RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Days after Palestinian gunmen from Gaza launched audacious attacks on southern Israel, more than 1,300 people were killed in the country’s biggest attack in decades. The conflict threatens to spread across the Middle East.
In the Gaza Strip, Palestinians are fleeing in fear as the Israeli military bombards the besieged territory with airstrikes and demands that more than a million of its residents move south. On Israel’s northern border, the army confronts a militant group Lebanon. In Iraq and Yemen, Armed groups have threatened Israel and its key ally, the United States. On Thursday, Israel launched two airstrikes on two major airports Syria
As the Israeli army prepares for a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, the inferno erupting from Gaza is becoming a potential nightmare for the entire region, threatening not only Israel and the Palestinian territories, but further destabilization. Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon.
US officials have redoubled their support for Israel and President Joe Biden has defended Israel’s “right to respond”.
According to analysts, the outbreak of war — and an attack by Hamas, Israel’s biggest victim in decades — was not just a shock to representatives of the Biden administration, which has recently touted its successes in defusing crises in the Middle East. , but a major setback for wealthy oil powers Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who in recent years have declared their commitment to reducing regional tensions and said it was time to focus on domestic growth.
Those hopes shattered the relative peace and terrified officials, academics and ordinary citizens across the region. The war in Israel comes on top of several conflicts in Yemen and Syria, as well as the war that broke out this year. Sudan.
“We are going backwards,” said Mohammed Baharoon, director of the Dubai-based research center B’huth. “Suddenly, those who kill people and those who celebrate killing others are back.”
Although the Gulf monarchies survived the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings and subsequent wars — growing richer and more powerful as their neighbors collapsed — many of the underlying issues that fueled the uprisings have intensified, including economic problems, corruption and political repression. According to analysts, this represents risks for the entire region and leaves many countries in a precarious situation as this new war unfolds.
“Until the political causes of conflicts are seriously addressed, esp Poor managementIt will be difficult to actively consolidate regional stability,” said Anna Jacobs, senior Gulf analyst at Crisis Group.
Saudi and Emirati officials describe it as a new strategy focused on economic diplomacy and escalating tensions in recent years.
In 2020, the Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco established diplomatic relations with Israel.They reversed their position of refusing to recognize a Palestinian state before it was created. This year, Saudi Arabia re-established diplomatic relations with Iran. Its regional rival. And, recently, Saudi officials have been talking with their American counterparts about a possible deal to establish ties with Israel.
Now, leaders are doing their best to save their plans in the frenzy of calls and meetings. Qatar, Turkey and Egypt are working with the US to try to contain the conflict between Israel and Hamas. According to the Arab official, it is negotiating with various actors, including Iran.
If the conflict reaches Lebanon fully or if Iran becomes directly involved, it would be a disaster, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid disrupting delicate talks.
There are already signs of increasing regional unrest.
The Israeli army has been engaged in a conflict with terrorists in Lebanon for several days HezbollahThe Shiite group is supported by Iran and is Israel’s arch-enemy.
In Iraq on Friday, more than 500,000 people filled Baghdad’s Tahrir Square in support of the Palestinians. Called by nationalist Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, people streamed out of impoverished neighborhoods of Baghdad to join Friday prayers, which were surprisingly orderly, interrupted only occasionally by chants of “no, no” to Israel and “no, no to unity.” in the States.”
They also exploded Demonstrations Friday in Jordan, Bahrain and Lebanon.
“Now, many countries in the region are young, with poor economies, and generally struggling people who see it as a source of prestige,” said Mohammed Alyahya, a Saudi analyst and senior resident at the Middle East Initiative. The Belfer Center at Harvard University will mark the Hamas attack. “That’s dangerous.”
Opinions in the larger region were more varied: many of the interviewed ordinary people The New York Times He vowed he was pained by the killing of Israeli civilians, especially women and children, but Israel’s notorious colonial-style occupation has sowed Palestinian anger. Others saw the attacks against Israelis as legitimate protest.
A young woman who recently fled her war-torn Yemen told a journalist in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. times His “only wish in this life” was to travel to war with Hamas. “It’s a holy cause”Abdullah, 18, asked to be identified only by his first name to avoid government reprisals.
Since Saturday, when Israel began retaliating against Hamas attacks, nearly 1,800 Palestinians have been killed and more than 6,600 wounded.
For many watching in horror across the region, the Hamas attacks exposed the dangers of allowing Palestinians to remain hopeless, Baharoon and other scholars said.
“No state is found: its lands are reduced; Their rights are being curtailed,” Baharoon said, noting how deprivation can fuel unrest and violence. “Desperation can be a very important weapon.”
© The New York Times 2023
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