Gaza divides the world along faultlines set by Ukraine war
Israel’s war against Hamas has deepened the international faultlines set during Russia’s war in Ukraine, as both sides seek to entrench an increasingly polarised pattern of global allegiances during the 87th week of the Ukraine war.
US President Joe Biden tarred Russian leader Vladimir Putin and Hamas, which the United States and the European Union consider a terrorist group, with the same brush after visiting Israel on October 18.
“Hamas and Putin represent different threats, but they share this in common: They both want to completely annihilate a neighbouring democracy,” Biden said in a primetime Oval Office speech watched by 20 million people.
Washington’s European allies, who have stood behind Ukraine, also paid visits to Israel in a show of solidarity that simultaneously cemented their geopolitical allegiance.
Biden further joined the Ukrainian and Israeli causes in Congress last week by seeking $105bn in new funding for them in a single bill, calling it “a smart investment that’s going to pay dividends for American security for generations”.
“They used to call it ‘fighting for freedom and democracy’,” Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Maria Zakharova lashed back in a message on the Telegram platform. “Now it turns out it is just calculations.”
China and Russia, too, have sought to close ranks, saying they will focus on a “close coordination of efforts” to solve crises in the Middle East. Russia’s deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov met Zhai Jun, China’s special envoy for the Middle East, in Doha on the same day as Biden’s speech – October 20.
Russia has also been tightening relations with Iran. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran on October 24 to “further build” their “multifaceted” partnership, Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.
While supporting Hezbollah in Lebanon, a sworn enemy of Israel, Iran is also a supplier of Shahed kamikaze drones to Russia in its war in Ukraine. Russia now produces its own Shahed drones and, according to Russian news sources, it may have begun on October 23 to deploy a new type of Iranian drone, the Italmas, which is said to have a longer range and is harder to detect.