Although the strategic implications of the war on Gaza have not yet emerged, which will be considerably associated with forthcoming developments on the ground, it is clear that there are repercussions and initial implications that have become apparent, since the war started, which reflects a major shift in the structure of regional relations, i.e the most accurate term in defining the status of the Middle East region today, thus it is hardly possible to apply the term regional system, which refers to a static established pattern of relations between the countries of the region and norms of behavior, there is a state of chaos and uncertainty in the relations of countries with each other and the expectations of behavior by other parties, rather the definition of who the main parties and players are in the regional political scene today, and its various and multiple correlations with international forces and policies.
However, there are many preliminary implications and observations that it is important to consider in the first phase of the Israeli war on Gaza, some of which are related to the nature of the political players, actors, and the emergence of new actors, others are related to the interactive dynamics between countries, also others are related to the concept of wars and the new generation of wars, The role of traditional and online media.
The Hybrid New Actors
One of the most important dimensions is the decline of national states’ role in favor of hybrid regimes or groups, part of which is in power and part of which has military militias, which are neither governments nor mere organizations, thus can be described, so to speak, as semi-state actors, as is the case with the Hamas movement and Hezbollah, the Popular Mobilization Forces (Al-Hashd Al-Sha’bi), the Houthis, also it may include them Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham in Idlib and the Kurdish Peshmerga forces, in addition to the non-state groups, which have become a major actor in regional security, such as Iraqi armed groups, or even local armed groups here and there.
The rise of this type of political actor, and its prominence on the regional and local scene in several countries (Gaza, Syria, Iraq, Yemen), reflects a complete collapse in the concept of the national state and a clear failure in its ability to build integrated societies and carry out political inclusion, Such new dynamics are related to a set of new dynamics and policies in the region, including “proxy war,” as these political-military entities have begun to play a major role on behalf of other international and regional conflict parties by involving into armed confrontations with other parties, superseding the classical armies in carrying out several missions, which exempt, even formally and legally, the relevant countries from responsibility of those actions.
The rise of these factors is perceived, from another perspective, through the flourishing of pre-state tendencies and trends, such as sectarian, ethnic, religious, and social sectarianism, which is the most prevalent phenomenon after the occupation of Iraq in 2003, in addition to the emergence of Iranian influence in the region, which capitalizes on events after the Arab Spring of 2011 to expand.
So far, it is hard to judge whether this type of political, military, and security actor will last during the next stage, or whether it will retreat and be restructured or controlled at the regional level within the formation of a new system that restricts the current chaos in the region.
However, it is difficult to perceive that there is a decline in the role of this type of political actor in the short term, since it is related to structural contexts of the collapse of the Arab national systems and the traditional regional system, which was based on competition between major Arab centers and metropolises, such as Egypt, Iraq and Syria, to lead the regional system, while these three major countries apparently immersed in their internal problems, despite the diversity and differences of these problems, including sectarian division, civil wars, and economic crises.
Apparently, the Al-Aqsa Flood (Tawafan) Operation is the inauguration of the resistance camp resurgence as an important and main regional axis, nevertheless, the reluctance of Iran and Hezbollah to intervene completely and directly in the war, to date, may reflect negatively, later, on the camp status, and strengthen suspicions between the Hamas movement and the masses of Sunni Islamic movements and the Iranian and Shiite groups spread in the region, conversely, it is noticeable that there is a decline and contraction in the Turkish regional role, particularly after the recent Turkish presidential elections, which were pretty complicated, The Turkish stance clearly oscillates between rapprochement with both Russia and Tehran and ambiguous, tense, and at the same time allied relations with the West, apparently there is no a Turkish ambition similar to the Iranian one in the Arab region, thus the Turkish stance, although its influence, actually it is not direct, except in areas adjacent to Turkey, especially northern Syria.
The development of the regional state depends on the dynamics of the war on Gaza and its subsequent political consequences, however, there is the axis of resistance (which includes Iran and its influence; the pro-Iran Shiite forces in the region, the Palestinian Jihad movement, and the Syrian regime, and Hamas movement formerly was within this axis), which is still strong and influential in the region, while the Arab moderation axis is experiencing a state of confusion, hesitation, and disintegration in the midst of internal disputes, which are usually undeclared, between the Emirates and Saudi Arabia (there is talk in Arab diplomatic circles about a major crisis in Saudi-Emirati relations and severe disagreements between the two leaderships), and Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates (there is a concealed crisis in Jordanian-Saudi relations, since the advent of King Salman to rule there, the level of the crisis increased significantly after the so-called sedition or Prince Hamzah incident in Jordan in the year 2020, and the fluctuating Egyptian-Saudi-Emirati relations, however, the supposed potential questions for the post-Hamas Gaza phase, hypothetically if the Zionist and American plans succeed are: What is the American perception of the next phase, and what does Israel mean by mentioning that this war will change the face of the Middle East? Will a peaceful political process be launched, as several politicians promote? Obviously any American political process today will not go beyond reproducing the Deal of the Century again, as the administration of President Joseph Biden did not present any new project. It is known that the Deal of the Century, although it represented the position of former President Donald Trump’s administration, However, also contains the outcome of the negotiations, discussions, and conclusions achieved by the decision-making and thinking centers in Washington regarding the possible political-peaceful solution that the Israelis could accept.
What is the outcome of Arab-Israeli normalization? Will this path emerge to form an alliance or camp in the face of resistance – Iran? Within this attitude, will there be a revival of attitudes that were previously on the table, such as the “Arab-Israeli NATO,” or will the Israeli-Gulf economic and security normalization processes be limited?!
