Toofan al-Aqsa (طوفان الاقصى) was the name given by the Palestinians to the military operation carried out by Hamas and Islamic Jihad forces against Israel from the territory of the Gaza Strip on October 7. For some reason, Toofan has been translated as «storm». This is not quite correct, Tufan (طوفان) is the Flood, the biblical Great Flood, which cuts history into two parts: «before» and «after». Therefore, it is quite acceptable to say that from now on we will have to say goodbye to the «pre-Flood» Middle East and wonder what the region will be like after the Flood.
Let us try to predict this, remaining in the logic according to which the balance of power between Israel and Iran should become the main supporting structure of the future regional architecture. More recently, in early August, we tried to understand why there is no new Intifada in Palestine. At that time we came to the conclusion that the dynamics of the situation in the Palestinian territories depend on the desire of Tel Aviv and Tehran to build this balance without bringing the matter to a direct clash. At the same time, we suggested that «third forces» might be interested in disrupting this process, for which the best means would be a sharp escalation of violence on the part of the Palestinians. All the necessary conditions for this are in place. How can we assess the current Flood and its possible consequences from this point of view?
If you look at the Iran-Israel balance of power, it has shifted heavily in Iran’s favor. Israel is weakened, involved in a conflict that it is unable to manage. It has completely lost its strategic initiative and finds itself deeply dependent on the outside world: on the help of allies, on the position of «neutrals», and most importantly, on the extent to which the wave of hatred will affect the behavior of its adversaries and outright enemies. It is unable to offer any constructive picture of the «post-Flood» world; the whole point of its actions now is to destroy the «pre-Flood» world.
Iran, on the contrary, retains full freedom of action; its will determines where, when, and how hard the next strike will be made, and whether it will be made at all. It has the strategic initiative, its actions determine the reaction of Israel and even the «great and terrible» America. It does not destroy anything, does not kill anyone — all this is done by others, the «pre-flood»: the Palestinians, the Israelis, and the Americans may join them (if Iran provokes them with the hands of Hizbullah, for example). But it is Tehran that in the future becomes the leading designer of the new structure of the region, and it is to Tehran that all participants in this process must now turn; without its word, there will be nothing strong here — after the Flood.
How does this correlate with our hypothesis about the Iranian-Israeli balancing process, the peaceful nature of which can only be disrupted by «third forces»?
It was «third forces», specifically the US (and Britain), that opened the window of opportunity for Iran to conduct Operation Toofan. No one but Washington (and London) can achieve the careless deafness and blindness of Israeli intelligence after a long and deliberate joint preparation for war on multiple fronts (paralleled by the training of Hamas stormtroopers). No one but Washington and London can testify to Iran’s alibi to the world: Iran had nothing to do with the Hamas attack. And this is exactly what is persistently heard from the banks of the Potomac and the Thames.
In other words, our hypothesis is that the U.S. (and Britain) have decided to use the hands of Iran (and the latter — the hands of Arabs and Jews, making them angry once again) to unleash a Great Flood on the Middle East and change the region.
Why? Is it so that Iran could realize its long-standing dream and throw the «Zionist entity» into the sea?
Unlikely. The goal is not to destroy Israel, but to turn Iran into a «responsible player» that would become a reliable partner in case Israel «swims out» or is washed away by the Flood. (How can one not recall the words of Ayatollah Khomeini: if every Muslim takes a bucket of water and together they pour it on Israel, it will be washed away into the sea!) And if Israel does not want to be washed away, it will have to adjust to a new reality in which it will no longer be the only privileged U.S. ally in the region; it will have to share this status with Iran.
In order to do so, the State of Israel will probably have to change a lot, in particular, to abandon its purely Jewish, Zionist character and to open up to the Palestinians in one way or another. Now, at a time when it is blinded by rage and sees only the task of «finally solving» the Palestinian question before it, this seems impossible. But after all, we are talking about what could be after the Flood… It is funny that Iran has now somehow stopped talking about the destruction of Israel as a state, instead insisting on the imminent end of the «Zionist regime».
Iran will also have to change: it is possible that more pragmatic leaders will replace the “mullahs’ regime”. In any case, a number of Iranian experts insist on this.
The Arab world has already begun to readjust to the new balance of power: the Gulf monarchies are successfully normalizing relations with Iran, followed by Egypt. However, Sudan is ahead of it: despite the civil war, Khartoum authorities restored diplomatic relations with Tehran — just in the first days of the Tufan operation (coincidence?). It is curious that not so long ago there was talk of Sudan joining the «Abraham Accords». It did not work out.
As for these agreements themselves, their future is in great doubt. And it is not just the fact that Saudi Arabia has not joined them, although this is an important indicator. Against the background of the extremely violent Palestinian-Israeli conflict, it is very difficult to expect new Arab states to join Abraham: the street will not allow it. It is thought that the matter may even come to the termination of the agreements already concluded with Tel Aviv. The «disproportionate» brutality of the Israeli army in Gaza, as well as the probable American strikes on Lebanon (in case the anti-Israeli northern front is opened) may lead to this. Let us note that under these circumstances, Riyadh can justifiably be proud of its caution: by rejecting «Abraham» now, the Saudis have an opportunity to make a potentially much better deal — after the Flood…
Along with Iran, Turkey may also offer the best post-Flood prospects. If the character of the Israeli state does change toward greater openness, the Turks could become good advisors for it, helping it to learn the skills of living together peacefully with Arabs and Muslims. In this regard, President Erdogan’s words calling on Israel to behave not as an “organization” but as a “state” are noteworthy. It is quite possible that Ankara’s balanced and sufficiently (within the right limits) pro-Palestinian position will allow it to preserve and strengthen its relations with the Arab world and the sympathy of the Arab street; in the future, it may allow it to play the role of a Sunni counterweight to the pressure of Shiite Iran and an effective mediator between the Arab world and Israel, confidently regaining its historical influence in the region.
Radical changes await Palestinian society. Most likely, the Flood will not bring it unity; on the contrary, the lines of division will become even deeper. President Abbas’s passivity will provoke the resentment of radical youth, which may eventually lead to fratricidal infighting and polarization: some forces will lean on Iran, others on the support of Israel. In this situation, Tel Aviv risks a trap: in order not to give the ZBRI to Tehran, it will be forced to annex the West Bank and either expel the Arab population or somehow assimilate it. Either would create more problems than it would solve.
As for Gaza, there is little doubt that the majority of the Strip’s inhabitants (two million of them) are doomed to exile. By becoming refugees, they will carry a powerful charge of hatred against Israel, the West and the «traitors» in the Arab world, upon whom a new wave of terrorism could descend. It is very likely that Palestinian radical and extremist sentiments will be transmitted to the street throughout the Arab world, destabilizing many regimes, most notably in Egypt and Jordan. How they will emerge from the Flood is very difficult to foresee…..
Be that as it may, we will have to repeat the formula that has become banal and even vulgar: «The world (Middle East) will never be the same again». What it will be like after the Flood — we can only guess. But it seems that one very practical lesson can be drawn from what has happened: Iran has demonstrated mastery of at least the first part of the imperial technology of «divide and conquer». In Yemen, and now in Palestine, it has proved it. This makes it akin to the traditional imperialist Anglo-Saxons, who are playing a strategic game with it on the terms of partnership. And this circumstance should be taken into account by Russia.