Alan da Luz: Why Did Netanyahu Pound Gaza Again? The Balance of Forces in the Middle East is Changing
Behind the new Gaza operation
Why did Netanyahu pound Gaza again, killing about one hundred innocent Palestinians, destroying infrastructures, spreading terror?
Provoking the circle of violence
Of course, Israel provoked once more the rockets fired from Gaza, attacking constantly Gaza with tanks, planes and bulldozers for weeks, then killing a Hamas leader in a targeted assassination, triggering herewith more rockets fired from Gaza, followed by Israeli retaliation, this retaliation provoking more rocket fire from Gaza followed by more Israeli provocations – the whole thing escalating finally up to an open bombardment of Gaza and its population – A well-known Israeli recipe for escalation, which had already been tested in operation “Cast Lead” in 2008!
Maintain hate against Palestinians
Of course, it was a routine operation designed to maintain hate level: Zionist leaders hate Non-Jews in general, Arabs and Palestinians in particular: Therefore, for them it is a duty to mount operations to kill Palestinians every now and then. It has been 5 years now before they killed 1400 Palestinians with operation Cast Lead, so it was time to get some fresh Palestinian blood spilled again.
Gaining elections in Israel
Of course, elections are coming soon and Netanyahu knows that a climate of hate and fear will help him to be re elected!
Frustration following Obama’s re election
Of course, pounding Gaza is retaliation because in the US Obama was elected, not Romney who got billions of dollars from Jewish Millionaires like Sheldon Adelson: With Obama in the white House, it is less sure that the USA will support Israel attacking Iran.
Compensation for the missing attack against Iran
Of course, the intensive campaign of Israel to get international support for an attack against Iran, lasting since 2009 (as Netanyahu and Liebermann were elected), was unsuccessful up to now. So how to make sure the world doesn’t forget Israel as a major competence centre for war, aggression and troubles? The world must see a military operation from Israel from time to time: Then the world will remember that Israel is keeping regional supremacy in the Middle East. And maybe the world will also accept the idea that war is the only way to solve problems in this region!
Growing Rivalry with Saudi Arabia
But I believe the main reason for the attack against Gaza is another: it’s about Geopolitics, stupid! In Gaza, the Muslim Brothers are in power – But not only Gaza: They did also win in Egypt and they are a strong political force in
Syria and Jordan. Parties related to the Muslim Brotherhoods are ruling Tunisia and Turkey. The Muslim brothers and various Salafist groups steered by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey are leading the civil war in Syria – while Salafist and Jihadists were very active already in the civil war in Libya (2011) and keep holding strong positions in this country: So we see a steady strengthening of the conservative Sunni Islamic Stream related to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey in the Muslim and the Arabic worlds. This strengthening is not only political but also economical, with Gulf States taking participation in Europeans companies and banks, which are weakened through the crisis in the EU.
Changes in Islamic world – Strengthening of the Wahhabi Sunni against Shia Islam
Since 1979 (revolution against the US puppet Shah Pahlevi), Iran, a populated country (80 millions inhabitants) with a wide Shia majority, is openly challenging the US and Western domination in the Middle East. Since the beginning of the century and until 2011, the influence of Iran grew constantly: Iran established – and still leads – a Shia alliance, strong in Syria and Lebanon, with wide influence in Iraq and parts of Afghanistan, even starting to extend this alliance to the Sunni Hamas in Palestine. Therefore, Iran and the Shia enjoyed a growing positive image in the Arabic and Muslim world, particularly after the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel. Iran is challenging the nuclear monopole of the West and Israel in the Middle East 1)
Now, the “Arab spring” and regime changes in many Arabic countries as well as the civil war in Syria are changing day by day the balance of power in the Middle East. In this process, Saudi Arabia, the centre of the fundamentalist Wahhabi or Jihadi ideologies, could capitalize on changes in the Middle East (while Saudi Arabia and its allies Qatar or Bahrein maintain conservative and obscurantist regimes in their own countries): Saudi Arabia is emerging as a potential leader of the Arabic and Muslim world and as a rival of Israel 2). Let’s have a closer look at this:
Saudi Arabia and USA
Up to now, Israel was ally n° one of the USA in the Middle East. Far behind, Saudi Arabia was ally N° two, followed by various puppets like Mubarak in Egypt, Saleh in Yemen, etc. At the end of the last century, Israel became the biggest receiver of the US “Aid” (first of all military aid) and the unconditional solidarity with Israel openly claimed by the US Presidents became an important part of the US Policy (and increasingly of other states like Germany). The Saudi-US alliance, however, was also active, but far less spectacular. Saudi is a main supplier of oil to the US and the royal family, living in wealth and with no project to develop the country, was happy with the royalties it gets from the US and with the aid it gets (much smaller than the aid to Israel but though still impressive). They were happy to make their country a military platform for the US and think this is protecting their wealth. If there was a conflict of interest between Israel and Saudi Arabia as allies of the US (like the continued ethnic cleansing in Palestine, the expansion of settlements and the Gaza blockade), the
Saudi would bow and accept that Israel is ally n° 1.
