I'm not quite sure where I read it, but someone referred the current Israeli bombardment of Gaza as: "rearranging rubble." So yes, Gaza is in ruins, but how much does it effect Hamas and its hold on this heavly populated beachfront? If you read my last blog (one below this one) I argue that because of Hamas's unconventional roots, the bombing of its "official buildings" isn't as damaging to its overall strenth as one might think.
So, all these big ideas led to an interesting article I came across by Robert Kaplan, published in this months Atlantic. I found the following to be most interesting:
"To start with, Hamas does not have to win this war. It can lose and still win. As long as no other political group can replace it in power, even as some of its diehards can continue to lob missiles, however ineffectually, into Israel, it achieves a moral victory of sorts. Moreover, if Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement tries to replace Hamas in power, Fatah will forever be tagged with the label of Israeli stooge, and in the eyes of Palestinians will have little moral legitimacy. Israel’s dilemma is that it is not fighting a state but an ideology, the postmodern glue that holds together Greater Iran."
I agree that Fatah is out of this one. But what isn't being said is that Israel needs Hamas--or at least a Palestinian Authority that includes it. Otherwise, Gaza might as well be renamed Somalia, or any other place that is composed of feuding militias. Under such a scenario rocket fire will likely increase and Israel will be forced to reoccupy the Gaza Strip. And that is in no ones interest.
In addition to this point, it is interesting to recall how the Achamenid Empire of ancient Persia had substantial influence over the territory of Gaza. And now, as Kaplan connects, Iran reasserting its influence in the coastal strip by providing Hamas--unlike the Sunni Arab states--with both moral and strategic support.
This relationship gives an eye-opening look at Iran's competency not only to mediate and assist in regional Shia conflicts (like with Amal and Hezbollah in the 80's or Dawa, SIIC and Saddarist in modern Iraq) but in Sunni strongholds as well.
As Kaplan says, it is very important for both the U.S and Israel to find some kind of victory out of this conflict as to stem Iran's influence throughout the region. Dully important, is that Iran's influence be stemmed along the lines of Shia actors. Just the very notion of Iran working with sub-state Sunni's should send chills down the streets of Riyadh and Cairo.
Take a look: