Changing dynamics of world politics after the Hamas attack on Israel
First published at Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières.
On October 7, the Palestinian Islamic organization Hamas launched a major attack on Israel with rockets and other weapons. In response, Israel also began to retaliate. The previous month, on 19 September Azerbaijan launched an “anti-terrorist operation” against Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory between Azerbaijan and its neighbor Armenia. The next day, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev declared that sovereignty had been restored in the region. Military clashes with many deaths have broken out in two regions (the Middle East and the Caucasus) where conflicts had been in stalemate for many years. And they create more tension and conflict in the world.
In particular, the Israel-Hamas war has caused further upheaval in a world order already fraught with tension and confrontation. In times of conflict and confrontation, political dynamics are still undergoing significant changes. The post-Cold War opposition to Russian expansion (or “West vs. Russia”), the US-China confrontation, and the “War on Terror” are all going on simultaneously. The US is involved in all of them. the “War on Terror” is not over. The US and other Western nations are once again beginning to engage in war crimes in the name of the “War on Terror”. These countries are complicit with Israel.
On the other hand, the political and economic influence of the US and China, which have played major roles in each of the global warfare structures, is diminishing. Not to mention the withdrawal of the presence of another military power, Russia. The internal and external troubles of these three countries will make it difficult for them to expand their influence in the future. The world is moving from the era of confrontation between military powers to an era of multipolarity and nonpolarity. In such a global situation, Joe Biden and Xi Jinping met in the US for the first time in a year on November 15. The meeting eased tensions between the US and China to some extent. Meanwhile, the conflict between China and its neighbors has become quite serious, which could increase the geopolitical risks in South Asia.
Conflicts continuing after the Second World War
The Israel-Palestine conflict is one of the world’s major conflict issues that has be going on since the Second World War. Throughout the Muslim world, there has been a great deal of interest from concerned parties. This conflict continued during the Cold War, with a complex relationship to the confrontational structure of the US and the Soviet Union. The situation in the Middle East has also had a significant impact on the power game among the major powers in distant North-East Asia. One of the reasons why the North Korean crisis of 2017-2018 did not lead to a catastrophic escalation was the unclear Middle East policy of the Trump administration after the Syrian civil war, which began in 2011.
The Israel-Hamas war contains elements that will change the dynamics of the Middle East for the first time since the Gulf War. If Israel and the West continue their confrontation with Hamas and other powers, the new structure of war could have repercussions beyond the Middle East and affect conflict issues around the world as the “War on Terror” worldwide. Islamic extremist forces in the African region have historically operated primarily in the East African region, which is close to the Middle East. In recent years, however, their powers have spread across the African continent. The structures of government in the countries of the Sahel region of West Africa have been weakened and there have been coups d’état. The “War on Terror” is still trying to draw us into the structure of war on several major global scales. It will be necessary to place current international trends, such as the Israel-Hamas war, in the context of the new political dynamics in the world.
Retreat of the influences of the three military powers
How does the current world situation correlate with Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine? Russia’s military invasion, which began on 24 February 2022, is the result of the following factors.
The first is the decline of Russian power. Economic sanctions imposed by the international community have made it difficult for Russia to import parts and products that use advanced technologies, such as semiconductors. In the process of squandering so much of its national power in Ukraine, Russia’s influence in neighboring Azerbaijan and Armenia has diminished considerably.
The second is the declining influence of the two world powers, the US and China. The US remains the world’s largest military and economic power, and many people have the impression that the country retains overwhelming influence in the international community. At the same time, however, the three previous US administrations, including the current Biden administration, have successively retreated in their external influence. The withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan by the Biden administration in August 2021 underscored the retreat of the US influence. The US’s post-9/11 military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq ended with a withdrawal that cost the US great human and financial sacrifice, as well as “political prestige”.
Meanwhile, the Chinese regime of Xi Jinping has been in place for a decade. The propaganda to make the country “Xi Jinping-oriented” as during the Cultural Revolution launched by Mao Zedong or to create “enthusiasm” among the people during the Yan’an period is becoming even stronger. The Xi Jinping regime, which has continued to block freedom of speech beyond the period of the Cultural Revolution, has been monitoring and restricting people’s behavior with a three-year zero Covid policy. In China, where people are forced to live inhuman lives and a sense of social impasse is growing, political and economic stagnation is remarkable. The discourse of “The increasing economic and political influence of China” is an illusion. In addition, China has not even overcome the problem of domestic poverty. 
At the G20 summit in New Delhi, China’s president was absent for the first time. When the world’s most powerful leaders gathered in New Delhi in September, it was strange to see that China’s Xi Jinping wasn’t among them, having never missed a G20 summit since coming to power in 2012.  And that resulted in a diminished Chinese presence. This contrasted with the growing presence of the host country, India. Thus, while the influence of the world’s three military powers is in relative decline, the influence of the Global South and regional powers is growing.
