Responsibility to protect – the strategic role of the Multinational Islamic Defence Force

There’s no question of R2P's legitimate application under any condition or situation, including in Gaza.

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Published in News Hub Asia & AstroAwani, image by AstroAwani.

The need for a Multinational Islamic Defence Force (MIDF) is long overdue.

This is especially pertinent given current developments in the Middle East emanating from the on-going genocide and atrocities in Gaza.

As it is, the ultimate aim of the Zionists, as blatantly exposed for the world to see clearly, is the final displacement and the road or new beginning towards a definitive quest for the settlement and resolution of the “Palestinian question”.

Not only is the two-state solution now openly admitted as never having been intended for implementation by the Zionist State of Israel in the first place.

The extremist and far-right government of Benjamin Netanyahu is intent on displacing and expelling Gazans from the Gaza Strip via the pretext of a military operation purportedly aimed at destroying Hamas in what’s a total departure from the previous strategy of divide and rule.

The situation now calls for the formation of a MIDF to push back and “turn the tide” against the Zionist design which is “now out in the open” – with the Gaza displacement aka Nakba 2023/2024 as the “first phase” in the wider strategy of creating a “Greater Israel”/“Eretz Israel” as a fait accompli (i.e., a situation that has already happened beforehand).

During a speech before the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on September 22, 2023 (less than a month before the October 7 “total surprise” incursion into southern Israel by Hamas), Benjamin Netanyahu held up a map showing an Israel stretching “from the river to the sea”, i.e., inclusive of the West Bank and Gaza.

In EMIR Research article, “Responsibility to protect – undertake military action to prevent Gaza displacement” (March 22, 2024), it’s mentioned that the establishment of a MIDF to “resist” and prevent genocide and the final displacement of Palestinians from Gaza is a sacred duty/obligation.

This sacred and holy calling becomes all the more heightened when the displacement and dispossession of Palestinians is ultimately viewed in relation to the third holiest sites in Islam, i.e., the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, as also located in Palestine.

It means that the ejection and expulsion of Palestinians from Gaza should also be seen at the same time as tantamount to a kind of “sacrilege”.

The same goes for the containment and fragmentation of Palestinians in the West Bank.

Both of which serves to isolate them from access to the sacred sites in Jerusalem, inter alia – on the pretence of Zionist national security but which actually serves the long-term goal and purpose of Judaisation of Baitulmaqdis.

Under international law (e.g., UNGA Resolution 181 and UN Security Council Resolution/UNSCR 2334), Jerusalem has been envisioned and carved into East and West to serve as respective capitals of Israel and a future State of Palestine (Dawlat Filastin).

Despite or rather because of this, for all intents and purposes, Palestinians have become, in effect, the “real” and “true” custodians of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Hashemite (Jordanian) custodianship has been rendered moot by Zionist actions on the ground with the daily violations (e.g., abuse and mistreatment of worshippers – which tend to worsen during the blessed month of Ramadan) and fragrant breaches of international law (including UNSCR 271, 478 and 1073, etc).

In reinforcing the religious calling for a MIDF stands also the doctrine of “responsibility to protect” (R2P), as highlighted in the same EMIR Research article.

As mentioned, R2P isn’t exactly a novel idea as in a complete paradigm shift or revolution in worldview, and not just diachronically (i.e., in time).

This means there’s no question of its legitimate application under any condition or situation, including in Gaza.

The R2P doctrine further enhances the appeal for a MIDF and brings out the sense of urgency in relation to the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza. 

It’s also mentioned that an international peace-keeping force under the UN (perhaps aptly named as the UN Special Peace-Keeping Force in Palestine aka UN Force in Palestine?) is to be immediately dispatched to protect the civilians in the Palestinian Territories from terrorism by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) and their “auxiliary units” in the form of the settlers.

The zones concerned would be Areas A and B under immediate Palestinian Authority (PA) control as well as adjacent zones under Area C (which comprises some 60% which comes under direct Israeli rule).

In effect, the presence of the international peace-keeping force is also to prevent further expansion and annexation.

That is to say, the enforcement and implementation of international law with respect to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.

This includes setting up conditions for paving the way towards the envisaged and eventual return of Area C to the PA – as part of the two-state solution (kickstarted under the Oslo Accords).

