Market as a Military Equipment Exporter (Jerrilee Plude)
2020-08-01 China and Iran Announce $400 Billion Trade Deal (Peter Wood)

2020-07-01 Russian Arms Sales to Iran? (Ray Finch)
2020-07-01 An Afghan Perspective: A New Phase in Afghanistan-Iran Relations (Michael Rubin)
2020-07-01 More Iran in Venezuela (Geoff Demarest)
2020-07-01 The Three Main Missions of the Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran (Michael Rubin)

2020-06-01 Iran: Prosecute Cybercriminals (Michael Rubin)
2020-06-01 Iran Improves its UAV Technology (Robert Bunker and Alma Keshvarz)

2020-05-01 Iran: Khamenei on Power and Patience (Michael Rubin)
2020-05-01 Iran Unveils Ghadir Submarine Upgrades (Michael Rubin)
2020-05-01 India Evacuates its Citizens from Iran (Michael Rubin)
2020-05-01 Iran Announces Mass Production of COVID-19 Test Kits (Jerrilee Plude)

2020-04-01 Israel Establishes New ‘Strategy and Iran Directorate’ Under General Staff (Zachary Fesen)
2020-04-01 Iran: Sanctions Don’t Impact Military Spending (Michael Rubin)
2020-04-01 Iran: IRGC Establishes Biological Defense Headquarters (Michael Rubin)

2020-03-01 Counterfeit Bank Notes Seized in Iran (Michael Rubin)
2020-03-01 Iran-Increasing Domestic Production of Rare Earth Elements (Michael Rubin)
2020-02-01 Iran to Send Astronaut into Space? (Michael Rubin)

2020-01-01 Iran: Identity Theft and Extortion in Isfahan (Michael Rubin)
2020-01-01 Iran and Russia to Establish Visa Waivers (Michael Rubin)
2020-01-01 Iran: Use Suicide Drones as Air Defense (Michael Rubin)
2020-01-01 Iran, China, and Russia Plan Joint Naval Drills in Indian Ocean (Zachary Fesen)

2019-12-01 Iran- Khamenei Speaks on America (Michael Rubin)
2019-12-01 Iran Establishes Official VPN Operators (Michael Rubin)

2019-11-01 Iran and Turkey- Friend or Foe (Ihsan Gunduz)
2019-11-01 Iran Opens Persian Gulf Air Defense Command Center (Michael Rubin)
2019-11-01 Iran- Mobile Rocket Systems and Underground Tunnels (Michael Rubin)
2019-11-01 Iran Announces Dome Defense against Drones (Michael Rubin)

2019-10-01 Iran- Khamenei Speaks on Kashmir (Michael Rubin)
2019-10-01 Iran- Armed Forces Ready to Take Over National Intranet Project (Michael Rubin)
2019-10-01 Israel- Iran’s Military Entrenchment in Iraq Poses Threat (Karen Kaya)

2019-09-01 Iran Warns of Phone and Text Scams (Michael Rubin)
2019-09-01 Iran – Mohajer-6 UAV Strikes Targets in Iraq (Michael Rubin)
2019-09-01 Iran’s Negotiations with Domestic Kurdish Opposition Groups (Ihsan Gunduz)
2019-08-01 Iran: Optoelectronic Military Developments (Michael Rubin)

2019-07-01 Iran: Progress on National Intranet (Michael Rubin)
2019-07-01 Iran: Nationwide Curriculum for Computer Programming (Michael Rubin)
2019-07-01 Iran: Preparing for Zafar III Satellite Launch (Michael Rubin)
2019-07-01 Iran: Admiral Fadavi Selected as Revolutionary Guards Deputy (Michael Rubin)
2019-06-01 The Dynamics of Trilateral Relations between Turkey, Russia, and Iran (Ihsan Gunduz)

2019-05-01 Iran Cements its Presence in Syria (Lucas Winter)
2019-05-01 Iran: Khamenei Threatens to Use Precision Missiles (Michael Rubin)
2019-05-01 Iran Conducts its Largest UAV Exercise (Michael Rubin)

2019-04-01 Iran: Hovercraft successfully fires cruise missiles (Michael Rubin)
2019-04-01 Iran Diverting Money from Development to Military (Michael Rubin)
2019-03-01 Iran Builds Up Syrian Proxies on the Western Banks of the Euphrates (Lucas Winter)
2019-02-01 IRGC: Iran Can Extend Ballistic Missile Range (Michael Rubin)

2019-01-01 Iran’s Basij in Cyberspace (Michael Rubin)
2019-01-01 Iran Unveils JDAMs? (Michael Rubin)
2019-01-01 China, Russia and Iran Seek to Revive Syrian Railways (Lucas Winter)

