When 57 Muslim leaders gathered in Riyadh on 11th November to discuss the crisis in Gaza, sickening hypocrisy was high on the agenda. It was the first time Arab and Muslim leaders had met in Saudi Arabia for more than 15 years. They were keen to display unity in their opposition to Israel’s military onslaught in the Gaza Strip. The summit was organized by the League of Arab States and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and opened by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Attending were avowed enemies of Israel and America, such as Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi and Syria’s dictator Bashar al-Assad.

The Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, known as the ‘Butcher of Tehran’ for his role as an executioner during the notorious massacre of more than 30,000 political prisoners in 1988, nevertheless used the occasion to attack the U.S., claiming it was guilty of war crimes by supplying weapons to Israel. Such a statement, coming from a president who supplies kamikaze drones to Vladimir Putin for use against Ukrainian civilian targets, and who’s regime has been a lifelong supporter of Hamas, training and financing its terrorist activities, wears a little thin. Raisi’s regime has pumped money, men and resources to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Bashar al-Assad’s bloody civil war in Syria and the brutal Shi’ia militias in Iraq for years, exporting terror and aggression across the Middle East and sponsoring terrorist attacks and assassinations in the West. 

Raisi, on his first trip to Saudi Arabia since the two countries mended ties in a China-brokered deal in March, demanded that Islamic countries should designate the Israeli army as a “terrorist organization” for its conduct in Gaza. This, coming from the president who proudly boasts the attributes of his Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the Iranian regime’s Gestapo, listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S., is the height of irony. Indeed, for Raisi to point an accusatory finger at Israel and America is jaw-dropping hypocrisy of the highest order.

Not willing to be outdone, Raisi’s close friend Bashar al-Assad, called for the Muslim leaders to demonstrate action and not words in dealing with the war in Gaza. Blaming the Israeli’s for “Zionist ferocity and massacres”, Assad, who has presided over a ten-year civil war, mercilessly massacring over 306,000 of his own citizens, clearly knows no shame. Like Raisi, Assad counts on Putin as a key ally, relying on Russian military assistance and even Wagner mercenaries, to raze opposition cities to the ground, ruthlessly slaughtering Syrian men, women and children. Assad even authorized the use of gas and chemical weapons to kill thousands. Benefiting from his experience in Syria, Putin has now rolled out his well-oiled killing machine in Ukraine.

Tehran may not have achieved what it wanted from the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel on 7 October. The mullahs had hoped that their unashamed backing of Hamas and its atrocities, would remind their Sunni rivals in the Middle East of their willingness to support savagery to achieve dominance in the zone. They had hoped that the Hamas attack would undermine the Israelis and extinguish proposals by Saudi Arabia and others to achieve rapprochement with Israel. Their plan may have backfired. Iran’s proxy wars in the Middle East have left a trail of death and destruction. Their support for Bashar al-Assad has accounted for many times the number of deaths in Gaza or indeed in all of the Israeli-Palestinian wars combined. Their support for the terrorist Hezbollah has left the once proud and prosperous country of Lebanon as a smouldering, poverty-stricken Iranian satellite. Their backing of the Houthi rebels in Yemen has created one of the greatest humanitarian disasters in the world today.

The legacy of the fundamentalist mullahs’ drive to achieve Middle East dominance and hegemony has terrified many of their neighbours. Sunni Arabs in particular regard them as a security threat. Even Hezbollah, who take their orders directly from Tehran, have shown a reluctance to do little more than fire the occasional rocket over the border into Israel. They do not want to risk of an all-out war with their Israeli foes. There is growing evidence that Tehran may have designed and organized the 7 October attack by Hamas, igniting the current catastrophic situation in Gaza, and Iran’s main rivals in the Middle East know where the blame should lie.

The mullahs’ tactics may also have finally awakened President Biden and the U.S. State Department, who have pursued a condescending policy of appeasement to the Iranian regime from the outset. Surely now they have at last recognized Iran as the main cause of unrest and aggression in the Middle East? Appalled at the prospect of Iranian dominance in the zone, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have all indicated that they intend to pursue their policy of reconciliation with Israel, once the current conflict has ended. They believe that working closely with Jerusalem is the safest way to guarantee long-term peace in the Middle East. For Ebrahim Raisi and Bashar al-Assad and indeed for China and Russia, this will be seen as a strategic disaster. Worse still from Tehran’s point of view, the anti-Iranian Arab states are committed to a revived form of Palestinian governance that will exclude Iran’s proxies from both the West Bank and Gaza and possibly even threaten the future of Hezbollah.

In his book ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’, George Orwell described the dystopian state of Oceania’s government as: “The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in doublethink”. It seems like many of those attending the emergency Arab Muslim Summit in Riyadh may be fans of Oceania.