However, at the same time, behind the scene, Saudi Arabia started increasingly to play its own game and to extend its influence in the Arabic and Muslim world: It built a wide net of friends, contacts and allies, whom they fund “generously”. It is pushing conservative, obscurantist organizations and persons – Salafist parties, preachers, etc. – it funds institutions, mosques, Coranic schools… It provides – though very prudently, mostly indirectly – weapons to Jihad groups. And see, this game is starting to bring fruits:
For instance Afghanistan: while the US prepares for leaving, the Taliban are again emerging as the strongest force of this country
For instance Egypt: American puppet Mubarak was replaced by the Muslim Brothers, while the Salafists (Al Noor) Party) are the second force in parliament.
For instance Libya: Jihadists have been instrumental in overthrowing Gadhafi and are now firmly established in Libya: Former Jihadists hold important positions in state and army!
For instance Syria: Jihadists are increasingly leading the civil war in Syria – They will keep this leadership in spite of all Western efforts to gain control over the war!
For instance Palestine: Growing support for Hamas, visits to Gaza (Qatar, Turkey) in order to waken the influence of Iran (and also in competition to Abbas who is first of all an ally of the West)
For instance Bahrein: Without the help of the Saudi Army, the population would have chased the Al Khalifa king long time ago!
This strengthening of the Saudi-Arabian/Wahhabi influence in the Arabic and Islamic world begins now to be seen with some worry by the Israeli. Israel fears that one day Saudi Arabia may become partner n° one of the US and could be strong enough to impose its rule in the region. This explains much of the new pounding of Gaza!
Underestimating the Saudi Influence
Both the United States and Israel have been underestimating and still keep underestimating the growing Saudi strength and influence:
The USA, used to play with fire, used the House of Saud as a strategic ally, second only to Israel, for many years (this game began openly with the fight against Russia in Afghanistan): While propagating a “democratic great Middle East”, the US was constantly leaning on one of the most anti-democratic and obscurantist country of the world as its closest friend and ally in the Arabic world! Up to now, however, the USA did not believe that the growing Saudi influence and intentions may reach a point were it could threaten strategic US interests. With the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, the US seem to have started to think about the Salafist danger. This could partly explain why they are so reluctant to intervene more openly in Syria. But one can predict that the US I will continue the flirt with the Saudi and the Jihadist for some time – however, sooner or later day, the awakening could be brutal!:
Libya: With the war in, the USA, France and NATO definitely contributed to clear a non Islamic regime and establish Jihadist as a leading force in the Middle East. However, the killing of Ambassador Steven on 9/11/2012 showed that this force could be dangerous even for the United States!
Egypt: the stubborn support of their puppet Mubarak weakened the US influence, so they have been unable to react as friend Mubarak was overthrown in 2011. They were obliged to accept the new rulers and to engage a dialogue with them, in order not to loose fully their influence. But who profits first of Mursei and the Brothers being in power in Cairo? – Fist of all Saudi Arabia (in spite of Egypt being a potential competitor for the leadership in the Middle east).
Syria: We see that, though still supporting the Jihadist fighters, the USA fears the growing influence of the Muslim States in the war against Assad. Up to now, the USA was prudent and let Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey deliver weapons to the Jihadist fighters in Syria.
Bahrein: This country with a Shia population and a Sunni king became a colony of Saudi Arabia, whose army is actually occupying Bahrein to protect the King
Yemen: Strong fighting take place there, both Saudi Arabia and the US try to maintain the country within their sphere of influence
Palestine: Supporting Israel without conditions, trying to get Abbas accepting Israeli conditions, trying to eradicate Hamas and ban it internationally (by declaring it “a terrorist organization”) did not strengthen strategic positions of the USA in this country!
