Due to the IDF’s decisive actions in Gaza, the Hamas regime appears to be about to fall. This is a good thing, but it also raises critical questions about the future of the Middle East.
While it is difficult to predict how events will play out, there are several likely scenarios.
First, if Hamas falls, it is highly probable that its surviving members will rebrand under a different name. The aerospace force commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Amir Ali Hajizadeh, reluctantly admitted on Nov. 13 that while Hamas as an ideology may persist, the group will likely have to adopt a new identity.
Nonetheless, the probable demise of Hamas, marked by its inability to continue to control Gaza and the pursuit of Hamas’ leaders through their tunnel network, will be a watershed moment. In particular, the Iranian mullahs’ regime appears to understand that Hamas — which had become an Iranian terrorist proxy — is finished.
Nonetheless, the regime’s proxy war against Israel will certainly continue. For decades, the theocratic mullahs have sustained themselves through terrorism and the fomenting of regional chaos. The regime is unlikely to ever relinquish these tactics so long as it remains in power.
In recent times, Iran has established an unsettling arc of influence stretching from the Mediterranean along Israel’s northern borders through the Golan Heights and Syria down to Iraq, further extending its reach via the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Oman and the Red Sea. This is not only a threat to regional stability but poses a direct challenge to the international community. Despite Israel’s initial efforts to resist Iran’s entrenchment and assert deterrence, the current security landscape has witnessed a glaring lack of effective pushback against Iran’s aggressive actions.
Thus, we must ask what Israel’s next step will be. If it succeeds in destroying Hamas, as now seems inevitable, will it then turn its attention to the Iranian regime? Will it go after the “head of the snake”? The coming year will likely answer this critical question, and the international community, particularly the United States, will play a pivotal role in shaping upcoming events.
It is crucial to recognize that the current security challenge extends beyond Hamas and even Iran. Islamic terrorism, chiefly Shiite terrorism, knows no ideological bounds. Both Islamic leftists and reactionary extremists have played active roles in fostering its development. The likely fall of Hamas could spark the rise of another terrorist group sponsored by Tehran, raising concerns about the cyclical nature of radical Islamic ideology in the region.
As Israel contemplates its next move, it faces not only the immediate threat from Hamas but also the broader threat posed by Iran. The international community must acknowledge the role Iran’s Khomeinist regime plays in fostering and sustaining groups like Hamas, because this malign behavior could jeopardize the stability of nations far beyond the Middle East.
The rise of Hamas as a vehicle for Tehran’s brand of Islamic terror and Hamas’ likely fall should serve as a wake-up call. The world must act decisively to dismantle Iran’s transnational terror networks, lest they continue to metastasize and wreak havoc on the prospects for peace and coexistence. Some see the fall of the Iranian regime as a potential path to regional peace and stability, but it also presents a complex set of challenges that require careful navigation.
Unfortunately, there are indications that the West could be moving in the wrong direction. For example, several U.K. newspapers appear to be engaged in a coordinated effort to depict Iran’s “supreme leader” Ali Khamenei as a wise, peace-seeking leader, despite the mountain of evidence to the contrary. This appears to be a deliberate attempt to reshape public perception of the mullahs’ regime in light of Hamas’ horrific Oct. 7 attack.
Believing the shameless lies and propaganda disseminated by communist, leftist and Khomeinist media denying Khamenei’s involvement in Hamas’ barbaric attack on Israel is not just sheer foolishness, but also insults the intelligence.
However, I believe it is inevitable that the Iranian regime and its transnational terrorist network will eventually be consigned to the ash heap of history where they rightly belong.
In contrast, the state of Israel is poised to endure indefinitely.
Erfan Fard is a counter-terrorism analyst and Middle East studies researcher based in Washington, D.C.