Gaza: latest battle ground of the neo-conservatives for a 'New Middle East'

by Munir Chalabi

Two Strategies & Two Camps

January 26, 2009

The overwhelming indications are that the Israeli war on Gaza was not just an attempt by the Israeli army to stop the home-made Hamas rockets being fired on Southern Israel, as the Israelis together with the US administration, European governments and the so-called 'Coalition of Arab Moderates' want us to believe.

It was a pre-planned war by all the above parties in this US/Israeli-led alliance against the Palestinian people and their resistance movements in Palestine. It represents the final attempt by the US neo-conservatives, before the Bush administration leaves office, to resolve the Palestinian problem once and for all. The Israeli war on Gaza was only another step in the plan of the US, Israel and the 'Coalition of Arab Moderates' to build their 'New Middle East'.

The scale of this war was an indication of its goals, and the steps taken and statements made by the many leaders in this camp, including the public statements by King Abdulla of Jordan and Middle East envoy Tony Blair during and prior to the start of the war, corroborate such a conclusion.[1]

The war on Gaza is the second stage in the plan. The first stage was the 18 month economic siege of Gaza by Israel, Egypt and Mahmoud Abbas's corrupt and illegal government in Ramallah, which aimed to topple Hamas and all the other Palestinian resistance movements by using the blockade on all of life's basic necessities to the 1.5 million Palestinian civilians in Gaza, in order to force them to surrender.

In this plan against the Palestinian resistance, Egypt moved to become one of the most significant players by openly taking on a major supporting role. The siege of Gaza was not only an Israeli blockade, but also a well coordinated blockade by Egypt, following complete closure of the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza.

In order to understand how the Israeli war on Gaza was an integral part of this plan, we have to stop and have a more comprehensive look at the political map of the Middle East and the strategies of all the parties involved.


Since the neo-conservatives took control of all the positions of power in the US, both battle grounds in the Middle East -- the Israeli/Palestinian/Arab region and the Arab/Persian gulf region -- became deeply divided into two political camps, with two opposing strategies, and no prospect for peace in the foreseeable future.

The first camp is the US/Israeli-led camp or, as it is called in the West, 'The Moderate's alliance', which consists mainly of three devoted and corrupt pro-western Arab regimes. The first is the House of Saud in Saudi Arabia, with their financial might, headed by King Abdulla and his foreign minister Prince Faisal, and from behind the scenes, by Prince 'Bender bin Sultan,' the head of the Saudi intelligence services, who is a close friend of the Bush family. The second is the Egyptian regime headed up since 1981 by the Egyptian ruler and air force General President Mubarak, his chief of the intelligence service, General Suleiman, together with their foreign minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit.[2] The third is the Jordanian regime, where all the power is in the hands of the King, assisted by his well established internal security forces.

As well as the above three main Arab partners of the US/Israeli plan, there stand several Arab governments and political groups within a number of other Middle Eastern countries.

First among them is the pro-Oslo illegitimately ruling Palestinian group in Ramallah (part of the old Fatah movement's traditional leadership, which were spared their lives by Israel for political reasons), which is headed by President Mahmud Abbas with his illegally appointed Palestinian government of Salam Fayyad in Ramallah. The second is the 14th of March group in Lebanon which is in command of the existing Lebanese government and headed by the Saudi/Lebanese young Sheikh, Al-Hariri. The third are the US friends in the 'front of the moderates' government in Iraq, whose role is restricted to the Gulf area, but the US has difficulties with them as they cannot trust all of their Iraqi acquaintances in the long term. There are other governments in the Arab world which are part of this camp: They include five of the kingdoms and states of the 'Gulf Council States' and the North African Arab governments.

The main objectives of the US/Israeli strategy for this alliance is to integrate Israel so it becomes part of the Middle East region, and at the same time continue their old policy of ensuring that Israel will be developed more effectively as the US's policeman for the area, using its military and economic superiority as the main tool. In order to do so, they first needed to constitute Israel as the check on Iran, which was portrayed as a looming threat to the Arab world. This undertaking, which is part of America's project for a "New Middle East," was kicked off prior to Israel's war against Lebanon in July 2006 and was presented as the concluding phase of the neo-conservatives' plan for the area.

That is why we are able to recognise a number of similarities between US and Israeli policy, similarities that are clearly apparent in Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon -- the three countries representing the front lines of the war. These are under either full or partial US or Israeli occupation and the Israeli policies here are dominated by the US Administration.

All the US/Israeli policies are based on increasing the political divisions in every Arab and Muslim country and creating two separate and opposing fronts. The first, which is influenced by them, is called the "moderate front," and the second, which is opposed to their policies, they call the "terrorist front" or the front which is controlled by Iran.

