Thursday, January 15, 2009

Winners and losers

With the Gaza war in its third week and its third stage, Israel is faced with a choice between complete re-occupation of the Gaza Strip on the one hand, or a withdrawal on the best terms and with the best PR it can obtain--for instance the piece by Tom Friedman in the NYT yesterday reads like the opening statement by the defense attorney in a war-crimes trial--on the other. The initial bombing campaign didn't achieve either the collapse of the Hamas regime or breaking the will of the population; and the following two stages--depopulation of areas around the major population centers to isolate them; and now limited incursions into Gaza city--hasn't achieved either of those aims either. So short of full re-occupation, the end of the war seems to be in sight.

Bashir Nafie, writing in AlQuds alArabi this morning:
There are a number of factors that will determine the outcome of this war. The first is the steadfastness of the Gaza sector and the unity of its forces and its people, in the face of the attack; and their refusal to submit to the Israeli will. The second is the amount of popular support from the Arab and Islamic world, and from the world as a whole. Never before have a people of this size, on a piece of land of this scale, stood up to an instrument of war as imposing and as ugly as the Israeli war machine.

And not since the Palestinian nakba of 1948 has there been this kind of popular support for the people of Palestine. Or such a message to the great powers affirming the central place of the Palestinian cause in the stability of this region of the world, and the peace and stability of the world generally.

But there are other factors as well, including such things as the level of confidence between Hamas and the Egyptian negotiators; and certainly also including the question of the ability of the official Arab order to agree on the principle of the protection of the Gaza Strip and its people, and in particular their ability to exert escalated pressure on the United States and the main European countries.

Sooner or later this round of fighting will come to its end, and at that point there will be revealed a new map of powers in the region, Palestinian and Arab both. The Palestinian political scene [at the beginning of the war] appeared split...and the official Arab world repeated the split that it manifested in the 2006 war, although this time in the face of a war that was even uglier and a heavier burden on the Arab and Islamic conscience. If this war ends in Israeli failure--and that is what events are indicating--then there will be winners and losers in both areas: Arab and Palestinian. Soon, if not necessarily within days or even weeks.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Israelis bombed the UN Relief and Works Agency building in the Gaza strip, the central hub for Palestinian aid there. The director there, John Ging, claims that the shells used in this operation contained white phosphorus.

What I wonder is, what on earth does Israel possibly expect to achieve taking an action like this? Making Hamas less popular? Gaining international support for their complete suffocation of the Gazans? Stopping rocket attacks?

I don't think the Israeli army is stupid, so I really do wonder what it's trying to achieve by bombing the UNRWA in Gaza, as well as in their siege on Gaza. My money is on the annihilation and decimation of the Palestinians, to the point that they're so disenchanted with their circumstances that they have no will to stay alive and lead decent lives, let alone fire rockets into Israel. Maybe I'm wrong though..

7:00 AM  
Blogger badger said...

In addition to the UN facility, which is the central distribution point for aid supplies in Gaza, They also shelled a hospital and a building where a number of media organizations have their offices, according to Bloomberg, AP and others.

I'd say it's part of the campaign to terrorize the population, and what better way than to attack things like the UN aid distribution system and media offices?

The part about not giving a shit about world opinion fits in there somewhere, once you realize the principle is just terror.

They are saying: We won't be shut down in our campaign by world opinion or anything else.

So the world is going to have to say: Well we will shut you down. Somehow.

9:15 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Two excellent links on Gaza:



6:50 PM  
Blogger badger said...

Thanks! Here's that first link in clickable form:


Its a collection of comments by contributors to the London Review of Books including Alastair Crook, Tariq Ali and many others, an excellent read!

The second is the Avi Shlaim piece from Jan 7 in the Guardian, also a must read for anyone who hasn't read it yet.

7:30 PM  

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