The Guardian • Issue #2077

Risks of wider Middle-East conflict

  • by Anna Pha
  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2077

Photo: Anna Pha.

Israel is pounding southern Lebanon and Syria, in what can only be described as provocation. The west misleadingly mentions Iran in the same breath as Hamas. But Hamas’ ties are with Turkey and Qatar. They all belong to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Turkish president Recep Erdoğan has ambitions of his own – to lead the Muslim world. In a major break with NATO allies, Erdoğan insisted that Hamas “is not a terrorist organisation, but a group of freedom and mujahideen [fighters] who are striving to protect their lands and their citizens.”

Egypt, on the other hand, has done its utmost to keep the Muslim Brotherhood out of the country. It has so far rejected suggestions by members of Netanyahu’s ultra-right government that it should take in displaced Palestinians from the Gaza Strip.

Jordan, a close ally of the US, has asked the US for additional military hardware including Patriot missiles. It already has F16 fighter jets on order.

Like Russia and China, Iran is in the sights of the US. The US has sent two aircraft carriers with supporting naval vessels to the Mediterranean. It has moved missile defence systems into the region to support the Israeli forces. The west has demonised Iran, just as it is demonising China, in readiness for war.

The US has also announced it will be sending a Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system and Patriot missiles to the Middle East but has not said where they would be deployed.

There have been exchanges of fire between Yemen’s Houthi group and Israel. Israel is now fighting on five fronts – Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen.

Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles announced that Australia has sent in a “significant number” of additional defence force personnel to the Middle East but did not disclose how many, or where. “We’re not saying we’re in the Middle East for operational reasons, but we are putting that in place, really, as a contingency to support Australian populations.

“Bearing in mind that this is a very volatile situation and we just don’t absolutely know which way it goes from here.”

“Volatile” is putting it mildly.

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