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Leaders of Iran and Palestine exchange warm messages: Cooperation continues despite Saudi intrigues

Haniyeh and Khamenei (photo: Mehr News)

Ismail Haniyeh, head of the political bureau of the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), on 18 January 2018 sent a letter to Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, Iran's Leader of the Islamic Revolution, praising Iran's stance on Jerusalem (al-Quds). Pointing to the dimensions of a major conspiracy led by global arrogance against al-Quds, and the Palestinian people, which is aimed at overthrowing Gaza as a fortress of resistance, in order to end the struggle against the usurper regime while normalizing relations between dependent regional rulers and the Zionists regime (Israel), he appreciated the support of the Iranian people and the guidance of the Leader in favor of the resistance movement.

Earlier in December, US President Donald Trump has officially declared the disputed holy city of al-Quds as the capital of the State of Israel, and began the process moving his country's embassy to the city, despite objections from Palestinian leaders and warnings from around the world. In his letter, Haniyeh stressed: "With the onset of a massive Intifada in the West Bank and al-Quds, we will, with God's grace, neutralize the conspiracy of today's tyrant (Trump) and the hypocritical rulers in the far and near capitals who seek to end the Palestinian cause." Additionally, Haniyeh sent the regards of the commanders, the fighters of the Hamas movement, and all the people of Palestine to the Iranian leader and the Iranian nation.

Furthermore, Haniyeh expressed that he regards the people of Iran as a people with a rich culture and history who live in a stable, resilient, and anti-arrogant atmosphere. He added: "All the enduring people of Palestine appreciate the Islamic Republic's standing and worthy positions in regards to Palestine, al-Quds, and support of the Palestinian people's resistance with different types of aid." The letter mentions major and dangerous conspiracies taking place against the Islamic Ummah, in particular, holy al-Quds, with the aim of destroying the bases of resistance. He writes: "Although these conspiracies were clear to us since long ago, they have become more apparent than before, in recent months and days, with the Riyadh conference and the words of Donald Trump; in which, he called Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas as their prepared enemies, and emphasized his Zionist attitude by labeling al-Quds as the Jewish capital."

Regarding the announcement of al-Quds as "the capital of the Zionist regime" by the United States, as a step towards removing obstacles in the way of the region's rulers plans to create an Arab-Israeli alliance and towards disarming the resistance, Haniyeh added: "I strongly believe in the role your Excellency exercises, directing the Islamic Republic and its devout commanders in a direction to carry out the project of accomplishing the goals of Palestine, and also in your statements for mobilizing the Ummah, warning them to avoid the abyss towards which the people are misled by the rulers of hypocrisy and conspiracy." He also mentioned Iran's presence alongside Palestine in difficult situations, and Iran's performance in the Islamic duty of supporting the resistance is appreciated, adding: "With great guidance of Khamenei, Iran undoubtedly has had and will have a great privilege in strengthening the freedom fighters and reinforcing the option of resistance and struggle in Palestine."

Haniyeh called the method of neutralizing the ongoing plot against Palestine and the issue of Quds "a massive people's intifada in the West Bank and Quds," adding: "We will support this decision with the presence of our people, inside and outside the country, to neutralize the decision of the tyrant of our time (Trump), in this vast conspiracy he has made clear, in near and far-reaching capitals, the aim of putting an end to the Palestinian cause, especially its sacred symbol, Quds; by God's permission, we will never allow this plot to become a reality." Haniyeh went on to recall some of the troubles the Palestinian people face: the encirclement and complete sanctions against the inhabitants of Gaza, and he indicates that these moves aim to create a crisis for the population, weakening the most important base of resistance and states.

On a further note, Palestinian leader added: "The United States and some defeated rulers are seeking to put an end to the plight of Palestine and the resistance against the usurper (Zionist) regime, therefore, the leaders, who crave for the satisfaction of the United States and Israel, can unravel their relations with the Zionist regime and, instead, divert the attention of the Islamic Ummah by directing hostilities towards Iran, provoking Shiite and Sunni prejudices." In February, Haniyeh wrote a letter to Iran's Leader Ayatollah Khamenei again, extending greetings on the 39th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution victory. He reiterates in his letter that Hamas Movement and the Palestinians share the joys with the Iranian nation for the 1979 Revolution victory.

Khamenei's response

On 4 April, Iran's Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei sent a reply to Ismail Haniyeh, and once again reiterated the stances of the Islamic Republic of Iran regarding the support for Palestinian people. In his letter, Khamenei spoke about the challenges ahead of the Islamic world and the hypocrisy and treachery of some Arab countries of the region and their alliance with American policies. He said that the tendency of some regional Arab countries to negotiate with the Israeli regime is a big unforgivable mistake that would hinder the success of the Palestinian nation and would fruit nothing but damage and loss for the people of Palestine. Following is the full text of the letter:

Dear brother, resistance activist Dr. Ismail Haniyeh,

I start my letter with this verse from the holy Quran, which seems as if it was meant for us during our time, addressed to you and all of us: "Do not be faint of heart in pursuing the enemy: if you happen to suffer harm they too are suffering just as you are, while you may hope from God what they cannot hope for. God is All-Knowing, All-Wise." In other words, He is aware of your victory through God's permission and advises you to refrain from frailty and infirmness.

