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On the Border of Conflict

The Gaza War and the Effects in the Middle East 

Global protests erupted in the wake of the war that commenced on October 7th, capturing international attention. The effects of the war in Gaza are being felt worldwide, extending their impact from individuals to government bodies. Diplomatic relations have frayed as several nations severed ties, echoing calls for an immediate ceasefire. The Middle East region bears witness to the most noticeable repercussions, with neighboring countries wrestling heightened tensions. Normalizations between Israel and Arab countries are at risk, as collaborative efforts and treaties find themselves in temporary suspension. Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt emerge as particularly distinct among the countries most significantly impacted by the events unfolding in Gaza. 

In Jordan, the protests have yet to stop. People are outraged and take to the streets daily to show their support for Gazans. Over half of Jordan’s population have Palestinian roots, making it difficult for them to not take action. However, the King has laid hard boundaries for his country not getting directly involved with the war to prevent a domino effect in the region. Jordanians have resulted in boycotting US and Israel supported products within the country. The war has further stifled the relationship between Jordan and Israel. Jordan, being one of the first countries to normalize relations, has since gone cold. Both countries have recalled their respective ambassadors from their embassies and bilateral agreements are at an all time low. The most notable treaty between the two, the Water for Energy Deal, has been completely halted by Jordan. Even Foreign Minister Ayman Sadafi, Jordan’s top diplomat, said “Can you imagine a Jordanian minister sitting next to an Israeli minister to sign a water and electricity agreement, all while Israel continues to kill children in Gaza?” (Al Jazeera 2023). The biggest concern within Jordan are the implications of additional forced Palestinian refugees into Jordan. With 60% of Jordan being Palestinian, any more would make the country a de facto Palestinian state. This would cause issues within the political system and further destabilize the economy. Jordanians are already being affected by the amount of refugees the country houses through water supply and unemployment rates. Furthermore, the old transjordanian tribes are already becoming more of a minority within their own country. Jordan holds solidarity with the Palestinian people but is forced to put up hard restrictions on their actions in order to protect their national security. 

Egypt has long enjoyed a cold peace with Israel over the years which has put the country in the position of mediator. The country is involved with negotiations in the war, along with Qatar, in hopes of de-escalation and compromise between Israel and Hamas. The international community has asked countless times for the country to open their border crossing in Rafah, but for security concerns Egypt has refused. Their reasoning is backed by two things: Palestinian statehood and territorial concerns in the Sinai. Egyptians believe the further forced displacement of Palestinians would jeopardize their chances of statehood. Additionally, the flood of Palestinians into the Sinai would set back the progress made on getting a hold of jihadist cells in the area. The border has occasionally opened for the allowance of humanitarian aid to enter and as safe passage for foreign nationals to exit the Gaza Strip. The government has been under pressure from the people as well. Street protests have continued to occur despite the police’s attempts to break them up. Egypt is worried that the Palestinian cause in addition to the current economic crisis the country is facing will be the catalyst for large government dissent and radicalization. 

The story in Lebanon is slightly different. Lebanon and Israel have no diplomatic relations. “Given the history of enmity between Israel and the powerful Shiite militia-cum-party Hezbollah, Lebanon is the country most likely to become embroiled in full-scale war by the burgeoning Gaza crisis” (UN OCHA 2023). People have been fleeing the Israeli border areas, resulting in nearly 50,000 internally displaced people in Lebanon. Hezbollah has not officially declared war, but constant border clashes and exchanges of fire have continued since mid-October. The people fear for their lives and the compounding economic problems. The restaurant sector has dropped up to 80 percent in business and the tourism industry continues to worsen. Protestors take to the streets, throwing whatever they can find at the US Embassy for their support of Israel and military aid. This has been met with tear gas and police push back. There remains a real possibility of the Gaza War spreading to Lebanon, along with Syria, Yemen and Iraq.  

The ongoing conflict has shown no signs of slowing and the effects will be felt for years to come throughout the region. Protests continue in many places supporting a ceasefire that has yet to happen and governments stumble to keep their people at bay. The impact echoes across borders, with potential for conflict escalation in Lebanon and other neighboring countries, casting doubt on regional stability. 

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Lebanon Specific: 

Bethany Marzella

Bethany Marzella is an American student at Elon University. She is a senior studying International and Global Studies with a concentration in the Middle East. She has been studying Arabic for over a year now at an intermediate proficiency level. This semester, Bethany is studying abroad in Amman while interning at PSI as a Project Management Intern.

Bethany Marzella

Bethany Marzella is an American student at Elon University. She is a senior studying International and Global Studies with a concentration in the Middle East. She has been studying Arabic for over a year now at an intermediate proficiency level. This semester, Bethany is studying abroad in Amman while interning at PSI as a Project Management Intern.
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