February 1, 2024 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1744

Iranian Regime Mouthpiece 'Kayhan': 'At The Start Of The War In Gaza, We Said, Have No Doubt That Gaza Is Winning – And That Gaza's Victory Will Be Achieved By Creating A Balance Of Fear And Horror… Time Is Running Out For Israel, And A Hard Winter Awaits The Zionists, The Americans, And The Europeans!'

February 1, 2024 | By A. Savyon*
Iran, Palestinians | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1744


Spokesmen for the Iranian revolutionary regime are continuing to assert that the Houthis in Yemen are, like all its other proxy organizations in the Iran-led resistance axis, an independent entity that does not receive instructions from Iran. At the same time, Kayhan, the newspaper that is the mouthpiece of the Iranian regime and whose editor is directly appointed by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, regularly publishes clear operational guidelines for its proxies to attack Israel and anyone cooperating with it, in order to bring about its annihilation.

Kayhan logo

According to Kayhan, the resistance axis is operating in line with Iran's "balance of fear and horror" policy vis-à-vis Israel and its supporters (see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 11020, Iranian Regime Mouthpiece 'Kayhan': 'The Most Important Strategy Of The Resistance Front... Must Be To Create Horror In All [Global] Relationships And Commerce With The Zionist Regime... By Means Of Reinforcing And Expanding The [Attacks By The] Resistance At Sea, With Missiles And Drones, And All Other Possible Ways', December 14, 2023). It attributes to this Iranian policy the Palestinian success over Israel with the October 7 massacre, as well as the attacks currently being carried out by the Houthis in Yemen to stop ships that they perceive to have a connection with Israel, and galvanizing of global public opinion against Israel and in support of the Palestinians.

In the next phase of fighting against Israel, Kayhan stated, the axis of resistance, including the Houthis and the Iran-backed militias in Iraq and in Syria, will mount operations against Israel's air and sea ports, with the aim of destroying the Israeli economy. At the time of writing, Iran-backed Shi'ite militias in Iraq are claiming to have twice attacked the Israeli port of Ashdod, about 25 miles south of Tel Aviv, and other strategic sites in Israel. This, says Kayhan, is the Iranian plan of action, according to which the resistance axis is operating, in order to bring about Israel's elimination, such that there is no need for any direct action on Iran's part.

This report reviews several Kayhan editorials published in recent weeks detailing Tehran's operational instructions to its resistance axis proxies aiming to bring about the regime's main goal – the elimination of Israel.

Kayhan, December 12, 2023: It Can No Longer Be Claimed That "Destroying Tel Aviv And Haifa Is A Mere Slogan, Because This Realistic Slogan Of The Leader [Khamenei] Has Become A Certainty On The Battlefield"

In its December 26, 2023 editorial, Kayhan enumerated what it sees as the signs of American and Israeli defeat in the Gaza war and in the other arenas of fighting in the Middle East, as brought about by Iran's resistance axis proxies. It also reviewed their political defeats in the U.N., global public opinion, academia in the U.S., in politics, and in the Western media.

The success of the Palestinians in these spheres, according to the editorial, indicates that Israel and the U.S. have not managed to eradicate Hamas and shows that the world has in fact accepted the ideology of the axis of resistance.

Referring to the success of the October 7 Hamas massacre, and in an attempt to obscure Tehran's instructions to the resistance organizations, Kayhan explained that the Palestinian resistance groups had perfectly understood the 2015 statements by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei – i.e. that Israel would cease to exist within 25 years – and therefore the Palestinian factions are not settling for slogans, but are men of action. It went on to detail Tehran's policy vis-à-vis Israel, that is, to create "a balance of fear and horror" by means of the resistance organizations and by imposing a naval blockade on Israel's economy and smearing it in global public opinion, and promised readers that Israel will vanish from the face of the earth.  

The following is the translation of the Kayhan editorial:

"'The signs that the front of truth [i.e. Iran and the resistance axis] has triumphed, and that the criminals [the U.S. and Israel and its supporters] are defeated, are appearing one after another.' This is the reality of the battlefield [in Gaza and the other Middle East arenas] described by Supreme Leader [Khamenei]. In this context, several important points are:

"When the Supreme Leader said 'If Israel makes mistakes, we will flatten Tel Aviv and Haifa,' several [Iranian] reformists and atheist Westerners, instead of grasping the profundity of that declaration, cast doubt on [Khamenei's] 'wise strategy' in their sick brains and in their political analyses, which are U.S.-oriented.

