Featured image: Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, President of Egypt, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Source: Avi Ohayon/GPO
We publish an unofficial translation of the article of A Nova Democracia published on their webpage.
Since October 7, the eyes of the world have been on the Middle East when “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood” was launched by the Al-Qassam Brigades, an armed organization of the Islamic Resistance Movement – known by the acronym Hamas1 – the main movement of the Palestinian National Resistance and the ruling party in Gaza since 2005, which brought with it other movements that make up the Palestinian National Resistance such as Islamic Jihad, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the “Den of Lions” group from Jenin. In the first two days, in addition to the expected barrage of rockets fired from Gaza and urban clashes between Palestinians and Israeli military and paramilitaries in the West Bank, the armed forces of the National Resistance surprisingly won in battle and captured entire units of the Israeli army and conquered settlements, doubling the area under their control to the outskirts of Gaza and temporarily gaining control of bases very close to the West Bank, threatening to split the Zionist entity in two. This action, according to Hamas itself, involved only 2,000 of its 40,000 military personnel. The state of Israel had not suffered such heavy casualties for a long time, shattering the myth of “Israeli invincibility” which Israel and the Middle Eastern regimes have fed on since the 1980s.
As expected, Israel has been cruelly bombing the Gaza Strip ever since, destroying schools, mosques, churches, hospitals and humanitarian corridors, and killing mainly women and children, in order to reaffirm its “invincibility” through terrorism. Not only has the Gaza Strip been a victim, which has been bombed more times in seven days than Afghanistan was in a year by the US, but also the Palestinian areas of the West Bank, Syria, Lebanon – including Hezbollah bases 2 – and Egypt – Israel’s ally. The US, which viewed the puppet’s actions as a drowning man’s stroke from the outset, tried to reinforce the satrap’s position by dissuading Islamic-majority countries with the presence of its aircraft carrier near Lebanese waters. This, however, was not enough to dissuade the Arab and Islamic peoples, in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia as well as the diaspora, along with democrats around the world, from raising the banner of the liberation of Palestine to a higher level. In “free” Europe, even in the face of bans on demonstrating in support of Palestine, flying the Palestinian flag and wearing the traditional keffyeh3, marches of tens of thousands defied the bans in London, Berlin, Rome and Paris. In the Middle East, the masses under the slogan “Allahu Akbar”4 are challenging their capitulating leaders to join the Palestinian struggle in Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt. The images of Jordanian tanks massed on the border with Israel, but pointing their cannons at their own territory, deterring their own citizens who want to join the Palestinians in their struggle against Israel, is very illustrative of the political picture in the Middle East.
From Clausewitz’s classic perspective, which, like Ricardo and Marx – each to his own order of magnitude – has its relevance confirmed not only by the materiality of events, but also by the chorus of “refuters” who have risen up every generation in the last hundred years to deny his contributions to science, war is a continuation of politics, as it is subordinate to it. Rather than counting corpses or kilometers gained at the front, victory in a war is determined by the total or partial achievement of the political objectives of each of those involved in the conflict. A classic example that illustrates this Clausewitzian postulate is the Vietnam War, in which it “lost” to the US in all the “metrics” of war (number of dead and wounded, more infrastructure damaged, battles/skirmishes lost), yet achieved Vietnam’s political objective in the war to expel the Yankee troops and reunify their country divided since 1954, i.e. won the war, even earning old Giap the pleasure of reminding a senior US official of this at a later meeting. Even today, the US still won’t admit defeat. Not unlike their rhetoric in Afghanistan, where the flight of US collaborators hanging from the wings of planes was reported in newspapers all over the world and tons of weaponry (including fighter planes) was disguised as a “withdrawal”. In this sense, although the Resistance has not publicized all of its specific objectives with the start of Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, it can be assumed that, even with the retreat of its ground forces to the Gaza Strip and its inability to stop the Israeli bombardment of its territory, which has killed a large number of civilians, on a political level it has already won some victories.
