Why Muslim Countries Are Holding Back Against Israeli Aggression

The Israeli government has been bombing Gaza for some time now.  They are also increasing their attacks on the West Bank. Most of the victims are women and kids. The West still backs its strongest ally in the Middle East, even after massive evidence of violations of human rights by the IDF. Interestingly, Muslim leaders are also not as vocal as you would expect about these violations. They seem not to want to take a strong stance against these crimes.

Muslims around the world, though, strongly oppose what is happening in Gaza and speak of genocide. They try to pressure their leaders to take action. So why is it that these leaders don’t want to take action even if their people demand it? The answer to why lies in the long-term vision. That may seem strange since both they and their people are Muslims, and so you would think this would be the easiest choice for a leader. At least 90% of your population wants you to take a stronger stance. You hardly get that unity among the people in other matters.

One reason they don’t take action is for economic reasons. Islamic countries see many benefits by recognizing Israel as a player in the Middle East and trading with them. With this, they could lift their people out of poverty. And however you look at it, leaders primarily consider their own people since they are their support base, after which others come second. Economic growth also creates more power for them. Just see how microstates like Qatar can increasingly mediate between superpowers. Consistent economic growth is also vital for countries like Saudi Arabia with an eye on a future where they want to be a major player. Their so-called ‘Vision 2030’ is by no means a minor investment. So, they do not want to jeopardize this fact either by attacking their trading partner.

Some also receive financial support from the West, mainly the United States, so as not to be a direct adversary against Israel. With that money, the leaders could strengthen their political position in their country. So, this is mainly for self-interest and not state interest. Egypt is a well-known example of this. They have had a so-called peace treaty with Israel for decades. However, lately, that treaty is in danger of coming under increasing pressure due to Israel’s aggressive policies near the border with Egypt. They suspect that Israel wants to push Palestinians in Gaza toward the Sinai Peninsula. First, this is a form of genocide, and second, it will lead to unrest in Egypt.

The other, much more important, reason is not to give the Israelis a chance to portray Arab countries as enemies of the West. Also, if the Arab countries were to take further steps, the Israelis have an excuse to carry out their hostilities on them as well. They did this, for example, during the 1967 Six-Day War and have a history of provoking their neighbors to declare war.

Arab leaders have learned from this and seem unanimous in their decision to play the long game. It will certainly hurt them to see the Palestinians getting murdered before their eyes. But by not responding, they want to besmirch Israel’s reputation in the world and expose them as criminals of international law. By launching even one small-scale attack against them, this plan falls apart. Israel will be able to show the world that they are surrounded by aggressive nations, ironic as that may be.

Most Western countries desire to support Israel purely for economic and strategic gain. They benefit more from an Israel in the Middle East than a Palestine. It’s not that they think Israel is more entitled to that land or that they are a so-called beacon of democracy and human rights. That is simply the excuse they use to justify to their people why they support them. And so, to keep their support justified, they’re desperate to retain Israel’s reputation as a Western, democratic, and human rights-respecting country. It even seems that Western countries are hoping for a response from the Arabs, as that will play into their hands. The Arabs understand this and don’t want to create any obstacle by launching attacks to bring Israel’s reputation down.

After some time, countries around the world would no longer be able to ignore the criminal deeds of the Israelis. You already see this beginning to unfold. Some countries have (partially) cut their ties with them. Relations between Israel and a lot of European countries have dimmed. Even their biggest ally, the United States, is starting to critique them. That is what the Arabs were anticipating. They want to contest the facade that Israel has put on for decades. The only thing needed from Muslims around the world is patience.

[Photo by Wafa, via Wikimedia Commons]

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

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