by Manlio Graziano
Hamas Attack on China
Also Published in International Affairs Forum on 9th October, 2023.
Here we are again. Or are we?

Many observers have highlighted the novelties of the Hamas attack on Saturday, October 7: the unpreparedness of Israeli intelligence and defense forces, the high number of casualties and hostages, the large number of rockets launched in the skies of the Jewish state... But there is more to be said, and not just relating to the strip of land between Gaza and Israel.

There are also some continuities: for example, the physiological inability of the Palestinian leadership, of whatever tendency, to do politics, or the equally physiological impossibility, for Israel, to square the circle of a state that would like to be both “Jewish” and “democratic.” More recently, and significantly, the Tel Aviv government’s attempt to dismantle state structures has probably ended up creating divisions within the country’s (once) legendary defense structures, making them more vulnerable.
The Palestinian people have been held hostage for seventy years by every government in the region, which have used them to vie for a bit of glory and especially to keep themselves in power, finding legitimacy on the outside that they lacked on the inside. The so-called Palestinian resistance movements have always been the conscious accomplices in battles that were not about their own people, but about the interests, successively, of Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and others.

The October 7 attack is the latest proof: in politics – at least in theory – when one does something, one should do it with a view to achieving a purpose. Yet, what is the purpose of Hamas? To destroy Israel? To improve the conditions of the Palestinian population? Obviously, Israel will not be destroyed and the conditions of Palestinians and Israeli Arabs will worsen, once again.

As Samson did, the Hamas leadership would seem to cry, “Let me die with all the Philistines!” -- which is precisely what would happen if the purpose really concerned the Palestinian and Israeli populations; but, if we want to find a thread of rationality in this tragedy, however thin, we should look for it outside, where all the vultures who have been feeding for decades on the thousands of victims of that interminable conflict are perched.

Many see the hand of Tehran at work. To be sure, the ayatollahs have always made hostility to the “Zionist entity” their badge, among an Iranian population that is arguably the least anti-Israel in the region; so, an Israeli rapprochement with a Saudi Arabia ready to trade the “Palestinian cause” for more security could have weakened even more the scant legitimacy of Tehran’s clerical aristocracy, at least in the small inner circle that keeps it in power. The Hamas attack corners Riyadh and restores – perhaps – some breath to the gasping Iranian regime. It will be short-lived, but Tehran’s leaders have learned to live for the day.

However, those in danger of paying the highest price – politically speaking – are not to be found in the region. It is early, of course, to make an assessment; but this Hamas “special military operation” on Israeli territory would seem to be creating troubles and embarrassment especially for Beijing. The Chinese leadership, fresh from the diplomatic victory of opening up the BRICS group (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) to the Middle East, had hoped to succeed where Washington has miserably failed; with the rapprochement between Tehran and Riyadh, it hoped to have put a wheezing Silk Road back on the rails.

Beijing’s misfortune is that it has few friends in the world, and all of them unreliable; after the closure of Russian routes and the inability to come to grips with the Pakistani mess, Hamas, too, is now doing all it can to weaken its global strategy.

If they succeeded, Hamas and its godfathers in Tehran would end up inadvertently helping Washington, which has the same goal. Beyond surface appearances, this would not come as a surprise: for when one is physiologically incapable of doing politics, one often – almost always – ends up helping one’s enemies.
The opinions expressed in this article are of the author alone. The Spykman Center provides a neutral and non-partisan platform to learn how to make geopolitical analysis. It acknowledges how diverse perspectives impact geopolitical analyses, without necessarily endorsing them.