In the run-up to the uprising, the situation in the Middle East was not favorable to the Palestinian cause. On the enemy hill, Israel, under the extreme right-wing Likud5 government, was stepping up its policy of apartheid and ethnic cleansing with the expansion of settlements in the Occupied West Bank, despite any guarantee from the Oslo agreements. In Dar al-Islam6 the situation was no more favorable: in addition to Egypt, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Jordan, which had already had diplomatic relations with Israel for decades, Morocco under Trump’s mediation in 2020 had normalized its relations with the Zionist entity (which in return had recognized its illegal annexation of the territory of Western Sahara) and other countries such as Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan had also expressed an interest in establishing ties with Israel in exchange for advantages in negotiations with the US, denouncing its tacit abandonment of the cause of Palestinian liberation. Naturally, they can’t admit it outright, because even the most centralized of Arab monarchs has its legitimacy anchored in the defense of the Palestinian cause, which for the peoples of that region transcends mere solidarity with the wronged, adding up to a strong Arab or Islamic identity shared by most of the peoples of that part of the world who feel united with the Palestinian people.
This became clear when the Palestinian territories came under more systematic attack after October 7. Distinct figures such as the Iraqi Shiite cleric Al Sistani, Mahmud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority, and the “Arab socialist” Bashar Al-Assad radically altered their disparate agendas to join the clamor for justice for Palestine. Regardless of their personal convictions or those of the power groups around them, they could not afford not to do so at the price of losing any legitimacy among their communities. They were pushed into action by Hamas, whose offensive status is evidenced by the fact that its actions determine the actions of the other agents involved directly (such as Israel) or indirectly in the dispute (the surrounding countries).
The Final Struggle
So far, everything indicates that most of the countries in the Middle East are avoiding escalating the Palestinian conflict, just like Israel, which needs to concentrate as many of its forces as possible on the West Bank and Gaza and cannot fight on more fronts. In an analogy with Mariátegui’s “Two Conceptions of Life”, both the pro-Israeli world establishment and a good number of Middle Eastern leaders would like to live in those “golden times” when Israel waged low-intensity war against the Palestinians without causing enough commotion for them to be forced to wear the militant anti-Zionist hats necessary to deal with the population of their own country. Operation Al-Aqsa Flood made anti-Zionism lukewarm and parliamentary impossible, as it also made Zionism drop its “progressive” mask that it sold to the West (pro-LGBT, pro-bourgeois feminist and environmental issues) to unashamedly reveal its terrorist base from the Haganah.
There are those who believe that Israel planned the conflict in order to resolve the internal political crisis with an external war. This hypothesis has no concrete evidence, and is only corroborated by the – by the way, shameful – words of the Egyptian government, which claims to have warned Israel a week in advance of strange movements in Gaza. In gratitude, Israel bombed points in Sinai and intends to push two million starving people across its borders. This theory has been used by those who, although critical of Zionism, seem to idolize it, preferring to believe in anything that doesn’t deny the omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience of the IDF and Mossad. Despite this, it cannot be denied that the Israeli far right and its Mashiac 7 Netanyahu, collectors of defeats, if on the one hand they have been dragged by Hamas’ actions into stepping up military action, on the other they have taken advantage of events to launch their “Final Struggle” – with shades of a “Final Solution” – against the Palestinians in their remaining territories, assuming an eschatological rhetoric that even uses the Book of Isaiah: and that is exactly what Hamas is hoping for. This movement has created a situation in which the old normality after the exchange of missiles is politically inadmissible for Israel.
If Hamas is incapable of stopping Israel’s aerial bombardments or even sustaining a longer offensive by land outside Gaza, Israel also seems incapable of stopping missile attacks on its installations or eliminating the Palestinian resistance, which operates through a dense network of tunnels. Faced with this impasse, the Israeli government, which with each day of genocidal bombardment finds itself increasingly isolated in the international community – even its allies have advised caution in order not to escalate the conflict – and humiliated in domestic politics, sees the only alternative to ending the attacks on its territory as a land invasion of the Gaza Strip. This, however, proves to be even more complex than maintaining the air strikes. Although not very extensive, the Gaza Strip is inhabited by two million one hundred thousand inhabitants and is crossed by more than 500 km of underground tunnels. Any ground action in such a region would be long, expensive, cost countless Israeli and Palestinian lives, and would most likely be indecisive in the short term (which is bad for the occupying force, see Israel in southern Lebanon and the US in Afghanistan and Vietnam); in short, a military quagmire, everything that Israel and the US don’t need at the moment.
