Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Terror In Gaza X Three

Reported from CNN, a recording of Ayman al-Zawahiri, who is al Qaeda's deputy chief, vowing revenge for Israel's air and ground assault on Gaza. He calls the Jewish state's actions against Hamas "a gift" from U.S. President-elect Barack Obama.

With al Qaeda put into the mix, isn't this confirmation to the world that Hamas is, in fact, a terrorist organization?

What is the background for al-Zawahiri? According to Wikipedia, "Dr. Ayman Muhammad Rabaie a prominent leader of al-Qaeda, and was the second and last "emir" of Egyptian Islamic Jihad. Al-Zawahiri is a qualified surgeon, and is an author of works including numerous al-Qaeda statements...Al-Zawahiri is under worldwide embargo by the UN 1267 Committee as a member or affiliate of al-Qaeda.In 1998 al-Zawahiri formally merged Egyptian Islamic Jihad into al-Qaeda...he has worked in the al-Qaeda organization since its inception and was a senior member of the group's shura council. He is often described as a "lieutenant" to Osama bin Laden, though bin Laden's chosen biographer has referred to him as the "real brains" of al-Qaeda.[5] As of July 2008, he is still at large."

In that same recording, al-Zawahiri states, "My Muslim brothers and mujahedeens in Gaza and all over Palestine, with the help of God we are with you in the battle, we will direct our strikes against the crusader Jewish coalition wherever we can."

What are mujahedeens? I wondered exactly that and decided to enlighten myself. Wikipedia states that mujahideen means "those engaged in jihad". Who does this include? "In its broadest sense, those Muslims who proclaim themselves warriors for the faith...has been used to refer to any Muslim groups engaged in hostilities with non-Muslims or even with secularized Muslim regimes."

With Hamas pretty much running the show in Gaza, and al-Qaeda a supporter of their efforts against Israel, Hezbolla has now gotten in the mix, and now there are at least three terrorist groups involved in the Gaza side of the conflict.

At least as early as December 28, 2008, FOX reported that "The leader of Lebanese militant Hezbollah said Sunday that he has asked his men to be on alert in southern Lebanon in case Israel attacks and promised not to abandon Hamas."

Reported January 6, 2009, by Asia Times reported that "The similarities between what is taking place in Gaza today, and what took place in Lebanon in 2006, are striking."

They also report some interesting facts about the two groups.

"Let us try to see the similarities between both groups, and what are the differences.

Ideology: Both groups are governed by an Islamic ideology that dictates war against Israel as a national, moral and religious duty for believers. The warriors from both groups are not afraid to die. On the contrary, they seek it as a religious obligation in jihad (holy war). The IDF goes into battle with the objective of getting done with its duty, and returning home. They do not want to die.

Iran: Both are strongly allied to Iran, although Iranian support is stronger for Hamas than it is for Hezbollah. That explains why both are at odds with both Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which are engaged in a cold war with Tehran.

In 2006, Saudi Arabia was not pleased because of the war, because it further strengthened Iran's influence and clout in the Arab and Muslim world. This time, Egypt is frowning at Hamas' performance, especially that Nasrallah came out praising the leadership of Hamas, and came short of calling for a national uprising against the pro-American regime of President Hosni Mubarak. Hezbollah's victory in 2006 scored a point for Iran over Saudi Arabia. The same would apply with regard to Egypt if Hamas were to win the war in 2009.

Popularity: Both were voted in with an overwhelming majority in their respective countries and are more popular than their pro-Western counterparts within the Lebanese and Palestinian systems, Fouad al-Siniora and Mahmud Abbas. Decision-makers in Beirut and the West Bank are at a complete loss over what to do with Hamas and Hezbollah. Neither the Lebanese nor the Palestinian system has been able to disarm or weaken them. Nor has the United Nations or the United States. Both operate a wide network of charity and welfare organizations, including schools and hospitals, which makes them well rooted in Gaza and South Lebanon. Bombing them - or refusing to deal with them - will not make them go away.

Action: Hezbollah performed with flying military colors in 2006, surprising everyone with its strength, even the IDF. Arabs around the globe were enchanted when Hezbollah downed an Israeli warship - live during one of Nasrallah's speeches, or when he lived up to his promise and struck at Haifa, in the heart of Israel, for the first time since 1948.

Hezbollah projects itself as a resistance group that can deliver, psychologically through the media, and militarily in ground combat. It has a well-trained and professional army, with sophisticated missiles, radars and weapons. When its al-Manar TV was hit by Israel, the station stopped broadcasting for no more than a few minutes and was immediately back on air, beaming images of dead Israeli soldiers and victorious warriors from Hezbollah, along with talk-shows of Hezbollah's might, with subtitles in Hebrew.

Hamas also has none of Hezbollah's media machine to promote itself. During its heyday in the Palestinian uprising that started in 2000 (known in Arabic as intifada), it excelled at surprise explosions in crowded places within Israel, and target assassinations, not in professional warfare like Hezbollah. Hamas cannot duplicate Hezbollah's performance, it is that simple, and its targets are easy to strike at, within Gaza.

In South Lebanon, there are no military bases for Hezbollah, no visible training camps, or arms warehouses. No Hezbollah flags flying at official Hezbollah buildings, forcing Israel instead to strike at everyone and everything in Lebanon, hoping that in the mayhem they would succeed at hitting Hezbollah targets. As one journalist put it back then, "One walks through South Lebanon and feels Hezbollah, but one does not see Hezbollah."

The situation in Gaza is different. Hamas is everywhere. Caught by the trappings of state after it took control of Gaza in 2007, Hamas placed its name and hallmarks on all buildings it controls, making them easy targets for Israel."

It should be interesting as this fighting continues to see exactly who else comes out in support of Hamas. I am sure Amademajad will come out praising the Hamas efforts in one way or another soon. After all, he did say that Israel should be wiped off the face of the earth.

What do you think about the situation between Israel and the Gaza Strip? Who do you think is right in this conflict?

No comments: