by Raffaele Crocco
The fear of an escalation in the Near East following the action of pro-Iranian militias against a US base in Jordan is shared by the chancelleries of many countries. The three dead American soldiers are an obstacle to any attempt to throw water on the fire.
The dispute remains bitter, fuelled by Israel’s systematic slaughter in Gaza. Palestinians in the Strip have been left to fend for themselves under constant bombardment. Aid workers say there are no safe zones and that Israel has no intention of stopping the carnage. The official aim of the Israeli Government is to eliminate Hamas. The facts tell a different story. The simultaneous – and always underreported – attacks on Palestinians by Israeli settlers in the West Bank seem to indicate a will to achieve a ‘final solution’, with the Palestinians expelled from their territories and the Israelis taking over for good.
A prospect that should alarm not only those who believe in the rights of individuals and peoples, but also those who see the world through the eyes of geopolitics. Indeed, the ultimate disappearance of any shred of a solution for the Palestinians would jeopardise any possible design of new regional arrangements. Indeed, finding agreements and balances between Israel, Saudi Arabia and above all Iran would be difficult at this point. The risk is of permanent destabilisation, which in the eyes of the United States and its European allies could jeopardise trade and transport through the Suez Canal.
It is no coincidence that the game continues in the Red Sea. The Houthis continue their rocket attacks against “enemy” merchant shipping, i.e. Countries supporting Israel. They are doing this, backed by Iran, claiming to “support the Palestinian people”. USA/European response is military, reinforcing multinational fleet created to counter Houthi operations. Bombing of Yemeni positions continues and even Italy, already at sea with a frigate, is considering sending its own warplanes.
The risk of the conflict spreading and radicalising the clash between the ‘pro-American’ led by the United States and the ‘alternative’ led by China is becoming more tangible. So the news from the other open front, Ukraine, does not seem coincidental.
The news that arrived this week is good news for Zelenskyy. On the 708th anniversary of the Russian invasion, the long-awaited signal from Europe has arrived: there will be new weapons. The ostracism of Orban’s Hungary is over, sacrificed on the altar of exchange and expediency. In practice, the head of the Hungarian government has said yes to the European Union’s budget for an additional 50 billion euros in arms for Kyiv in exchange for the funds – 6 billion euros – destined for Budapest but long since frozen due to Hungary’s “non-compliance with the rights and conventions of the European Union”.
“We have an agreement,” said European Council President Charles Michel, “and all 27 heads of State and Government have agreed on an additional €50 billion support package for Ukraine within the EU budget. This will ensure stable, long-term and predictable funding for Ukraine. The EU is taking the lead and responsibility in supporting Ukraine.” In practice, this means that Zelenskyy is guaranteed the possibility of continuing the war. It remains to be seen what the results will be. The Russians continue to press on the southern front, without gaining ground, but wearing down the Ukrainian defence systems. Moscow is not giving up its attacks on civilians either. A civilian hospital in the village of Velykyi Burluk in the Kharkiv region was also reportedly bombed.
The situation in Kyiv is difficult. Support for Zelenskyy is waning. That is what the polls say. At the same time, friction over the conduct of the war is growing. This week the news broke that the chief of staff of the Ukrainian armed forces, General Valery Zaluzhny, had been dismissed. He has been in office since March 2022, immediately after the Russian attack began. This was written by the Financial Times. Apparently Zelnskyy offered the general a position as his advisor. He received a flat refusal.
The two had long been at odds over the conduct of the war. Zaluzhny spoke plainly of the ‘failure of the November offensives’ that Zelenskyy wanted. The loss of men and resources would have been too great. The general wanted a more defensive posture, while Zelenskyy preferred the reconquest of territories in Russian hands. These are the reasons for the clash with the general, who observers say would have been Zelenskyy’s perfect opponent in the March presidential elections. But the elections will not be held, cancelled by the current president in the name of a state of emergency.