"As they [the Iranian reformists and atheist Westerners] have often toed the Zionist line during the fitnas [civil unrest against the Iranian regime] and behind the scenes, brought Iran's national security to the brink of the precipice, they [at the same time] sacrificed the interests of their faction, pretended that they are more merciful than the leader of the revolution [Khamenei] for the sake of national security, and, out of fear of the false power of America and Israel, said: 'Why do you write Death to Israel on the rockets – this is against [Iranian] national security!'

"But now, when Iran's security is at its zenith, and its enemies' security is at its nadir, and the sirens sound in Tel Aviv and in Haifa and in other Zionist cities and even on the American aircraft carrier – they [the reformists] can no longer claim that destroying Tel Aviv and Haifa is a mere slogan, because this realistic slogan of the leader [Khamenei] has become a certainty on the battlefield.

"We would like to note that it is still the beginning of the endeavor, and there is no need for Iran to directly enter the war equation. This is because [Gen. Kenneth F.] McKenzie, the former commander of the American forces in the Middle East, and a senior general with military understanding who completely grasps the implications of the balance of fear and horror, said: 'I personally have great respect for the plan for the drones, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles that were manufactured over the past decade at great sacrifice, and they are like precious jewelry of the Iranian military treasury and no less important than a nuclear bomb!'

"At the start of the war in Gaza, we said, 'Have no doubt that Gaza is winning!' And we said that Gaza's victory will be achieved by creating a 'balance of fear and horror.' Once again, several people within [Iran] and outside it tried to cast doubt on the veracity of these analyses and the reality on the battlefield, by inciting the emotions of the citizens with propaganda and by turning to the statistics about [the number of] the martyrs of Gaza [in order to refute them].

"Now, however, all the evidence is clear – not in political or media analyses, but on the ground, in the air, at sea, and on the battlefield, before the eyes of the world – [and it] shows that the policy of the balance of fear and horror has worked well, and has transformed Gaza into the victor. From this day onwards, it is no longer [a matter of] analysis, but 'news' that the entire world saw and heard quickly, and sees and hears every day!"

"Noor" anti-ship missiles (Photo: Houthi documentation)

"This Regime [Israel] Will Not Be Destroyed By Inaction Or Mere 'Death To Israel' Chants; In Order To Prevent Israel From Seeing The Next 25 Years [As Khamenei Said], There Is a Need For Motion And Action – And Every Move And Operation Must Be Based On [Iran's Culture Of] Ashura And [Revolutionary Iran's] Imam Hussein Movement"

"When the Supreme Leader [Khamenei] said that 'the Zionist regime will not see the next 25 years,' the Palestinian groups – unlike the intelligence and security apparatuses worldwide – understood, first of all, the profundity of these words, and [understood] the key words and hidden code within them [stating] that this regime [Israel] will not be destroyed by inaction or mere 'Death to Israel' chants, and that in order to prevent Israel from seeing the next 25 years [as Khamenei said], there is a need for motion and action, and every move and operation must be based on [Iran's culture of] Ashura[1] and [revolutionary Iran's] Imam Hussein movement."

"Therefore, it is only with the analysis and perspective of the Ashura that we can correctly understand the reason for carrying out the Al-Aqsa Flood operation [of October 7] and the subsequent developments. Any analysis or discussion that does not reference [an understanding of] the basis of the martyrdom of Imam Hussein on the day of Ashura, and its ramifications, is sterile and a diversion, and analyzing it should be set aside for a later time.

"In the past, there was a need for analysts and experts to include in their analyses the statements and admissions of the Zionists and their supporters, [according to which] Hamas cannot be destroyed and America and Israel cannot destroy Hamas. But now the ships of Israel and its supporters, and dozens of America's bases in Iraq, Syria, the Persian Gulf, and even the American warship in the Red Sea, as well as Ain Al-Assad base in Syria, are being attacked with missiles and drones – all during the CENTCOM commander's visit to that base – and sirens are sounding in Haifa, Tel Aviv, and the other occupied territories, and it is impossible to censor [this].  This means that [even] after 80 days, they [Israel] have not managed to destroy Hamas – and they will not be able to, even in 100 years, when the resistance will be more alive than ever.

"This has further highlighted the global Zionist network media dictatorship's [attempt at] prevention of the defeat of the Zionist regime, and this has of course failed. A powerful country like China, which is becoming a superpower in the world, will never bet on a 'losing horse' [Khamenei's term for Israel]. The fact that China, after America asked Beijing to join [President] Biden's so-called naval coalition, [instead] officially declared that 'we will only cooperate with Islamic countries, in order to revive Palestine's ambitions,' showed not only that Hamas has not been and will not be destroyed, but that as signs of victory in Gaza emerge, great superpowers are trusting in the power of the resistance!

