World View: Hamas Is at War with Egypt More Than Israel

World View: Hamas Is at War with Egypt More Than Israel

This morning’s key headlines from

  • 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 onFriday morning, and Hamas launched a barrage of rockets at targets inIsrael a short time later. Israel walked out of the peace talks inEgypt and re-launched its air attacks on Hamas targets in Gaza. Sothe Gaza war is back in full force. 

Daniel Nisman, the president of Levantine Group, a Mideast analystgroup, gave a very interesting interview on al-Jazeera on Fridaymorning. Here are some excerpts (my transcription). 

The [peace] talks are … complicated. First, Israelis not talking to Hamas. Israel talks to Egypt, and Egypt talksto Hamas. [It] looks like the rocket fire that we saw thismorning promptly after the ceasefire ended was actually sort ofHamas’s negotiating tactics, to leverage their position…

Egypt’s been in an open conflict with the regional MuslimBrotherhood movement, which extends also to Turkey and to Qatar.So if you look at Hamas, Hamas is basically the only MuslimBrotherhood branch with its own military, so you can see foryourself how Egypt would relate to that.

There’s no question in my mind — and I don’t think any one inIsrael — that as soon as the current government came to power [inEgypt], they sought to weaken Hamas using any means necessary, andeven if that means have Israel do its doing work while absorbingthe international criticism.

I would say that it was really Egypt that pushed Hamas into acorner by shutting off the [Rafah border crossing] and destroyingall those tunnels [under the fence between Gaza and Egypt]. That… put Hamas into a corner with no choice but to fight its wayout, and that’s what it’s doing right now in the current conflict.This conflict is actually as much of a fight between Hamas andEgypt, as it is a fight between Hamas and Israel.

Which is why you see that some of these negotiations in Cairobroke down even before Israel could even step in to the picture.There’s still a lot of bad blood between the Egyptian side andHamas side. There’s a lot of insulting going on, and it’s clearto many that Egypt will not let this conflict finish with Hamas inpower. Egypt wants to finish this conflict with the PalestinianAuthority sitting across from the Rafah border. They’ve got avery, very big Suez Canal expansion project, and they don’t wantHamas to have any demands like expanding a seaport, building aseaport which could allow weapons to flow from Gaza into the Sinaipeninsula.

So this policy towards weakening Hamas I think has been a bigreason why the conflict has persisted as long as it has, becauseEgypt and Israel — Egypt even more than Israel — has an interestin weakening Hamas, seeing it as an extension of its own MuslimBrotherhood adversary.

Hamas has been increasingly demanding a seaport where suppliescan flow in and out of Gaza, without being under control ofeither Israel and Egypt, as the border crossings would be. Andonce a seaport were open to international shipping, it would bealmost impossible to close it again. However, Nisman makesthe point that Egypt, even more than Israel, will preventany 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 hascontrol of the Mosul dam, the largest dam in Iraq. This gives ISIScontrol of much of Iraq’s electrical power. 

However, many analysts are beginning to describe the dam as a “weaponof mass destruction.” According to some reports, if ISIS blows thedam, then Mosul will be flooded with water 20-30 meters deep. Thewater will continue downstream, flooding many other villages. Inthree days, it will reach Baghdad, and flood it with water 5 metersdeep. Millions of people would be killed. 

There are other concerns as well, according to a 2007 report from theU.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Mosul dam is not built on solidground. It’s built on porous material that requires constantmaintenance. If ISIS does not continue that maintenance, then the damwill collapse anyway. However, that event would be at least sixmonths 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 fiercefighters, but they’ve performed poorly against ISIS in the past fewweeks. Peter Galbraith, a Washington analyst, was interviewed on theBBC on Friday, and gave four reasons why the Peshmerga have donepoorly: 

  • The Kurds have a 650 mile border with ISIS. They need to defend the whole border, while ISIS can choose any point of attack.
  • 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 advantage.

Other analysts have said that the days of the fierce Peshmergafighters are over. All the fierce fighters from the 1990s are now inpolitics or the oil business. 

Reports indicate that the Obama administration has authorizedairstrikes to help the Peshmerga, but some analysts are saying thatwon’t be enough without at least supplying the Peshmerga with weapons.Newsweek

Obama is dragged kicking and screaming back towards the Truman Doctrine

As I’ve written many times, President Obama has been the firstpresident since the end of World War II to repudiate the TrumanDoctrine. As I wrote in 2006,President Harry Truman’s Truman Doctrine of 1947 made Americawas always better than a repeat of something as enormous as World WarII. 

President Obama’s policy, as I understand it, has always been nomilitary action at all if it can be avoided in any way. As problemshave mounted in the Mideast, Obama has been forced to revise hisdoctrine. In recent weeks, I’ve heard analysts describe his doctrineas 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 inthe past, but it’s still not there. The New York City police force has tofight crime every day all the time. A police action is taken if itsimportant to the entire city, not just important to the police force. 

The Truman Doctrine is not limited to military actions that directlybenefit the United States. The criterion is whether it’s important tothe world. 

Of course, the two are sometimes hard to distinguish. Obamasupposedly rejected military action in 2011 to stop the genocide ofSyria’s president Bashar al-Assad because it was not essential forAmerican security. However, that failure may have led to the rise ofISIS, 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 shouldnot intervene every time there’s a crisis in the world. So let mebe clear about why we must act, and act now. When we face asituation like we do on that mountain — with innocent peoplefacing the prospect of violence on a horrific scale, when we havea mandate to help — in this case, a request from the Iraqigovernment — and when we have the unique capabilities to helpavert a massacre, then I believe the United States of Americacannot turn a blind eye. We can act, carefully and responsibly,to prevent a potential act of genocide. That’s what we’re doingon 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 aboutany American military action in Iraq, even limited strikes likethese. I understand that. I ran for this office in part to endour war in Iraq and welcome our troops home, and that’s what we’vedone. As Commander-in-Chief, I will not allow the United Statesto be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq. And so even aswe 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 crisisin Iraq. The only lasting solution is reconciliation among Iraqicommunities and stronger Iraqi security forces.

So having stated three criteria for military action, Obama quicklyrushes to back away from them. 

Analysts repeatedly describe ISIS as: extremely wealthy, extremelywell organized, and extremely well-armed — because they’ve capturedhuge troves of weapons including armored vehicles that can roll overIraqi army troops. 

Obama continues to learn bitter lessons that have repeatedly shownthat his naïve view of the world is wrong. His last paragraphindicates 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 TrumanDoctrine 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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