By Steven Nelson
Former President George W. Bush said in a new interview that Iran helped spur the Hamas terrorist group to attack Israel.
Bush told Fox News that what “you’re seeing playing out is Iranian influence targeted toward Israel.”
“I think the best approach with regard to Iran is to understand that their influence is dangerous for world peace,” he said.
The Republican former commander in chief said “they are very much involved with extremist movements in Lebanon and Syria and Yemen, and they are aiming to spread their influence.”
Hamas is a Palestinian offshoot of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, a Sunni Islamist movement that seeks to infuse religious fundamentalism into government. The US has condemned the group — which has controlled Gaza since 2007 — as a terrorist organization.
Although Iran opposed Sunni extremists in civil wars in Syria and Yemen, it allegedly supports the Palestinian group in fighting common enemy Israel.
The Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, which is closely linked to Iran, joined the current fighting by firing its own missiles at Israel this week.
Other Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have speculated that Iran arms Hamas, which launched about 3,750 rockets over nine days from poverty-stricken Gaza toward Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
McConnell said Iran backs Hamas and “keeps their rocket arsenals full.”
Hamas launched a barrage of missiles into Israel beginning last week after clashes in Jerusalem sparked by an Israeli court decision that ordered the eviction of Palestinian tenants who stopped paying rent in East Jerusalem.
Although Iran’s precise involvement in regional conflicts often is murky, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, Gen. Hossein Salami, said Wednesday that “Tehran backs the Palestinians’ fight against the Zionist regime.”
Salami boasted, “The Palestinians have emerged as a missile-equipped nation.”
Bush, who was president from 2001 to 2009, led the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 after 9/11 and ordered the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, making claims about weapons of mass destruction that turned out to be bogus.
Rockets fired by Hamas from Gaza City heading towards Israel on May 18, 20219.
Rockets fired by Hamas from Gaza City heading toward Israel on May 18, 2021.
Photo by MAHMUD HAMS/AFP via Getty Images
US military involvement in the Middle East later divided Republicans, with former President Donald Trump calling the invasion of Iraq one of the worst decisions in US history, in part because it allowed Iran’s influence to expand during a long-running insurgency against US troops.
Bush has rarely commented on political issues since leaving office, but told Foxnews.com that he’s concerned about efforts by the Biden administration to resurrect a nuclear deal with Iran that was brokered under former President Barack Obama. He said a new deal should be “comprehensive.”
“Any deal that is done has got to not only focus on its nuclear capabilities, but also its influence in the Middle East,” Bush said. “And you know, any deal, you’ve got to keep in mind the dangers of an aggressive Iran to our allies, and to stability, so it has to be a comprehensive look.”
Bush also offered support for the Abraham Accords negotiated by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. The accords resulted in the recognition of Israel by four Arab countries.
“Once the sit-in settles down, and if those Abraham Accords hold, it will make it easier to establish peace,” Bush said. “But right now, those who don’t want peace are provoking and attacking Israel, and Israel is, of course, responding for national security reasons.”