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The Journal for politics, economics, and culture of the Middle East published by the German Orient-Institute

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04/01/24

Consequences of Germany’s moral support for Israel’s military offensive on Gaza for Palestinians living in Germany

The Israeli war against the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza, which is commonly portrayed as a war against Hamas, enjoys great moral solidarity in the political and media discourse in Germany. At the same time, the Palestinian experience of violence, which has been going on for decades, is once again being made invisible. This is compounded by the invisibilisation and criminalisation of symbols of Palestinian identity and practices of Palestinian remembrance culture in Germany. This article addresses the growing alienation of Palestinians in Germany in the face of this situation, as the violence continues for them even in exile.

Sarah El-Bulbeisi joined the Orient Institut Beirut in November 2019 after completing her PhD at the Institute for Near and Middle East Studies at the lMU Munich, Germany. Before joining the OIB, she coordinated the DAAD project “Violence, Forced Migration and Exile: Trauma in the Arab World and in Germany”, a Higher Education Dialogue between Palestinian and Lebanese universities as well as with the LMU Munich. Prior to that, she worked as a lecturer and research associate at the Institute for Near and Middle East Studies at the LMU Munich. she is the author of Taboo, Trauma and Identity: Subject Constructions of Palestinians in Germany and Switzerland, 1960 to 2015, published with transcript in 2020.

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04/01/24

A Palestinian perspective: post-7 October 2023

It was against the backdrop of over a century of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that the Hamas assault on Israel threw the entire Middle east into turmoil on 7 October, redirecting a trajectory that the United States had been pursuing with some Arab states eager to normalise relations with Israel with little, if any, serious regard to the Palestinian plight. A new geopolitical and strategic architecture will likely evolve in the aftermath of the assault without the possibility to return to the status quo ante. A new era for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is emerging and another era for some regional and Arab states, especially Qatar, which is playing a mediating function in the release of the hostages and the Palestinian prisoners. The world may very well become multipolar as Iran’s role also unfolds in this war. One thing is for sure, the “Question of Palestine”, which started in 1917, is still shaping the Middle East and is central in the emerging new Middle East order.

Hiba Husseini chaired the Legal Committee to Final Status Negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis and has served as legal advisor to peace process negotiations since 1994. She has written widely on the peace process, the rule of law, economic development and Jerusalem, recently co-authoring with Dr. Yossi Beilin the “Holy Land Confederation” (2022), an enabler for the two-state solution. Among her other most recent publications are Palestine from a Flawed Democracy to Authoritarianism (2023) and Participation of East Jerusalem in Future Palestinian Parliamentary and Presidential Elections: Challenges and Policy Options (2023). She serves on the Board of Trustees of Al Quds University and the American Board of the Middle East Partnership for Peace Fund (MEPPA).

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04/01/24

The war on Gaza: carnage of hard power

The attack by Hamas against the Israeli settlements on Gaza’s northern border on October 7 had the limited objective of taking as many captives as possible to exchange them later, with a growing number of Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons. However, the operation, while it did achieve its objective, seemed to go sour as anarchy prevailed with the flow of undisciplined crowds into the settlements, precipitating acts of violence. The reaction to Hamas resulted in a war of vengeance against Gaza, with clear indications that the carnage created has rendered the towns and villages of the Palestinians in Gaza or the West Bank unfit for living. Witnessing the huge destruction of life and property, the world woke up to the tragedy of the Palestinians. Calls were made to end the violence and the option of a two-state solution gained momentum. Yet historical precedence seems to defy such a course of action. On previous occasions when the world attended to the various sides and parties of the conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbours, it was often Israeli reluctance to make the necessary territorial concessions that led to failure. The typical syndrome followed a familiar pattern, in which Israeli leaders begin having disagreements and friction among themselves, then their American allies fall into confusion and inaction resulted. This has plagued the course of the so-called peace process between Israelis and Palestinians since 1967. Biden has made it clear that he not only favours the two-state solution, but that in preparation for its realisation, Netanyahu should distance himself from the extremists and accept the Palestinian Authority as a negotiating partner. Netanyahu has already rejected Biden’s recommendations and opted for a defiant position. In all probability, Biden will shy away from a confrontation and the call for a two-state solution will be frozen. Consequently, Israel will continue to rely on its hard power without relinquishing its hold on the territories it occupied in 1967.

