The next war in the Middle East
Westhawk points to an article in the WSJ identifying the next war in the Middle East. It will be in Gaza. But who will fight who has not yet been determined. It could be between the forces vying for the leadership of the Islamic world.
On Friday, relatives of a Fatah man recently killed by Hamas opened fire on Mr. Haniyeh's convoy in Gaza; Fatah militiamen have also threatened to assassinate the entire Hamas cabinet. Hamas, for its part, recently assassinated top Fatah militiaman Mohammed Shahadeh and intelligence officer Jad Tayah. Earlier this month, Hamas security forces opened fire on Fatah-affiliated policemen who had raided the Gaza branch of the Bank of Palestine in protest of their unpaid salaries. At least 10 people died; Fatah's Al-Hayat al-Jadeeda newspaper called Hamas's actions "Sedition" in banner headlines. Mr. Abbas is considering dissolving the government and moving to new elections; Hamas Interior Minister Said Siam deems the idea a "coup."
Westhawk describes this political contest for the "leadership" as a kind of Olympics of death.
The battle between the Hamas and Fatah factions for control of Gaza may thus increasingly become a proxy war between the Iranian/Syrian/Hezbollah alliance supporting Hamas, and the Egyptian/Saudi Arabian/Gulf State alliance supporting Fatah. The plight of the Palestinians has for decades been the major cause celebre in the Islamic world, and a convenient distraction for regimes in the region. Now that alliances are forming backing the two sides in the Gaza civil war, each side will seek to make sure that the other does not emerge as the victorious Great Protector of the Palestinian people, the loser thus having his honor and credentials tarnished. Meanwhile, the objects of the exercise, the Palestinians, are ground down in the process.
Alternatively it could be a reprise, in miniature, of the War in Lebanon. The WSJ article continues:
Last week, Egyptian police in the Sinai intercepted a shipment of 200 crates of guns and ammunition headed for the town of Rafah, which straddles the seven-mile Egyptian-Palestinian border. Also last week, the Israeli army (IDF) discovered 13 smuggling tunnels running under the border in addition to the 12 discovered since June. Israeli intelligence estimates that in the past year at least 19 tons of explosives have been smuggled through these tunnels into Gaza, plus some 15,000 Kalashnikov rifles, 1,000 RPGs, and quantities of Katyusha rockets, Strella antiaircraft missiles and Russian-made Kornet and Metis antitank missiles.
All this is in addition to an indigenous Gazan military industry that produced the hundreds of short-range Kassam rockets that have rained continuously on southern Israel for two years. And it explains why Israeli military planners feel they need to deal Gaza a punishing blow sooner rather than later, when the Palestinians might be in a position to bloody Israel the way Hezbollah did last summer.
Or it could be an everyone-against-everyone barfight; which seems pointless but is actually quite rational within the context of the politics of the Middle East. A continuous supply of violence is necessary to sustain the formation of "militant" organizations whose sole purpose for existence is to keep existing. And since they are useless for anything but mayhem, the violence must on no account stop. Otherwise, what would the millions of men who know nothing other than to live by the gun do?