Consequences of the Gaza War

WHICH WAY WILL THE WAR GO? Israeli Students from Haifa University demonstrate in support of the Israeli operations in Gaza. The poster says: “Let IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] win.” (Sipa Press via Newscom)

War is so passé. It is so 1960-ish. While most of the world has learned to take their divergences in front of a panel of wise men and women for arbitration, the Middle East continues to turn to violence as a means of settling old disputes.

As history has shown time and again, wars rarely accomplish their intended goals; instead, wars complicate the issues further. Armed conflicts rarely, if ever, settle disputes. Quite to the contrary, violence only begets violence.

A quick look at the recent history of the Middle East between 1948 – date of the founding of the State of Israel – and today, 61 years, is all the explanation needed to make this point.

How many wars were fought during this time? Israel’s war of independence in 1948; the 1956 Suez crisis; 1967, the Six-Day War; 1973, the October War; 1978, the first invasion of Lebanon (Operation Litany); 1982, the second invasion of Lebanon; two uprisings (intifada of 1987 and 2000); the second Lebanon War of 2006; and now the war with Gaza. Israel has fought a war every six and-a-half years. And what are the results? More complications than ever.

When looking at the Middle East, every year seems to become more complicated than the previous one. But do they learn? Hardly.

Time will tell if Israel’s Christmas war on the Gaza Strip, the fiercest such attack since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, will have been a good idea. Forget for a moment the ethics involved – on both sides of this insane war – as well as the emotions, running high, again on both sides. Let’s instead take a cold look at the facts, without giving preference to one side over the other; a somewhat difficult exercise given the blind faith this region commands. Typically, the outcome of such analysis is decried by both sides. But that is part and parcel of the region’s mental instability.

Yes, mental instability. Only people lacking the most common of senses would resort to the sort of action taken by Hamas and Israel in the past two weeks. Naturally, this is the proverbial story of what came first: Hamas’s rocket attacks on Israeli localities, or the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Or the smuggling of guns into the Strip, which in turn led to the closure of the borders.

Regardless, of who did what first, the end result is detrimental to the national interests of the United States, Western Europe and allied Arab regimes. The explosive situation in the Middle East today has the potential of changing the current dynamics of the region.

The Gaza war is going to severely hamper the West’s efforts in gaining the trust of the Arab and Muslim worlds as the West continues to fight the global war on terror.

That alone should provide al-Qaida mastermind, Osama bin Laden, the ability to recruit a few dozen more followers (at the very least).

Further complicating an already complex issue is now Turkey’s venture into the Middle East – on the side of Hamas. Turkey, a traditional U.S. ally, under the leadership of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who leads an Islamist party, has until recently shown a balanced approach to the Middle East issue, maintaining cordial relations with both Arabs and Israelis. That may soon change, if it has not already.

Erdogan, currently on a tour of the region is skipping Israel, whom the Turkish prime minister, criticized for their heavy handedness in Gaza, saying it was a slap in the face.

The dilemma is: Which way is Israel going with this war? What will it solve and at what cost, not only to Israel, but to the Palestinians who have lost 400 people so far? And what price will the United States and its allies end up paying for this war?

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama will have to give this issue utmost priority. With the inclusion of Turkey in the mix, the danger – long warned by many observers of the region, including this one – is becoming a reality. The conflict is beginning to spread. War may be a way of the past in parts of the world. But for now it remains ingrained in the ways of the Middle East.


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