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Resistance to Iranian influence and proxies awakens across Middle East

Iranians support Israel, Syrians praise IRGC strike, Lebanon on edge of civil war

Anti-regime graffiti in support of Israel on Iranian streets, April 2024 (Photo: Social media).

With the Iranian regime directly attacking Israel for the first time in the early morning hours on Sunday, the resistance to its pernicious influence has been on the rise across the Middle East these past weeks.

In the aftermath of the failed Iranian assault using drones and missiles to attack Israel, instead of using its regional proxies as it has done for decade, Iranians took to the streets in a graffiti campaign showing support for the Jewish State.

Slogans sprayed on walls across Iran included messages like: “Israel strike (the regime) and leave the rest with us on the street,” and “Hit them Israel, Iran is behind you.”

On social media, many Iranians continued the phenomenon of celebrating opposition against the regime, which began with the elimination of Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. strike in 2020.

Many users especially mocked the regime for failing to hit Israeli targets after launching over 350 projectiles, including drones, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles.

Ali Karimi, one of Iran’s most successful soccer players and an influential anti-regime activist, wrote on 𝕏: “We are Iran, not the Islamic Republic,” along with a picture showing Israeli and Iranian hands grasping each other.

Similar sentiments were showcased online among those opposed to Syria and have long-held a positive view of Israel while viewing the Syrian Iran-backed Assad regime as a common enemy.

Tarek al-Oukala, an opposition activist in northwestern Syria, told Israel's KAN news outlet: “We in Idlib, northwestern Syria, condemn the cruel Iranian bombing against Israel. We wish the people of Israel all the best and we hope that Israel will continue to bomb Iran’s sites in Syria and that it will expel it from there.”

Fouad al-Masri, the president of the opposition party “National Salvation Front” in Syria, also praised Israel’s strike against Iranian officers in Damascus. This action was cited by Iran as the justification for its subsequent assault on Sunday.

“All the conditions for a regional war are already here,” al-Masri said.

“During the war in Gaza, Israel is directly attacked from five points: Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. Behind all of these is the shadow of Iran,” he said last week, according to the Maariv news site.

“We now have a common interest in making order. Clean Syria and Lebanon of the presence of Iran and its proxies. The high risk of war has existed for a long time, but fortunately, Israel has begun to take steps and do what is necessary to eliminate the Iranian presence,” he added.

Meanwhile, opposition to Iran’s most important proxy force, Hezbollah, has been rising for the past weeks, to the point that some voices in Lebanon are warning against the possibility of a civil war between pro- and anti-Hezbollah factions.

Tensions boiled over last week when Pascal Sleiman, a senior leader in the Christian Lebanese Forces party, was abducted and later found murdered in Syria. While the immediate culprits were reported to be Syrian refugees living in Lebanon, Hezbollah was widely blamed for the murder.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah rejected the accusations, saying they reminded him of “the days of civil war.”

During Sleiman’s funeral last Friday, Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Rai, who has repeatedly condemned Hezbollah in the past, implied the Shiite terror group was behind the murder and dragging the country into war with Israel.

“Who benefits from this anarchy in power, administration, justice, weapons and the decision of war, and a country outside the hands of the State,” al-Rai asked, referring to Hezbollah.

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea also spoke at the funeral: “The confrontation continues. It will be long. Because real solutions take time. Let no one bet on our despair.”

In January, Geagea slammed Hezbollah for turning Lebanon “into a battlefield,” and criticized the caretaker government for not taking action against the terror group.

“Instead of fulfilling its duties to serve Lebanon and its people, it handed over decision-making to a faction, allowing the country to turn into a battlefield, a mere commodity in the volatile regional scene,” he argued.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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