Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Opinion: Jihad With the Iranian Rial! | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Our newspaper published a story about Iran allocating an annual budget for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) organisation after relations between them were restored. An official at the organisation’s press office said that Iranian support “is not an accusation” and denied that the organisation is affiliated to any party in the region. He also pointed out that the movement’s policy always focussed on “distancing Palestine from any axes”. Is this correct?

Just by researching the PIJ and its relationship with Tehran on Iranian news sites or Palestinian ones that are supportive of the movement, the researcher finds a series of dramatic contrasts! In July 2015 the leaders of the movement announced “a state of anger” due to Iranian support being stopped and this resulted in the Secretary General of the PIJ Ramadan Shallah and his deputy not attending a meal organised by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in the southern suburbs. The Palestinian news agency Sama quoted sources that said that Iranian support, which is considered the primary source of funding for the movement, was stopped because of the movement’s position on some issues in the region which resulted in “clear independence from the Iranian position”.

The sources also said that as the organisation is a Sunni Islamic movement, “it does not allow its position to be dictated by anyone, particularly with regards to the issues of the Arab and Islamic nation. The movement has an independent and specific vision that has not changed in decades”. On the other hand, while Shallah was in Tehran he was quoted by Fars News Agency as saying “The victory of Gaza would not have been possible without strategic Iranian support”!

According to IRNA news agency, Shallah said that “shifts in some Islamic countries provided Zionists with the opportunity to commit whatever crimes they want to”. Speaking about the current situation in Egypt, Shallah hinted at “the conflicting policies pursued by Egyptian officials” in recent years and said that “Arab countries have not and will not support the popular uprising in Palestine” and added that Iran “is the only country supporting the uprising and the families of martyrs”! Have the movement’s shifts ended? Absolutely not!

Here is the surprise- according to what IRNA published, when Shallah met Hashemi Rafsanjani, he said that the movement considers defending Iran as tantamount to “defending Islam” in the same way that the Supreme Leader said that “Defending Palestine is defending Islam” when the two met last. However, some Palestinian newspapers said that Shallah is the one who said that “Defending Palestine is defending Islam”. Who do we believe here; the PIJ or Iran? Do we believe the “policies” of the PIJ or the impact of the Iranian rial? What is clear is that in this period of jihad with the Iranian rial, everything is permissible for Tehran’s allies regardless of whether they are Sunni or Shiite!