News / Middle East

    ‘Global Jihad’ Big Winner From Gaza Crisis, Analysts Say

    A fighter of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) holds a weapon while another holds a flag in the city of Mosul, June 23, 2014.
    A fighter of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) holds a weapon while another holds a flag in the city of Mosul, June 23, 2014.

    In the fallout of Israel’s deadly incursion into Gaza, some analysts say jihadists in the Middle East may be the biggest beneficiaries.

    There is “one big winner from the latest Gaza war - the global jihad,” Bruce Riedel, a terrorism expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington wrote on the web site Al Monitor.

    Riedel wrote that the “televised imagery of war, violence and casualties” will fuel recruitment for al-Qaida and its breakaway, the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), which has declared a caliphate across a swath of Syria and Iraq.

    Analysts at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies warned in a June study that ISIL’s land grab in Iraq and Syria posed risks of contagion, pointing out that the group’s leaders had already signaled their ambition of infiltrating Jordan, the “last stronghold.”

    “Jordan is liable to be engulfed in chaos with the survival of the kingdom threatened,” the study said, adding, “Jordan is confronting a growing number of cells of jihadist organizations infiltrating the state under the guise of refugees.”

    From there, they said, it is “an easy hop, skip, and jump away from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and the Sinai Peninsula.”

    Officials from Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency said in January that they had seized three Palestinians, two of them east Jerusalem residents, for alleged involvement in an al Qaida plan to carry out terror attacks in Israel, including bombing the U.S. embassy.

    But Charles Lister, a Visiting Fellow at Brookings Doha Center, isn’t so convinced that the big jihadist groups are ready to extend their fight to the Palestinian territories.

    Still, he worries this latest conflict in Gaza will serve as “a spark for expanded recruitment” generally by jihadists.

    “Gaza is already home to a number of small jihadist groups, but so far, they have faced an extremely challenging environment in which to operate, as a result of Hamas’ hostility towards their existence,” he said. “These conditions are unlikely to change any time soon, and it’s likely that Palestinians already within or swaying towards the jihadist scene may increasingly come to see fighting in Iraq and Syria as more attractive avenues of activity.”

    But he cautions that ISIL and the al-Qaida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra “may increase the level to which they emphasize that the liberation of Jerusalem is an objective high on their list.”

    Whether jihadist groups strengthen in the Palestinian territories is likely to rest on whether Hamas can convince their followers and others in this round of war with Israel they were victorious, analysts say.

    “With the devastation in Gaza, it will be a hard sell,” said Jonathan Schanzer, a Mideast scholar at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a U.S.-based research non-profit.

    “There may be a lot of resentment against the movement for starting a war they could not finish,” he said. “Then again, anger against Israel will not be in short supply either. As for the broader jihadist movement across the region, I think it’s safe to say that the Gaza conflict will attract new adherents.”

    Schanzer  said that the “fact so many Arab governments were relatively mum on the war” is likely to spur recruitment.

    Exploiting the gap

    Jihadists are already trying to exploit the gap between the solidarity many Arabs feel with the Palestinians and the lukewarm and at times critical reaction to Hamas of several Arabs governments-notably Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, bitter enemies of the Muslim Brotherhood, which Hamas is aligned with.

    Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, another foe of the Muslim Brotherhood, was accused by some Arab commentators of seeking to entrap Hamas and delegitimize the movement with the first cease-fire offer he brokered.

    The offer was dubbed “a stab in the back to the resistance and the people of Gaza” by Azmi Bishara, the head of the Arab Center for Research and Policy in Doha, Qatar, who argued Cairo was determined to prevent Hamas from securing any political gains from the conflict.

    The Arab states are already being ridiculed in jihadist propaganda for their positions on Gaza. Jihadists in Egypt accuse Sissi of being Israel’s policeman and other Arab governments are mocked for “colluding with Israel.”

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora