by Raffaele Crocco

As the 204-day death knell rings in Gaza, another small front of international tension is opening up further afield. The Maldives, dream islands for wealthy holidaymakers, are at the centre of a clash between China and India. A recent change of government has seen the islands side with China after years of alliance with India. Delhi’s troops and installations were there. They have been evicted and replaced by a military security agreement signed with Beijing last month. For the nationalist Modi, who is grappling with India’s long election campaign, it was a blow that he found hard to digest and that led to an open diplomatic attack.

Stories of ordinary international disputes, which in the current world risk, however, show a certain ‘field fragility’ in the front of the ‘antagonists’ to the ‘pro-Americans’: China and India are political-economic allies in the BRICS. The clash reveals a weakness stemming from the lack of what observers define as a common language and common goals. This can also be seen in the stance of solidarity with the Palestinians, which is generally considered to be too bland and not very effective.

These are academic discussions that do not change the tragic reality: people are still dying in Gaza. And the real danger is that the carnage will continue indefinitely. Despite contradictory pressure from the US and European allies to freeze the operation, the Israeli army is reportedly ready to enter Rafah. The Israeli daily Haaretz and other international media, quoting a senior defence official, reported that “the Israeli army has made all the necessary preparations to enter Rafah, which it considers the last Hamas bastion in the Gaza Strip, and will be able to launch an operation as soon as it receives government approval.” A possibility that frightens the United States. President Biden keeps telling Benyamin Netanyahu that the situation in Rafah is unsustainable and that any military action should be preceded by the evacuation of the one and a half million people who are refugees, an operation that would take several weeks and which Tel Aviv does not seem willing to wait for. On the other hand, a few hours ago Netanyahu himself collected a new, substantial package of military aid from Washington. A move that confirms that the Israeli government’s policy has the de facto, and not just the de jure, approval of the United States. As a result, while the humanitarian situation in Gaza is described by international health organisations as ‘catastrophic’, Israeli military action continues in the north, with constant attacks on Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon. Under the radar, in the West Bank, the forced eviction of Palestinians from their land by aggressive Israeli settlers continues. It is an all-out Israeli action that increasingly smacks of a ‘final solution’ against the Palestinians.

After weeks of stalemate, a new $60 billion military aid package for Ukraine was approved. This is a much-needed breath of fresh air for Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelenskyy, who is increasingly struggling militarily. According to many observers, the situation at the front is becoming more and more desperate, not because of a lack of weapons, but because of an inability to replace losses. The government has changed the recruitment age to attract more men, and Poland is launching a ‘repatriation policy’ for Ukrainians of a useful age for the front. All this may not be enough, however, and Ukrainian commander Oleksandr told the Washington Post that his units were only at 35% of normal strength. This would make it impossible to respond to the Russian offensives, which are currently intensifying. According to many experts, help may soon arrive, but it may not be able to make a difference. The situation for the Ukrainians seems desperate in Khasiv Yar, a town that Putin wants to take to celebrate the anniversary of 9 May, the day of victory in the ‘Great Patriotic War’ against Nazism, with a victory. The Russians are preventing supplies from reaching the Ukrainian soldiers, who are without food and water. They are also using devastating bombs. The city is unlikely to hold out for long.

While the situation is desperate, no one is seriously trying to negotiate an end to the war, now in its 26th month. Only Pope Francis has once again called for peace throughout the world. He recalled that “a negotiated peace is better than an endless war”.