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Shifting geopolitics in an upended region

It’s not today that the world has witnessed territorial wars between Israeli defence force, Palestinian armed wings and the armies of neighbouring Arab countries. Approximately a week ago, the unexpected happened. Hamas launched an attack on innocent Israeli civilians on Saturday, October 7, 2023. Horrific scenes of brutality have unfolded in Israel since Hamas’s infamous incursion. How do we make sense of this horror? Public intellectuals have stated that the violence was backdropped by complex and shifting Middle East geopolitics.

While leaders of other nations call for a de-escalation of the conflict, one would not be wrong to say that we are living in a peaceful but dangerous world

In recent years, one would have observed that Israel has normalized ties with a handful of Arab countries- a few months ago, the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia reportedly have been considering a diplomatic deal to normalize relations with the latter two countries. And honestly, one can see that the Arab world is coming to terms with Israel. Many security experts are curious to know whether Hamas and its Iranian backers see this as an opportunity to disrupt the whole process. However many foreign media have reported that there is currently no proof tying Iran directly to Hamas operational planning attacks. We can only hope that Iran is not involved in this matter. Why? Because Iranian involvement in the Hamas incursion will complicate the already fragile political situation in the Middle Eastern region.

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It is common knowledge that Israel’s intelligence agency is regarded as one of the best but public intellectuals have identified Saturday’s mayhem as a massive intelligence failure. Who supplied Hamas with the sophisticated weapons in their arsenal? Are the weapons from Ukraine? No one knows for sure. In the midst of conspiracy theories, some security experts have laid the blame at the doorstep of Israel’s government for failing to keep close enough tabs on Hamas. At the time of writing this article, news from Israel continues to worsen. Israel has responded to Hamas incursion with air strikes. On both sides, the death toll has increased. In Gaza, the death toll among Palestinians has increased too.

Israel’s defence minister announced that food, water and electricity supplies were cut off from Gaza while air raids over the Strip located near the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea continued. “We need immediate humanitarian access throughout Gaza so that we can get food, fuel and water to everyone in need. Even wars have rules,” according to the U.N. Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres.

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Global maritime trade may be affected negatively if there is an escalation of the conflict. Experts are tracking any possible disruption at the main Israeli ports of Ashdod, Haifa and Eilat. Accordingly, the U.K. and the USA have decided to support Israel with military assets in the Eastern Mediterranean. The European Union (EU) has issued a statement in support of Israel. Jordan and other Arab nations are making efforts to de-escalate the situation and reiterate their support for the Palestinian cause.

What made it possible for this incursion by Hamas to happen? A former US Middle East diplomat in one of the foreign newspapers had this to say: “This was a total system failure on the part of Israel.” …..” And the Israelis believed that Hamas was in a different mode: focused on a long-term ceasefire in which both sides benefited from a “live-and-let-live “arrangement. Some 19,000 Palestinian workers, according to reports, were going to Israel from Gaza every day. That was beneficial to the economy and tax revenue kept coming in. But it turns out that was a grand deception.”

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Hamas atrocities and Israel’s retaliation will change the dynamics of the region for many years to come. With the level of destruction and horror in Gaza, what comes next? In a comprehensive analysis of the security and geopolitical factors weighing on the current war, some analysts predict that there will be humanitarian crises as Israel conducts counteroffensive air and ground operations in an effort to dislodge Hamas military infrastructure. This has happened. But importantly, we don’t want an escalation of the conflict inside and outside the Middle East.

Oil prices in the international market have surged as a result of the Hamas incursion in Israel thus, increasing political uncertainty in the Middle East. A global economic downturn may follow as escalating conflicts between Israel and Hamas send oil price spikes in the international market. It has happened before and it may likely happen again this time. The conflict, according to Bloomberg, has the potential to disrupt the world economy and even tip it into recession if more countries are drawn in. The UN Security Council must be alive to its responsibilities of ensuring global peace and security. Anyway, it’s the opinion of many security experts that nations should live in peace with one another.

International relations experts have observed notable changes in the political orientation of countries in the Middle Eastern region since the beginning of the year. Although many Arab nations maintain close relations with the United States of America (USA), recent events suggest a divergence in action.

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The recent agreements between Saudi Arabia and Iran generated some concern among Western countries and some Gulf states. China, a main rival of the USA, facilitated an agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Some public intellectuals see Iran’s role in the Middle East as posing a threat to regional stability and international security. Experts have predicted that China’s strategic involvement in the Middle East may potentially impact the U.S. influence in the region. Will the Israel- Hamas War cause a shift in geopolitics in the Middle East? Maybe or maybe not.

While leaders of other nations call for a de-escalation of the conflict, one would not be wrong to say that we are living in a peaceful but dangerous world. It was John F Kennedy, the 35th President of the USA, who said “Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet, we all breathe the same air, we all cherish our children’s future, and we are all mortals.” If we cherish our future and love our children, it’s incumbent upon us to make the world a better place to live. Surely, we all deserve a peaceful world. Thank you.

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