The US-led West’s support for Israel in the current conflict in the Gaza Strip is absolute, unqualified and unambiguous. It was exemplified by President Joe Biden’s rushed visit to Israel on the outbreak of hostilities, dutifully followed by some European leaders.
At the geopolitical level, the US and its coterie of European allies have aligned themselves clearly with Israel. They have justified its use of excessive, grossly disproportionate force against the Palestinians in Gaza and have vociferously countered all views to the contrary. This reflects the gross imbalance in their policy towards the GMER and thus rules them out as unbiased arbitrators for a just peace there. On the other hand, the Palestinians have been literally left in the lurch by a dithering, impotent, timorous Ummah and a largely indifferent international community. At the diplomatic level, the US-led West has vetoed all meaningful condemnation of Israel’s excesses by the UN/ UNSC. Crucially, it has neither allowed a ceasefire to take place nor a meaningful humanitarian pause/corridor to come into effect. This has denied the hapless Palestinians any respite from the brutal Israeli juggernaut. US Secretary of State’s time-consuming albeit futile diplomatic forays into the GMER and US’ repeated vetoes in the UNSC come across as ploys to create vital time and geopolitical space for Israel to achieve its strategic objectives in the Gaza Strip, and by implication in the GMER.
At the military level, the USled West is continuously replenishing and reinforcing IDF’s military campaign. Crucially, it has made a deep strategic maneuver by deploying two US Navy Carrier Groups in the Mediterranean. They are carrying out exercises, demonstrating massive force and radiating immense power and influence in the region. This force-in-being achieves multiple strategic objectives. One, the USN Carrier Strike Groups give strength to Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip, which lies well within their strategic reach and guarantee an immediate military response capacity. Two, they provide additional air defense against rockets/missiles fired by Hamas or potentially by other state/non-state actors in the region. Three, it isolates the battlefield, the Gaza Strip, allowing IDF complete freedom of action to achieve its strategic objectives without let or hindrance. The helpless Gazans are literally at its mercy. Four, it deters regional state/non-state actors who might feel inclined to come to the Gazans’ rescue. Five, it prevents the opening up of other fronts in the region that might distract the IDF and force it to split its military resources in multiple directions. Six, and most critically, the US micro-manages the conflict by forestalling its spillover into the region at large.
At the geopolitical level, it can start off by uniting and strongly countering attempts to divide and rule it. Furthermore, it could seriously opt for multialignment and start engaging the China-Russo Combine proactively without prejudice to its relations with the US-led West. It must consider joining groupings like the SCO, BRICS etc and even creating new regional/ sub-regional groupings itself. This will give it better options to secure its multifarious interests and will bring about a modicum of strategic balance in regional and global affairs.
At the geostrategic level, deterrence must be the key operative word. It must enhance its military capacities and capabilities at the individual country levels. Collectively, this should act as a formidable deterrent and obviate fates that Libya, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Iran, Yemen, Afghanistan etc had to face. It might also consider a formal defense arrangement within the Ummah which must enshrine the Principle of Collective Defense; “an attack on any one member will be considered an attack on the entire Ummah”, (a la Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, NATO).
The Ummah’s real strength lies in its economic clout which can be exploited for geopolitical advantages too. The Ukraine war has seriously truncated Russian exports of oil and gas to the world. Exports of Iranian oil and gas too suffer debilitating sanctions. A further squeezing of supplies of fossil fuels from the GMER will create insurmountable pressures for the US-led West, in particular Europe, which is already suffering the ramifications of US’ Russia- Ukraine policy. The oil rich Gulf Arabs thus have the leverage to manage the international prices of oil and gas to gain geopolitical advantages for all Muslims under violent subjugation. This link must be established. Oil, gas and general trade in currencies other than the USD is already under active consideration by many.
Unfortunately, the Muslim Ummah continues to be divided and dominated imperiously by the US-led West. It’s phenomenal economic, diplomatic, military and political capacities lie divided and wasted. It must overcome its internal divisions, conflicts, egos, sectarian and religious divides and regional hegemonic ambitions. It must unite on a policy to address the Palestinian, Kashmir, Rohingya and other issues that confront it. It must also make clear that any genocide of Muslims anywhere in the world will come at a price. It is doable. All it takes is a unified, collective political will!
The writer is a retired brigadier of the Pakistan Army. He can be reached at im.k846@ gmail.com and tweets @K846Im.