World View: Hamas Is at War with Egypt More Than Israel
- Hamas's war with Israel -- and with Egypt
- Analysts express alarm at ISIS control of Mosul Dam
- Can Obama's air strikes save the Kurdish Peshmerga?
- Obama is dragged kicking and screaming back towards the Truman Doctrine
Hamas's war with Israel -- and with Egypt
The ceasefire in Israel's war with Hamas ended at 8 am local time on
Friday morning, and Hamas launched a barrage of rockets at targets in
Israel a short time later. Israel walked out of the peace talks in
Egypt and re-launched its air attacks on Hamas targets in Gaza. So
the Gaza war is back in full force.
Daniel Nisman, the president of Levantine Group, a Mideast analyst
group, gave a very interesting interview on al-Jazeera on Friday
morning. Here are some excerpts (my transcription).
The [peace] talks are ... complicated. First, Israel
is not talking to Hamas. Israel talks to Egypt, and Egypt talks
to Hamas. [It] looks like the rocket fire that we saw this
morning promptly after the ceasefire ended was actually sort of
Hamas's negotiating tactics, to leverage their position...
Egypt's been in an open conflict with the regional Muslim
Brotherhood movement, which extends also to Turkey and to Qatar.
So if you look at Hamas, Hamas is basically the only Muslim
Brotherhood branch with its own military, so you can see for
yourself how Egypt would relate to that.
There's no question in my mind -- and I don't think any one in
Israel -- that as soon as the current government came to power [in
Egypt], they sought to weaken Hamas using any means necessary, and
even if that means have Israel do its doing work while absorbing
the international criticism.
I would say that it was really Egypt that pushed Hamas into a
corner by shutting off the [Rafah border crossing] and destroying
all those tunnels [under the fence between Gaza and Egypt]. That
... put Hamas into a corner with no choice but to fight its way
out, and that's what it's doing right now in the current conflict.
This conflict is actually as much of a fight between Hamas and
Egypt, as it is a fight between Hamas and Israel.
Which is why you see that some of these negotiations in Cairo
broke down even before Israel could even step in to the picture.
There's still a lot of bad blood between the Egyptian side and
Hamas side. There's a lot of insulting going on, and it's clear
to many that Egypt will not let this conflict finish with Hamas in
power. Egypt wants to finish this conflict with the Palestinian
Authority sitting across from the Rafah border. They've got a
very, very big Suez Canal expansion project, and they don't want
Hamas to have any demands like expanding a seaport, building a
seaport which could allow weapons to flow from Gaza into the Sinai
So this policy towards weakening Hamas I think has been a big
reason why the conflict has persisted as long as it has, because
Egypt and Israel -- Egypt even more than Israel -- has an interest
in weakening Hamas, seeing it as an extension of its own Muslim
Hamas has been increasingly demanding a seaport where supplies
can flow in and out of Gaza, without being under control of
either Israel and Egypt, as the border crossings would be. And
once a seaport were open to international shipping, it would be
almost impossible to close it again. However, Nisman makes
the point that Egypt, even more than Israel, will prevent
any such seaport from being built.
Analysts express alarm at ISIS control of Mosul Dam
The Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) apparently has
control of the Mosul dam, the largest dam in Iraq. This gives ISIS
control of much of Iraq's electrical power.
However, many analysts are beginning to describe the dam as a "weapon
of mass destruction." According to some reports, if ISIS blows the
dam, then Mosul will be flooded with water 20-30 meters deep. The
water will continue downstream, flooding many other villages. In
three days, it will reach Baghdad, and flood it with water 5 meters
deep. Millions of people would be killed.
There are other concerns as well, according to a 2007 report from the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Mosul dam is not built on solid
ground. It's built on porous material that requires constant
maintenance. If ISIS does not continue that maintenance, then the dam
will collapse anyway. However, that event would be at least six
months away, according to one analyst I heard. Gulf News and ABC News
Can Obama's air strikes save the Kurdish Peshmerga?