2018-11-01 Iran to Build New Missile System? (Michael Rubin)
2018-11-01 Supreme Leader’s Advisor- United States Common Enemy of Iran and China (Michael Rubin)
2018-09-01 Will Iran Pivot to the East (Michael Rubin)
2018-09-01 Iran: IAEA Shouldn’t Inspect Universities (Michael Rubin)
2018-09-01 Russia and Iran Hamper Turkey’s Aspirations to Become Energy Hub (Ihsan Gunduz)

2018-08-01 Questions on Shortfalls in Electricity Generation in Iran (Michael Rubin)
2018-08-01 Achieving Gasoline Self-Sufficiency in Iran (Michael Rubin)
2018-08-01 Visit of Chinese Military Delegation to Iran (Michael Rubin)
2018-08-01 Iran to Re-Launch “Helicopter Carrier” (Michael Rubin)
2018-08-01 Iran Preparing to Host Nanotechnology Festival (Michael Rubin)
2018-08-01 Iran to Launch New Satellite by Year’s End (Michael Rubin)

2018-07-01 Group Planning to Hack Bank in Iran Arrested (Michael Rubin)
2018-07-01 Who Took $30 Billion out of Iran? (Michael Rubin)
2018-07-01 Iran to Attend Russian Military Trade Show (Michael Rubin)
2018-07-01 Iran Cracks Down on Internet Café VPNs (Michael Rubin)

2018-06-01 Iran, Russia to Jointly Manufacture Helicopter (Michael Rubin)
2018-06-01 Iran Unveils New Unmanned Helicopter (Michael Rubin)
2018-06-01 Russia and Iran Compete for Syria’s Phosphates (Lucas Winter)
2018-06-01 Is Iran Ready to Send Its Navy to Japan (Michael Rubin)

2018-05-01 Iran and Russia Compete for Influence in Syria (Lucas Winter)
2018-05-01 Will Iran Interfere in Kashmir? (Michael Rubin)
2018-05-01 Iran and Russia Compete for Influence in Syria (Lucas Winter)
2018-05-01 Iran and Russia Compete for Influence in Syria (Lucas Winter)
2018-05-01 Will Iran Interfere in Kashmir? (Michael Rubin)
2018-05-01 Iran and Russia Compete for Influence in Syria (Lucas Winter)

2018-04-01 13 Million Users of Domestic Messaging Apps in Iran (Michael Rubin)
2018-04-01 Iran: Supreme Leader Advisor Lauds Russian Strategic Ties (Michael Rubin)
2018-04-01 Iran: Muslims Supported by US, UK are Illegitimate (Michael Rubin)
2018-04-01 Iran: Israel’s Missile Defense Can Be Overwhelmed (Michael Rubin)
2018-04-01 Iran Unveils New Anti-Armor Missile (Michael Rubin)

2018-03-01 Iran: Warship Sinks after Mishap (Michael Rubin)
2018-03-01 Iran: Winning Hearts and Minds in Deir Ezzor (Lucas Winter)
2018-03-01 Iran Develops UAS with “Smart Bomb” Capability (Alma Keshavarz and Robert Bunker)
2018-03-01 Iran: US Sponsoring Islamic State in Afghanistan (Michael Rubin)
2018-03-01 Iran: Winning Hearts and Minds in Deir Ezzor (Lucas Winter)
2018-03-01 Iran: Telegram Giving Data to US and Israel (MIchael Rubin)

2018-02-01 A Malaysian Perspective on US-Iran Relations (Jacob Zenn)
2018-02-01 Turkish Perspectives on Iran (Karen Kaya)
2018-02-01 Iran: Was America Behind Uprising? (Michael Rubin)
2018-02-01 Iran: Lifting the Ban on Instagram was Illegal (Michael Rubin)

2018-02-01 Iran Approaches the Syria-Jordan Border (Lucas Winter)
2018-02-01 Indonesian Perspectives on the Iran Protests (Jacob Zenn)
2018-02-01 India’s Interest in Stability in Iran (Matthew Stein)
2018-02-01 China Limits Internet Exposure to Iran Protests (Jacob Zenn)
2018-02-01 Saudi-Iran Tensions Seen in Nigerian Crackdown on Shia Group (Jacob Zenn)

2018-01-01 Iran: New Military Budget Proposed (Michael Rubin)
2018-01-01 Iran-Khamenei Speaks on Views toward America (Michael Rubin)
2018-01-01 Iran’s Amphibious Aircraft from Russia (Michael Rubin