Walid Kazziha is Professor of Political Science, several times chairman of department and former Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Political Science at The American University in Cairo. He is a specialist in the field of Middle East Politics, with particular reference to the politics of the Arab East, Egypt and the Gulf region. He has taught a wide range of courses focusing on government and politics of the Middle East, the Arab-Israeli conflict, civil society in the Middle East, political Islam, Arab political and social thought, the Middle East in Global Politics and conflicts in the Gulf. He has authored and co-authored several books, including Egypt’s Tahrir Revolution, Revolutionary Transformation in the Arab World, Palestine in the Arab Dilemma and a monograph, The Social History of Southern Syria.

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04/01/24

The 2023 war on Gaza: Iran between realpolitik and ideology

The 2023 war in Gaza has become a focal point in international relations, attracting the attention of various nations with vested interests in the region. A prominent player in this conflict is Iran, which has played a significant role in shaping the discourse surrounding the Palestinian cause. This article aims to delve into the intricate web of Iran’s perspective on the Palestine-Israel conflict, examining its historical development, the domestic political ramifications and the international reactions to Iran’s involvement. The article analyses Iran’s stance on the Gaza conflict, focusing on its rhetoric, key themes and diplomatic nuances. It also explores the relationship between Iran and its allies, examining its involvement in the events of 7 October and the Hamas attack on Israel. Iran faces a difficult decision of intervention and restraint, with supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s realist approach providing context. examining the potential acceleration of Iran’s nuclear programme as a response to the conflict highlights the correlation between military strategies and geopolitical considerations. lastly, the article delves into the intricate relationship between Iranian politics and public sentiment, highlighting the diverse perspectives within Iranian circles and the varying views of the Iranian public. It also examines the surprising lack of grassroots support for the Palestinian cause within Iran, highlighting the influence of media, social dynamics and economic concerns on public opinion.

Mahjoob Zweiri is Professor in Contemporary Politics and History of the Middle East with a focus on Iran and the Gulf region and Director of Gulf studies Center at Qatar University. Before joining Qatar University in 2010, he was senior researcher in Middle East Politics and Iran at the Center for Strategic Studies, University of Jordan. From 2003 until 2006 he was a research fellow and then Director of the Centre for Iranian Studies in the Institute for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at Durham University. He has more than 90 publications in areas such as Iran and Contemporary Middle East History and Politics, Gulf Studies, Social Sciences in the University of the Future and Artificial Intelligence and Social Sciences. His latest book is Arab-Iranian Relations Since the Arab Uprisings (2023).

Thomas Bonnie James is a PhD Candidate in the Gulf Studies Program, Qatar University.

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04/01/24

Implications of the war in Gaza for GCC-Israeli rapprochement

This article examines the implications of the ongoing war in Gaza for prospects of rapprochement between Israel and the Gulf states. The article provides historical background and context to the evolving position of the Gulf Cooperation Council states toward Israel in the 1990s, with the exception of Kuwait, analyses the factors that lay behind the realignment of regional interests in the 2000s and 2010s, and assesses the consequences for the future of relationships in the aftermath of the horrific attacks by Hamas on Israel on 7 October 2023 and the Israeli bombardment of Gaza that followed.

Kristian Coates Ulrichsen is the Fellow for the Middle East at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. His research spans the history, political and international political economy, and international relations of the Gulf states and their changing position within the global order. He is the author of six books about the Gulf states, including Insecure Gulf: The End of Certainty and the Transition to the Post-Oil Era (Hurst, 2011), The Gulf States in International Political Economy (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), Qatar and the Gulf Crisis (Oxford University Press, 2020), and Centers of Power in the Arab Gulf States (Hurst, 2023). Prior to joining the Baker Institute in 2013, he co-directed the Kuwait Programme on Development, Governance and Globalization in the Gulf States at the London School of Economics and Political science and was also an Associate Fellow with the Middle East North Africa Programme at Chatham House between 2012 and 2021.