"The UN, which is under America's control and influence, never blames the winner of the war – a war backed by America – of genocide and war crimes, and does not threaten to prosecute it. Thus, the UN deputy secretary general announced that 'a special court should be established for war crimes in Gaza, so that the guilty will not escape punishment.' This means that he has declared Israel defeated and Gaza victorious in the war.

"You may recall that until six months ago, Saudi Arabia was the steady supporter of joint statements with America in any coalition in the region. The fact that Riyadh is distancing itself from any alliance with America, signed the joint statement with Iran and China labeling Israel's crimes in Gaza a threat to security and peace in the region, and is calling for an immediate halt to Israel's crimes means that [Iran's] balance of fear and horror has worked. Politicians, especially in countries that support one side in a war, would never bet on the losing side. Bernie Sanders, the American senator, officially calls Israel 'the loser of the war' and is calling for it to be pressured to stop the terrible crimes and humanitarian disaster in Gaza.

"In the European Parliament, Ireland's representative told the pro-Israel Swedish representative to 'stop lying.' The Belgian representative said that 'our complicity with Israel in the slaughter of over 7,700 Palestinian children means we cannot look at ourselves in the mirror without feeling ashamed and opposing the genocide in Gaza,' and shouted at Israel's supporters: 'Why do you pretend to not listen?' France's representative called for prosecuting French soldiers with dual citizenship who are participating in the war in Gaza for war crimes.

"The rising call to support Gaza in the American and European parliaments – which passed a law threatening and punishing Holocaust deniers – shows that Hamas cannot be destroyed, and that to these lawmakers, resistance is a legitimate weapon for the Palestinians.

"The fact that although a wave has begun in America to expel and suspend university students and lecturers and to deny [people an] education and jobs due to their support of Palestine, [in addition to] resignations by presidents of America's leading universities despite the worried American president's implementation of 'the national strategy to combat antisemitism in American schools and universities' – they [the academics] are not ceasing their support of Palestine. This shows that the world supports Gaza, Hamas, and the resistance, and not their destruction.

"A survey by Harvard University found, to the surprise of many American media outlets and institutions, that over 50% of young Americans want 'Israel's existence to end' and for 'all occupied territories to be handed over to Hamas.' What does that mean?! Does this not mean that 'the Zionist regime's defeat in the war is the defeat of America?!"

"The Yemeni Resistance [Houthis] Is Now Threatening To Begin The Third Phase – This Means Targeting The Ports Of Ashdod, Haifa, And Ashkelon; It Is Also Supposed To Await The Fourth Phase, Which Will Be Directly Targeting Tel Aviv! Maybe The Fifth Phase Will Be An Air Siege Of Israel!"

"'Thus far, the Houthis have struck dozens of Zionist targets at sea – but the world remains completely silent!' Thus reads the preface to a report from an Arabic-language news agency about the isolation of Tel Aviv by the resistance – not about the destruction of Hamas! [Iran's] balance of fear and horror has transformed the Red Sea into the nightmare of free trade for the Zionist regime, and it is only one step away from becoming a graveyard for Israel and its supporters.

"Ninety percent of Israel's trade is by sea. [So far the Houthis have caused the following:] A stop to shipments to and from Israel; interference in the daily transfer of 8.8 million barrels of oil and 380 million tons of cargo through the Red Sea; a 40% price increase due to [the need to] sail around Africa via the Cape of Good Hope; a stop to commercial ships and giant oil tankers belonging to British Petroleum and the biggest shipping companies in the world – these include France's GMA CGM, the third largest shipping company in the world, as well as Maersk International, which ships over 30% of its energy (such as oil) and cargo through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, and China's OOCL and the Swedish [petroleum company] MSC, and others. [They have also caused] a 23% decrease in the value of Israeli shipping companies, and a loss to the Israeli market of $3 billion so far.

"[All] this shows that America's concern about the signal to block the Suez Canal and perhaps [also] the Strait of Hormuz goes beyond a security, commercial, and economic issue that impacts [only] Israel. The Americans are very worried about changes in the geography of regional commerce because of the resistance's balance of fear and horror – to the extent that the ramifications of this 'intolerable threat' are not limited only to the Zionists. The Economist reported that 'of the dozens of companies that have suspended operations in the Red Sea, four alone are responsible for 53% of global trade.'