And now, José… aka Yusuf?
Given the current scenario and the projections for its succession, what can we expect from the leaders of the Middle East? Israel’s supposed invincibility has once again been tarnished and its unwillingness to negotiate, even with the Palestinians, has never been so clear. The horizon is narrowing for those who wanted to normalize their relationship with Israel, while promoting themselves as defenders of Islamists or leaders of the Arab world. On the one hand, their people are clamoring for more radical measures: breaking off relations with Israel (in the case of the countries that have them) and its allies, an oil embargo on them and even direct military involvement in the conflict. On the other hand, there are the commitments to the US and its golden promises in the event of Israel’s recognition, oil and tourism revenues reduced by involvement in the war and, above all, the risk of having its own people armed, which could have adverse effects.
In defiance of his people, for Erdogan, territorial expansion towards northern Syria and Cyprus is much more tangible than liberating Al-Quds (Jerusalem) from the Israelis, for Aliyev of Azerbaijan it is better to grab another piece of defenseless Armenia with the support of Israel (which continues to send weapons, even in recent weeks) than to show solidarity with the Palestinian people and for most of the Gulf monarchies, proximity to the US is non-negotiable in order to help them stand up to Iran.
This is why, despite the strong words of Erdogan (aspiring for hegemony in the Middle East), King Abdulah of Jordan (himself a Hashemite, a lineage that claims to descend from Muhammad, the prophet of Islam), Muhammad bin Salman (heir to the throne and de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, financier of the Wahabbi8 movement in Islam and protector of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina) and the president of the Arab Republic of Egypt (name inherited with pan-Arabism from Nasser) El-Sisi, Israel knows that, for the time being, they are more aimed at controlling the anger of their populations than defying it and preserving their legitimacy with it. So Israel is not obliged to grant them anything, not even the passage of their donations in Al Rafah. The case is different with the forces that make up the “Axis of Resistance9” aligned with Iran (Syria, Hizbollah, the Iraqi Shiite militias and the Houthi government10 in northern Yemen), which at least bluff better. Although their full entry into the conflict is debatable, the firing of these groups, although timid compared to their total firepower (far superior to Hamas), has already done some damage to Israeli and US forces and the movements of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard11 in Iraq and Syria are palpable.
If there are to be negotiations, they will be the result of action by those who are willing to do something. For the time being, their performance has not been enough to change the picture of the war. This is the case in Al-Sisi’s Egypt, the same one that allegedly warned Israel of Hamas’ actions and tragicomically has been targeted by Israel, recently held a parade showing off its armored vehicles and missiles; and in Turkey, Erdogan, the same one who is part of NATO and has been carrying out almost simultaneous attacks with Israel on Syria in recent days, in the face of a million-strong demonstration demanding that the government take action against Israel, suggested that he might send military force to Gaza in support of the Palestinians.
About China at the end of the 19th century (in the middle of the “Century of Humiliation”), it could be said that the Chinese feared the emperor, the emperor feared the Europeans and the Europeans (imperialists) feared the Chinese and in the Middle East the situation is not very different. Israel knows that fighting the Palestinians is one thing – difficult enough – fighting the united peoples of the Middle East is quite another. The Zionist entity needs Arab omission as an existential condition and in recent decades has relied on it. Thus, both Israel and the US are counting on their political leaders (many of whom are legitimized by Islamic religious or pan-Arab ideology) to appease a widespread uprising in the region that would represent not only the defeat of Israel, but also the extinction of this state in the region. Still in China, during another period of ascendancy, a wise man said that Israel was not facing a few million Palestinians, but 400 million Arabs – at the time, today there are even more.
