Bayard & Holmes
~ Jay Holmes
Nearly everyone has influence on the Israel-Hamas War. If you buy gasoline in Asia, Europe, or the Western Hemisphere, you have a bit of influence on the current battle between Hamas and Israel. If the Russia-Ukraine War matters to you, you have a bit of influence on the war. If you’re a bored college student in the US, or pretending to be a college student in the US, and you’re in need of a fresh topic to rage against, we’ve got good news for you. Thanks to the market-driven Western media outlets, you, too, have a minute speck of influence on the Hamas war against Israel. Just remember to make an anguished face while protesting. Happy-looking protesters don’t make the news reels.
If you are in Gaza, and you’re not a member of Hamas, your influence on events is low. If a shrill Western journalist registers a 1 on the “1–100 influence scale,” your influence as a civilian in Gaza is perhaps 1/1,000th of that of the journalist. You also don’t eat or dress as well as a Western journalist.
Accounting for all foreign pressures coming to bear on the Hamas 2023 Calamity is beyond the scope of this article. The analysts over at the CIA will undoubtedly still be rushing to debate commas and adjectives on their 10,000th edit of their overall assessment of Hamas 2023 long after the guns and rockets temporarily fall silent in Gaza. Before a final version of that report is approved, the funding for the project will be pulled. Don’t let that concern you. The current administration has no intention of reading that report. They already have their playbook for this war, and it is brief and simple. But we’ll get to that later.
In the meantime, for our own entertainment, let’s look at the major external influences on the Hamas 2023 Terrorist Extravaganza, beginning with the simplest cases–the neighbors.
Jordan’s position is easy to understand. Internally, the Jordanian government will announce heartfelt concern for the civilians in Gaza and beg for a cease-fire. In the meantime, Jordan will privately beg Israel to kill as many Hamas as they can, as soon as they can. The notion of a triumphant Hamas gaining a dominant position in the West Bank is nauseating to the Jordanian government. When contemplating living next door to a more-powerful Hamas versus living next door to Israel, Zionism starts sounding like a lovely idea.
Egypt’s position isn’t much different. Egypt doesn’t want more Palestinians in its country, and World Jihad has lost its appeal to a majority of Egyptians. Yes, the Muslim Brotherhood’s radical faction in Egypt hates Israel, but right now they are busy trying to avoid being slapped down by the Egyptian government. The Egyptian radicals’ opinion in this case matters about as much as a deranged Cornell University Professor’s does, as in not one bit.
Egypt is not going to attack Israel. It will publicly call for a cease fire and will continue to help Qatar and others to negotiate hostage releases. Quietly, the Egyptians will encourage Israel to quickly kill as many Hamas as possible. They want this crisis to be gone. That’s it.
The always-annoying and rarely-effective Turkish Dictator Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has loudly denounced Israel’s operations in Gaza. He will continue to remain loud in his protests, though the world’s major media outlets have grown momentarily bored with him.
To Erdoğan’s dismay, building an intercontinental Ottoman Empire is not as easy as it might appear to be on a map table. He’s behind schedule on that project. Many of Erdoğan’s most important supporters don’t want to take a major financial hit by involving Turkey in the Gaza quagmire. As Hamas lookouts search the horizon for the reinforcing Turkish fleet, they remain disappointed. That won’t change.
Sultan Erdoğan will keep talking. He never stops. He wants to be the dominant player in this current Hamas Drama. He isn’t and won’t be.
Saudi Arabia’s position is very clear and it doesn’t deny it. It has pointedly ignored Hamas in this current war. The Saudis are enjoying diplomatic and commercial ties to Israel, and they are tired of Hamas.
Here’s a clue. On October 22, Qatar and Egypt were working frantically to finalize a deal for Hamas to release two of its female hostages. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, however, was publicly busy Instagramming with Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo about the future of Esports in Saudi Arabia. This was not an accident. Saudi Arabia Esports is about the future, and Hamas is about the past. The Saudi Royal Family is tired of having its foreign relations heavily influenced by the whims of Hamas, Hezbollah, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), and all their splinter groups.
