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die Welt, Germany

The Winner of the Gaza
Conflict: Barack Obama

By Richard Herzinger

Translated By Ron Argentati

24 November 2012

Edited by Jonathan Douglas

Germany - die Welt - Original Article (German)

In agreeing to a ceasefire in Gaza, Israel is sticking closely to the American script. And neither will there be any invasion of Iran without Washington's permission.

The winner: the U.S. The loser: Iran. That's a quick summation of the most recent fighting in Gaza. By concluding a ceasefire, the United States has proven that they are, and will continue to be, the authoritative voice in the Middle East.

At the same time, it's also apparent that the concept developed by departing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — Barack Obama’s strategic line of exercising indirect U.S. power via regional security networks — is capable of bearing fruit.

The United States sent in Egypt as mediator between Israel and Hamas, thereby effectively knocking Iran — the chief sponsor of Palestinian terrorism — out of the picture.

Egypt Is Still Dependent on America for Survival

Washington’s security objectives for the Middle East are beginning to take shape. Despite, or perhaps because of, its inner turmoil, Egypt has been proposed as a credible guarantor of at least a temporary Israeli-Palestinian foundation for peace.

In concert with Cairo, and with the support of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the goal is to gradually wean Hamas from Iran's influence and indirectly involve it in the peace process. Because of the role he would play, Egyptian Islamist President Mohammed Morsi would stand to gain considerable influence in the Arab world as America's reliable partner.

It is also clear, however, that despite its drift toward becoming an Islamic theocracy, Egypt is still dependent on American support. Without America's billions [of dollars], the Egyptian military would quickly shrink to the level of a circus sideshow.

The Gaza conflict also determined Washington's relationship with Israel. Right from the start, Barack Obama showed complete support for Israel's air attacks against Hamas' military structure. But Washington was equally clear that it would not approve of an Israeli ground offensive.

The United States fears that a protracted and bloody war would increase hatred toward Israel to a boiling point and make Morsi's adherence to the Israeli-Egyptian peace pact impossible. Because of the close military and security ties between the United States and Israel, Israel would also consider itself a winner in the Gaza conflict, regardless of the fact that it did not achieve its main goal of destroying Hamas.

Nevertheless, the Israeli army's attacks have been far more precise than the radical Islamists had expected. Because these precision attacks have resulted in noticeably fewer casualties, Hamas has been unable to crank up its anti-Israeli propaganda machinery (“Zionist child-murderers!”). The ceasefire came just in time for the Islamists to enable them to maintain a minimum of military force.

Test Run for a Possible Attack on Iran

The highly effective Israeli air attack and the “Iron Dome” anti-missile shield are both courtesy of a high-tech U.S. initiative to upgrade the Israeli military. The Gaza offensive also served as a test run for possible attacks on Iran's nuclear facilities in the future.

In view of this experience, Israel can feel reasonably safe from Iranian counterattacks. Since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stuck closely to the American stage directions in event of a crisis, it's also apparent that since Obama's reelection Netanyahu has little maneuvering room with a U.S. president he doesn't especially like.

Without Washington's approval, there will be no Israeli attack on Iran.

The U.S. Security Structure Remains Fragile

Obama's pro-Israel position in the Gaza conflict sends a signal to Jerusalem. The president isn't just engaging in empty rhetoric when he says that the use of military force to prevent Iran from attaining a nuclear weapon is still part of U.S. policy.

The Gaza ceasefire has considerably helped to isolate Iran, but the U.S. security structure is still fragile.

Mohammed Morsi's efforts to set up a sort of presidential dictatorship, thereby assuring the Muslim Brotherhood sole power, is currently causing considerable political upheaval in Egypt. Should Egypt sink into chaos, the Middle East’s security structure would collapse along with it like a house of cards.



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