Palestine and the axis of resistance

Image: Kafeel Ahmed
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By MARTIN MARTINELLI*

The axis tries to neutralize the incursions of North American imperialism with its Israeli arm in the region

Hamas' roots go back nearly half a century and do not refer to any type of “Islamic terrorism.” This is a figure promoted and invented by the Anglo-Saxon powers to invade different countries in the West Asian region. In the 1970s, Palestinian Sheikh Ahmed Yassin founded an Islam-based organization accepted by Israel because he believed it could weaken Fatah, the main organization of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Its biggest current derivations are political and geopolitical.

The Sunni Hamas movement emerged in a context of disillusionment with secular Palestinian political movements, which they consider incapable of putting an end to the Israeli military occupation and colonization of settlements. He fought against Israeli occupation and marked the resurgence of Islamic forces in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It coexists with Fatah's secular nationalism and defends Islamic nationalism as a different political project. It is important to clarify that the majority of the Palestinian people are Muslims, which is why social action or aid centers were in many cases created as mosques.

Since 2001, Hamas has debated with Fatah to achieve a “national” position – referring to the representative inclusion of all factions – rather than a “nationalist” position in peace negotiations with Israel. The Islamic Resistance movement, Hamas, was created by the Muslim Brotherhood Society in 1988. Dedicated to social, religious and political activities, it is an example of nationalist Islam: it is a Palestinian group that manages to harmonize both concepts, differentiating short-term objectives (the nation) and long-term (the Umma).

Political Islam proposes a theory of politics and the State; It represents an intellectual manifestation of the interaction between religion and politics, like the Islamic Republic of Iran, a possible case. Some Muslim intellectuals considered nationalism as an imposed and particularistic project, unlike Islam, which sought to establish the Umma or Islamic community, without distinction of ethnic, linguistic, geographic origin, etc.

The dichotomy between nationalism and supranational Islam reduced its intensity, given the emergence of Islamic states and the conception of the modern state, the Islamic adaptation or nationalization of Islam. Just like Hamas, which seeks first to achieve a Palestinian state, participating in and accepting political structures, to continue the search for a supranational Islam.

The reconciliation of Islam with nationalism conceives a kind of hierarchy of identity circles, where patriotism and Arab nationalism lead to a larger and more comprehensive supranational circle, that of the Islamic Umma. The issue of the liberation of Palestine, present in a preferential chapter in the struggle with Israel.

In 2005, Abbas was elected president of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), starting to administer in the West Bank with limited powers. That year, Israel also withdrew from the Gaza Strip, territory occupied by its troops and settlers, ending 38 years of occupation. The withdrawal was part of the “peace process” agreements: the implementation of the withdrawal plan did not go well.

Hamas has a series of dependent organizations that carry out activities in areas ranging from cultural and religious education to young people through its madrassas, to social assistance for the most needy Palestinians (and the families of its own members killed or imprisoned in Israeli prisons). . and representation in Palestinian democratic institutions through the Change and Reform list.

They ran in the 2006 general elections and won a majority, which gave them the power to form the government led by Ismail Haniye. The organization's armed wing is the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, which maintains the armed struggle against the State of Israel, which it considers illegitimate. Tareq Baconi explains the significance of Hamas in its early days: “In 1988, the PLO presented a declaration that included the independence of the State of Palestine, which essentially amounted to a historic concession on behalf of the Palestinians. Essentially, the PLO accepted the loss of 78% of the Palestinians' historic homeland to Israel and accepted the formation of a Palestinian state on 22% of the land. This concession is one that Hamas then challenges.”

Hamas – as the PLO emerges from this moment of revolutionary foment and, in a sense, lays down its arms and admits that diplomacy is now a way forward – emerges as a movement that challenges that commitment. Instead of diplomacy, they argue, we should remain committed to armed resistance for total liberation, unless we do so in an ideology that is Islamic rather than secular.

The “Roadmap” was rejected by several Palestinian organizations, including the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Islamic currents Hamas and Jihad.

The axis of resistance

The axis of resistance is an informal organization that emerged in opposition to the 2002 “axis of evil” considerations and lacks a specific date of emergence. In recent history, we must consider the failures of the United States in its objectives in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Until 2020, Qassem Soleimani was the great architect of this movement, many even consider him the “Che” Guevara of the Middle East, whose general objective was to reverse the American advance in the region.

This axis tries to neutralize the incursions of North American imperialism with its Israeli arm in the region. They are guerrillas or non-state formations, different from the regular armies that make them up. Countries that were besieged and, therefore, weakened their state and social structures. This allowed an approach to the normalization that Israel sought with several of them.

The Houthis, as members of Ansarallah are often called, are a group that emerged in Yemen, as a result of the resistance of a country that has been bombed since 2015 by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. They operate in one of the densest geostrategic points, the Bab al-Mandab Strait. It is denoted by commercial and hydrocarbon traffic, as well as the number of power bases (France, the United States, the only one in China), based on the opposite coast, in Djibouti. Along with the Strait of Hormuz, part of Iran's axis of resistance to Yemen is built. The groups that make it up are together with the Yemeni Houthis; Syria; Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Palestine; Badr, Kataeb Hezbollah and Asaib Ahl al Haq in Iraq and the Revolutionary Guard in Iran.

The Houthis attacked merchant ships linked to Israel as a strategy to demand a ceasefire against Palestinians in Gaza. This generates global surprise for coming from a country in its conditions, while the United States-United Kingdom coalition attacked the Yemeni port of Hodeida. In addition to observing the disparity in military power between them, this corroborates those who are most interested in Israeli movements in the region. In other words, the Anglo-Saxon military powers that try to stop this mean their loss of economic and financial potential.

