Thursday, July 31, 2014
No ceasefire on the horizon.
The efforts to exercise ceasefire in Gaza is caught now in the middle of labyrinth of conflicting interests between regional governments and inside Hamas that makes the chances to have a ceasefire very small and we have to begin thinking about the possibility that there will be no ceasefire and the showdown between Israel and will enter a closed circle like the war in Syria and Iraq.
What are the disputes? On one hand we have the axis of Egypt and Saudi Arabia and on the other we have Qatar and Turkey. Israel is firm in the camp of Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The USA is firm in camp of Qatar and Turkey. The reason is obvious- while Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Israel define Moslem Brothers as terror organization- the USA is loyal to president Obama basic policy of promoting Moslem Brothers across the Middle East. It is a conflict that cannot be resolved.
When we come to the level of details- the Egyptian initiative is crystal clear in one basic principle- all act of war must be stopped before discussing anything. In the core issue of Rafah border crossing Egypt does not want to discuss it at all on the ground that this is a sovereign issue that cannot enter any negotiations. In our opinion this is a precursor to a ultimate Egyptian position that will not let any meaningful change of the regulating of Rafah crossing if at all. Israel is ready to study the option that Ramallah personnel will hold positions in Rafah crossing and Hamas was ready to accept it when they agreed to the unity government. But now we doubt if it is feasible- firstly, I am not convinced that the real Egyptian position is in favor of any change of the current closure. Secondly, although Hamas was ready to this solution- I doubt whether they are ready to it now—after all the destruction and casualties to enter under the auspices of hated Ramallah.
The real commander of Hamas now is the leader of Qassam Brigades, Muhammad Deif, and in a rare speech earlier this week was clear about the resolve of Hamas to fight with no room to any compromise. Our Palestinian sources in Ramallah told us that he dictated to Ismail Haniyya his speech that was delivered in al-Jazeera earlier this week and the speech that followed by Khaled Mash'al was influenced by Deif positions. So, if there are any voices inside Hamas for pragmatism- they are silenced by Deif. There is basic conflict between Deif and Mash'al that relate to the war in Syria. While Mash'al is in the Qatari/Turkish camp alongside with a-Nusra, Deif still belongs to the Iranian/Syrian/Hizbullah orbit that is fighting in Syria Mash'al's personnel in the ranks of Nusra. So, beside Egyptian reluctance to regulate Rafah crossing- as far as Deif is calling the shots in Gaza- also Hamas refuses to see Ramallah's personnel in Rafah.
The role of Ramallah is complicated. As the conflict is between Israel and Hamas Abu Mazen needs to have relevancy in the situation. His line all across the Arab Storm was to take no position in the conflict but this time he must take side. At first he tried to play between the two axes- he visited Cairo and then he went to Ankara and Doha. But when he wanted to visit Riyadh- he was rejected, to be accepted only after he made clear that he belongs to the Egyptian/Saudi camp and not Turkish/Qatari.
What pressured Abbas to take this position was the bad meeting he had with Kerry in Ramallah. According to our Palestinian sources when they talked on eh "day after" and the rehabilitation of Gaza Kerry told him that Ramallah is not competent to part of it- that's to say a setback to the entire statehood project and the unity government that was encouraged by Kerry himself. And indeed, Ramallah was not invited to the Paris meetings that put together Kerry with his closest friends – Qatar and Turkey.
In order to manifest the preference of Gaza over Ramallah Turkey bypassed Ramallah in sending the first relief transport to Gaza through Israel.
As the Turkish/Qatari axis is bypassing Ramallah and deals with Hamas only as the sole address to Gaza – Egypt ignores Hamas and doesn't want to give it a seat around the table- at least not defined as such only as part of the "factions delegation" – if at all.
Abu Mazen is trying to square the circle and sent Areiqat to Doha to meet with Mash'al in order to agree on unified agenda and conceal Hamas presence in Cairo negotiations but the chances he succeeds in this mission are close to zero.
Sum up- the war in Gaza is part of the Arab Storm and as such is difficult to settle and the hudna talks are caught in an impossible labyrinth of conflicts. So, either Hamas and Israel will just stop shooting or- what we tend more to assess- after the tunnels job is done- Israel will withdraw and exhaust Hamas from afar.