Why are Arab countries reluctant to send peacekeepers to Gaza?
by Andrew Korybko on 27 Nov 2023 1 Comment

The Jordanian Foreign Minister said that they believe that doing so would result in them being “seen as the enemy.” From there, one of two conclusions can be arrived at: either 1) they sincerely think they’d be regarded as occupiers by the Palestinians, or 2) there’s an ulterior motive at play that they don’t want to disclose.


Jordan Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said over the weekend [Nov 19-ed] that Arab countries won’t put boots on the ground in Gaza. His exact words were as follows: “Let me be very clear. I know speaking on behalf of Jordan but having discussed this issue with many, with almost all our brethren, there’ll be no Arab troops going to Gaza. None. We’re not going to be seen as the enemy.” Despite being just several brief sentences, Safadi revealed quite a lot about the Arab countries’ calculations towards this conflict.


For starters, his remarks confirm that the Arab countries have indeed discussed this scenario, but they’ve all agreed not to put boots on the ground there. The reason why leads to the second point, and it’s that this collection of countries believes that doing so would result in them being “seen as the enemy.” From there, one of two conclusions can be arrived at: either 1) they sincerely think they’d be regarded as occupiers by the Palestinians, or 2) there’s an ulterior motive at play that they don’t want to disclose.


Per the first, it’s possible that the locals might see them this way if they’re deployed as part of a UN peacekeeping force that includes members of the pro-Israeli West, especially if these troops abuse the Palestinians like they abuse Africans and /or forcibly disarm them so they’re defenceless against Israel. As for the second, these countries might decline sending an entirely Arab peacekeeping force even if Gaza requests this out of fear that possible Israeli attacks could lead to a larger war by miscalculation.


It’s this scenario that’s arguably the most responsible for the Arab countries’ position on this matter. Regardless of whichever authority might attempt to speak in the Gazans’ name for requesting a purely regional peacekeeping force for protecting them from unprovoked attacks by Israel, those stakeholders might still decline to send one since they might wager that the potential costs aren’t worth the benefits. After all, Israel just has to strike their troops once on anti-terrorist pretexts to provoke another crisis.


In fact, it might even be that Hamas sleeper cells awake in the scenario of a regional peacekeeping force arriving in Gaza and provoke Israel precisely for the purpose of setting into motion the chain of events that could lead to such a crisis, which they might then try to exploit to advance their interests. The Arab countries, some of which consider Hamas to be untrustworthy due to its ties with the Muslim Brotherhood that they’ve designated as terrorists, understandably don’t want to take this risk.


This doesn’t mean that they might not change their mind, however, since the discussion about “security guarantees” for Israel and Palestine that’s currently taking place between Russia and Tu¨rkiye could lead to a creative diplomatic-military solution if more stakeholders get involved. It therefore can’t be ruled out that some Arab countries might agree to ensure Palestine’s security, to which end they could dispatch a regional peacekeeping force with the intent of deterring unprovoked Israeli aggression.


In that event, however, those forces would have to tread very carefully and remain in close coordination with Israel in order to avert the scenario of Hamas sleeper cells awakening to wreak havoc through false flag attacks aimed at provoking a regional crisis. The pragmatic relations between those two could be spun as supposed evidence that the Arab forces are “occupiers” and therefore allegedly constitute “legitimate targets”, which could lead to them fighting an insurgency against Hamas and its allies.


Nevertheless, without some sort of credible security guarantees such as the presence of allied forces on its territory, it’s very difficult to imagine how Gaza would ever be able to deter unprovoked Israeli aggression and defend itself if that happens. This leads to the dilemma whereby Israel’s re-occupation of Gaza is likely a fait accompli, but nobody can agree on what comes next, thus possibly perpetuating that aforesaid re-occupation indefinitely by inertia even if this isn’t what Israel actually wants.


One possible way to break through this deadlock could be for Türkiye, whose leader is aligned with Hamas’ Muslim Brotherhood allies, to take the lead in this prospective regional peacekeeping mission alongside some likeminded Arab allies such as Qatar and the UN-recognized Libyan government. Türkiye used to control Gaza during the Ottoman era, while those two preceding Arab countries are led by figures who share roughly the same worldview as Hamas.


It’s still risky, but the chances for success are higher than if Israeli-aligned Arab countries like Jordan or those with speculatively close ties to the self-professed Jewish State like the Saudis took the lead in this respect. The Hamas-aligned ones wouldn’t be targeted by that group like the latter might be, which reduces the likelihood of false flag provocations leading to a regional war by miscalculation. One way or another, a solution has to be reached to this dilemma in order for Palestine to become independent.




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