By Seyed Mohammad Sadeq Kharrazi
While the Egyptian capital, Cairo, had turned into a hub of political traffic during past days with many political leaders going there in order to find a diplomatic solution to the Gaza conflict, an important question preoccupied many analysts. They asked, how those who shouted slogans about resistance [against Israel] and defending the cause of Palestine, and considered support of the Muslim Brotherhood and similar organizations as their organizational strategic depth, are now going to justify their behavior toward the Gaza crisis?
In addition, another question bothering them was about the main goals behind the Israel’s extensive aerial, land, and sea attacks on Gaza and whether the Tel Aviv regime has been able to achieve those goals? It seems that it would not be possible to analyze Israel’s behavior in attacking Gaza without due attention to domestic problems as well as election competitions among Israeli parties. Another factor which may be effective here is the new situation of relations between Israel and the United States and disillusionment of the radical Israeli prime minister [Benjamin Netanyahu] after his unbridled support for the Republican rival of the incumbent US President Barack Obama failed to bear fruit. It should be noted that the political developments in the Islamic world during the past two years, which have been variably called the Islamic Awakening or the Arab Spring, in addition to Netanyahu’s radical policies in Israel have caused his government’s performance to come under scathing fire from different political currents and parties that oppose him. As a result, he is now trapped in a deadlock and is ready to do practically anything to get out of it.
It should be also noted that a new turn of events has been seen in the United States’ relations with Israel which has had no precedence in the history of the two countries’ interactions. For the first time, the Israeli leaders openly and without restraint supported a US presidential election candidate, who despite their backing, failed to enter the White House and lost the election. Netanyahu’s outright support for the Republican candidate Mitt Romney and his subsequent failure in the United States presidential polls has further complicated Netanyahu’s predicament in Israel. If Romney had gained power in the United States, Netanyahu’s position would have been strengthened. However, Obama’s victory, will increased tension in Washington – Tel Aviv ties which have been already strained.
Although the reelection of Obama cannot be followed by a considerable change in the main course of the US foreign policy, especially with regard to Israel, it is quite possible for Barack Obama to take a totally new approach to the conflict between Arabs and Israelis. Perhaps, he may reach a point, where he would find out that the United States can bear no more costs for the irrational behavior of radical politicians in Tel Aviv. Therefore, he may ask the Tel Aviv government to review its behavior in the region and make changes to its foreign policy approach to regional countries.
This issue was evident in Washington’s unwillingness to see a land invasion of Gaza by Israel during Tel Aviv’s recent war against the coastal enclave. While the United States was traditionally used to supporting Israel’s policies toward Palestinians with no restraint, here, Obama showed more self-restraint by warning Israel against entering its ground forces into the besieged Gaza Strip.
It seems that in addition to domestic goals, Israel was also trying in its attack on Gaza to reduce the deterrence power of all Palestinian groups by dealing heavy blows to Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades [the military wing of Hamas], and also to make an assessment of the arsenal available to Hamas and other Palestinian resistance groups.
The Israeli regime believed that by doing so, it would be able to demolish military infrastructures of the Palestinian groups by paying the lowest cost, in order to prevent them from dealing further blows to Israel and increase its own security index. Now, it is an undeniable fact that the military power of Hamas has overpowered Israel’s deterrence capacity and Palestinian rockets have managed to cross the “Iron Dome” and land at the heart of Israel. This issue clearly proves that Israel has not had a correct understanding of the military power of Palestinians and has been deceived by delusions about its own power.
However, the main outcome of the war which should be taken into account here is overall strengthening of the revolutionary and jihadist approaches in the region. During recent years, a new political current had been introduced by Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which believed that new methods should be used to fight off Israel’s expansionist policies. That current had tried to make the most of the awakening wave in the Arab countries and export its own ideas to these countries. However, the recent war in Gaza has clearly highlighted the crises and contradictions with which this current is grappling. The new Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was also dealing with the crisis as he was under pressure to decide what approach to take toward the massacre of the innocent Palestinian people. They say “one swallow does not make a summer.” Attractive diplomatic lip service paid by Morsi and Erdogan will also not make up for the sufferings of Palestine. The public opinion in the region is now judging various approaches taken to the Gaza war by each and every regional political leader.
In fact, the question which preoccupies the people in the Muslim world is while traditional Arabs as well as Turkish leaders send shipments of weapons and ammunitions to the opposition groups in Syria, why and on the basis of what logic they refrain from providing Palestinians with necessary armaments? On the other side, some Palestinian officials who were praising Erdogan for his perceived bravery quite recently, are now facing a dilemma for justifying paradoxical behaviors of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Egypt. Therefore, one logical outcome of this war has been the resurgence of revolutionary approaches in the foreign policies of various countries in the region. Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah movement are epitomes of such an approach. The Zionist regime of Israel was well aware that continuation of its attacks on Gaza could have reignited jihadist currents in the Middle East. Perhaps, this is one reason why it has accepted the cease-fire with Palestinians.
At any rate, the main conclusion which can be reached in the light of the existing crisis in Gaza is that the Gordian knot of the Middle Eastern crises and its political equations will only become more complicated in time as such crises and equations cannot be handled with the past policies anymore.
The United States and other world powers should know that the power equation in the Middle East cannot be solved without active presence of all regional powers. Perhaps, one of the goals of Israel’s recent assault on Gaza was to undermine, or at least, postpone the possible dialog between Iran and the United States, or to overshadow it. However, it seems that the Gaza crisis has proven more than any time before to US President Barack Obama that he needs to interact more closely with Iran as the harbinger of revolutionary and jihadist discourse in the region. This may help Washington to solve certain regional issues, including the ongoing crises in Syria and Gaza, with Iran’s help.
Seyed Mohammad Sadeq Kharrazi
Former Iranian Ambassador to France and the United Nations