As on the expected lines, there have been strong reactions globally, in the aftermath of the huge military engagement ongoing between Israel and Hamas since well over a month now. The world stands more than visibly polarized largely between the Islamic order on one side and the Pro West non-Islamic and Pro Israel on the other. We are seeing ocean of people gathering all over the world specially in the US and UK holding a series of protest demonstrations against Israel. They are chanting anti-Jew slogans and expressing solidarity with the Palestinians.
In England, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has very recently removed his Home Secretary for having failed to handle the reactions and demonstrations appropriately. Such is the impact and challenge for the western and pro-Israel governments facing the protests on such a wide scale. Prime Minister Sunak has even brought in erstwhile British Prime Minister David Cameron to the Cabinet as the new Foreign Secretary apparently to effectively deal with the global situation chiefly arising out of the prevailing complex situation in the Middle East.
Significantly, however, all didn’t seem well with the recently concluded Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) / Arab League meet (November 11) at Riyadh which was meant to take a stock of the Israeli “aggression” against the Palestinians in Gaza. It saw sharp differences of opinions between almost all the heads of governments representing their countries at the meet. In other words, there was no converging point between the participating countries to condemn Israel.
Meanwhile, analysts feel there was no action plan at the meet and the proceedings were largely vague and directionless. Critics blamed the organizers of Arab League and OIC for having failed to arrive at any concrete consensus while holding such meetings what they described held under “comfortable and luxurious” conditions. The Palestinian President called for an end to the ongoing genocidal war seeking good offices of the US to prevail upon Israel to end the aggression. This call itself was utopian and impractical with the Islamic world fully aware that the US would under no circumstances support the Palestinians’ cause. His appeal was feeble and appeared far from convincing to the audience. Similarly, Algeria’s call for snapping off ties with Israel was just a lip service and fulfilling a ritual as being assessed by the Middle East think tanks. On its part, Iran being the principal adversary of Israel, was vehement in its appeal to declare Israeli military as a terrorist organization. This may sound superficially good to the ears of the Muslim participants but on ground it’s only theoretical and none would go to this extreme perception notwithstanding the fact that Israel is militarily making deep inroads inside Gaza.
In Asia, not surprisingly protests and reactions are more than visible in Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Brunei and Maldives which are all Muslim majority countries but there had been protest linked congregations in Mauritius too to give vent to their ire. Such happenings give an idea on the extent of extreme reactions stemming out of the military onslaughts in Gaza or a pretext for the fundamentalist forces to take publicity and political advantage of the current imbroglio.
What’s worrisome on the face of it is the potential of more pronounced radicalization by the extreme religious forces raising the chances of Islamic militancy and in some cases terror. In many cases, such reactions may not necessarily be from the Israel Palestine military conflict, yet possibly also out of a misplaced “romanticism” due to perhaps a distorted sympathy for the Palestinians. The nation states, therefore, need to be extra vigilant to foil such designs so that a trend in communal frenzy and spiralling religious indoctrination do not get the better of any civilized government.
That’s where a mature and responsible governance looks imperative and desirable more because the challenge at this critical juncture requires a deft and patient handling. Countries like Pakistan with elections not very far away need to be extra watchful to ensure that the large posse of rudderless terrorist groups thriving on the Pakistani soil don’t capitalize on the fragile scene in the Middle East arousing religious passions amongst the zealots and religiously intolerants. This is important as once this goes out of control, the politicians with ambitions to grab power would be helplessly caving in to the terrorists making the country more regressive with cascading effects on it’s frontiers and even beyond.
Shantanu Mukharji is a retired IPS
officer and a former National
Security Advisor in Mauritius.