TLR 165 – Gaza and Beyond
The prolonged, on-again off-again hostilities in and around Gaza made it impossible to present a summary of what was going on, let alone where it was leading. This issue attempts to do that, but it is more concerned with putting the “latest round of fighting” — as the common perception has it — into a wider context. It is, therefore, as much focused on the “beyond” of the title, than just “Gaza”.
There are at least three components to “beyond” that this newsletter needs to address, namely the geo-political, the fallout on domestic politics and the impact on the economy and economic policy. Of these, the first is by far the most important, even for Israelis — although most are unaware of, and/or don’t pay attention to that — and certainly for outside analysts. This issue is devoted to that aspect, and it includes a discussion of the important questions, which are not “who started?” and “who won?”, but rather why did Hamas choose to stir things up at that point in time and why did it keep the fighting going for so long — and, even more intriguingly, why did Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ya’alon insist on keeping the Israeli operation as limited as possible, in the face of tremendous domestic pressure to expand it in size, scope and goals.
“Beyond” begins with the rift between Israel and the US — more correctly, with the Obama Administration — as well as the parallel, but much deeper and much less-reported split between Egypt and the US/ Obama Administration. It includes the new alliances emerging across the Middle East, in which the driving force is ISIS and which demonstrate the marginal role of Gaza and the Israel-Palestine conflict. A Middle East in which America and Iran co-operate and in which Israel and Saudi Arabia are in a tacit alliance, is a genuinely ‘new Middle East’, but not of the benign, positive sort envisioned in the 1990s.Some comments on important military aspects of the fighting seem to me useful, so I have included them.
The domestic political scene must perforce be the subject of the next issue, given its exceptionally baffling recent developments. As for the economic and economic policy analysis — fortunately, I will be meeting with many of you over the next week, so that we can address that directly. As an appetizer, I am appending a piece I wrote for this week’s Economist, which is available both in print and online where, unusually, it was expanded from my original version, included here.
A: Regional Developments
a) The Siege of Gaza
b) Absent Friends
c) Shifting Sands
d) Military notes