In an ominous warning to Israel and regional Sunni countries, Major General Hossein Salami, the commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), on Wednesday threatened those nations that have "established political and security relations with the Zionist regime," a reference to the Jewish State of Israel.
He added, "We explicitly declare and warn that the continuation of such relations is not acceptable at all."
Coming three days before the start of Ramadan, the annual month of obligatory fasting and prayer for Muslims and one of the Five Pillars of Islam, the warning should be taken seriously by those specifically identified in Salami's threat because Ramadan is also traditionally a time of Islamic terror attacks.
Those attacks may already have begun with a deadly spate of terrorism across Israel, in Be'ersheba, Hadera and Bnei Brak (just outside of Tel Aviv) that thus far have killed 11 people in the space of a single week. Assailants, two Arab-Israelis and the last one from the town of Ya'bad, near Jenin in Samaria, were armed with knives and guns, including an M-16 rifle, in the three attacks.
In HAMAS-ruled Gaza, sweets were handed out on the street to celebrate Israeli deaths, and in Lebanon, Hezbollah hailed the attacks with flags and music in the streets.
An official statement from Hezbollah referenced both the Abraham Accords indirectly and more specifically the tri-partite March 22 meeting of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the Egyptian resort of Sharm e-Sheikh with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi and United Arab Emirates (UAE) Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, declaring that "All meetings of betrayal and the heights of normalization cannot give the enemy security."
The fact that it was Maj. Gen. Salami, the IRGC commander, who issued the Iranian threat is significant, because it is the IRGC and its subordinate Qods Force unit that provide the support — arms, funding, training — for Islamic terror proxies across the Middle East.
The official statements coming from both Iran and HAMAS, Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the wake of the Israel attacks indicate an orchestrated terror offensive, timed for the start of Ramadan. As Islamic doctrine obligates that a warning be given before attack, the Tehran regime is here putting Israel and the entire region on notice that this Ramadan, as others past, will be a violent one.
The Iranian regime understands that both within and outside of the Abraham Accords, key regional players, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, Egypt, Sudan, Morocco and others are banding together with Israel in an unprecedented recognition of the threat from an aggressive and rapidly nuclearizing Iran.
Those expanding relationships with the hated Jews, as well as the centuries-old Sunni-Shi'ite split that leaves the Sunni Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in administrative charge of Islam's Two Holy Places — Mecca and Medina — are what's really "not acceptable at all" to the Shi'ite Twelvers who head both Iran and the IRGC/Qods Force.
It is especially incongruous that at precisely this time, in this atmosphere, the U.S. reportedly is considering removing the IRGC from the Department of State's Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) list as one of a slew of concessions to Iran intended to revive the July 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal.
Indeed, indicative of the alarm such reports are invoking, recent articles in the Saudi press have labeled such efforts an "absurd" act and a "crime" that will threaten global security. Writing in the London-based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat on March 22, Saudi journalist Abdullah bin Bijad al-Otaibi called the idea of revoking the IRGC's terrorist designation "a direct threat and danger not only to the Arab states but to the entire world."
Likewise writing in Al-Sharq Al Awsat, Saudi journalist Tariq al-Homayed drew the broader implications, stating that "Removing the IRGC from the terror list will grant Iran freedom of action in the region as part of a Russian-Chinese-Iranian alliance."
As the seasons of Ramadan, Passover and the Christian Holy Week culminating with Easter on April 16 all coincide this year, it is urgent that we understand the explicit intent of the Iranian warning to Israel and the region. It is nothing less than a declaration of war against Israel and those regional people who are choosing the pathway of peace and reconciliation with it.