Gaza, Ukraine and the Central African Republic are all very different conflicts, but one thing each has in common is that the fighting is not between obviously coherent or unified groups. This was part of the problem invoking “the responsibility to protect” in Libya, as well as calls for the same in Syria and now certainly in Iraq. Cease-fires, operational pauses in a conflict usually as the pretext for some kind of diplomatic effort toward an armistice (and eventually, maybe, peace), are extremely delicate first steps that necessarily require coherent and total, even if short-term, commitment. Cease-fires work most easily in conflicts between two hierarchical and intelligible groups. In the absence of this, they are extremely difficult.
In Gaza, for example, Hamas gets invoked often enough that it seems Gaza must be widely dominated and organized by the Palestinian organization. In fact, like in many middle-eastern conflicts, a range of proxy wars are often at work, usually at the terrible expense of those living on the front lines. There is little doubt that Iran’s fingerprints are all over the conflict in Gaza (despite Iran’s suspension of its support for Hamas). Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been explicit about it: “Hamas and Islamic Jihad are being financed, armed and trained by Iran…This Iran cannot be allowed the ability to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons.” Further baffling evidence has emerged that North Korea is continuing to negotiate arms deals with Hamas. In 2009, 35 tons of North Korean arms intended for Hamas (smuggled via Iran) were seized when a cargo plane was forced to make an emergency landing in Bangkok.
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