In all three countries, the US/Israeli policies involve pressurising their allies to take full control of the political arena, instigating conflicts between the two sides in each country to bring it to the edge of armed conflict or even start violent confrontations between them. They attempt to play on the sectarian divisions, as in the cases of Iraq and Lebanon -- and where such divisions do not exist, they will instead use political divisions, as in the case of Palestine.

It is also noticeable that the divisions between the two fronts in most cases are between the political parties and movements who are opposed to the US and Israeli military occupation and the ones who are ready to accept their influence and co-operate with them.


The second camp is the resistance camp and in it stands a coalition of governments and movements which to diverse degrees reject the US/Israeli domination plans and are called 'the terrorists' by the US and Israelis, or 'the extremist' governments and movements by most of the European governments. This alliance includes the Iranians, the Syrian government, the democratically elected government of Hamas and their allies, Al-Jihad Al Islami movement in Palestine, together with Hezbollah and their 8th of March political alliance in Lebanon. It also comprises the Sadr movement in Iraq and the Muslim brotherhood movement in Egypt, together with many other smaller political parties and groups. However, the most important asset this alliance has comes from the increasing support given to them by the vast majority of ordinary people around the Arab and Islamic world.[3]

The developing strategy of the core of this resistance camp is that they consider the US and Israel to be the key enemies to the people in the area. They believe that the US is a foreign imperialistic power, which wants to control the destiny of the region's people by using Israel as its main instrument, and their friends, the Arab rulers in the 'coalition of the moderates' as a secondary, but important internal tool to implement the neo-conservative strategy.

The main driving force of this camp is Iran, Hezbollah, Syria and Hamas. Iran is like any other country in the Middle East that wants to stay independent from US control but is today surrounded by US forces on all sides, which creates a very real threat to them. They are always considered by the US to be the "Great Satan" and Israel is its principal enemy in the Middle East. Most of the other parties in this alliance share this belief, but to various degrees. All of the US administrations and Israeli governments have considered the Iranian and Syrian governments, Hezbollah and Hamas as their main enemies and the major obstacle to their control of the Arab and Islamic world.

The war on Gaza has widened the support for the resistance camp, gathering additional backing from other Muslim people and governments who previously felt that this struggle was not part of their political agenda. Of most significance has been the support from the Qatari government and the massive support from the millions of ordinary Turkish people and their government to the Palestinian people. This further support has strengthened this camp, but on the other hand these additional elements should not be counted as internal parts of the resistance alliance.

The division between the two camps which exists in the Palestinian occupied territory, the alliance of all the Palestinian resistance movements on the one hand and the pro-Oslo group lead by Abbas, who hijacked the leadership of Fatah movement and the control of the West Bank on the other, is deepening.

This is evident when we look at the division between Gaza and the West Bank of Palestine. The Gaza strip is now represented by the Palestinian resistance movements and the legally elected Palestinian government of Mr. Haniya. Conversely, we see that the West Bank is ruled by the pro-Oslo group led by Abbas and the illegally appointed government of Salam Fayyad -- which utilises over 10,000 armed personnel (trained by Egyptian and Jordanian security services), the so-called 'National Palestinian police force' and 'Presidential guards' who are under the control of US General Dayton with the assistance of another two US generals and in full co-operation with the Israeli security services. Over 1,000 prisoners from Hamas and other resistance movements have been put in Abbas's jails, in addition to over 13,000 political prisoners in Israeli prisons.


So how should we envisage relations between these two camps developing?

Throughout the Arab and Islamic world many are calling for a united front involving all the Arab and Islamic states in the area, in the struggle against the US/Israeli policies in the region. But with the two opposing strategies of both camps and with one camp being a vital part of US/Israeli plans, it is becoming an impossible task to achieve. Some of these calls are coming from the pro-US camp who want to keep the upper hand in controlling official Arab policies with the Arab moderates, and in particular, in the organisation of the 'Arab League' which has been controlled by the Egyptians and the Saudis for a long time. However, there are also other calls coming from some Arab nationalists who have stated that public disunity will inevitably harm both sides.

Many in the resistance camp believe that what is needed today is not in fact a call for unity -- which is unlikely to be achieved, but instead an attempt to ensure that none of the internal national, political, ethnic or sectarian disagreements, which exist deeply within the Arab and Islamic world, should lead to the use of force or the shedding of blood between the two national sides, and that the fight should be on the political front only, using any democratic methods available.

This understanding would exclude the fight against the foreign powers including Israel, which came to occupy or control the area.

