World View: The Gaza War Becomes Existential for Both Sides

World View: The Gaza War Becomes Existential for Both Sides

This morning’s key headlines from

  • The Gaza war becomes existential for both sides
  • Russia replaces America’s influence in Central Asia

The Gaza war becomes existential for both sides

Israel received almost worldwide condemnation on Wednesday for airstrikes on a crowded Gaza marketplace and on a United Nations shelter,killing or wounding over 100 civilians, including women andchildren. 

On the other hand, Hamas released a taunting video of how they usedone of their tunnels under the border fence between Gaza and Israel onMonday to surprise and kill five Israeli soldiers. 

And yet, there is one thing that Hamas and the Israelis agree on: Theydon’t want to go back to the status quo ante

Israelis are now aware of a massive tunnel complex under Gaza, muchmore sophisticated than they’d previously estimated. Every (Jewish)Israeli citizen is aware of the danger that this poses, and the leftand right are united in support of the army in continuing its groundoperations and air strikes on Gaza with the objective of destroyingthe rockets and destroying the entire tunnel complex. Polls indicatethat Israelis will not agree to a ceasefire unless the army meets itsobjectives. 

Palestinians are aware that if they agree to a ceasefire now, beforethe “siege” is lifted, then the war will have gained them nothing.That means that the death of hundreds of civilians, thedestruction of hundreds of homes, businesses, and hospitals, thedevastation of Gaza’s infrastructure — all of that will have been fornothing. Polls indicate that Palestinians will not agree to aceasefire unless the “siege” (blockade) is lifted, meaning that peopleand goods can flow freely in and out of Gaza. 

Thus, in a sense, this war has become “existential” for both sides.Neither side can back down, which logically implies that the war willcontinue for some time to come, to the point of exhaustion. Perhapssomeone can figure out a compromise — say 90% of the tunnels aredestroyed, and some symbolic steps are taken to weaken the blockade.Or perhaps Israel will re-occupy Gaza, reversing the decision it madein 2005. Daily Mail (London) and AP and Al Arabiya and Jerusalem Post

Russia replaces America’s influence in Central Asia

American influence played a big role in Central Asia in the 1990s,after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and grew even larger after2001 when the Afghanistan war began. But now, American influence isfalling rapidly, as the U.S. withdraws troops from Afghanistan and, atthe same time, sharply reduces aid to Central Asian countries for suchthings as anti-drug programs. 

There’s probably no greater symbol ofthis loss of influence than Manas International Airport in Bishkek,the capital city of Kyrgyzstan. A couple of years ago, you wouldtypically see dozens of US C-17 transports, carrying troops andequipment to and from Afghanistan. Today, the US is gone, and theairport is almost deserted. Kyrgyzstan used to be a country of majorstrategic importance, as it leveraged Russia and America against eachother, but now the country is clearly in Russia’s orbit. 

The change is highlighted by “Enduring Brotherhood 2014,” jointpeacekeeping military exercises now taking place in Kyrgyzstan by theCollective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russian-led militarycooperative of six countries: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan,Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan. 700 troops are taking part in theexercises, kicked off after a four-day drill by CSTO’s CollectiveRapid Deployment Force. Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses (IDSA – New Delhi) andJamestown and Central Asia Times

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Gaza, Israel, Hamas, United Nations,Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Afghanistan, Enduring Brotherhood 2014,Collective Security Treaty Organization, CSTO 

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