AJCS dedicates its annual report to monitoring and analysing the repercussions of "Tufan al-Aqsa" on the Middle East

30 April 2024

Al Jazeera Centre for Studies has issued its annual report for 2023-2024 under the title "Tufan al-Aqsa wal-harb 'ala Ghazza: Tada'iyat muta'addidat al-ab'ad” (Arabic: Tufan al-Aqsa and the War on Gaza: Multi-Dimensional Implications). The centre dedicated this year's report to monitoring and analysing the repercussions of the war on Gaza following the attack on 7 October 2023, carried out by the Al-Qassam Brigades of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), on Israeli settlements and military bases surrounding the Gaza Strip.

Prepared by AJCS researchers, the report addresses the immediate and future ramifications of the ongoing war in Gaza from Palestinian, Arab, regional and international perspectives. It also outlines some possible scenarios toward which the situation may evolve in the short and long term.

Additionally, the report highlights Palestinian resilience in the face of Israeli aggression on Gaza and its achievements on the ground. It explains that this resilience and its achievements dealt a blow to Palestinian factions relying on the Oslo Accords and its political and security settlements, as well as to those betting on the "Deal of the Century" and its arrangements on the ground. The report also points out that the repeated attacks by the occupation on the Palestinians of the West Bank in the absence of any role for the Palestinian Authority increased the popularity of resistance there. It maintains that this shift would have negative implications for the future of the PA, its role and its post-war position. The report predicts that Arab and international efforts and initiatives would continue to reform and restructure the PA to enhance its effectiveness and make it a comprehensive framework for all Palestinian factions and orientations.

In the Arab context, the report concludes that Arab countries engaged in normalisation with Israel will need to reassess their national and regional security foundations after the Gaza war proved that Israel cannot defend itself and will continue to rely on the support of the United States and major Western countries. Therefore, it cannot ensure security for other Arab countries that have bet on it. These countries must now coexist with increasing Iranian influence in the region and approach it from a different perspective than that of normalisation. Despite the disruption caused by the war to the normalisation process, the report predicts not a complete halt to it in the foreseeable future but that the normalising states will reconsider the foundations and strategies of their national security.

In the same context, the report points to the increasing role that non-state armed groups are playing in the affairs of war and peace with Israel. It concludes that these groups will impose a new configuration on all parties in dealing with them, their strategies and their growing military capabilities. It also explains that the significance of this change will increase as its elements become interrelated and form a common environment with multiple fronts of confrontation (i.e. "the unity of resistance arenas"). This will require Israel, the United States and the West in general to make some reassessments before any future aggression against Gaza and the Palestinians.

In the regional context, the report indicates that events are shaping up to make Iran the biggest beneficiary of this war. It attributes this to Iran's influence in the region and its ability to manage its deterrent power, distributing pressure through its proxies and allies at a low cost. It explained that this pressure on multiple fronts has constrained the movement of the United States and Israel and limited their options. This will make Tehran an important party in any security arrangements in the region and continue to enhance its regional influence.

Internationally, the report suggests that the events of 7 October have weakened the pillars of the United States' grand strategy in the Middle East. This strategy had aimed to normalise Israel's position and integrate it into the region's fabric economically, politically and militarily while ensuring its absolute military superiority, making the countries of the region subservient to it rather than equivalent or partners. In contrast, the United States is gradually relieving itself of the burden of Israel to focus on confronting or containing opposing forces, such as Iran regionally, and China and Russia globally. However, the war on Gaza and the resilience of the resistance have shaken these foundations and underscored Israel's unpreparedness for this role and its continuous vital need for American and Western support in general.

As for the repercussions of the war on Gaza within the United States and Western countries, the report argues that the war revealed a growing popular trend among youth in particular to support the Palestinian cause, endorse resistance and oppose the occupation. Additionally, the war ignited an internal dynamic that allowed public figures and political leaders in those countries to hold government institutions and legislatures accountable for their unconditional support for Israel. On the other hand, the report adds, the political importance of the bloc of Arab and Muslim voters in the United States in particular is increasing, along with their allies from other segments of American society. All of these, the report concludes, are unprecedented developments that will have significant implications, particularly in the short and long term.

From a media standpoint, the report deduces that the war on Gaza highlighted the importance of social media networks due to their relative freedom compared to traditional media outlets, which historically contributed to supporting and solidifying the Israeli narrative in the West. It clarifies that social media networks have played a role in revealing truths and enlightening the global and Western public opinion, particularly among youth who are more susceptible to breaking free from the narrative constraints of the occupation and accepting the Palestinian narrative.