Opinion

Yes, it's a global war involving everyone

REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM - Manifestantes palestinos gritan durante los enfrentamientos con tropas israelíes en una protesta en la frontera entre Israel y Gaza
photo_camera REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM - Palestinian demonstrators shout during clashes with Israeli troops at a protest on the Israel-Gaza border

What more would the United States, the European Union and Israel itself want than for the war, which the latter confines to its confrontation with Hamas, not to go beyond the Gaza Strip. It will not, everyone is - we are - involved in one way or another and its outcome and consequences will affect the whole world.  

First, of course, is Israel, shocked by the massive attack by Hamas, an organisation certified as terrorist by the US and the EU, on Saturday 7 October, with the invasion, murder and indiscriminate hostage-taking both at an open-air festival and on the grounds of two kibbutzim and nearby towns.  

A full-fledged provocation to Israel, intended both as a brutal retaliatory operation and as one that would put Muslim countries in the position of either aligning themselves with the Palestinian people, in this case embodied by Hamas, or risk being branded as traitors to Islam. The attack also breaks, or at least postpones "sine die", the process of normalisation between Israel and Arab countries through the Abraham Accords, and shatters the expectation that the country that hosts the Holy Places of Islam, Saudi Arabia, will sign on in the short or even medium term to an alliance that has already shown its enormous potential.  

Despite its repeated denials that it had a hand in the aggression against Israel, there is ample evidence pointing to Iran as the instigator and supervisor of the attack, as well as those launched by Hezbollah guerrillas from Lebanon, and those that are also being prepared from Syria, in addition to those that Hamas has also extended to the occupied West Bank, managed by a very weakened Palestinian Authority. In other words, to encircle Israel on all fronts, as happened at the end of 1947 when UN Resolution 181 established the division into three parts of the territory of Palestine, administered until then by the United Kingdom. 

Directly involved then as now, albeit on very different terms, is Egypt. In 1947 and 1948, Egypt did not accept partition and, along with Syria, Transjordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, emerged defeated from that first Arab-Israeli war. Now, President Al-Sisi is reluctant to open the only border crossing with Gaza, fearing that most of the more than two million Gazans will settle in refugee camps that would be located in the Sinai Peninsula. The experience of such camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria dissuades the Egyptian rais from accepting a solution that he suspects would end up destabilising a country that, although it became a stinker in the Muslim community after the Camp David peace agreement signed with Israel by Anwar El-Sadat, was able to put the country on the rails of more than acceptable development, albeit at the cost of its own life.  

For its part, Iran believes the time has come to embark on the goal set by the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ruhollah Khomeini: to wipe Israel off the map. President Ebrahim Raisi has already warned that his country "will not act as a mere mediator" in the conflict. In perfect harmony, his foreign minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian, warned that "all [Muslim] parties in the region are ready to act if Zionist aggression does not stop". This phrase contains an indisputable warning to its Islamic rival, Saudi Arabia, that if it does not stand firmly on the side of the Palestinians, it will face the cost of being labelled a traitor. All these positions also condition the entire Muslim world on the African continent, which is thus affected by the struggle and obliged to take sides, not only against Israel but also against those who do not resolutely defend the Palestinian cause.  

In this respect, as in any war, there is less and less room for nuance, so that the space for confrontation is reduced to with me or against me. Such is the case of the EU countries. While initially, through the mouth of Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, they unreservedly condemned Hamas' aggression and Israel's right to defend itself, they soon had to call on Israel to exercise restraint, to apply proportionality (without specifying what this means) and not to overstep its bounds.  

Almost all European countries, from Spain to Germany to the United Kingdom to Italy, constitute a threatened rearguard where Hamas wants to take up the Palestinian cause in its entirety, inciting less and less veiled attacks, so that almost the entire European territory, its inhabitants and interests can be subjected to new and bloodier attacks at any time.  

China, the great emerging superpower, has also thrown its hat in the ring, and through its diplomatic chief Wang Yi has accused Israel of "going beyond self-defence in its attacks on Gaza", which it unambiguously describes as "collective punishment of its people".  

China's failure to recognise Israel's right to defend itself and surgically annihilate Hamas puts Beijing on the latter's side, accentuating its contrast with Israel's staunch ally the United States, whose naval moves suggest it is willing to use its formidable military machine to counter possible offensives to annihilate Israel.  

No less affected by the new war in the Middle East is Ukraine and its war of independence against Russian aggression. However much its traditional donors promise Kiev to continue with the same volume of aid, it seems clear that there will be fewer resources for it, which would be exploited by Russia, both to halt the ongoing Ukrainian counter-offensive, to recover from the latest partial defeats and to recover and prepare for the perpetuation of a war of attrition whose prolongation is in Vladimir Putin's interests.  

Yes, the Hamas-Israel war is thus much more than a local or regional conflict. It is a global war, at least in its impact and consequences.