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04/01/24

Is diplomacy possible after the death of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process?

There is no Israeli-Palestinian peace process at present and talk of a “two-state” solution, while originally based on a sound foundation, now only masks the way the Israel-Palestine conflict has metastasised. In such a setting, diplomacy can steer matters away from further deterioration less by prescribing a final settlement and more by insisting on specific principles: international law; national rights; and restoring Palestinian institutional development. such an approach will not solve the conflict, but it will leave a future generation with a more effective set of tools.

Nathan J. Brown is Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University and nonresident senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; for the 2023-24 academic year, he is a fellow at the Hamburg Institute for Advanced Study.

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04/01/24

The failure of mediation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: historical junctures

In this essay, I examine three historical junctures in the failure of formal mediation in the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. The three historical junctures involve the United Nations partition plan in 1947, the autonomy framework of the Israeli-egyptian Camp David Accords in the late 1970s and the Madrid-Oslo negotiations in the 1990s. The essay ends with some reflections on future engagement in formal mediation at the policy and practice levels. Based on this historical and analytical overview, I clearly indicate that any effective mediation and future conflict resolution process must facilitate coherently and genuinely the implementation of the Palestinian right to self-determination beyond permanent occupation and oppressive autonomy. I also demonstrate through analysis and historical experience that any conclusive settlement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be based on sustainable peace, equality and justice.

Yaser Alashqar is lecturer in the school of law at Independent College in Dublin and a visiting professor in World Heritage studies at University College Dublin in Ireland. His teaching and research focus on law and dispute resolution, including mediation, negotiation and arbitration. His academic and research interests also involve conflict, heritage and Israeli-Palestinian issues. He holds a PhD in Peace and Conflict studies from Trinity College Dublin, and his recent published research includes Civil Society and Peacebuilding: Critical Review (2022) and Heritage in the Israeli–Palestinian Conflict: Sociopolitical Perspective (2022). He continues to work on training and research projects with european universities, government institutions and international organisations. He is also an academic member of the Centre for Palestine studies at the University of london and a frequent media commentator on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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04/01/24

Orient I 2024: Perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Netanel Flamer
The use of deception by Hamas and the 7 October attack

Yaser Alashqar
The failure of mediation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: historical junctures

Nathan J. Brown
Is diplomacy possible after the death of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process?

Kristian Coates Ulrichsen
Implications of the war in Gaza for GCC-Israeli rapprochement

Mahjoob Zweiri and Thomas Bonnie James
The 2023 war on Gaza: Iran between realpolitik and ideology

Walid Kazziha
The war on Gaza: carnage of hard power

Hiba Husseini
A Palestinian perspective: post-7 October 2023

Sarah El-Bulbeisi
Consequences of Germany’s moral support for Israel’s military offensive on Gaza for Palestinians living in Germany

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04/01/24

The use of deception by Hamas and the 7 October attack

The short piece seeks to highlight the role of deception in Hamas’s ability to successfully create the surprise that enabled its attack on 7 October 2023. As the weaker non-state actor in the asymmetric conflict with Israel, Hamas aimed to conceal its intention to launch an attack and blur the signs indicating its plans, using one of the offensive counterintelligence methods, deception, both strategically and tactically. The main lesson of the article is that policymakers and intelligence personnel need to be acutely aware and consider the possibility that the opposing side is employing deception against them, and do everything in their power to negate this possibility in the intelligence analysis process.

Netanel Flamer is a senior lecturer in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies at Bar-Ilan University and senior researcher at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. He is the author of Hamas Intelligence Warfare Against Israel, forthcoming from Cambridge University Press. He specialises in intelligence, terrorism and asymmetrical warfare in the Middle East.