"The balance of fear and horror is so effective that it even brought about the defeat of the American consensus-building plan [that included] exploiting the [United Nations] Security Council, using the veto, and demanding an American naval alliance. America has not succeeded in internationalizing the claim that the resistance's maritime attacks must be tackled by exploiting the halting of the giants of global shipping in the Red Sea and increasing economic pressure against the West, [and has also failed] to establish a naval coalition and to obtain a UNSC resolution against Hamas.

"This balance has even prevented America from taking any direct action, despite its propaganda campaign about the status and operations of its ships in the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. This shows the greatest waning of its strength, with the disgraceful withdrawal of the aircraft carrier U.S. Eisenhower from the Persian Gulf after it was monitored and threatened by the Iranian Army's navy.

"The other side of this display of America's waning is that the claim about the [establishment of a] naval coalition in itself means that America, despite its claims to be a superpower, can no longer even fight on its own against a military like the Yemeni [i.e. Houthi] military, which is besieged and war-weary [from its conflict with Saudi Arabia and the UAE]!

"Another important point is that the American claim that it must establish a global naval alliance has been met with dead silence from the Europeans and the Arabs – and unlike in the past, they have not fallen into line with the Americans and their positions in their media propaganda. This shows that [the Americans] were well aware of the Yemeni dagger at their throat. For this reason, the claim about establishing a 60-nation naval coalition has shrunk down to just one country [i.e. the U.S.], and this one country must await the ramifications of the balance of fear and horror! The UK prime minister, who until a few days ago opposed any ceasefire, has now called for a stable (that is, permanent) ceasefire, as have France's president and defense minister. This reversal in the Europeans' position shows their profound awareness of the ramifications of the balance of fear and horror.

"As America lost its reputation in this incident – and this is the greatest success and victory – [President] Biden is thinking of his own reputation. Having declared 'I am a Zionist and we stand with Israel until Hamas is destroyed, and [will even] give [Israel] weapons,' the New York Times revealed that 'because of the loss of his reputation ahead of the upcoming [presidential] election in America, Biden has asked Israel to end its war in Gaza in two weeks, by the end of the year.' This shows that the naval coalition was just lip service, propaganda, and scare [tactics]. As Israel's Channel 12 emphasized, 'no American coalition can neutralize the naval threats posed by the powerful Yemeni military.'

"With the defeat of Israel and America, and their inability to destroy Hamas, it is enough that those who sought to establish the largest naval coalition and who are currently threatening Yemen are now pleading for negotiations to stop attacks on their ships! Their goal to 'destroy Hamas in 2023' has [become] 'weaken Hamas in 2024'!

"In order to justify [negotiating with the resistance], the Zionist regime's negotiations chief said: 'We must submit to [Hamas leader in Gaza] Yahya Sinwar's ideology – the release of all Palestinian prisoners [in Israeli prisons] and a permanent ceasefire – because we cannot stop him!' At the same time, CNN reported: 'The American administration has not achieved the goal of destroying Hamas, but has reached the conclusion that by the end of this year, Tel Aviv will be unable to prevent Hamas from carrying out another operation similar to Al-Aqsa Flood [i.e. the October 7, 2023 invasion and massacres in southern Israel].'

"The world has now woken up in support of Palestine, and is heeding the revolutionary Yemeni [i.e. Houthi] calls, which are also achievable: 'We will turn the Red Sea into your graveyard!'; 'We will sink American ships and submarines!'; 'We will set the entire region on fire!'; 'Any attack against Yemen will turn into an international war!'; 'Everybody is safe except for the Israelis!'

"In the political hierarchy of the balance of fear and horror, after the first phase which involved targeting the Port of Eilat and halting its operations, and the second phase which involved targeting any ship or cargo headed towards Israel, the Yemeni resistance [i.e. the Houthis] is now threatening to begin the third phase. This [phase] means targeting the ports of Ashdod, Haifa, and Ashkelon. It is also supposed to await the fourth phase, which will be direct targeting of Tel Aviv! Maybe the fifth phase will be an air siege of Israel! This means that time is running out for Israel and that a hard winter awaits the Zionists, the Americans, and the Europeans! It will be much more difficult than last winter, when Russia shut off oil and gas to America and Europe!

