The genocide perpetrated by Israel in Gaza against Palestinians under US patronage has had an enormous impact on developing countries. Four months of Israeli military action against the Palestinians had been a watershed in the attitude of the Global South towards the West: the number of civilians killed and wounded, most of them women and children, was approaching 100,000; in an enclave of nearly 2.5 million people, one third of the houses had been completely destroyed. This has not just shown the hypocrisy of the Western Powers with their constant policy of double standards. It has convinced many that the West cannot be at the mercy of the West: it will stop at nothing to impose solutions that are favourable to it.
Many in the Middle East and the Global South were struck both by the brutality of Israel’s military campaign and the unwavering support for it by Western governments. “For them this is as much a war”, wrote the Al Ahram newspaper on 30.01.2024, “as US President Joe Biden’s war as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s, and the continued indifference to the scale of destruction has once again confirmed how cheap Arab life seems to Western leaders”.
As Fawaz Gerges, professor of international relations at the London School of Economics, argues in his book What Really Went Wrong: The West and the Collapse of Democracy in the Middle East, the United States and other Western countries, principally Britain, have for nearly a century pursued an interventionist, militaristic and anti-democratic foreign policy that has largely ignored the interests of the Middle East. After the brutal Hamas attack on 7 October, which revealed, in the words of Egypt’s Al Ahram, the folly of Biden and Netanyahu’s approach, there was no restraint or attempt to think through the consequences of the current war. Instead, Biden and his European allies supported Israel’s fatal attack on the Gaza Strip. Despite the fact that the civilian death toll is rising at an unprecedented rate, the humanitarian crisis is becoming more acute by the day, and governments around the world have called for a ceasefire, Biden has shown no willingness to intervene to prevent bloodshed.
It is no coincidence that the media of many nations published articles about Frantz Fanon, an anti-colonial activist who grew up in a black middle-class family in French colonial Martinique: more than any other writer of the time, he captured the rage generated by colonial humiliation in the hearts of colonised people, and was a remarkably astute analyst of contemporary ills – the ongoing psychological traumas of racism and oppression, the enduring power of white nationalism, and the scourge of authoritarian predatory post-colonial regimes. In Fanon’s view, the world then was split in two, which is also absolutely true of today.
The West’s current strategy has failed colossally, and the American-led Anglo-Saxon empire is also failing: the wars in Ukraine and Gaza, the Turkish Daily Sabah newspaper reported in early February, have exposed the limits of Western power and its highly duplicitous approach to international law and the laws of war. The decision by some Western states to cut off funding to the Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA “is a brazen and shameless move to starve the Palestinians and force Hamas to capitulate”.
By supporting Israel and allowing it to kill tens of thousands of civilians, Western countries are putting themselves on the opposite edge of the values and principles of multilateralism and respect for human rights, “they are going against the very foundations on which the UN was built”, the Al Jazeera website wrote on 16.01.24. Another article on the same site noted that Gaza will be the grave of the Western-led world order: by supporting Israel’s atrocities, the West has undermined what is left of its authority and brought the rules-based world order to the point of no return: the authority of the West has been irrevocably undermined.
The United States military strikes on Syria, Iraq and Yemen have caused an explosion of anti-American sentiment throughout the Arab world, once again demonstrating the aggressive nature of US policy in the Middle East and Washington’s complete disregard for the norms of international law.
According to a poll conducted in 16 Arab states on 10.01.24 – 89% of respondents opposed recognising Israel, and 77% considered the US and Israel the biggest security threat to the region.
The Saudi newspaper Arab News emphasised in mid-January this year that many Western leaders are increasingly moving away from their people. In early February, the New York Times reported that more than 800 US and EU civil servants published a protest against their governments’ support for Israel; last November, more than 500 employees of 40 US government agencies sent a letter to President Biden criticising his policies on the Gaza war.
Turkish newspapers have consistently published stories that the Global North should abandon old approaches and rethink its international policies.
Ghassan Charbel, editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, noted on 29.01.24 that the continuation of the Gaza massacre is costing the countries of the region and the world economy dearly, it is also hitting America’s interests and image.
Recent events on the world stage are increasingly convincing the people of developing countries that their interests are at odds with those of the West, and in some issues are diametrically opposed.
Veniamin POPOV, Director of the Centre for Partnership of Civilisations, MGIMO (U) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Candidate of Historical Sciences, especially for online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”