This could be achieved in a comparable way to the existing means which are being carried out today in Lebanon by Hezbollah and their 8th of March political alliance. At the same time, the methods used during the Iraqi experience should be avoided at all costs, i.e. where the Iraqi Baathists, together with their new friends Al Qaida, used the weaknesses prevalent throughout multi-sectarian Iraqi society to create a bloody sectarian division with the help and the participation of the US occupying forces and their foreign mercenaries.[4]


1. The US backed Israeli war on Gaza was the final attempt by the neo-conservatives before the Bush/Cheney administration left office, to succeed in their failing effort to create the 'New Middle East' -- A Middle East which would be controlled by the US and policed by Israel and would end once and for all the Palestinian dream to set up their own state.

2. The failure of the Israeli war on Gaza to achieve any of Israel's political goals including the destruction of Hamas and all the resistance movements, ending control of Gaza by Hamas and finally stopping the firing of resistance home-made rockets on Israel, represent a political success for Hamas and the Palestinian resistance camp.

All that Israel managed to achieve during its war on Gaza was the killing and injuring of thousands of Palestinian civilians, the destruction of over 20,000 civilian houses, government buildings, police stations and a large number of schools and private businesses.[5] Many Israeli government and military leaders are now facing the possibility of being charged in International criminal courts.[6]

3. The Israeli war on Gaza has helped the resistance camp a great deal and created the conditions for it to grow faster than ever before. The ideological divisions between the two camps are deepening.

The whole of the Middle East is now divided into two political camps with two opposing strategies, developing in to one large battle ground between the two ideologies.

The two battle fronts of the Arab/Persian Gulf and the Arab/Israeli region are very much interlinked today. Any failure or success to either camp in one region will reflect on their strength on the other front.

4. It looks that corruption is a common quality among all in the pro-US/Israeli camp .It is very obvious that all the governments who are part of the 'coalition of the moderates' are dictatorial and enormously corrupt. It is also noticeable that the corruption is a characteristic of the latest two Israeli governments and the Bush/Cheney's administration.

5. We should not expect any genuine changes in the US strategy from the new Obama/Biden administration towards the Middle East. It is very likely that the new US administration will continues Bush/Cheney's policies.[7]

6. There is a strong belief that for the first time in the Middle East, the formation of this anti-US/Israeli/moderate Arab front will give some hope and optimism to the ordinary people in the Arab and Islamic world and will be a big setback to the Islamic terrorist ideologies of Al Qaida.

It has reduced the level of desperation felt by the majority of the ordinary Arab and Muslim people when they see that there is a sizable resistance front from Muslim and Christian sectors -- as in Lebanon -- which is growing in strength in their societies to resist and stop the US/Israeli plans. Therefore, the disappointment resulting from the growth in size and strength of the resistance camp will affect not just the neo-conservative's Christian and Zionist Jewish terrorist ideologies, but also Al Qaida's Muslim terrorist ideology.

7. There is a growing belief within the Arab population that for the first time in the Palestinian people's history, there is genuine public understanding and recognition in the West concerning the rights of the Palestinian people to have their own state and against the US/Israeli attempt to deny them this right. However, there is also recognition that this change is not reflected in the policies of the western governments as support by the European governments for the Israeli aggression not only continued but increased.

The Arab TV stations have played a very important role in exposing the real face of Zionism during the war on Gaza. For the vast majority of Arabs and Muslims, the mass killings of civilians and the size of the destruction of civilian properties in Gaza, revealed that the Zionist ideology today is no different from the Nazi ideology of the Second World War.[8]


1. AFP, "Blair wants new Gaza strategy, fears for two-state solution," Dec 3, 2008

2. Robert Fisk, "The rotten state of Egypt is too powerless and corrupt to act," Independent, Jan. 1, 2009.

3. Gilbert Achcar, "U.S. Imperial Strategy in the Middle East," Monthly Review, Feb. 2004.

4. Munir Chalabi, "Political Observations on Sectarianism in Iraq," ZNet, January 24, 2007.

5. BBC News, "Gaza rebuild 'to cost billions'," Jan. 20, 2009.

6. John Palmer, "Israel and the white heat of justice," Guardian, Jan. 21, 2009; Robert Fisk, "So, I asked the UN secretary general, isn't it time for a war crimes tribunal?" Independent, Jan. 19, 2009.

7. Munir Chalabi, "Can Obama accomplish any changes to the US strategies in the Middle East or will Biden continues Bush/Cheney's policies?," Jan. 9, 2009.

8. "Jewish British Lawmaker Likens Israel to Nazis," Jan. 16, 2009.

Munir Chalabi is an Iraqi political and oil analyst living in the UK.