Arabic Media Boasts Narrative Of Victory Following Hamas’ 7 October Attack Of Israel

Israel strikes targets in Gaza Strip, October 2023

“What happened…will cause the Israeli public, especially those in the settlements surrounding Gaza, to lose confidence in the ‘professional army’ model that the occupation army has promoted in the last two decades…”

In the aftermath of the 7 October attack by the Hamas Qassam Brigades into Israel’s Gaza Envelope, a narrative of victory regarding the operation appears to be crystalizing in Arabic-language media. The accompanying excerpts from mainstream Arabic-language publications illustrate the contours of this narrative, in which Israeli forces are portrayed as largely ineffective and Qassam forces as highly effective. The first accompanying excerpt, from Qatari-aligned daily newspaper al-Araby al-Jadeed, emphasizes that the raid brought to light a disconnect between the image and reality of Israeli capabilities. According to the article, Israel’s elite forces and its military-security technology both suffered a reputational defeat that will lead the “Israeli public, especially those in the settlements surrounding Gaza, to lose confidence in the ‘professional army’ model.” Parallel to the narrative of Israeli military ineffectiveness is a narrative of the Qassam Brigades’ competence and operational success. The second accompanying excerpt, from Qatari-funded and pro-Arab al-Jazeera, is centered on Hamas’s information advantage and effective operational planning and execution, highlighting the group’s “strategic deception” and the effective coordination between various Qassam units (elite forces, engineering teams, drone operators, rocket/artillery units, and marine commandos).[i] The third accompanying excerpt, from Lebanon’s al-Akhbar, presents Qassam’s elite forces as devoted, committed, religious, mentally and physically strong young men. These young men, the author concludes, have replaced Qassam [RG1] ’s rockets as “the most permanent and effective strategic weapon.”[ii] The divergence between this emerging narrative of Hamas’s competence and heroism, and the Western portrayal of Hamas’s fighters as brutal terrorists, is striking.


“نخبة القسام في مواجهة «اليمام»

(Qassam’s elite faces ‘Yamam’),” al-Araby al-Jadeed (Qatari-aligned daily), 14 October 2023.نخبة-القسام-في-مواجهة-اليمامالسردية-الإسرائيلية-تسقط-في-غلاف-غزة

Al-Najjar… confirms that the clashes that took place with the Qassam elite forces were isolated pockets, and were carried out by individual settlers, who were killed or captured immediately, while the occupation army did not resist…

The occupying state, which promotes the capabilities of its elite forces, even through drama, as in the case of the widely known “Fauda” series, needs a long time to repair the damage to the prestige of its own units, according to Saeed Abu Moalla, professor of media at the Arab American University…

It is not only the reputation of the elite combat units that was damaged in the battle of the “Al-Aqsa Flood,” says Ahmed Rafiq Awad, head of the “Jerusalem Center for Future Studies” at Al-Quds University. The military technology units in the occupation army, which market themselves as being the top in manufacture spyware, as well as the military industries that established the separation fence with the Gaza Strip, including its surveillance tools, have also been subjected to a profound shock that will affect their reputation around the world…

Ultimately, what happened, according to Mansour, Awad, and Erekat, will cause the Israeli public, especially those in the settlements surrounding Gaza, to lose confidence in the “professional army” model that the occupation army has promoted in the last two decades, which relies on elite units and high technology.

الأدوات العسكرية للمقاومة في معركة “طوفان الأقصى”

(The Resistance’s military tools in the ‘al-Aqsa Flood’ battle),” al-Jazeera (pro-Arab Qatari media company), 14 October,الأدوات-العسكرية-للمقاومة-في-معركة

The resistance used all military operational tools, starting with intelligence deception operations of the intelligence services in the occupying state, led by the “Aman” [military intelligence] apparatus, which is responsible for giving estimates of the army’s position to the political leadership. The resistance was also able to hide the details of the operation and preparations from Israeli technology and espionage systems, and to mobilize forces, organize equipment, and maintain leadership and command during the battle, through the resistance’s continuous affirmation of the progress of the prepared plan, and its later announcement of rotating forces on the front and supplying the fighters with ammunition and equipment.

