A chapter in Middle East politics

There is now a ceasefire of sorts in place between Hamas and Israel but what has actually been achieved by either antagonist. Israel has destroyed approx 1500 sites in Gaza but the residents of Sderot or Ashkelon contend Hamas will resume its rocket fire in a few months. The residents are sceptical because Operation Cast Lead in 2008/09 was supposed to have destroyed the ‘terror infrastructure’. Hamas has fired as many rockets into Israel, only this time they’ve managed to reach Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Israel’s Iron Dome missile shield intercepted 90% of the projectiles that could’ve landed on built-up areas; it may just be that Iran was probing the defence system for weakness. Hamas has claimed victory having survived the ‘precision bombing’ onslaught and has emerged politically stronger in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

The Arab Spring has brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Egypt; President Morsi attended the NAM meeting in Tehran where he called for reforms in Syria. In the Arab League conference held in Cairo, Morsi upped the ante when he called for a change of government – he then tempered this by stating that Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey and Egypt would meet to find a solution to the crisis in Syria. During the recent conflict between Hamas and Israel, President Morsi put Hamas under pressure to accept a truce in order to prevent the calamity that would result from an escalation of the violence. His statesmanship has elevated the Muslim Brotherhood to a position of a credible alternative to unelected regimes in neighbouring Arab states i.e. Syria and Jordan.

Khaled Meshaal may have abandoned his long time base in Damascus but was all praise for Iran during a press conference in Cairo held after the ceasefire between Hamas and Israel. Other pro-Syrian factions like the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP-GC) remain in Syria and who only recently met with Iran’s influential parliament speaker Ali Larijani. Khaled Meshaal’s move to Egypt – now under a democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood government, perhaps presages a reconciliation process between Hamas and Fatah which may lead to elections in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. In the interim, President Morsi may even succeed in getting Hamas to recognise the State of Israel along some approximation of the 1967 borders.

Israel enjoys good relations with King Abdullah II of Jordan but recent fuel price hikes have resulted in nationwide protests calling for change in the Kingdom. Budgetary constraints and the changing political landscape may force the King to reform on the lines of King Mohamed VI of Morocco. Islamist parties including the Muslim Brotherhood could dominate the newly elected parliament; the momentum for change could very easily undermine the monarchy. A resolution of the Syrian civil war is going to be far more problematic given the sectarian and ethnic divide of the country. A stalemate in the civil war will prolong Iran’s stranglehold on the Syrian political scene; a resolution of it could bring to the fore another Islamist and/or Muslim Brotherhood government.

Israel is an extremely stable country and has the military prowess that is the envy of its many bungling neighbours. However, the demographics of the Arab population and the changing political reality create facts on the ground that speak of another truth. When Israel recognizes as a matter of conscience that its security interests lie in affording dignity to the Palestinians in the occupied territories, will true peace in the Middle East come to fruition. Israel could then partner with the Palestinians who are predominantly secular, to protect their joint interests in the region. Palestinians in Jordan constitute more than half the population and are supportive of the current monarch King Abdullah II; his wife Queen Rania was born in Kuwait to Palestinian parents. A garnering of the secular forces in Jordan would drive a wedge in the Islamist/Muslim Brotherhood ambition to dominate the political arena in the region.

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About Husein M
I have created this blog in order to bring new informed ideas with the view that it would promote an educated discourse amongst progressive British Muslims.

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