The Kurdish Peshmerga militias have a reputation for being fierce
fighters, but they've performed poorly against ISIS in the past few
weeks. Peter Galbraith, a Washington analyst, was interviewed on the
BBC on Friday, and gave four reasons why the Peshmerga have done
- The Kurds have a 650 mile border with ISIS. They need to
defend the whole border, while ISIS can choose any point of
- The Peshmerga are simply outgunned by ISIS. ISIS has huge
advanced weapons, thanks to capturing American weapons stores in
Mosul. The Humvees have been particularly effective for ISIS.
- When ISIS comes to an area, they terrify the population so they
panic and flee, so the Peshmerga defenders have to cope with an enemy
that is attacking a panicked population.
- Kurdish fighters want to win, but they don't want to die. ISIS
fighters are not afraid to die, which gives them a big
Other analysts have said that the days of the fierce Peshmerga
fighters are over. All the fierce fighters from the 1990s are now in
politics or the oil business.
Reports indicate that the Obama administration has authorized
airstrikes to help the Peshmerga, but some analysts are saying that
won't be enough without at least supplying the Peshmerga with weapons.
Obama is dragged kicking and screaming back towards the Truman Doctrine
As I've written many times, President Obama has been the first
president since the end of World War II to repudiate the Truman
Doctrine. As I wrote in 2006,
President Harry Truman's Truman Doctrine of 1947 made America
"policeman of the world," because the cost of a small military action
was always better than a repeat of something as enormous as World War
President Obama's policy, as I understand it, has always been no
military action at all if it can be avoided in any way. As problems
have mounted in the Mideast, Obama has been forced to revise his
doctrine. In recent weeks, I've heard analysts describe his doctrine
as permitting military action if two conditions are satisfied:
- Something like genocide is threatened.
- The military action must be essential for U.S. security.
This is already closer to the Truman Doctrine than Obama has been in
the past, but it's still not there. The New York City police force has to
fight crime every day all the time. A police action is taken if its
important to the entire city, not just important to the police force.
The Truman Doctrine is not limited to military actions that directly
benefit the United States. The criterion is whether it's important to
Of course, the two are sometimes hard to distinguish. Obama
supposedly rejected military action in 2011 to stop the genocide of
Syria's president Bashar al-Assad because it was not essential for
American security. However, that failure may have led to the rise of
ISIS, which is a threat to America's security.
On Thursday evening, Obama announced limited military action in Iraq,
which he justified as follows:
I’ve said before, the United States cannot and should
not intervene every time there’s a crisis in the world. So let me
be clear about why we must act, and act now. When we face a
situation like we do on that mountain -- with innocent people
facing the prospect of violence on a horrific scale, when we have
a mandate to help -- in this case, a request from the Iraqi
government -- and when we have the unique capabilities to help
avert a massacre, then I believe the United States of America
cannot turn a blind eye. We can act, carefully and responsibly,
to prevent a potential act of genocide. That’s what we’re doing
on that mountain.
So there are three criteria:
- Genocide is involved.
- The Iraq government has asked us for help.
- We have unique capabilities to help.
Once again, this isn't exactly the set of criteria that the NYPD would use.
Obama added the following in his speech:
I know that many of you are rightly concerned about
any American military action in Iraq, even limited strikes like
these. I understand that. I ran for this office in part to end
our war in Iraq and welcome our troops home, and that’s what we’ve
done. As Commander-in-Chief, I will not allow the United States
to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq. And so even as
we support Iraqis as they take the fight to these terrorists,
American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq,
because there’s no American military solution to the larger crisis
in Iraq. The only lasting solution is reconciliation among Iraqi
communities and stronger Iraqi security forces.
So having stated three criteria for military action, Obama quickly
rushes to back away from them.
Analysts repeatedly describe ISIS as: extremely wealthy, extremely
well organized, and extremely well-armed -- because they've captured
huge troves of weapons including armored vehicles that can roll over
Iraqi army troops.
Obama continues to learn bitter lessons that have repeatedly shown
that his naïve view of the world is wrong. His last paragraph
indicates that he still has little idea what's going on in the world,
and that he still has a lot to learn. Sooner or later, however,
events will force him (and us) to regret that he repudiated the Truman
Doctrine in the first place. White House
KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Israel, Hamas, Daniel Nisman, Egypt,
Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL,
Iraq, Mosul, Mosul Dam, US Army Corps of Engineers,
Kurds, Pesmerga, Peter Galbraith, Truman Doctrine
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