Iran: Focusing for years on Iran (even more after the withdrawal from Irag and the strengthening of the Shia in this country, the USA were constantly busy trying to weaken Iran – which helped strongly Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey in their Islamist game.
Israel: What applies to the US is also valid for the Iran policy of Israel: The steady threatening of attacks against Iran’s nuclear capacities has contributed to strengthen Saudi Arabia and its allies, the Sunni fundamentalists. Now it becomes urgent to turn also some forces against them. But at the same time it will be difficult to just “forget” Iran after having made the bombing of its new nuclear facilities the core of the Israel Foreign policy for years. Netanyahu is a man of limited intelligence and his only way to behave seems to be:
* Just ignore any change in the Middle East (and in the world)
* Don’t negotiate with anybody
(With whom? He doesn’t like Obama, he doesn’t like Abbas, he doesn’t like
Mursei, he doesn’t like the Saudi, he hates the Iranians, he hate Hamas,
he provoked the sole ally of Israel in the ME, the Turks, and made them to
one more enemy…)
* Keep striking in all directions.
This will throw him (and Israel and the Israeli, who in their majority sheepi-
shly stick behind the man they think will save them and maintain the domi-
nation of Israel against all neighbouring countries) into more and more
troubles! (Netanyahu himself throwing Israel under the bus, as the US
Republicans would say)!
Conclusions: More Chaos is yet to come!
Analysing the attack on Gaza, one starts to think deeper about the changing balance of force in the Near East:
Focusing on the weakening of Iran and its allies, the USA and Israel ignored changes for a long period – and will try to maintain their grip in the Near East, still with the main goal to weaken Iran, using their alliance with the House of Saud and the Sunni Islamists – but at the same time increasingly trying not to foster the strengthening of the Saudi clan. For this reason, I don’t really believe in an attack against Iran or in an open intervention of the West in Syria. I also believe that the US, in sandwich between various goals, various enemies, various allies, will further loose influence and power in the Middle East!
In contrast, the Wahabi/Jihadist clans will not stop to grow and they will try to transform more countries (Syria, Egypt…) into Islamic caliphates. The fighting between various clans in this camp will also increase. These contradictory developments will lead to enormous political instability – and to further wars, coups, guerrilla, sectarian conflicts, assassinations, protests, as well as to enormous suffering in the civil populations of various countries (first of all in Palestine and Syria). The economic development of the region will be hampered. The gap between poor and riches will further widen. What the final result will be, is not yet to be seen, but at any rate the USA and Israel, though trying further to weaken Iran, will be forced to consider the growing Saudi influence in the Middle East (and also in other parts of the world). Relations between the Saudi clan and the US will constantly hopper from cooperation to opposition and sometimes even open fighting will outburst. But generally, the US will hesitate to oppose openly the growth of Salafist fractions: They will further speculate that they can keep this current under control. Multipolar contradictions will continue to develop.
So, changes and chaos will be the only constant aspect in the Middle East, as a result of the failed imperial policy of the US and the West since the end of WW2 and of the game with the fire played in the relations with Saudi Arabia and the Salafists.
Of course, the Muslim Brothers are not fully on the same line as Saudi Arabia and there are contradictions between them and the Salafist, who are the ones really close to Saudi Arabia. Also Turkey has not exactly the same interest as Saudi Arabia. Of course, Egypt is in competition with Saudi Arabia and wishes to gain a leadership in the Arabic world. Nevertheless, it is right to see Saudi Arabia (and Qatar) as the core centre of the new Sunni fundamentalist wave. This is an aspect I may explore closer in next articles.
I am not in favour of nuclear energy and of any nuclear program. However, the wish of Iran to get access to nuclear technology is legitimate as long as there is no nuclear-free zone in the Middle East and Israel was allowed to develop nuclear weapons – without any international control!
Alan da Luz, 20.11.2012
Alan da Luz was born in Brazil in 1958 and completed studies in economics in Great Britain in the 80ies, then went to Germany. He worked some times in Palestine with an NGO. He was active in the movement against the war in Iraq. Since then, he uses to comment from time to time the situation in the world, particularly in the Near East and Palestine (some of his articles on Palestine have been translated into German and French for the Homepage of Gesellschaft Schweiz Palästina).