العابرون على جناح “النخبة”: هؤلاء أبناؤنا الذين لم يكبروا بعد

(Those going through the ‘elite’ wing: these are our children who have not yet grown up),” al-Akhbar (pro-Hezbollah leftist Lebanese daily), 9 October 2023.العابرون-على-جناح-النخبة-هؤلاء-أبناؤنا-الذين-لم-يكبروا-بع

Out of every 100 fighters, the resistance selects one or two who succeed in passing the physical, psychological, and spiritual tests…

What is it like for Muhannad to be among the elite? A young man free from all restrictions, single, of pure nature, who believes in authentic slogans untainted by reality, whose heart is attached to God, who is enthusiastic and has an excellent physical structure, and also, wholly ready for sacrifice…

Before the day before yesterday, missiles were, in the eyes of both enemy and friend, the only resistance weapon capable of limited action and morally acceptable impact. Today, rockets have become a secondary weapon, while men’s forearms, which trampled on Zionist military honor, have become the most permanent and effective strategic weapon.


[i] Planning is important for the Qassam Brigades. A Qassam training manual, published in 2011, appears to have been used by ISIS for training. See: “Military Training in the Islamic State,” OE Watch, August 2015.

[ii] These elite forces are purported to include 5,000 well-trained and well-equipped forces, per a 2017 study by Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies

Image Information:

Image:  Israel strikes targets in Gaza Strip, October 2023
Source: Palestinian News & Information Agency (Wafa) in contract with APAimages,
Attribution: CC 3.0

Azerbaijan Protests India’s Delivery of Weapons to Armenia

Hikmat Hajiyev has been the Foreign Policy Advisor to the President of Azerbaijan since 2018.

“But the fact remains that today Armenia, even if it wants to, will not be able to transfer these weapons to the remnants of the so-called regime in Karabakh.”

For years, Armenia has watched its adversary, Azerbaijan, receive weapons from Turkey, Russia, and Israel. Armenia has a smaller defense budget than Azerbaijan’s, and thus, has not been able to match the same level of acquisitions, notably, contracting for an export version of Russia’s Iskander ballistic missile system in 2016.[i]

However, despite these challenges, according to the first excerpted article from the Azerbaijani news agency Trend, Armenia received an unnamed weapon system from India in late July 2023. The article also mentions a $400 million contract between India and Armenia signed this past year providing Armenia with the Pinaka multiple rocket launcher, 155 mm artillery systems, anti-tank rockets, and unknown quantities of ammunition.[ii] The second excerpted article from the Azerbaijani news website Caliber reports that the Assistant to the President of Azerbaijan – Head of the Foreign Policy Department of the Presidential Administration, Hikmet Hajiyev, met with India’s ambassador to discuss his concerns about the increasing military cooperation between India and Armenia. Hajiyev noted that India’s cooperation with Armenia comes as Azerbaijan and Armenia are negotiating a peace agreement and that the delivery of new weapons aggravates the situation. The article notes that India’s ambassador would relay the message to Armenia, but that the meeting was unlikely to have a major impact. While Azerbaijan has fair relations with India, it has better relations with Pakistan, including an increasing level of security cooperation in recent years.[iii] Ultimately, the delivery of weapons to Armenia could lead Azerbaijan to deepen its relationship with Pakistan.


Takhmaz Asadov, “Из Индии в Армению везут оружие – кто хочет накалить ситуацию в регионе? (Weapons are being delivered from India to Armenia – who wants to heat up the situation in the region?),” Trend (news agency in Azerbaijan), 26 July 2023.

The movement of a vehicle column from the border checkpoint Nurduz (Iran) to Armenia was recorded. According to the spread footage, it can be seen that the cargo being transported is covered with an awning so that the destination of the cargo remains unknown. However, it is clear that the cargo transported from Iran to Armenia is for military purposes and has already been delivered to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.

As for the consignor of the cargo, this is India, with which Armenia has recently been rapidly increasing military-technical cooperation. It is known only from open sources in the media that a military contract worth more than 400 million US dollars has been signed between Armenia and India…

“Индия разжигает огонь на Южном Кавказе (India is stoking a fire in the South Caucasus),” Caliber (news website from Azerbaijan), 26 July 2023.

On July 26, Assistant to the President of Azerbaijan – Head of the Foreign Policy Department of the Presidential Administration Hikmet Hajiyev met with the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of India to our country Sridharan Madhusudhanan.

At the meeting, Hikmet Hajiyev noted that the Azerbaijani side is concerned about the deepening of military cooperation between Armenia and India, in particular, the photos and videos circulated in the media in recent days about the transportation of Indian-made weapons systems through Iran to Armenia…

Hikmet Hajiyev stressed that the supply of weapons by India to Armenia, at a time when Azerbaijan is negotiating a peace agreement with this country, serves to militarize Armenia and aggravate the situation, hinder the establishment of lasting peace and security in the South Caucasus region…The Indian Ambassador assured that he would inform official Delhi about the issue raised by Azerbaijan, noted the importance of dialogue between the two countries to discuss issues of concern in bilateral relations…


[i] The export version of Iskander missile system does not have as long of a range as the version Russia uses, but it has many of the same capabilities. For background on Armenia’s acquisition of it, see: Matthew Stein “Armenia’s Acquisition of the Iskander Ballistic Missile System,” OE Watch, November 2016.

[ii] For more information on Armenia’s acquisitions from India, see: Matthew Stein “Armenia Acquires Indian Multiple Rocket Launcher System Amid Delays in Russian Deliveries,” OE Watch, 11-2022.

 [iii] Security cooperation between Azerbaijan and Pakistan has been increasing for the past several years, see: Matthew Stein “Pakistan Providing Border Security Assistance to Azerbaijan,” OE Watch, October 2021.

Image Information:

Image: Hikmat Hajiyev has been the Foreign Policy Advisor to the President of Azerbaijan since 2018.
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Israeli Embassy in South Korea Opens in the Metaverse

The Metaverse Museum.

The Metaverse Museum.

“I’m quite sure this is the way forward… I think the embassy metaverse will become the essential standard just as websites became the essential standard about 20 years ago.”

The metaverse is a digital world that computers and smartphones can access on the internet, where users can interact with other users in a virtual environment. While initially seen as an entertainment tool, the metaverse is now becoming a tool of public diplomacy. According to the excerpted article from the oldest English-language daily in South Korea, The Korea Times, the Embassy of Israel became the first diplomatic mission in South Korea to gain a presence in the metaverse and one of the first embassies in the metaverse globally.[i] This likely represents the way forward for digital diplomacy, but it also carries the risk of becoming the next domain for cyber warfare to include security and privacy breaches, hacks, identity theft, ransomware, and deepfake videos. 

The Korea Times article also reports that the Israel-Korea Metaverse is available for download via the Google Play and Apple App Stores. It was launched to mark the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Israel and South Korea and provides a virtual reality immersive experience that offers information about Israel and promotes exchanges between the two countries. As the passage reports, the Israeli Ambassador to South Korea said during the opening in Seoul that this is the “way forward” and that the “embassy metaverse” will become mainstream just as websites became mainstream 20 years ago. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs website notes that the project comes amid flourishing relations between the two countries. This includes a recently ratified free trade agreement, expanded defense cooperation, arms trade, and rising cooperation in the health sector due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 


“Israeli embassy opens in metaverse,” The Korea Times (the oldest English-language daily newspaper in South Korea), 27 September 2022.

The Embassy of Israel in Korea opened in the metaverse, becoming the first diplomatic mission in the country to gain a presence in the virtual world.

On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Korea and Israel, the Israeli Embassy opened a pavilion in the metaverse to offer information about Israel and promote exchanges between the two countries.

“The Israel-Korea Metaverse is a truly unique platform for sharing a virtual reality immersive experience, the history of Israel-Korea relations and also for carrying out all kinds of interesting interactions between Israelis and Koreans. Even though they are 8,000 kilometers apart, yet in the metaverse, they are right next to each other,” Israeli ambassador to Korea Akiva Tor said during a launching event at a hotel in Seoul, Sept. 20… The embassy developed this with a Korean company called Vrillar.

“I’m quite sure that this is the way forward. It won’t be the only tool of public diplomacy and, of course, we will always want to bring real people to Korea and to hold in-person conferences and in-person cultural performances. But I think the embassy metaverse will become the essential standard just as websites became the essential standard about 20 years ago and SNS channels are now,” the ambassador said.

“I’m thinking of a metaverse with Hebrew and Korean language clubs, an Israel Film Festival, virtual meetings of the student clubs of Israel and Korea, a hangout for lovers of K-pop and the Hebrew Bible, a place for talk and debate about archaeology and the future of autonomous vehicles.”… The Israel-Korea Metaverse can be downloaded at Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

“Israel MFA initiates first diplomatic mission on Metaverse platform,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 26 October 2022.

The current project initiated by the Israeli mission in South Korea comes on the background of flourishing relations between the countries. It is expected that Korean Air will renew direct flights between Israel and Korea at the end of the year; The new recently ratified trade agreement between the two countries—the first of its kind for Israel in Asia and the first for South Korea in the Middle East—will benefit the Israeli consumer. 


[i] Other political presence in the metaverse include the metaverse office of the city of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the UAE’s Ministry of Economy. In October 2022, INTERPOL became the world’s first law enforcement metaverse platform, allowing visitors to virtually tour its General Secretariat headquarters in France. Barbados has also recently announced plans to launch an embassy in the metaverse.

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Image: The Metaverse Museum.
Attribution: CC BY-SA 4.0