IN the face of ‘fighting terrorism’, the recent Qatar-Gulf diplomatic rift proves that the ideological battle has caused the residents in Gaza, Palestine, to be victimised again.
Gaza, ruled and controlled by Hamas, has already suffered from a decade-long blockade.
Hamas is seen as a “terrorist group” by Israel and many Western authorities, such as the European Union and United States.
The recent shocking move from the Saudi Arabia-led blockade on Qatar demands that the Qatari government terminate its funding and cut ties to “radical Islamic groups”, in reference to Hamas and Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.
According to analyses from news channel Al-Jazeera, Hamas has sought its ideological base from the Muslim Brotherhood.
The move by several countries to sever diplomatic relationships with Qatar “aligns with Egyptian and Israeli policy” to remove common enemies.
It is clear that Saudi-led coalitions share the Israeli vision “on regional developments and the Palestinian cause”.
Commentator Amos Harel stated in Israeli newspaper Haaretz that this was a dangerous step the Gulf countries took that “will serve to undermine Hamas and redraw regional policies in accordance with the Israeli visions as Israel seeks to normalise its relations with the Arab states while isolating the Palestinian question”.
In response, Israel Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the diplomatic crisis between Gulf countries could lead to a “cooperation in the battle against terrorism”, and hailed the understanding of the Arab states of the real danger in the region was “not Zionism, but terrorism”.
The reasons behind the extensive participation from Gulf countries and other states in the current Qatar diplomatic row can be analysed in different ways.
Among others, to reinforce the severe impact on the victim in this critical political battle, namely the people of Gaza, this article seeks an alternative explanation on the issue: the impact from manipulating the concept and discourse of the “war on terror”.
The discourse of the “War on Terror” was brought to the global agenda by then US president George W. Bush following the 9/11 attacks.
It is defined by US power and privileges “the state” that possesses the rights to policing and initiating wars in the name of fighting terrorism.
The commonly shared values of the terrorism discourse indicate that “every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists”.
“From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbour or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.”
The clear polarisation of “Self and Others, Us and Them... We are Good and They are Bad” in the declaration and its continuing influence on countries around the world shows a strong Western-oriented ideology when conflicting group interests are concerned, which turn out to justify “the state” of Israel’s violent actions and occupation in the West Bank, and the blockade and war against Gaza, in the use of fighting terrorism.
For years, a number of scholars and commentators have expressed doubts about the dichotomy and double standard definition of “terrorism” — a double standard that has been used as “a weapon of the strong” and “a tool in the management and durability of state-based hegemony”.
In the case of the Qatar-Gulf crisis, apart from the West, which benefits from its fight against “radical Islamist”, Israel has become one of the biggest beneficiaries.
There can be no better opportunities for Israel to gain allies from Arab states than on the pretext of “fighting terrorism”.
The blockade has led to a tragic deterioration of living standards for Gazans in the past year.
Recently, the suffering has risen to an unbearable situation — only four hours a day of electricity supply.
The electricity shortage causes medical crises in hospitals as life support systems cannot function and surgeries are disrupted. It also makes desalination difficult and affects sewage treatment plants that ensure clean water.
Israel recently announced it would further reduce electricity supply by 40 per cent, plunging the situation in the besieged area into a catastrophe.
Under the current global atmosphere, “terrorism” is among the most topical and sensitive reasons for carrying out severe actions to eliminate it despite civilian casualties, which can be seen in the case of the Syrian conflict and attacks in the Western world.
That is to say that a step forward for Gulf countries and Israel to demonise the ruling party in Gaza is an ideological way to forge a firm solidarity with countries that have vowed to join in the effort to combat terrorism.
Considering the present intolerable living conditions in Gaza and the weakness of the Palestinian authority, this will ultimately lead to two unavoidable results — either the ruling party of Gaza, Hamas, seek military resistance and escalate the already heated violence in the Israel-Gaza conflict, or this will become an excuse for Israel and its political allies, mainly the US, to eliminate Hamas with another war by fortifying the concept of the “war on terror”, and normalise the very fact of the presence and rights of existence of the Zionist state in the Middle East.
CYNTHIA WANG is a Taiwanese journalist based in Ramallah, Palestine. She has a research interest in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and obtained her graduate degree in Media, Communication and Development and Political Science at the London School of Economics