It is written by
Pericles of Nearchus
The humanitarian tragedy in Gaza has today become the focus of the war being waged there. Those in the region who support Hamas, such as Iran and Turkey, obviously do not want, in any way, for Israel to achieve its political goal of crushing Hamas, politically and militarily. Such a development would rearrange the balance of power in the region, opening the prospect of a Middle East solution based on the creation of a Palestinian state in the territories of the West Bank and Gaza.
Three decades ago, the uncompromising position that Hamas supports today, i.e. the non-recognition of the state of Israel and the strategy of its elimination, was a common position and policy of all Palestinian organizations. But through the successive defeats and disasters they suffered, they realized that the goal of eliminating the state of Israel was unattainable and self-destructive.
They therefore gradually revised their policy, through many internal divisions and conflicts, and arrived, led by their historic leader Arafat, at the Oslo Accords, negotiating with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The latter was murdered by a Jewish zealot of “Greater Israel”.
Rabin’s death was the first major blow to this effort to resolve the Palestinian problem. Internal divisions also weakened the Palestinian leader, who finally passed away without being able to put into practice the Palestinian state, which became an international commonplace as a basis for the solution of the Middle East.
The dreaded division between the Palestinians, which also referred to relations with Arab states and Iran, was radicalized by the assumption of power in the Gaza Strip by the extreme Hamas. The main characteristic of the new Palestinian radicalism has been the movement towards radical Islam and the identification of the Palestinian national struggle with political radical Islam. Arafat and Fatah distanced themselves from Islamism and emphasized the national and national liberation character of their movement.
The Islamization of a significant portion of the Palestinians was expressed in the Gaza Strip with Hamas and in Lebanon with Hezbollah. It was also expressed by the development of privileged relations between Hamas and Iran, despite the fact that Hamas is a Sunni organization and not a Shia one, like Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Extreme political forces in Israel were comfortable with the division of the Palestinians and the rise of Hamas to power in Gaza, because with them, since they seek the elimination of Israel, it is not possible to discuss the creation of a Palestinian state. This situation worsened with the marginal majorities that gave repeated elections in Israel. For the formation of a government, concessions were made to extreme ultra-orthodox small parties, which brought back to the political agenda the continuation of settlements in the occupied territories and other extreme policies.
The conflict between Shiites and Sunnis, centered on Syria, put the Middle East on the sidelines for a long time. In this climate and with the open dispute and geopolitical competition between Saudi Arabia and Iran, it became possible to promote the so-called Abraham Accords between Israel and the Arab countries of the Gulf. This development was a strategic defeat for Iran and the Palestinians of Hamas.
The unexpected turn in relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia changed the basic terms on which the geopolitical rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Israel had been based. Efforts were renewed, with American mediation, to sign an agreement to normalize relations and cooperation between Israel and Saudi Arabia. However, on October 7th came the torpedo of Hamas’s attack on Israel.
Israel, after the brutality and humiliation it suffered on October 7th, considers the complete crushing of Hamas, with a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, a non-negotiable political goal. But the invasion entails huge civilian casualties, since it is impossible to distinguish between Hamas and civilians. Hamas fighters are no strangers to the civilian population. They are the children, the brothers, the spouses of the civilians.
The humanitarian tragedy of the civilians is intertwined with the tragedy of the hostages, whose lives are directly endangered by the Israeli ground operation. Hamas, and the states that support it, such as Qatar, are trying to use the hostage issue as a bargaining chip to stop the Israeli attack, even if it is in the form of a truce of a few days. Israel rejects any proposal, fearing that any ceasefire would allow Hamas to resupply and regroup and that it would intensify international pressure not to repeat the ground offensive.
However, the magnitude of the humanitarian tragedy is of such proportions that it emerges as the main axis of the war in Gaza, combined with the threats to expand the war. On this front, a new element is the alignment of Turkey with Iran. Erdogan took a first step by unreservedly supporting Hamas, which he characterized as a national liberation movement and not a terrorist organization. He then instructed Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan to take a further step and identify the Turkish position with that of Iran.
Another element is the intervention in the war of a completely regional player, Yemen, which nevertheless has long-range missiles and drones provided by Iran. The latter escalates its pressure and intervention through regional proxies, avoiding direct involvement itself. Turkey is in geopolitical competition with Iran, despite the conjunctural convergence, looking to a leading role in the Muslim world, especially the Sunni one. On the occasion of the Palestinians and solidarity with Gaza, Erdogan seeks to revive the Muslim Brotherhood movement, speaking to the Arab and Muslim masses, over the heads of their governments.
It also sends a message to the West about the independent role of Turkey, which must be accepted and respected as an independent regional power in the region. With regard to Gaza in particular, Erdogan is eyeing the EEZ that this region potentially has and which serves his plans for a hegemonic Turkish presence in the Eastern Mediterranean, from Libya to Syria, Cyprus and of course the Aegean.
As things stand, Israel risks, regardless of military operations, losing the moral advantage internationally if it does not show the necessary flexibility in the matter of adequately dealing with the humanitarian problem of Gaza.
The parameters for the solution of the political problem are, obviously, none other than those that provide for the creation of a Palestinian state. However, the important thing in this case is the political conditions that are required and these concern a common position of the Palestinians on this issue, but also the inhibition of its Islamic internationalization, which would make a solution much more difficult.