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05/10/23

Prospects of rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran

The MENA region has long been marred by geopolitical tensions and conflicts, with the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran standing out as a prominent and enduring source of instability. This article explores the prospects of rapprochement, shedding light on the potential for reconciliation and its implications for regional peace and stability, reviewing the key drivers motivating rapprochement, including economic interests, shared security concerns and the desire for increased regional influence. It also considers the role of external factors, such as the United States and Russia, in facilitating or obstructing potential reconciliation efforts and examines the potential consequences and challenges associated with a thaw in relations. The strained bilateral relationship, characterised by proxy conflicts, religious divides and regional power struggles, has had profound consequences on the region. However, recent developments and shifts in regional dynamics have sparked cautious optimism about the possibility of improved relations between these two influential nations. The implications of a Saudi-Iran rapprochement could be far-reaching, impacting not only the geopolitical landscape of the MENA region but also global energy markets, the resolution of regional conflicts and the broader prospects for peace and stability. In conclusion, the prospects of rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran in the MENA region present a complex and evolving dynamic with significant implications. By analysing the factors driving this potential reconciliation and assessing the potential outcomes, this article offers insights into a critical issue that has the potential to reshape the future of the MENA region.

Aditya Anshu is an Assistant Professor of International Relations, Dept of International Relations, Abu Dhabi University, UAE. He earned his Ph.D. in international relations from JNU, New Delhi, India. Previously, he has worked with Bennett University and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, India. His rich experience of internships and study includes the Embassy of India in the United States and Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, South Korea.

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05/10/23

China as an ‘international mediator’ in the context of Saudi-Iran relations

By assuming the role of an international mediator in brokering peace between Saudi Arabia and Iran, China has set a new precedent to its long-held “non-interventionist” foreign policy. This is an outcome of China’s increasing foothold in the Middle East, which is changing the political and security matrix in the region. Against the backdrop of the Saudi-Iranian agreement, it has become essential to assess China’s interest in serving as the mediator as well as Riyadh and Tehran’s desire to embrace Beijing’s good offices.

Amrita Jash is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Geopolitics and International Relations, Manipal Academy of Higher Education (Institution of Eminence), India. She holds a PhD in Chinese Studies from Jawaharlal Nehru University, was a Pavate Fellow at the University of Cambridge and has authored The Concept of Active Defence in China’s Military Strategy (Pentagon Press, 2021). Her research interests are China’s foreign policy, the Chinese military, and security and strategic issues in China-India and China-Japan relations as well as the Indo-Pacific region.

Nadeem Ahmed Moonakal is a research scholar at the International Institute for Iranian Studies (Rasanah), Riyadh. He was a Dr. TMA Pai fellow and is a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Geopolitics and International Relations, Manipal Academy of Higher Education (Institution of Eminence), India. His research largely focuses on strategic and security affairs of the Middle East, India-Middle East relations and regional power struggles in the Middle East, with a special focus on Iran.

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05/10/23

The role of Gulf states in conflict in Sudan

Sudanese engagement with the Arab Gulf states has seen various ups and downs since the country’s independence, yet the relationship encountered serious challenges when the General Omar Hassan al-Bashir-led Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation assumed power after a military coup in 1989, advancing a foreign policy based on the ideological contours developed by the Sudanese Islamist politician Hassan Al-Turabi. The steps taken by the regime soon created tensions with the Arab Gulf states, in particular Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. There were three main points of friction that impacted upon the country’s relationship with these Gulf states: Sudan’s support for Iraqi invasion of Kuwait; its close relationship with the revolutionary regime in Iran, Saudi Arabia’s arch-rival; and the hosting of Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden. This article traces the development of the role of Gulf states in the security environment in Sudan since then and how the Sudanese ruling elites have attempted to develop extensive political, cultural and economic connections with different Arab Gulf states, before and after the security apparatus removed President al-Bashir on 11 April 2019, when he was replaced by the Transitional Military Council as the collective head of state of Sudan.

Umer Karim is a doctoral researcher at the Department of Political Science and International Studies of the University of Birmingham, focusing on Saudi foreign policy and decision-making, and its implications for the politics and security of the Middle East. His broad research interests also include Middle Eastern politics and international relations as well as peace and conflict studies. Additionally, Umer Karim is Associate Fellow at the King Faisal Centre for Research and Islamic Studies and Fellow at the Sectarianism, Proxies and De-sectarianisation (SEPAD) project, based at Lancaster University’s Richardson Institute.

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