At a time when aggravation of oppression and animosity, led by the Zionist enemy in Gaza, has made the enthusiasts of Palestine sad and angry, I insist on the Islamic Republic's enduring position regarding Palestine, which is also an important issue of the Islamic Ummah.

No doubt, resistance is the only way to free an oppressed Palestine, and it is the only cure for wounds on the body of that brave and proud nation. In your affectionate letter, your excellency has indicated some of the main challenges of the Islamic Ummah: you have referred to the conspiracy and hypocrisy of some Arab countries in the region (South West Asia) and their vicious plots, following the Great Satan (the United States); you have also reminded us of the resistance in Palestine — the fighters on the front line before the enemy's pressure, oppression, and cruelty. Your remarks are absolutely true and we confirm them. We feel it is our responsibility to support you, in any manner as needed.

This (support of Palestine) is a religious duty and a humane responsibility that goes beyond political events and changes; we will, God willing, continue to perform this duty, like before. All Muslim governments, Muslim nations, and Islamic movements are obligated to fulfill this great task (support of Palestine) and should try to carry on with it. Today, the return to dignity and authority of the Islamic Ummah relies upon resistance against the Front of Arrogance and its vicious plots; the matter of Palestine is at the heart of all international challenges that the Islamic Ummah faces while fighting against the Front of Arrogance. Moving towards negotiations with the cunning, usurper, and untruthful regime is an irreversible mistake that would delay the victory of the Palestinian nation; and it will bring about nothing other than detriment for the oppressed nation.

Act of Betrayal by some Arab leaders, which is gradually revealing itself, pursues the same goal (as delaying the victory of the Palestinian nation). The only cure is strengthening the resistance within the Muslim World, reinforcing the fight against the usurper Zionist regime and its allies. Nations, especially zealous youth in Muslim and Arab countries, as well as governments that feel responsible towards Palestine, should seriously consider this as their duty: repelling the enemy to the point of annihilation, through strategic and vigorous action. I ask Allah the Almighty to bestow success upon you and all resistance forces; I beseech closeness towards the day of your victory, which is a certain destiny.

And Peace be upon you,
Sayyid Ali Khamenei


A big loser: Saudi Arabia

Although Haniyeh and Khamenei use the diplomatic vocabulary and do not mention the problematic countries by name, it is clear that they are talking about Saudi Arabia, and to a lesser extent, Egypt and Jordan. The facts that Iran and Palestine are in line with the above-mentioned important issues and that Ismail Haniyeh is a head of an Arab and the Sunni-majority state of Palestine, as well as the leader of the Sunni Islamist Hamas movement, are of great importance for understanding the Middle East politics and for debunking some myths used by corrupt regimes.

For many years, Saudi Arabia was manipulating the Middle Eastern and Muslim countries by calling for the 'pan-Arab' or 'pan-Sunni unity,' all with the purpose of excluding Iran from solving the Palestinian case and other regional issues. Saudis also claimed that Iranian role is of a sectarian nature, and that there's 'Shia conspiracy' in the region. Basically, they only repeated the earlier claims of Nasserist Egypt and Saddam's Iraq, two regimes which also claimed to be "Palestinian patrons." But as Khamenei stated, the support of Palestine is a religious duty and a humane responsibility that goes beyond narrowly-positioned Palestinian, Arab or Sunni frameworks. The problem concerns several millions of expelled Palestinian Muslims, as well as hundreds of thousands of expelled Palestinian Christians.

In reality, Riyadh is not interested in solving this issue, but only for own regional prestige. Contrary to all their claims, Saudi Arabia does not represent Arabs, because their policies towards Arab Yemen proved to be identical, if not worse, than Zionist policies toward Palestine. Saudi Arabia does not represent Sunni Islam, because they're promoting their own version of Salafism (i.e. Wahhabism) which is in conflict to traditional Sunnism and whose categorization under Sunni Islam is controversial. Saudi Arabia does not represent Sunni Islamism either, because it sees the Muslim Brotherhood as a competition, as evidenced by examples from Egypt and other states, as well as the recent Qatar crisis.

Like Egypt before them, Saudi Arabia has shown that it is willing to betray Palestine and cooperate with Americans and Israelis for their own interests. Without any doubt, the oil-rich Saudis have much more money to offer to the Palestinian leadership, but money can not buy political consistency, a virtue that characterizes Iranian policy toward Palestine since the 1979 Islamic Revolution to this day.

Filip Vuković

Filip Vuković is a Serbian politologist and investigative journalist from Belgrade, covering the western Balkan area for Serbian, English and Italian outlets. His focus is on nationalism, ethnic tensions and economic policy in the post-Yugoslav area. Currently, he is preparing a PhD dissertation at the University of Padua.