Thursday, 17 July 2014

Israel, Gaza and the Geopolitics of Energy in the Eastern Mediterranean.

'Palestinian resistance is often criticised as futile given the grotesque power imbalance between the two sides. But Hamas, which attracts support more for its defiance than its Islamism, has been strengthened by the events of the past week'-Seumas Milne Gaza: this shameful injustice will only end if the cost of it rises, The Guardian, July 16 2014
Hamas has not been strenghtened. The tactic is to fire off rockets into Israel, get a disproportionate Israeli response and recreate the community of martyrdom led by it against other Islamist rivals vying for power. This has become especially important given how cut off from the region Hamas has become.

The Syrian Civil War has fractured the unity of the coalition against Israel as sectarian tensions between Hamas and Hezbollah have led to the ending of funding from Iran. With the removal of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood government,supplies to Gaza from Egypt have been cut off too.

Milne goes on to claim, 
'as it has shown it can hit back across Israel – while Abbas, dependent on an imploded “peace process”, has been weakened still further.The conflict’s eruptions are certainly coming thicker and faster. global opinion has never been more sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.
Global opinion has no power. Israel is a nuclear armed state and has shown it is ruthless enough to impose a policy of vengeance designed to try and prove 'resistance is futile'. Israel remains a trading partner with EU states and the US and has, moreover, since 2010 become a centre of energy developments.

The discovery of huge reserves of offshore gas in the Eastern Mediterranean is set to make Israel energy independent an indispensible partner for states such as Egypt and Jordan as well as EU states wanting to reduce their dependence upon Russia as Europe's main supplier of gas. 

While Israel's gas should embolden it, as its economic security would not be affected by the way it chooses to deal with the Palestinian question. Plans for LNG terminals in EU territory of Cyprus have been mooted or else an underground pipeline via Turkey should better relations be created.

The US made moves in the Eastern Mediterranean in May 2014 to try to bring about a final settlement of the dispute between Greece and Turkey over Cyprus when Vice President Biden visited the island, the first time for a senior American statesman in half a century.

In the geopolitical scheme of things, the Palestinians of Gaza are not considered to be especially important. One reason Tony Blair is the Special Envoy of the Quartet is precisely because he effectively would keep the current situation as it is by dressing up realpolitik interests inthe language of 'democracy promotion'.

Israel's discovery of offshore gas was a 'game changer'. With Hamas losing its power and funding, its rocket attacks are a last ditch attempt to shore up their power and influence. Yet Israel's belligerent determination to deal with Gaza could backfire should ISIS gain more support in the area.

Hamas, in fact, already ceded control over rocket attacks to the Salah e-Din Brigades of the Popular Front. With a full scale insurgency in neighbouring Sinai Peninsula in Egypt dragging on, many Palestinian Gazans could join in with ISIS as a means to break out from their containment in a huge overpopulated 'ghetto'.

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