For the past several years, Chinese President Xi Jinping has fundamentally changed the goals and methods of Beijing’s foreign policy, with the Middle East central to its ambitions as a global powerbroker. Given China’s increased relevance in the region, its response to the Israel-Hamas war has been surprisingly underwhelming.
As with the war in Ukraine, fault lines in the international system have emerged amid the Israel-Hamas war. The variation in reactions is perhaps most evident among the African Union’s 55 member states, whose positions reflect different histories, traditions and interests as well as the preferences of national leaders.
For the past year, Yemen has been in a state of limbo, its messy, regionalized conflict on hold but unresolved. And that’s unlikely to change—for the better, at least—soon. Even if Saudi Arabia and the Houthis agree to a formal cease-fire, the country will remain stuck in the liminal space of “no war, no peace” for some time to come.
As is often the case when faced with an unexpected crisis, infighting hampered the EU’s ability to respond to the Israel-Hamas war. Critics pointed to the disarray as proof that the EU can never become a truly geopolitical actor. But once the EU finds its feet, its long-term responses to new challenges can prove remarkably resilient.
Israel’s order for civilians to evacuate northern Gaza ahead of an expected ground offensive has generated severe criticism. But an alternative, legal plan at Israel’s disposal for moving civilians out of harm’s way could, if executed, resolve Israel’s humanitarian dilemma and also yield some strategic side-benefits.
The Israel-Hamas war has raised serious questions about the political and strategic relevance of the Palestinian Authority. Against the backdrop of recent trends in the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, the war both reflects and exacerbates the PA’s dwindling authority and the Palestinian national movement’s shifting paradigm.
Debates over the role that shifts in the global order may have played in the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war might seem trivial. But putting discrete events into a global context is valuable, particularly when it comes to conflict, as it can help us anticipate the frequency and kinds of conflicts we are likely to see.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s immediate and forthright solidarity with Israel following Hamas’ attack there stands in stark contrast to his noncommittal response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But India has compelling reasons to side so decisively with Israel in a conflict with Palestinian militants.
While the world remains transfixed by the Israel-Hamas war, other trends that could prove as consequential for the future of the Middle East are gaining momentum. In particular, an increasingly visible transformation of identity discourses in the Gulf and Iran is setting the scene for further shocks to the regional order.
Iran’s long-range ballistic missiles long have been the focus of international attention. Over the past two decades, though, Iran has also developed and deployed an increasingly diverse array of shorter-range strike systems. Now, the war between Israel and Hamas has raised the urgency of understanding these other strike capabilities.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s recent visit to China signaled the diplomatic revival he has long hoped for. But Assad walked away from the trip empty-handed when it comes to financial commitments toward reconstruction of Syria’s still-devastated infrastructure. Worse still for Assad, China isn’t alone in its reticence toward Syria.
Israelis and Palestinians are again at war, with potential consequences—including the risk of wider conflict—for the entire region. Of course, wars are the product of local, proximate factors. But at a time when the global security order is fraying due to the war in Ukraine, the Israel-Hamas war also fits a broader pattern.
For leftist governments in South America, the unfolding confrontation between the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which some of them view as a liberation movement, and Israel, a country many of them view as damnably oppressive, became the source of domestic tensions, with some leaders struggling to modulate their responses.
The Israel-Hamas war has the potential to fuel further conflict across the Middle East, with a high risk in particular of the fighting spreading to include Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. By contrast, there is a worrying lack of attention in European and U.S. political and media discussions to the impact of the war in Gaza on Egypt.
Year after year, observers have been warning that the status quo in Gaza could not last, and yet year after year it stubbornly did. It was a testament to how sustainable an unsustainable situation can be—until the moment when it no longer is. The unprecedented attack this weekend marked that moment in Israel’s standoff with Hamas.
Two constants mark Tunisia under President Kais Saied: Dissidents and opposition politicians continue to be put behind bars, and the economy continues to worsen. And if the government is silencing more and more opposition voices, it is in part because it lacks palatable solutions or a long-term plan for the economic crisis.
The effusive rhetoric on display in recent high-level meetings between Russian and Chinese officials masks a significant vulnerability in their strategic partnership: Although both sides champion the creation of a multipolar world order, their actual cooperation on the ground lags far behind, particularly in the Middle East and Africa.