By Hasan Illaik – Nov 21, 2023
The regional war is here. The Axis of Resistance assesses that the US and Israel intend to prolong the Gaza war indefinitely, and determines that a regional escalation is now unavoidable.
The Israeli military has announced the expansion of its ground operations in the northern Gaza Strip. After seizing territories on Gaza’s coastline, in the western part of the northern strip, Tel Aviv’s actual ground operation is now beginning.
For more than three weeks of its ground offensive, the occupation army has been operating in areas close to the shoreline, in places where tunnels cannot be dug, and, therefore, areas where the Palestinian resistance does not have significant defensive capabilities.
But now, the occupation army is moving eastward from the Gaza coast, allowing the armed resistance to maneuver far more easily and inflict greater losses on the invading soldiers and their armored vehicles – as has become quite evident in recent days.
In short, the ground battle in northern Gaza has only just begun, and is gearing up to get even hotter in the weeks ahead.
The region escalates
In support of the resistance in Gaza, the Yemeni army and Ansarallah fighters seized an Israeli-owned vessel in the Red Sea on 19 November after threatening to target all Israeli ships crossing the Bab al-Mandab Strait.
Over the past week, on Lebanon’s border with Israel, the Lebanese resistance Hezbollah has increased the frequency of its military operations. On 20 November, the occupation army monitored more than 40 attacks on its positions, one of which was carried out with four rockets, each with an explosive warhead weighing around 500 kilograms. The salvo destroyed the Israeli ‘Branit’ military barracks near the border with Lebanon. In just the past three days, Hezbollah has carried out an average of 12 military operations against Israeli targets each day.
Simultaneously, Iraqi resistance attacks are continuing against US military bases in Iraq and Syria – over sixty operations to date.
The increased pace of clashes across West Asia is, however, being widely ignored by many of Tel Aviv’s western allies, whose attention has been diverted by ongoing prisoner exchange talks between Israel and the Palestinian resistance, mediated by Qatar and the US. These weeks-long negotiations are being treated as evidence that the next phase will necessarily be a de-escalation in Palestine.
Those expectations have been fanned by a leak that Israel’s cabinet has discussed the imminent demobilization of a number of army reservists. While the Israeli military may indeed demobilize part of the reserve forces it called up after 7 October, this decision is not based on de-escalatory considerations. The more than 300,000 Israeli reservists initially mobilized was far too great for the capacity of the occupation army, which was unable to absorb these personnel into its fronts in Gaza, Lebanon, and the West Bank.
Despite this, many still optimistically cling to the de-escalation narrative. They are further encouraged by official US statements criticizing – albeit in a watered-down manner – Israel’s targeting of Palestinian civilians, and point to the occasional US-Israel divergences over what they call the “post-Hamas phase” in Gaza as further proof that Tel Aviv will have to scale down its war.
But at the current stage of the conflict, these discrepancies and observations are considered totally irrelevant by officials in the region’s Axis of Resistance. They note instead that Washington continues to maintain its pace of arms support for Israel, as it has done since the war’s onset, while sticking to its refusal to entertain any permanent ceasefire.
In addition, the US has reduced neither its level of involvement in the management of military operations in the Gaza Strip, nor its reinforcement of missile defense systems to counter any Yemeni or Iraqi rocket attacks on Israeli positions.
Axis officials believe that conciliatory-sounding US statements, which sometimes suggest that a de-escalation phase is imminent, are nothing but an American “public relations party” to repair a public image heavily damaged by unstinting US support for Israel’s continuing massacre of Palestinians in Gaza.
In slightly shifting its tone, Washington also seeks to mislead the Resistance Axis, hoping that this can forestall an increase in regional tensions and clashes.
From ‘truce’ to regional war
The current prisoner exchange negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian resistance include a five-day “humanitarian” truce. This is not a ceasefire by any means nor an opportunity to draw out a further lull in violence. Those familiar with the reality on the ground in the Gaza Strip confirm that any truce will merely be an opportunity for both sides to reorganize their ranks in preparation for intensified battles in the coming weeks.
They based their observations on the fact that Israel continues to adhere to its initial military goals, modified from the plan to occupy the entire Gaza Strip. Tel Aviv’s objectives today are, first, to occupy the entire north of Gaza; second, to displace all of its inhabitants, more than 800,000 of whom are still living under siege and bombardment.
And third, to continue the besiegement of southern Gaza – exerting military pressure through intensive airstrikes and special operations to force Hamas and other Palestinian resistance factions to surrender.
This plan is fully supported by the US and its western allies, as well as by Arab states that have normalized relations with Israel, notably those farthest from Palestine’s borders.
In light of these realities, the Axis of Resistance is pursuing its own West Asian escalation to pressure its adversaries to deescalate. That bar jumped considerably this week when Yemen’s Ansarallah captured an Israeli-linked ship in regional waterways.
This is a disaster for Tel Aviv, which depends primarily on maritime transportation for its imports and exports. If this becomes a pattern, Israeli-linked ships will be uninsurable, and hiring crews will become impossible. It is also a nightmare scenario for Washington, which wants the Gaza war to continue while its regional position enjoys complete calm.
Indeed, the US is desperate to maintain a regional peace, most of all in Iraq. While the multi-factional Iraqi resistance target US occupation bases inside their country and in Syria, both, the current American response has been tame. US military forces have limited their retaliatory strikes to Syrian territory – and only after informing their Russian counterparts in advance.
Washington has so far avoided striking back in Iraqi territory to avoid drawing a target on its considerable Iraqi interests – commercial, military, political – and also fears triggering the Iraqi resistance to expand operations against US bases in other West Asian states.
No ceasefire ahead
The Resistance Axis’ current assessment of the Gaza war is that both the US and Israel seek a protracted conflict – possibly even an endless war that transforms the Gaza Strip into a permanent battlefield to ensure that Israel no longer faces Palestinian deterrence capabilities.
On the other hand, the Axis continues to pursue all avenues to advance and accelerate a ceasefire in Gaza, including military options. The current “truce” announcement didn’t emerge in a vacuum – it follows painful blows against occupation forces in the Gaza Strip, a sharp escalation of clashes in the occupied West Bank, and a gradual increase in the pace and severity of attacks in the region.
The prisoner exchange truce may be announced at any moment. It will not, however, end the war. The truce is merely a break for the belligerents to prepare for more violent battles ahead, and these will not be limited to Gaza and the Lebanese-Palestinian border.
As 2023 comes to a close, all of West Asia is destined for more tension, battle, and multiple surprises. This scenario can only be eased by the announcement of a Gaza ceasefire and the provision of supplies and staples to its wounded population. It is only Washington that stands in the way, firmly opposing and blocking a ceasefire at every opportunity.
- mforinocohttps://orinocotribune.com/author/mforinoco/February 21, 2024
- mforinocohttps://orinocotribune.com/author/mforinoco/February 17, 2024
- mforinocohttps://orinocotribune.com/author/mforinoco/February 17, 2024