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

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More