Putin’s footprints on the wounds of Gaza

Parisa Pasandepour
11 Min Read
Putin's footprints on the wounds of Gaza

Putin’s footprints on the wounds of Gaza

Putin’s footprints on the wounds of Gaza is reported to be highly dangerous and has a connection to the war in Ukraine. Let’s start with the facts. The first fact is that the operational environment we are talking about has an official nature. While the conflict in Ukraine is a symmetrical and conventional nature with high intensity between two equal actors, even if one has nuclear weapons and the other does not, and it has all the characteristics of a full-scale war.

The conflict in the Middle East has a highly asymmetrical and insurgent nature with high intensity, but temporary, between two completely different actors. One with governmental characteristics and the other with a terrorist nature, but with popular support, and in fact, it is a war with the characteristics of a native conflict.

In addition, between the first and second cases, due to the immense population and territorial masses of the Middle East, there is a significant difference compared to the second case. Also, the war between Russia and Ukraine consumes infinitely more material and economic resources, and most importantly, human resources, regardless of the level of media coverage. To better understand, we can make a football comparison.

It remains as if we were to compare the Germany-Brazil game with the Belgium-Cameroon game in the World Cup. The latter may be more exciting and play better, but the former will have a much greater impact on the final championship result.

Returning to the facts, the attack was carried out with complete aggression and composure, catching Israel off guard with a strategic surprise. This attack was executed with precise information readiness and flawless planning, achieving many of its intended objectives and undoubtedly reaching its ultimate goal, which is provoking Israel for extensive retaliation.

Facts come with their own evaluations and questions. Why was Israel, known for its excellent military and security intelligence, caught off guard? We believe that a special investigation commission should study and examine this matter. However, from an external perspective, it can be said that it is related to the priorities set by the current government for its security forces.

We do not intend to get involved in the internal political issues of Israel. It is no secret that the current government has severely divided the entire Israeli society, which may have contributed to creating communication problems between different levels and their affiliated organizations.

The fundamental professional assessments indicate that Hamas’ planning and informational preparedness have been so good that it has raised doubts and suspicions about whether this outcome is solely the result of their own planning. It was never expected that a military operation could penetrate so deep into Israeli territory and cause extensive damage throughout the land.

This happened while armed elements were roaming the streets of Israel. There are many talks about Iran’s involvement, apart from the fact that carrying out a similar action by Iran in the current sensitive period would not be tactful. There are also doubts about the Iranian side’s ability to provide such professional and organized support.

But the question that occupies the mind more than anything else is why Hezbollah did not attack simultaneously with Hamas or at least immediately after it in order to maximize the element of surprise. This was a unique opportunity and it is unlikely to be repeated, to take the war inside Israeli territory, even if only for a few hours. In fact, when Israel was mobilized, the possibility of Hezbollah carrying out any offensive operation other than simple missile launches or terrorist acts becomes zero.

The chance for asymmetric organizations to attack the enemy’s territory continues as long as the enemy is caught off guard and has not gathered its forces, and this chance has now largely reached zero.

After discussing the points, we will now try to analyze the situation to some extent. Hamas’ attack, regardless of local motives such as preventing closeness to Saudi Arabia and Israel, took place simultaneously with Russia’s unexpected attack on the city of Avdiivka in the Donetsk region of Ukraine.

As mentioned, the precise planning of Hamas has led to suspicions that this group must have received very professional support from highly capable government entities outside of Iran. Furthermore, the support is believed to include backing for satellite imagery, which raises doubts that Hamas’ actions are coordinated and supported by Russia, in line with Moscow’s strategy to increase international tensions and divert attention from Ukraine, thus reducing Western support for Ukraine.

We must always remember that Putin’s reasoning is completely different from others, and many of his initiatives not only seem wrong but also illogical to us. Therefore, saying that it is not in Russia’s best interest is not an appropriate response to dismiss these doubts and suspicions. If proven, it will shed light on many issues. Russia is closely cooperating with Iran, and for this reason, it is highly likely that Tehran has been involved in preparing for this action.

The preparation probably took a long time, but if Iran was involved in this planning and Tehran largely controls Hezbollah, why didn’t they take advantage of this opportunity to participate in the attack? We should consider that both Hamas and Hezbollah are fundamentalist organizations, although not in the jihadist sense, as they do not sacrifice themselves for martyrdom. In their ideology, the opportunity for a glorious martyrdom is never overlooked.

However, there are significant differences between Hamas and Hezbollah. Both are fundamentalist organizations, but one is Sunni and associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, openly supported by Qatar and to some extent covertly supported by Erdogan.

While Hezbollah is Shia and affiliated with Iran and Syria, in Syria, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood are irreconcilable enemies. They have been fighting each other for years, both in favor of and against the Assad regime, which is supported by Russia. This can partly explain the apparent lack of coordination between the two fundamentalist organizations, as they are linked by hatred of Israel and support for Moscow, but have separated due to sectarian animosity.

Asymmetric attacks, like the Hamas assault, have a specific goal of provoking the enemy with such violence that it pushes them to an disproportionate reaction, which in turn causes significant collateral damage, including fatal political and diplomatic damage. In this specific case, the damages have hindered the Arab-Israeli negotiation process and caused division in Western public opinion.

The cost of such operations, in addition to the aforementioned collateral damages, can include the destruction of infrastructure and the killing of non-combatants. All of these costs seem completely irrational to us, but for a fundamentalist terrorist organization that values martyrdom, it is entirely appropriate. However, this price that seems valuable to Hamas holds no value for Iran.

Especially in the current sensitive time, the destruction of Hezbollah will deprive Tehran of a costly and long-standing leverage tool, and it will also pose the risk of eliminating the remaining level of influence it has on the Assad regime and in Iraq, isolating Iran in the Middle East.

But if that’s the case, why should Iran be involved in the planning of this operation? As mentioned, the planning process must necessarily be lengthy and may have even started before the involvement in Ukraine. It’s possible that an exact date for the start of the operation was not predicted, and it was a contingency plan to be executed at the right time, when it became apparent to Hamas and Russia, but not to Iran.

Recently, what has changed in the script that has caused the interests of Moscow and Tehran to diverge? The renewed conflict in Karabakh, with forced abandonment by Russia but humiliatingly for Armenia, and the emergence of Azerbaijan as a Turkish ally, and even more than that, an Israeli ally, who is strategically positioned in a dangerous situation as the only gateway from the West to Central Asia, has suddenly abandoned its dependency on Russia and has a strong interest in cooperating with the West and avoiding Chinese intervention.

Due to its numerous internal problems, Iran is not fully prepared to directly confront Israel, especially now that Russia has clearly shown its inability to support its allies. If the proposed scenario is accurate, we will face a rift between Russia and Iran. While Iran has been accused of being involved in this attack due to its longstanding anti-Israel rhetoric, in reality, it is not at all ready to face it at this moment. We will see whether Iran’s practical approach in the coming days confirms or denies this scenario, with less aggressive behavior than expected.

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Master's Degree in International Relations from the Faculty of Diplomatic Sciences and International Relations, Genoa, Italy.