Hamas has built up its military wing at the expense of ordinary Gazans, for whom it has completely failed to provide reliable civilian services. Its insistence on focusing exclusively on its military capability keeps tensions high with Israel and renders reconciliation with the Palestinian Authority a near-impossibility.
The covert cyberwar that helped spark the 13-month-old Gulf crisis, which pits a Saudi-United Arab Emirates-led alliance against Qatar, may have just gotten murkier with the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence agents by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
The Mediterranean Sea, one of the most important maritime trade highways in the world, is the marine traffic hub at the western end of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Beijing’s maritime strategic activities in the Mediterranean consist mainly of constructing and operating ports and railways to open up new trade links between China and the Eurasia-Africa zone. However, the implementation of a Chinese Maritime Silk Road via the Mediterranean cannot succeed unless there is a way to bridge the gap between economic interests and the capacity to protect those interests.
The Eastern Mediterranean Alliance (Israel, Greece, and Cyprus) is emerging at a time of increasing global instability. All three states are firm democracies that promote peace, security, and environmental stability in the region. The tripartite alliance is strategically the most significant anchor of Greek security and economic progress.
On July 8, Israel allegedly conducted an airstrike in Syrian territory that struck once again at the T4 base near Homs. Interestingly, Israel did not conduct any airstrikes to stop the concurrent advance of Syrian and Hezbollah forces southward. This might suggest that a grand bargain has been offered by Russia to Israel – one in which Moscow assures Jerusalem of an Iranian withdrawal in return for Israel’s acceptance of the consolidation of the Syrian state. This might explain Israel’s passivity, but it is by no means certain that Moscow will prevail on Tehran to withdraw from Syria.
Why has Russia under Putin acknowledged Israel’s need to prevent the buildup of an Iranian military presence in Syria? Putin’s vision is to cement an alliance of minorities against the Sunni majority in the Middle East. Israel could be a valuable participant in making that vision a reality – but only if Moscow works to rid Syria of the Iranian presence, joins forces to topple its Islamist regime, and weans the Alawite regime in Damascus away from Tehran.
China and the US have different geopolitical imperatives, so tensions are bound to increase between the two powers. Russia’s position in the nascent confrontation will be important to watch, as it is simultaneously under pressure from the West and in the shadow of Chinese economic strength. Russia will likely see US-China competition as providing an opportunity to improve its own geopolitical position.
Just as Israel is a Jewish state of nearly 9 million citizens, where some 2 million non-Jews live in peace and security, there is no reason why a Palestinian Arab state should not host a sizable Jewish minority living in peace and security with the Arab majority.
The downturn in Hamas’s fortunes is not only political but also practical. From the 1990s through the “al-Aqsa intifada,” it made lethal use of suicide terrorism. Its substitutes since then – ballistic, tunnel, and now kite terrorism – are decreasingly effective.
Hamas’s kite terrorism may not pose an existential threat, but by turning thousands of hectares of farmland into a wilderness and undermining Israel’s ability to provide peace and security for its frontier residents, it poses a threat that must be removed without delay.