The Western powers and the US know this, and although they defend Israel in the Middle East, they are not prepared to stir up Arab fury in a major conflict, as Netanyahu and his minions want. The leaders of the Palestinian National Resistance also know that they have been working with this important variable from the outset in order to succeed in their endeavor.
In order to achieve its political objectives, in order to win this latest war, which in turn is just one episode in a larger war that has been going on since the 1930s, the Palestinian National Resistance cannot count on its military personnel alone, but on the entire Palestinian population and also on the support of the countries of the Middle East, which will be won through the success of its resistance against Israel’s murderous rampage. Every day that Gaza attacks Israel, while defending its territory from genocidal Zionist incursions, the more the masses of the whole world, particularly those who share an Arab or Islamic identity, are encouraged to take action themselves against imperialism and drag down their vacillating governments.
This text expresses the opinion of the author.
1. The word Hamas means in Arabic: “enthusiasm”, “zeal” or fervor”.
2. Main Lebanese national resistance group. A militant group of the Shiite Islamic religion, it has a paramilitary wing, known for having forced Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2005 and possessing greater firepower than Lebanon’s own army, and a parliamentary wing that makes up a multi-confessional coalition that occupies the current Lebanese government.
3. Scarf worn by a number of Arab and Islamic peoples. During the Arab revolt against British rule and Zionism in the late 1930s, it became a symbol of Palestinian national resistance.
4.”God is great” in Arabic. A statement of testimony to the Islamic faith. It is used at times of prayer, struggle, happiness and pain.
5. Party of the traditional right in Israel (by Israel’s standards), which in recent years under the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu has taken increasingly far-right positions such as the characterization of Israel as a “Jewish state” (approved by the Israeli parliament in 2018), the end of Palestinian strongholds and their ethnic replacement through settlements and immigration of Jews from abroad.
6. “House of Islam” in Arabic. In the Islamic geographical conception, it would be the places where Islam prevails.
7. Messiah in Hebrew. According to the Abrahamic religions, this would be the one sent by God who would bring redemption (Salvation) to the people and fulfill the religious prophecies. For Christianity and Islam, this was Jesus of Nazareth, although they differ on his nature (whether he was the son of God or just a prophet). Judaism, except for minority Messianic Judaism, does not recognize Jesus as the “Mashiach” and still awaits his coming. Some associate the coming of the “Mashiach” with the rebuilding of Solomon’s Temple on the site of the Islamic Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is sacred to Islam and is used as a propaganda element by the Israeli far right to erase the Palestinian presence in that religion.
8. An Islamic current with a stricter and more conservative interpretation of Sunni Islam, which originated in the Arabian peninsula in the 18th century, rejecting Islamic legal schools and later interpretations. Since its emergence, it has been protected by the Saud dynasty, which rules Saudi Arabia.
9. Term used by the Iranian government to promote and describe the informal alliance of political forces opposed to the US and Israel in the Middle East, secondarily also opposing the Gulf monarchies bloc led by Saudi Arabia and Turkey. They have historically fought the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. It is made up of the states of Iran and Syria and the Houthi movements in northern Yemen, Hizbollah in Lebanon and the Shiite militias in Iraq – and is sometimes joined by the Palestinian liberation movements and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (Taliban).
10. Popular name for the militant movement “Ansar Allah”: “supporters of God” in Arabic. Yemen’s Zaidite Shiite Islamic confession aligned with Iran and Hizbollah, which has been fighting for power in Yemen since 2015 with the followers of President Hadi (supported by the West through Saudi Arabia) and Al-Qaeda. With the victory of the Houthis over Saudi intervention (2020) and the subsequent normalization of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia (2023), the conflict remains frozen.
11. A division of Iran’s Armed Forces with a more openly ideological character, specializing in asymmetric warfare. asymmetric warfare and which has played an important role in Iran’s international military actions in Iraq and Syria.