United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Since signing the Abraham Accords in 2020, the UAE and Israel have been enjoying closer cooperation on trade, military matters, and shared Intelligence. The UAE’s response to Hamas Mayhem 2023 has been clear. Like Saudi Arabia, it is tired of having its foreign relations determined by the whims of Hamas.
The UAE has loudly denounced Hamas’s brutal October 7 terror attacks. Since the Israeli counter strikes into Gaza, the UAE has tried to broker diplomatic efforts and has supported a UN motion to call for a cease fire in Hamas. Privately, it is unlikely that the UAE will try to pressure Israel to halt its operations against Hamas.
Qatar’s position in the current Hamas terror attacks is fairly complicated. We could write a long book about it, but nobody would pay for that book so I will instead be brief.
Since 2018, Qatar has been financing Hamas with monthly payments. Depending on who you ask, those payments are somewhere between $12 million and $30 million a month. The quiet and efficient US Treasury Department Intelligence Bureau probably has a pretty good read on those payments, but it doesn’t make that information public. The purpose of these payments was to fund infrastructure, health care, and public employees’ salaries in Gaza.
Critics have argued that the money was going to build a bigger, better terror army for Hamas. Personally, I am not certain how much of the money went to the humanitarian purposes that they were intended to support. Israel, itself, is divided on this topic. Netanyahu, himself, allowed the payments to pass through Israel to Hamas in the hopes of preventing a bigger humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
Many Israeli politicians and military people were against the payments.
They viewed the payments as more financing for Hamas in its war against Israel.
The PLO saw the payments as a way of empowering Hamas to the detriment of the PLO/Palestinian Authority. Once Hamas began its current terrorist strikes against Israel, Qatar found itself in an uncomfortable position.
In the last six years, Qatar has been enjoying better relations with Israel and the West.
Given that Qatar is a small nation living across a small body of water from the Iranian Ayatollah-brand jihadists, this matters a great deal to Qatar.
Qatar has responded to Hamas’s current terror strikes against Israel by very publicly working to arrange hostage releases. Sometime prior to December 12, fabulously wealthy top Hamas officials living in Qatar left without their known cell phones. Their whereabouts have not been made public. Some speculate that they are in Iran or possibly Pakistan. We assume that they are being hunted by Israeli intelligence services. Qatar did not want their liquidation to occur inside of Qatar.
Currently, Qatar is cooperating with the US, Israel, and Egypt in communicating with Hamas in the hopes of obtaining the release of however many hostages are still alive in Gaza. It remains to be seen what the relationship between Qatar and Hamas will look like after the guns temporarily fall silent in Gaza.
For purposes of understanding the Hamas 2023 terrorist activity, we can fuse these two foreign groups together. That doesn’t mean that the government of Lebanon agrees with anything that Hezbollah does. It just means the Lebanese government doesn’t matter. It is impotent in dealing with Hezbollah.
On the other hand, Hezbollah is in a position to greatly influence events in the current Hamas terror operations, and it has. To the best of its ability, it will continue to do so. Though always hampered by its collective narrow world view and its dependence on Iran for weapons, intelligence, and leadership, Hezbollah is a major player in this war.
Hezbollah has launched missiles into Israel in support of Hamas, but it has paid a high price for each launch due to swift counterstrikes by Israel. Hezbollah does not wish to be seen as a non-player in this conflict.
Hezbollah’s funding sources are varied across Africa and the Middle East, and it can’t afford to lose its “terrorist cred.” Otherwise, the funding currently flowing its way could quickly flow to competing terrorist groups. Big league jihad is a competitive business, and financing is abundant, but not unlimited.
Hezbollah currently helps Hamas tremendously by requiring Israel to keep a large portion of its military poised for major strikes. Now that the Hamas Terror Festival has not gone as well as many jihadists had hoped, Hezbollah is wondering what Israel might do once Israel feels it has sufficiently damaged Hamas’s terror capabilities in Gaza. Hezbollah is currently digging in and desperately looking for more munitions as it waits for the other Israeli shoe to drop. Hezbollah assumes it will drop on them.
The competing interests of the aforementioned groups are some of the forces influencing Hamas in its decision-making processes. In our next article, we will consider the rest of the major sources of influence on Hamas.
For previous articles in this series, see the following:
Bayard & Holmes
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