29 December, 2008

What's Next?

Is this going to be a repeat of the Libanon war of 2006? The Israeli rhetoric of continuing the operation "as long as necessary" to stop the firing of rockets sounds horrifyingly similiar. But with around 300 dead in just two days, in terms of human casualties this war already looks worse. And the massive demonstrations around Egypt today, with between 50.000 and several hundreds of thousands of participants according to various accounts, is a sign of the reaction that might result if this onslaught - described even by the French president Sarkozy as "a disproportionate response" - continues.

Around the Arab world, the anger is directed not only towards Israel but often also against Egypt for it's participation in the blockade of Gaza. In Beirut, police fired tear gas to prevent demonstrators reaching the Egyptian embassy. The MB website reports that Hizbollah-leader Hassan Nasrallah called in a speech today for all Arabs - and Egyptians and Lebanese in particular - to take to the streets tomorrow in solidarity with Gaza. He called for Egyptians to demonstrate "in millions" to demand the opening of the Rafah border crossing.

Judging from their behaviour today it's not clear that the main opposition force in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood, is prepared to actually put real pressure on the Egyptian regime in order to change it's policies towards Israel. The supreme guide vague call for the people of Egypt to continue to "express their anger in all peaceful ways available" only adds to these doubts. Still, tomorrow has been declared a day of solidarity and a demonstration is planned outside the Press Syndicate at 12.00, demanding the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador, cutting economic and political ties with Israel, and opening the Rafah border crossing.

Meanwhile, something has to be said about the Israeli left-wing activists that protested the Gaza attacs in Tel Aviv today. If only they were not such a tiny minority of their society.

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