Dynamics of deportation and radicalization
In light of all this, it is worth mentioning other important dynamics in the region, which seemingly separated, however, they are complementary in establishing the conditions and circumstances that incubate anger, radicalism, extremism, and the feeling of marginalization, exclusion, and nihilism in many cases, among a large generation of young people who either suffer from displacement, deportation, or poor economic conditions, absence of a security sense, or feeling of extreme anger and frustration as a result of the war on Gaza and the American and Western position in general.
Firstly: the dynamic of asylum, displacement, and deportation, currently there are millions of displaced people, and it is clear that the Israeli plans, with implicit American-UN support, seek either to expel the Palestinians in Gaza into the Sinai desert, or to the southwest, that is, the Rafah area, and evacuate the north and center areas of citizens, to create a buffer zone, thus currently there is about one million new displaced people, who may later turn into refugees, in addition to millions of refugees, displaced and deported Syrians, who live in the neighboring countries of Jordan, Syria and Turkey, which creates a new generation completely outside humanitarian and human rights coverage.
The Jordanian Ministry of Health indicates – for instance – that the number of births to Syrian refugees in Jordan, since 2011, has reached approximately 200 thousand cases, Statistics show that the birth rate of Syrians is greater than that of Jordanians, while there are 7 million displaced Syrians inside Syria, and 3 million and more than 700 thousand refugees, thus there are approximately about 900, 650,347 thousand refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq respectively, Most of these refugees, particularly in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and the displaced Syrians in northern Syria, live in bad conditions and under the poverty line and extreme poverty, in addition to Thousands of Yemeni refugees, including approximately 13 thousand refugees in Jordan alone, and before that Iraqi refugees, since the occupation of Iraq in 2013, and finally the displaced in Gaza joined the list of those forcibly displaced from their destroyed homes and neighborhoods.
In the dynamics of asylum, displacement, and deportation, there are severe dangerous conditions for the lives of millions of people in the region, levels of unemployment, poverty, and poor education, and generations being born and raised in completely inappropriate conditions, in host countries whose financial capabilities are weak and limited, which is reflected in societies, culture, and security conditions.
Secondly, the dynamic of radicalism; Which will pervade the region and the next new wave that will be led by a generation of frustrated, angry, and engorged youth due to the events they witnessed in Gaza, and as a result of the official Arab collapse, the report of the American embassy in Jordan (which was leaked) was not far from reality when it stated that America lost an entire generation in the Middle East region because of the stance that support the war on Gaza.
The violent radical waves that pervaded the Arab and Islamic region, and later spread throughout the world, particularly the ISIS wave since the year 2014-2017, proved that they were correlated with and founded by dangerous events that affected the new generation of youth, such as those occurred after the 1991 Gulf War, which created propitious conditions for the outset of extremism wave, in several countries, leading to the globalization of jihad in 1998 (with the establishment of the Global Front to Fight the Jews and Crusaders, by Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri), later the second uprising (intifada) that several events were born from its womb, such as the events of September 11, then the occupation of Iraq, which contributed to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s group foundation, which afterwards turned to the Islamic State (ISIS), which spread the terror in the world, affected global security, and created a state of panic in most countries of the world, The war on Gaza today is equally important of its repercussions and effects as those events, Rather, it may lead to establish another narrative that is based more firmly and strongly on the issue of the clash of civilizations and the biased Western stance against the Palestinians and Muslims in general. It is obvious that the images of children and women and the killing, lethality, and destruction carried out by the Israeli war machine will not be erased from the memory and imagination of the new generation of Arabs and Muslims and will fuel a period of another new universality of radicalism!
It was noteworthy that there was an unexpected spread of the former Al-Qaeda leader speeches, Osama bin Laden, after the events of September 11, in which he addressed American imperialism and the Palestinian issue, as if there was a recall or rediscovery of Bin Laden among the new generation in the Islamic world, which indicates the other future consequences on the level of angry radical and religious thought.
A new generation of wars, conflicts, and weapons
With the growing role of hybrid actors in the region, the form and nature of wars, the weapons used, and the strategies and tactics have changed fundamentally, nowadays, talk has become about the fourth generation of wars (which take place between a regular army and non-governmental militias) and the fifth generation, which employs artificial intelligence, online media, disinformation, and cyber-attacks, which was reflected in the war on Gaza, whether through the massive use of drones by all parties. Or even military robots, and online media campaigns aimed at misinformation, psychological warfare, and propaganda between the different parties of the conflict.
The war on Gaza is far from traditional wars between armies. Rather, it is closer to the patterns of wars within cities, and the immense use of technology, at all levels, it is noticeable how the importance of “wars of narratives” has risen between the Israelis and their Western and American allies on the one hand, and the Palestinians and Arab and Muslim political activists and the world that supported them on the other, there were parallel media wars to the military one and equally important to, which formed one of the most important elements of power for the war parties.
However, these are preliminary and major conclusions in case the exclusion of the other more dangerous scenarios of a regional war, several scenarios and dynamics will be drawn, including those regarding the proxy war through Iraqi groups in Iraq and Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen, and the scenario of striking Iran and its engagement directly into the war. Then the possibilities and dynamics will lead us to several other scenarios, including the possibility the proxy war will turn into an indirect confrontation between Russia and China on the one hand and the West on the other, in addition to the scenario of a clash of civilizations, the escalation of confrontations in the region and various countries of the world as well.
In general, it is a major axiom to indicate that the Middle East after October 7 and the Al-Aqsa flood will not be the same as before, whether considering the lowest or highest scenario in terms of dynamic shifts, in summary, enormous visible, direct and indirect variables will be witnessed.