Israel-Palestine Conflict and Russia-Ukraine War: Implications for the US By Dr Abdul Rauf Iqbal

Israel-Palestine Conflict and Russia-Ukraine War: Implications for the US By Dr Abdul Rauf Iqbal

THE Russia-Ukraine war and the Israel-Palestine conflicts are distinct issues due to their peculiar economic, historical, political and strategic contexts. However, due to globalisation, conflict in a region has spill-over and spill-out effects on the other conflicts. When the US-led Europe was busy supporting Ukraine against Russia, Hamas attacked Israel. The timing of this event is significant for both Ukraine and Israel as both states are heavily dependent on the US for their defence. Meanwhile, the Israeli attack on the Iranian Embassy in Syria and Iranian counterattacks in Israel has further complicated the regional security environment. In this background, it is important to understand how both conflicts will impact the US.

Israel-Palestine conflict is a longstanding issue in the Middle East and has been affecting regional geopolitics for decades. The US-led Europe vehemently supports Israel while China and Russia are increasing their economic engagements with other Middle Eastern countries. The increased US, China and Russia defence and socio-economic engagements indicate that the Middle East has become a battleground of global contestation between the major powers.

On the other hand, the Russia-Ukraine war has not only threatened the European security system but is also affecting geo-economics and geopolitical dynamics. It is transforming major powers’ strategic trajectories and alignments. Some experts argue that Ukraine is a geopolitical tool of the West to weaken Russia. Others consider that Russia is covertly supporting Hamas to pressurise the US. Whatever the case may be, both conflicts are manifestations of expanding geopolitical contestation.

Defence statistics show Ukraine and Israel’s dependency on the US. According to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the US has allocated$75 billion to Ukraine since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war in February 2022. The 62 percent ($46 billion) of aid pertains to the defence sector which includes $23.5 billion for weapons and equipment, $18.3 billion for security assistance and $4.5 billion for grants and loans through Foreign Military Finance Programme. This amount does not include the EU’s defence support to Ukraine.

Similarly, Israel, since its inception in 1948, has received about $300 billion ($81 billion in economic and $216 billion in military) assistance from the US. Without any mutual defence pacts like Japan and NATO, Israel is privileged to get the most advanced American military hardware and technologies. The US has approved more than 100 weapons sales to Israel post-October 7, 2023, the exact amount of these weapons has not been released.

The increased US military support may not seem sustainable; however, these conflicts have increased the revenue of the military industrial complexes (MICs) of the US. According to Reuters, the revenue of General Dynamics’ Combat Systems increased by 25%, Raythom Technologies Corporation got extra orders of $3 billion and Northrop Grumman’s orders increased by 6%. To sum up, the continuation of conflicts is in the interest of MICs. Geo-economically, these conflicts benefit the US rather than hurting it, as is generally perceived.

The geostrategic positioning of the US versus Russia is also interesting to note. Albeit its massive military support to Ukraine and Israel, the US forces are not directly fighting in both regions; however, Russia is directly facing Ukraine. In the recent Iran-Israel standoff, President Biden reiterated that the US would support Israel without participating in any “offensive operations against Iran”.

The information domain also presents an interesting insight into how global public opinion is shaped or manipulated. Western media and academic discourse allege Russia as an “aggressor” to justify American support to Ukraine in the name of “territorial integrity” and protection of “sovereignty” while ignoring the threats to Russian security. Likewise, Hamas’ attacks are juxtaposed as “terrorism” to rationalise Israel’s attacks on Palestine. Maybe that is the reason that according to the Pew Research Centre, 74% of Americans view the Russia-Ukraine war and 75% view the Israel-Palestine conflict as important to US national interests. These figures indicate the use of information warfare in both conflicts.

The Russia-Ukraine war and the Iran-Israel standoff have also impacted global energy security. In this context, OPEC countries, China and Russia have stakes in maintaining peace and security in the broader region. The growing Chinese and Russian engagements with Saudi Arabia and Iran and Chinese-backed Saudi-Iran are attempts in this direction. Contrary to the US political rhetoric of regional stability, its continued military support to Israel and Ukraine can escalate the conflict and chaos.

To sum up, these conflicts have benefited the US at two levels. First, the US has been successful in engaging the opposing countries in one way or the other. Second, the dependency of its allies has increased on the US. In Europe, the US has succeeded in entangling Russia for the last three years. Moreover, European security dependence on the US has increased drastically which ultimately benefits the US economy. Similarly in the Middle East, not only Israel’s dependence on the US has enhanced but it has also successfully involved Iran. The situation indicates that it is in the strategic interest of the US to avoid finding any diplomatic or military breakthrough in these conflicts. This will have negative implications for the current global order. To further enhance its influence, the US may ignite any other conflict to engage China, probably in Taiwan, leading to an explosive global contestation. The effects of this confrontation will not be limited to the conflict zones and will also affect other countries. —The writer is a policy researcher.


Israel-Palestine Conflict and Russia-Ukraine War: Implications for the US By Dr Abdul Rauf Iqbal


May 11, 2024

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