When Khaled Meshaal, in a press conference held during the fighting, declined to thank Iran and Syria, he was in fact revealing a major new shift, namely that the Palestinian-Israeli problem is now out of the hands of the Mumana’a [the so-called pro-resistance camp comprising Iran, Syria and Hezbollah] powers in Gaza, having previously also slipped out of their hands in the West Bank.
This is something that cannot be offset by the rectification issued by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad which praised Iran, or any resentment that could be expressed by Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar later on. Rather, it appears that, if we take into account the military ineffectiveness of Hamas’s missiles, the Islamic Resistance Movement has thrown at Israel the last of its Iranian-made stockpiles that it wanted to get rid of.
This is a significant setback for the Mumana’a powers, perpetuated by the last ceasefire deal. These powers had long claimed that the Palestinian question was their raison d'être, and in its name, they established tyrannical regimes and authoritarian modes of domination over their peoples.
Here, we may note, in the context of the collapse of the Mumana’a camp, how Hamas’s defection translated into further losses added to the fracturing of the Syrian regime, and to the embargo crisis currently beleaguering Iran. But above all, and more importantly over the long run, there are new features emerging in the map of the conflict, somewhat resembling the features that prevailed prior to the wave of Arab military coups in the 1950s.
In other words, the Arab and regional sponsors of the Palestinians will resemble their sponsors in the 1940s, namely the conservative regimes which formulated the theory that said, “Give the West and take from Israel.”
True, the issues and powers that this map includes in its features have changed a great deal: The Palestinian issue is no longer as it used to be, and the same goes for the theater as well as the demographics involved in the conflict related to this issue. Furthermore, public support for it has shrunken greatly, because of the huge accumulated mistakes.
It is also true that Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan are not the modern-day equivalents of Nuri Said and Adnan Menderes, for countless reasons. Nor are they the same as Anwar Sadat, who tried to revive the traditionalist view in a radical manner, at a time of upheaval for the forces of radicalism and the emergence of the Iranian revolution.
The above notwithstanding, it is clear that something fundamental has changed in the meantime, in a way that has restored the link between former sponsoring parties and the present ones: Namely, and by definition, the resounding defeat of the idea that isolation from, and conflict with the West are the path to progress and real independence.
If the main tenet of the previous stage had held that the conflict over Palestine is part of the long-standing confrontation to break “dependence”, then the main tenet of the present stage is the need for reconciling some kind of solution to the Palestinian issue, with removing obstacles to economic integration with the wider world.
A perception as such can help explain many phenomena, including the regional role of Turkey which, at the same time, is seeking to accede to the European club; in addition to the influential role that the Gulf countries now play in the region as a whole, owing to the fact that their oil economies had helped almost fully integrate them into the world economy.
This is a climate that does not conceal its likeness to another in its proximity, involving the revolutions of the "Arab Spring", whether it is in terms of "correcting history", that is, taking us back to the era prior to the military coups; or in terms of preparing for some kind of reconciliation with the West, after discovering that the problem lies with the local tyrant, before it may lie in the foreign “colonizer”.
But the shift in question is not just a reward for conservatives, nor is it just to fill a vacuum created by the expulsion of the Mumana’a forces from the Palestinian arena. It is also a responsibility toward the Palestinians that must be met halfway by Palestinians restoring their unity, and assuming responsibility for giving priority to integration with the world from a coherent national position.
Let us remember that the so-called moderate Arab camp is more negative than positive, and more reactive than proactive. If it is true that the rise of radicalism was associated with disasters that started with the defeat of 1967 and down to the present day, then the rise of "moderation" after independence also coincided with the defeat of 1948.
The purpose of this reminder is to say that what is required is a more creative mind and a more dynamic body, in Egypt and elsewhere, in order to address the problems of today with the mentality of today.
(The writer is a columnist at al-Hayat, where this article was published on Nov. 25, 2012)