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Hamas’s real target is Saudi Arabia

Bibi has not been a calming force in the region. Credit: Getty

October 8, 2023 - 8:30am

The events currently unfolding in the Middle East provide a stark reminder that, whether we like it or not, geopolitics trumps all. At the time of writing, Hamas terrorist squads that entered Israel have killed at least 250 people and injured many more, while also taking an unknown number of hostages.

The attack not only echoes the Yom Kippur War of 1973, when an attack by a coalition of Arab states led by Syria and Egypt caught the Israeli Defense Forces unawares, but in some respects the events of 11th September 2001. This was not an attempted invasion by hostile nations, but instead the deliberate killing of Israeli civilians with the purpose of shock and provocation, akin to al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks. 

Two decades ago, al-Qaeda wanted to provoke a conflict between the West and the Islamic world; today, Hamas is attempting to prevent any normalisation between Israel and the broader Arab world. Having been in control of the Gaza Strip since 2006, it should have become clear that the prosperity of its citizens is at best a secondary goal compared to Hamas’s desire to destroy Israel

In recent years, however, there has been a trend among Arab states in viewing their relations with Israel in a more pragmatic way. This culminated in the Abraham Accords of 2020, which marked the recognition of the state of Israel by the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. At the same time, senior members of the Saudi royal family began to openly criticise the Palestinian leadership, and showed an interest in joining the Accords. 

All of this drove the Sunni Hamas further into the arms of the major Shia power in the region: Iran. An Arab world in search of a normalisation of relations with Jerusalem would soon grow tired of a political actor only interested in a violent confrontation with Israel. Yet, just like the Hamas leadership in Gaza, the Mullahs in Tehran know that their play for regional dominance would be severely weakened by a US-Israel-Saudi alliance.

They are also aware, however, of something the Western media tends to miss. While parts of the Arab elite might be willing to consider more pragmatic approaches towards a former enemy, the general public still sees things differently:

In a recent poll of Saudis, “only 14% of respondents agreed to allow Israeli civilian airplanes to fly over Saudi Arabia, and just 13% would permit Israeli sports teams to participate in events in Saudi Arabia.” What’s more, “a mere 7% would welcome Israel’s prime minister to an international conference in Saudi Arabia.” Both Iran and Hamas know full well that if they can provoke Israel into severe retaliation, pictures of killed Palestinians could force recently pragmatic Arab governments to return to a more anti-Israel stance in order to avoid public ire. 

It is a deliberate ploy to use the atrocious murder of Israeli civilians to force the Netanyahu government to authorise a massive use of force that will lead to the killing of large numbers of Palestinians. The next few days will show if that cynical plan bears fruit.

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Mike Downing
Mike Downing
9 months ago

This echos the IRA’s use of the death of hunger strikers to create martyrs in their war against Thatcher, but she stood her ground.

I can’t imagine any of today’s lightweights managing that.

Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
9 months ago

“They mean to win Wimbledon!”

starkbreath
starkbreath
9 months ago

?