شارل الياس شرتوني/أخذ الرهائن والدول التي تأخذ الرهائن والدروع البشرية
Hostage Taking, Hostage States and Human Shields Charles Elias Chartouni/November 26/2023
The enumerated notions are enduring features of the Iranian power politics and their replicas throughout the larger Middle East and within Iran. The Iranian regime fails to normalize by any standards, while diligently working on regional destabilization and terrorizing its national constituents. There is, indeed, a continuum between the two. The common behavioral pattern revolves around the nihilistic path of Islamist terrorism, targeted political assassinations, hostage-taking, geopolitical destabilization, ideological indoctrination, exponential nuclear militarization and organized criminality. What underlies this systemic political agency is a common ideological subtext (the spread of the Iranian brand of Islamism), an imperial strategy based on the creation of strategic nodes that aim at upending the regional inter-state system, a religious dystopia based on the whims of a Shiite global domination which likens the communist Cold War delirium, and a well-set moral callousness which blunts the sense of moral accountability.
These recapitulated features, far from being irregular oddities, characterize an enduring political pattern to safeguard the totalitarian regime and secure its purported legitimacy. The politics of subversion instrumentalized by the Iranian regime are predicated on intertwined notions: preventing normalization on the outside in order to contain liberalization on the inside is the predicate that accounts for Iran’s foreign policy stratagem. The hostage-taking syndrome is no coincidence, it partakes of the survival strategy of the regime. The Hezbollah and Hamas subversion strategies, systemic terrorism, trail of political assassinations, hostage-taking and deliberate destruction of regional stability are located on a continuum. The concatenated political strategy feeds on this notion of structural instability, radical Islamism and shifting alliances with regimes and political movements that aim at undermining the international liberal order, its institutional architecture, governance and economic pillars.
The manipulation of ethnopolitical conflicts, the metastatic proliferation of conflicts and proxy wars and the dissemination of post-factual narratives are nurtured by an ideological mainstream of systematic dissembling, epistemological relativism and telescoping of historical facts. The tragic events elicited by the October 7 pogrom and the Gaza war are typical cases that highlight how this subversive strategy operates at the crossroads between counter-factual narratives and dissembling and trivialized violence. The worst part of the unfolding tragedy is how a cynical and criminal undertaking based on sequenced mass killing, collective hostage taking (Israeli Jews) and hermetic human shields strategy (Palestinians of Gaza) transmutes into the moral exoneration of Hamas and its Iranian handler, puts the onus of responsibility on Israel and questions its right to self-defense after a security breakdown of this magnitude. The Israeli retributive strategy is a mixture of firm revenge whose aim is to annihilate a major existential threat, reorder geostrategic priorities and prepare for the forthcoming political scenarios. The strategic and moral dilemmas, on the Israeli side, are very hard to manage amidst the imbroglios of internal divisions, ideological disagreements, existential threats and the murkiness of the international environment. Palestinians must meet their overdue challenge: build their moral and political autonomy, overcome the sway of Muslim and Arab politics, and do away with the toxicity of belligerent self-pity and the high walls of their ideological panopticon.
The tragedy of this war lies in the vicious political narrative that underpins the war scenario: the pogrom in South Israel was initially plotted to trigger the predictable Israeli reaction, upend the regional dynamic propelled by the US-Saudi negotiations, the overseeing a new Israeli-Palestinian chapter within the Abraham accords, and unleash a new wave of radicalism structured around the stalemated peace process, the fallacies of wokism and its ideological tale spinning (intersectional domination rhetoric, US imperialism and Zionist scheming), and the rise of a counter-world order attempted repeatedly under the Ahmadi Nejad and Ra’issi presidencies. The fleeing ahead strategy is flouted by the resurgence of the rebellion in Iran, the firm reaction of the USA and the resetting of demarcation lines, the ambiguities of Chinese positioning and the delusions of Russian power projections. Meanwhile, civilians in Gaza and Lebanon are hostages to raw power politics, human shields instrumentalization and ideological humbug.
The destruction of Hamas, and the firm containment of Iran and its satellites, are essential preludes to restarting negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis, pioneering new venues of peace-making, and overseeing the completion of a legacy of international deals and agreements designed to find a working solution between the two people who fought each other but coexisted as well. The Cassandra scenario is propounded and advocated by psychotic ideologues, criminal power players should be proven wrong, the sooner the better.