Emerging conflicts between China and neighboring countries
On 15 November, Joe Biden and Xi Jinping met in the US for the first time in a year. They had agreements on the issues such as fentanyl, military communications and artificial intelligence on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. They also exchanged the views on cooperating on climate change issue and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The meeting eased tensions between the US and China to some extent. But the easing of tensions between the US and China rather highlighted another conflict. That would be Xi Jinping’s miscalculation.
China’s confrontations with its neighbors at sea and on land could create intense tensions with India. While avoiding direct conflict with China, the US is actively increasing its support for India as a diplomatic card to contain China. In the 2020–2021 China–India skirmishes, China and India clashed several times in the northern region of Ladakh (a disputed Sino-Indian border region), killing more than 20 soldiers. Tensions between the two countries have remained high ever since. There is also a risk that the conflict between China and India could spill over into neighboring countries that are wary of China intimidating smaller countries. These are Bhutan and Myanmar, where China has increased pressure in recent years by building strategic bases in border areas over which it has territorial disputes.
Currently, the situation in Myanmar continues to deteriorate. On 13 November, fighting broke out in Chin State, which borders India. The fighting has caused many refugees from Myanmar to cross into the Indian state of Mizoram. If the situation continues to deteriorate, the possibility of Chinese military intervention in Myanmar cannot be ruled out. The situation in Myanmar is also becoming a major concern for India. If both China and India intervene in Myanmar, the geopolitical risks in South Asia will increase dramatically. The recent situation in Myanmar also risks the danger of becoming a “powder keg” in South Asia
Political dynamics in each region
The structural conflicts that have emerged from the conventional confrontations between the world’s military powers have pushed the world toward further division. And now it is turning into an era of division and conflict. Conflicts are intensifying in South Asia, East Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa, and other regions.
In Israel, the Hamas attack is being called a 9/11 attack on Israel. If so, Israel and its accomplices in war crimes (the US and other Western nations) have forgotten that the US’s post-9/11 military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq ended with a costly and politically discredited withdrawal. These countries are about to be plunged back into the quagmire of the “War on Terror”.
The US and other Western nations did not directly participate in the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These countries will not directly participate in the Israel-Hamas war either. However, by providing full support to Israel, the US and other Western nations would be treated as de facto parties to the “War on Terror”. The structures of war on a global scale are still simultaneously ongoing. This also means that unilateral foreign policy options such as those of the US and China are disappearing.
As the presence of the three military powers diminishes, new developments are contributing to the rise of the Global South and regional powers. In recent years, the growing influence of Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other countries in the Middle East has also drawn attention, and new political dynamics have emerged. In Asia, the autonomous actions of ASEAN (Association of South‐East Asian Nations) have become more prominent. In East Asia, Japan and South Korea are also moving toward stronger “deterrence” under the current far-right regimes. The movement to rule the world with the so-called “G2” of the US and China, or the joint US-China political dynamic in the Asia-Pacific as a new “great power” sought, is not feasible under current circumstances.
On the other hand, the presence of countries like India, Indonesia, Brazil, and South Africa cannot be ignored. These four countries have experience in chairing G20 summits, and these four countries were central to the drafting of the joint statement in New Delhi this time. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi claims that his country is “becoming the voice of the South”. There’s no denying that, at a time when a kind of new Cold War between the US and China seems to be framing some global discussions, India’s discourse has a certain appeal. 
The rise of the Global South, primarily advocated by India, is the expansion of the influence of regional powers. The Indo-Pacific region, with the most dynamic economic growth in the world (like it or not), will continue to be an inescapable part of the “rules-based international order”. The hitherto oppressed Global South and regional powers are no longer powerless to be swept aside by the arrogance of military powers. In the context of a changing world order, the dynamics of world politics are shifting from an era of confrontation between military powers to an era of multipolarity and nonpolarity. Also, in times like these, the term “non-aligned” will be used more to describe the new trend in international politics.
 Xi Jinping planned to make “de-poverty,” the elimination of the poor population in rural areas and elsewhere, his “historic legacy” in time for the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in July 2021. And indeed, Xi declared “total victory” in February of the that year. However, then Chinese Premier Li Keqiang denied Xi’s claim of “de-poverty” at a press conference at the National People’s Congress last May, insisting that “in our country, 600 million people have a monthly income of about 1000 yuan (about USD 140 at current exchange rates).”
 Pierre Rousset and Sushova Dhar, 14 October 2023, "The domestic and geopolitical challenges in India - an overview”.