"We can be confident that Palestine is [free, i.e. free of Israelis] from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea, and that Jerusalem is certainly its capital! And have no doubt that the plundering Zionist regime will be wiped off the face of the earth..."[2]

Kayhan, January 16, 2024: "The West Must Know That Because Of Its Support For The Plundering Zionist Regime, No Strait Will Be Safe For It"

In an article published January 16, 2024, titled "The West Is In Dire Straits," Kayhan, speaking for the resistance organizations, stated that they cannot sit idly by and are taking action to stop the West and Israel. Thus, it said, the West must submit to the worldview of the Houthis in Yemen and of their masters in Tehran by stopping the war in Gaza, forcing Israel to withdraw, and accepting Iran's demands regarding the destruction of Israel. In a further attempt to pressure the West, Kayhan expanded the scope of its threats to the West, warning that it must realize that as long as it supports Israel, it will have no security in any international straits or waterways controlled by Islamic countries, including Hormuz, Bab El-Mandeb, Gibraltar, Dardanelles, and the Bosphorus Straits.

The following are the translated main points of the article:

"The resistance front has shown that it is not interested in expanding the war, but when it is confronted by [America's] policy of doing so, it cannot sit idly by when it has the power to stop the evil of America, Israel, and England. The continuation of the war will undoubtedly further destabilize the plundering [Zionist] regime.

"Many agree on the necessity of securing the waterways and straits, and know that the security of the sensitive Bab El-Mandab Strait and the Red Sea depends on accepting the views of the [Houthi] Ansar Allah [movement]. When the Yemenis use the weapon of the straits and waterways in their fervent support of the Palestinian resistance, there is no path besides stopping the war in Gaza, forcing out the plundering regime from Gaza, and lifting the maritime siege on [Gaza's] residents.

"The West must realize that supporting the plundering Israeli regime is incompatible with security in the straits and waterways. It must believe that [since] Israel cannot continue its disgraceful life and wage a war in such a narrow area, how would it be able to continue to safely traverse a region whose people will not tolerate its crimes against Palestine? The security of the region's waterways is not determined in accordance with Western directives and pro-West UN decisions. This security can be achieved only by assuring the interests of the surrounding countries.

"The West must know that because of its support for the plundering Zionist regime, no strait will be safe for it, and it knows full well that the most important straits in the world (Hormuz, Bab El-Mandab, Gibraltar, the Dardanelles, and the Bosphorus) are in the Islamic world. If the West does not stop supporting the regime that is plundering Palestine [i.e. Israel], it will not be long before it also loses the option of entering other Islamic straits."[3]

Kayhan, January 22, 2024: "The Heaviest Of Blows Must Be Dealt To The Economy And Security Of Israel, As Well As To Other Countries That Are Overtly Or Covertly Participating In Crimes And Assassinations Or Are Giving Israel's Economy CPR; They Must Pay"

A few days later, on January 22, 2024, Kayhan reiterated the need to target Israel's economy, paralyze its ports, and exact a heavy toll from countries that support it. It also called for undermining Israel's security and for attacks deep in its heartland, in order to deter possible investors.

The following are the translated main points of the article:

"The resistance axis's joint operations over the past several months have astounded military observers worldwide. No less important, however, are the advanced intelligence operations of the resistance front, which has succeeded in making detailed preparations for dozens of large-scale and complex operations from Gaza to northern Palestine, from Iraq and Syria to the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea (including identification and capture of Israeli and American ships from among all the ships passing through). The heaviest of blows must be dealt to the economy and security of Israel, as well as to other countries that are overtly or covertly participating in crimes and assassinations or are giving Israel's economy CPR. They must pay.

"After paralyzing the vital Port of Eilat, it was the turn of two additional ports, in Haifa and Ashdod, and to paralyze the Zionist regime's economy. This move does not necessarily require heavy fire, and seems to be achievable with occasional, precise, and effective strikes. Another trend can be seen in an analysis by [New York Times columnist Tom] Friedman, and others. Strikes must be [carried out] deep in Israeli territory and in areas like Tel Aviv, Haifa, Acre, Ashkelon, Herzliya, Jerusalem, Nahariya, Beersheba, Bet Shemesh, Netanya, Ra'anana, Sderot, and Tiberias, to persuade importers and investors that Israel has no future.

"Similarly, the Zionist regime's authorities, facilities, and interests are no longer safe anywhere, and they are in the crosshairs of the resistance front. These strikes do not necessarily require missiles, and the current joint operations can expand in scope and variety in order to paralyze the Zionist regime, although [attacks] inside the occupied territories [i.e. Israel] are preferable."[4]


[1] The day of Ashura, marked on the 10th day of the month of Muharram, is a day of mourning in Shi'ite Islam. It marks the martyrdom of Hussein ibn 'Ali, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, in the Battle of Karbala in 680CE.

[2] Kayhan (Iran), December 26, 2023.

[3] Kayhan (Iran), January 16, 2023.

[4] Kayhan (Iran), January 22, 2023.

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