Gaza war exposes divisions in Arab world

Article Summary
Arab countries have failed to present a unified front during the current Gaza crisis.

The Israeli enemy has rushed into its third, fourth and fifth war on Gaza, Palestine, taking advantage of Arab confusion and showing how much this confusion has impacted Arabs all over Asia and Africa (and the immigrants beyond).

Israel’s extreme right-wing leadership was aware of the powerlessness of the Arabs. They are drowning in bloody fights as well as complex political and economic problems, amid an absence of solidarity among kings, presidents, princes and sheikhs. Israel was also aware that Arabs were divided between those living in the heat zone and those displaced from their homes to near and far places. They left behind them civil wars between failed regimes and gangs who came from the era of ignorance [jahiliyya] to preach a religion other than the Islam people know and believe in.

As in the past Israeli wars on Gaza — the “City of Hashim” — during the last eight years (and also in the war on Lebanon), Arab rulers are treating the new war as another “disciplinary campaign” by the “State” of Israel on those who resist its will while temporarily residing on Israel’s “territory,” pending the importation of enough settlers to inherit the land, in accordance with the legendary divine promise.

In the past, Arab rulers used to avoid taking action by resorting to statements of condemnations, generous donations and communications with each other to “unify” their positions, which are impossible to unify except through “clever formulations.” Afterward, they would come together under the Arab League’s umbrella to take turns reading speeches carefully written in a way not to express any clear position. Then they leave it to professional clerks in the Arab League’s general secretariat to put together a concluding point-by-point statement by retrieving from the league’s archive terminology denouncing the new aggression.

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What is new in the Arab situation is Egypt’s position. It is different from the previous one regarding wars on Gaza, whether in the era of Hosni Mubarak or especially in the era of the Muslim Brotherhood under Mohammed Morsi. The recently deposed president had a partisan link with [Hamas in Gaza]. He went beyond mere “sympathy” and got actually “involved” in the conflict, even if only verbally. That did not prevent the Israeli war, but it did affect its course and contribute to stopping it temporarily, taking advantage of the solidarity of some Arabs, especially Qatar, with its money and its special relations with the Israeli enemy. Those special relations allowed Qatar’s emir to come to semi-destroyed Gaza accompanied by his wife Sheikha Mawzah to make generous donations to rebuild what was destroyed with new impressive additions.

In the new Israeli war on Gaza, influential Arab countries were busy with their significant internal problems:

  • Egypt is fighting the Muslim Brotherhood’s terrorism after the Brotherhood’s 1-year-old state was overthrown, and as a result of weakening the “central state” by an international siege. Closer ties with Saudi Arabia and most Gulf states (except Qatar) were not enough to mitigate the effects of that siege.

The new rule in Egypt, in the person of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who hails from the army, has not reduced the effects of the enmity with the Brotherhood. There has been no separation between that enmity and the preservation of Egypt’s leadership role, particularly regarding Gaza, whose people almost consider themselves Egyptian. Gaza is now being destroyed by Israel while Egypt is not even able to stop the aggression.

The present Egyptian regime, which came into existence to get rid of the Brotherhood rule, is now burdened by economic and social problems. It is unable to launch a clear program for change except for the popular slogans of freedom and social justice, which were shouted by the masses in the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities. Consequently, it may be difficult for this regime to “implicate” itself in a war. However, no one is convinced that the regime was unable to stop the war by taking a national Egyptian stance that overcomes its rivalry with Hamas in order to protect the Palestinian people.

The regime had very serious internal problems. Although most of them are inherited, it was easy to hold the Brotherhood directly responsible and blame the entire Brotherhood organization everywhere, with a particular focus on the role of Qatar (and Turkey). Of course, the Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza was at the forefront of those accused. The regime accused them on interfering in Egypt’s internal affairs (smuggling of prisoners, smuggling of arms into Sinai, using tunnels to smuggle in the opposite direction whereby instead of the smuggling going from Libya to Sudan to Sinai to Gaza, the destination became Egypt itself). The Brotherhood was accused of being “somewhat responsible” for the clashes in Sinai between the Egyptian army and gangs whose roles grew and caused a lot of deaths while weakening the prestige of the Egyptian army, thus affecting the prestige of the new regime.

Egyptian chauvinism made its mark on the regime’s position. The regime was struck with several scandals, especially scandals humiliating Egypt’s history of struggle for dignity, a struggle that gave Egypt the standing to lead the Arab nation.

  • Syria was and still is mired in war (in it and against it), especially since the political opposition against the regime was replaced by various fundamentalist organizations that include non-Syrian and non-Arab jihadists.

This war has dimmed the historical relationship between Syria and the Palestinians, especially since the Palestinians got directly affected by [the war]. Also, Qatar’s support for the armed opposition has affected the relationship between the Syrian regime and Hamas. (Qatar makes no secret of supporting the oppositions in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and others.)

The Syrian regime has distinguished, at least verbally, its position toward Hamas and its position toward the Israeli war on Gaza. The regime did not deny that some of the rockets used by those defending their homes and their land were made by the Syrian regime. The regime fought — politically and in the media — the war in Gaza as if it were a war on the Syrian regime and ignored its enmity with Qatar and Turkey for a while.

  • Regarding Iraq, its internal crises are very difficult, complex and intense, placing Iraq on the brink of a civil war that threatens the unity of its people and may divide the country. Iraq is unable to help Gaza even with a unified and effective political position. The UN secretary-general, on his last trip to the region regarding Gaza, found it necessary to visit Baghdad and try to convince officials (those in and outside the government) to pay attention to the tragedies stemming from the disaster in Iraq, the most serious of which was the “war of eradication” waged by Islamic State (IS) fighters against the Christian minority (Syriacs, Chaldeans and Assyrians), who are the indigenous people of Iraq before all religions.
  • Regarding Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states (except Qatar), they have their own problems. Some of those problems were caused by the wars they helped inflame in Syria and Iraq (against the regimes in Damascus and Baghdad). They turned their faces to the other side. Riyadh merely donated some medicine for the victims of the Israeli war in Gaza.

It is no exaggeration to say that the new Israeli war on Gaza is the most dangerous war against the Arabs. It exposed the powerlessness of the Arab regimes (which are only strong toward their own people). It also revealed their disunity. Some went beyond colluding with the Israeli enemy and went as far as “allying” with it.

It is also no exaggeration to say that the Arabs, in their various countries, have been offended by the position of the new Egyptian regime and could not accept it, despite the many excuses made ​​to justify it.

All of Palestine, and Gaza in particular, is an Egyptian national responsibility, regardless of who is the “ruler.”

In peace, as in war, Gaza will continue to look to Egypt as its reference and as the incubator of its Palestinian identity. This identity was confirmed when the West Bank joined Gaza, in bloodshed, to confirm the unity of the land and the people in Palestine, which will remain Palestine. Egypt will keep its eye and heart on Palestine, in peace and in war.

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Found in: syria, qatar, palestine, muslim brotherhood, israel, gaza, egypt
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