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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid