Sunday, January 04, 2009

Gaza Moves Towards Endgame

As you will probably know, ground forces are now in Gaza and the fighting is intense. While Israel used it's air-power there was little Hamas could do other then fling inaccurate rockets in their general direction, but now there are boots on the ground - Hamas is in a position to strike back: so the situation reaches it's end-game. However this is still an asymmetric war where Israel has the advantage of armour, air-power, better weapons and better financing for its forces. Hamas has the ground and a willingness to embrace death.

The global fallout continues: on Friday in Kabul 3000 protesters took to the streets;

In the capital Kabul, up to 3,000 protesters gathered for several hours outside a key mosque where they shouted "Death to Israel", "Death to infidels" and Islamic chants such as "God is greater," an AFP reporter witnessed.

This is key because of the 'hearts-and-minds' that the West is trying to win over. This is a huge blow for that campaign and you can be sure the Taliban will be making hay out of this. So to more links of interest:

Very interesting essay from Juan Cole on the situation, history and most importantly the longer-term political and population demographics;

The main immediate problem for the Israelis is that simply preventing Hamas from waging an ever more sophisticated microwar is an extremely short-term and technical objective. It may or may not be achievable by the methods of the current war, which appear so far to be conventional methods. Its outcome is not very material to a settlement of the larger issues.

Helena Cobban writes on the options open to Isreal now - remember the famous von Clausewitz quote; 'war is a continuation of politics by other means' - so when the fighting stops (or indeed grinds on) - where next? Unlike a conventional war, all Hamas have to do to win is survive whereas the unclear aims of the Israelis seem not lead to definitive outcomes;

At the end of the day, to extricate itself from the uber-quagmire that Gaza represents, both physically in itself and politically throughout the region and the world, Israel will still have to engage in a negotiation with Hamas. Here's why....

Also of note is the use of micro-blogging like Twitter to follow events;

Here's the main Twitter #Gaza feed which the IDF are posting to) and Al Jazeera's one. Both are worth a look.

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