The most recent movements in the region's tectonic plates have caused countries at odds or at levels of tension and rivalry to come closer together, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia. For example, structurally, in two large organizations and above all in the realignment of the global council that is BRICS+. This expansion features several developments.

The axis of resistance is part of Iran's rapprochement with Russia and China, due to changes in the last decade of a recomposition of the power of various actors in the region materialized in the income of Egypt, Ethiopia, the United Arab Emirates, Iran and Saudi Arabia. The magnitude of this change is something that might have been unthinkable a decade or two ago, at the height of American unipolarity.

These are some of the geopolitical interests behind these months of Israeli bombings against the Palestinians. The number of dead, injured and displaced is staggering. They surpass the expulsion of the Palestinians in 1948 and more than double the firepower of the largest terrorist attack in history, the nuclear bombs that the US army dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which inaugurated the contemporary era, now in question.

In the case of Hamas, this political and social organization, which also has a guerrilla arm, proposes three main objectives: “the creation of an independent Palestinian State, the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons and the end of incursions by Israeli settlers and police officers at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.” Currently, it is approaching Fatah to seek a unitary government coalition, also with the mediation of the increasingly influential Chinese diplomacy, and is part of the calls to accept Palestine into the UN as a full member. The latter would give it international recognition and protection if the enormous aid from the United States, an irreplaceable support for Israel's bellicose behavior, could be stopped.

These organizations of different orientations act independently, but with a common objective: to erode American military power in their countries as a preliminary step towards the liberation of Palestine. Meanwhile, the United States, with its support in the area, tries to isolate these organizations and call them terrorists.

Iran pushed for a turn east. It maintains a 25-year treaty with the Asian oil and gas giant in exchange for investments in infrastructure. This is why Iran, one of the countries most economically sanctioned by the United States, the second behind Russia, is increasingly linked to countries in its region, in addition to China and Russia. After suffering cyber attacks and targeted assassinations from Israel and the United States, including Qassem Soleimani.

Another objective of the resistance axis is the liberation of Palestine. This contrasts with Israel's attempts to normalize Arab relations in recent years. And, furthermore, it shows that beyond the official positions of the countries, among the populations of the region, the rejection of the balkanization plan in the “Middle East”, promoted through that almost unconditional ally of the United States, continues.

This axis generates a change in power relations, beyond what the regular armies of their countries do, whose power has been attempted to dismantle or deteriorate. Therefore, it is a reconstruction in other forms that tries to show its disagreement with the US bases in Iraq, or with the arrogance of the Israeli army towards Syria, Lebanon and Palestine.

These groups are consolidating themselves as a common front for the unusual violence carried out by the United States that left countries destroyed, millions of refugees and hundreds of thousands dead with the increase in military spending. It is a form of regional alignment, the opposite of the attempts at fragmentation embodied in Israel and the growing military and logistical support it receives. Iran has also warned Israel, with its measured attack, that a new period is beginning. And together with the resistance in the Sahel, they raise more questions about the neocolonial ways of Euro-American powers.

It is possible that it can influence what happens in Palestine, by generating an intertwining of groups, with different technology and military strength. Its purpose carries a historical and relevant burden for its societies in general, that of undermining the processes led by Israel and the United States, to establish a “controlled chaos” of disunity and military overheating in the region. To this end, they understand Palestine as a fundamental issue.

Fight for self-determination

The Palestinian social and political reality was fractured into three planes (some consider four, with East Jerusalem): in the West Bank and Gaza, inside Israel and outside historic Palestine (refuge and emigration). These three dimensions, although they have particularities, were not isolated from each other and influenced each other. For Palestinians they constitute the same reality and any Palestinian has their family members spread across these three worlds. In other words, the three spheres of the Israeli occupation of Palestine are inseparable. The confrontation with Israel brings together almost all Palestinian factions and even unites the Muslim world and the Arab cause.

The Palestinian people continue to fight for their self-determination, regardless of whether a binational or two-state solution is possible. Without forgetting the occupation situation that has been going on for decades and is continually increasing. At the same time, the application of apartheid to its population is internationally recognized, but this has not yet substantially changed its reality.

Among the forms of Palestinian resistance and international solidarity with their cause, we find the BDS, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign (related to the South African campaign), which opposed the statements of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance ( AIRH), to reject the assimilation between Judeophobia (anti-Semitism) as a form of racism and anti-Zionism, as a rejection of Israeli policies towards Palestinians.

The current escalation demonstrates how the world has changed, especially since 2013/14, and has accelerated in February 2022, a relative decline of the United States in many respects, retreating in some places like the Middle East. In this new development there is renewed power for China in its strategic alliance with Russia. The Gaza Strip has been controlled by land, sea and air since 2007; This is the fertile ground, together with oppression and cyclical bombings, where this circle of violence emerges.

We demand the immediate cessation of bombings and the war of extermination, a likely ethnic cleansing of the Israeli army if it does not stop its objectives. At the same time, we regret the human losses and their consequences for those involved. Palestinians have resisted expulsion attempts since Nakba, 76 years ago.

We call for an end to all ways in which the Israeli army attempts to surround and bomb Palestinians living in the world's largest open-air prison. Faced with this machine of death and disinformation, the position to adopt is to denounce the political and geopolitical use of these massacres.

*Martín Martinelli is a professor in the Department of Social Sciences at the National University of Luján (Argentina). Book author Palestine (and Israel). Between intifadas, revolutions and resistance (EdUNLu).


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