“unity” between Fatah and Hamas, created when talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down after nine futile months. Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) supported the Egyptian initiative while Hamas stuck with the Qatar proposal. Without doubt one of the reasons for the war was the lack of unity among Palestinians. Even though Ismail Haniyeh’s government stepped down in favor of a government of technocrats led by Rami Hamdallah which was set up with US and European support, the fundamental differences between the two sides could not be reconciled. For Hamas, unity was a lifeline but did not mark a strategic change of direction towards political struggle.
Hamas found itself politically isolated following the military coup which toppled Morsi, Hamas’ ally in Egypt. The closure of the Rafah crossing (between the Strip and the Sinai Peninsula) and the destruction of the tunnels (which had been a central economic channel) caused economic difficulties, energy shortages and very high unemployment, and Hamas was unable to pay its civil servants. This compelled it to reach an agreement with Fatah and set up a unity government in which it had no official role but ensured a flow of funds into the Gaza Strip to shore up the flailing economy.
But this unity, as became apparent soon enough, was a sham. Hamas had no intention of giving up its armed regime; it merely hoped that Abu Mazen would fund its control over Gaza. Abu Mazen for his part refused to pay the wages of the civil servants, which caused a serious rift right from the start. Hamas’ abduction and murder of the three Israeli youths in the West Bank gave Israel the excuse to start extensive operations against Hamas cells in the West Bank and recapture the Hamas prisoners who had been released in the Gilad Shalit deal. This was a provocation, and Hamas realized the unity government was of little use: its civil servants’ wages were not paid, the “security cooperation” between the PA and Israel continued, and its operatives in the West Bank were being arrested and its institutions shut down. Hamas’ response was to fire rockets into Israel and thus change the situation completely.
Through Qatari mediation, Hamas tried to bring down two birds with one stone: to give up the border crossings into Israel and into Egypt and build a sea port instead, and gain economic “independence” for Gaza with support from Qatar and Turkey. But the Egyptian regime was unhappy with this aim, because it views Hamas – the Gazan arm of its sworn enemy, the Muslim Brotherhood – as a strategic danger to its existence. Thus Israel, in light of its strategic relations with Egypt, had no choice but to support the Egyptian initiative to the hilt. However, Israel has no intention of bringing down Hamas because it fears an even more dangerous entity will take its place, while the Egyptian regime cannot imagine anything worse than the Muslim Brotherhood.
Obama’s policy contributed to the anarchy
The US position on the Gaza war was based on an attempt to find a compromise between the two proposals, the Egyptian initiative and the Qatari-Turkish initiative. This caused resentment in the Israeli government, which slammed US Secretary of State John Kerry and accused him of supporting Qatar. The Americans tried to find a more balanced and substantial agreement that would gain wider political support from both the axes and thus prevent yet another round of war. This attempt failed though both Qatar and Saudi Arabia are US allies and Turkey is a member of NATO. US President Barack Obama sees the Arab Spring as a natural result of the dictatorial Arab regimes’ failure to ensure economic security and freedom for their people. For this reason the US stopped supporting Mubarak and agreed to cooperate with elected president Morsi despite his connections with the Muslim Brotherhood. This position angered Saudi Arabia.
The US Administration sees the events of July 2013 (the military coup led by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and apparently supported by the young revolutionaries’ movement, Tamarod) as a move against the legitimate elected government. This deepened the crisis with Saudi Arabia, which stood behind Sisi and funded the coup. Nonetheless, the US maintains close ties with Saudi Arabia and cooperates with it on Iraq, as well as with the Egyptian regime and Abu Mazen. Thus the US, attempting to maintain ties with all its regional allies despite the rifts between them, has brought the region to anarchy and war.
US policy in the region has been passive, and this has created a vacuum. This vacuum has been filled by Russia and Iran, who entered Syria with great force, causing the war between the regime and the opposition to deteriorate into a war between ethnic groups. This situation opened the way for ISIS which succeeded in taking over huge swathes of Syria and Iraq and erase the border between the two. Obama has refused all responsibility towards