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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs