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Gaza truce indicates tectonic drift

Partial lifting of blockade impact of the Arab revolt

28. November 2012
Anti-Imperialist Camp

Despite the fact that both sides hail their victory, the important change of relationship of forces in favor of the Arab masses can easily be recognized. The Palestinian resistance eventually achieved the far-reaching easing of the blockade (1) – though the exact extend remains to be seen and even fought over. The US had to give something to Egypt which Cairo could pass on to the Palestinians and Hamas. It is a sign of a tectonic drift powered by the Arab popular movement which sooner or later will change the grand design of the entire region.

1) As always the US firmly stood on the Israeli side. They, however, pressurized their main partner to accept the truce. Furthermore they made clear that they are strongly opposed to a ground offensive which would further inflame the region. But Hamas refused to accept the usual Israeli conditions. So the cease fire became possible only with significant concessions namely the partial lifting of the blockade. This success for the Palestinian side could be achieved thanks to the unabated resistance (which, whoever, has been a constant throughout the last decade) and the pressure of the regional and international public.

2) The decisive new factor has been the changed role of Egypt, the central Arab power. Until recently the Islamic president Mursi had had only few improvements to offer to the Palestinians in Gaza. Too weak and too cautious was the new regime acting in front of the US on which it remains dependent. But Washington, on its turn, understands well that the overwhelming majority of the Egyptians want to end the embargo against Gaza which has been implemented by Mubarak at the US’s behest. And they also know that the people are ready to fight for it. If the US would force upon Mursi the linear continuation of their old policy, they endangered the entire regime which remains highly unstable. What they fear most is a further strengthening of the popular movement whether democratic, social or Islamic. That would further weaken their control not only over Egypt but the entire region. So the US had indeed to grant something significant to Mursi.

3) Also because of the conflict over Syria and the power play with Iran, Washington does not wish any further troubles emanating from Tel Aviv. All potential partners of the US, which Israel would try to embrace, will be burned. The difficult and planless American intervention into Syria must strive to keep the Zionists out of the game. Regarding Iran they do not want to be forced into dangerous adventures by Israel and prefer to wait for the outcome of the Syrian crisis.

4) Faced with the Arab popular movements and a general shift of the relationship of forces to its detriment in the region, the US has to accept the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) as its partner. They simply got no other choice. To which extent the integration into their order will work depends on several factors including the pressure from below. They most probably will be obliged to further concessions. (Or Washington resorts to military power, which today, however, seems not to be on their top agenda. Or they succeed to further instrumentalize the Sunni-Shia rift which at the same time opens up new problems.) Currently everything is set on rapprochement with the Muslim Brotherhood and its international network. As Hamas also belongs to this outright Muslim international it implies that the policy of isolation cannot be continued as before. On the other hand the integration of Hamas will hit hard boundaries as Israel will object.

5) Maybe is was an electoral calculus which drove Netanyahu to the escalation of the air assault on Gaza. According to the polls it even might have worked. But for Israel as a whole the recent war backfired as it facilitated further steps towards a new regional order. The real demiurge behind it is the Arab popular revolt.

November 22, 2012

(1) The cease fire agreement reads: “Opening the crossings and facilitating the movements of people and transfer of goods and refraining from restricting residents’ free movements and targeting residents in border areas and procedures of implementation shall be dealt with after 24 hours from the start of the ceasefire.”