Such a force can be readily deployed on the basis of quick mobilisation set in the context and framework of pre-existing arrangements.

For example, such an international peace-keeping force can be mobilised within 72 hours (3 days). Part of such a force could readily be drawn from the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) operating under the mandate of the UN Security Council (UNSC).

The MIDF could then step in for the international peace-keeping force at the later stage and have a “permanent” presence, if need be.

This stepping in or substitution doesn’t preclude operating side-by-side with the UN Force in Palestine.

In fact, situational reality dictates the need for operational conjunction and cooperation and collaboration.

The ratio between the two forces would be apportioned according to the operational territories.

So, the UN Force in Palestine will have a larger ratio in the West Bank (80-20) and vice-versa, i.e., the MIDF having a much larger, if not, exclusive presence in Gaza (either 80-20 or 100%) – consistent with its core R2P mandate.

As it is, the setting up of the MIDF which is completely new and “from scratch” would require time.

This includes agreement and consensus on the command structure and contribution of the participating countries. At the earliest, such a formation and mobilisation would probably take up to one month. 

It has to be seen as a rapid deployment force (RDF) at the brigade level (between 5000 to 6000 personnel) – in its initial operation (spearheading) phase.

Mobilisation can’t and shouldn’t exceed the one-month timeframe.

Ideally, the MIDF should be up and running within two weeks or 14 days. Better still, the MIDF should be operationally ready within seven days.

The MIDF’s strategy in Gaza would be to contain and block the Zionist occupational forces from genocide with the final goal of eventual displacement of Gazans.

If need be, the MIDF would also carry out punitive and retaliatory strikes against Zionist miliary targets within Gaza and nearby areas where Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) are massed or located, e.g., in the Negev (ground, air).

To reiterate from the previous article, the lead players should comprise Egypt, Syria (as backed up by Iran), Lebanon (if not the regular armed forces, then Hezbollah) and Jordan. Yemen too is to play a pivotal and critical role.

Yemen has been disrupting Red Sea shipping lines targeting Zionist vessels combined with missile and drone attacks against Israel. The country should be held up as a proto-model of what a MIDF could look like.

Turkey should provide air and naval support with particular focus on the Gaza “sea corridor” (i.e., the Mediterranean Sea which is coterminous with the Gaza Strip).

Egypt would be the tip of the spear (of the MIDF) spearhead since any launchpad and opening foray into Gaza (“punching a hole”) would (have to) be via the Sinai Peninsula.

Syrian troops can be attached to/embedded within this part of the MIDF – with counterparts in the Golan Heights tying down the Zionist garrisons together with its air   force plus artillery (including surface to air missiles, rocketry) and tank barrage (aka demonstrations).

This would also act as a screen for the Syrian air force to join their Egyptian, Turkish and Jordanian compatriots in achieving numerical superiority on the southern front (which also hosts the majority of Zionist air force bases)

The MIDF incursion and presence is to deepen and entrench the possibility of a two-front war for the Zionist entity (as representing the southern front – intensifying Israel’s vulnerability there), even at the risk of a fifth (undeclared) “Arab-Israeli” war, i.e., replay of past conflicts but which avoid the errors and mistakes resulting in defeats.

It’s hoped that this would compel Tel Aviv to the negotiating table and “re-start” the two-state solution process.

Just as importantly is the imperative to compel the Zionist entity to sign peace treaties with both Syria (on the condition of the return of the Golan Heights) and Lebanon.

The need for a MIDF is all the more justified/justifiable in light of the US’s obstinacy in supporting the Zionist entity in military terms.

As highlighted in the same EMIR Research article, the US’s call for a ceasefire and pause has nothing to do with the death tolls, on-going genocide, etc. but with the international standing of Israel.

The US continues to send arms and military materiel to Israel (“US approves bombs, jets for Israel amid threat of offensive in Gaza’s Rafah”, Al Jazeera, March 30, 2024).

The latest so-called “aid” package includes “more than 1,800 MK84 2,000-pound bombs and 500 MK82 500-pound bombs, according to Pentagon and State Department officials familiar with the matter. The 2,000-pound bombs have been linked to previous mass-casualty events throughout Israel’s military campaign in Gaza” (“US signs off on more bombs, warplanes for Israel”, Washington Post, March 29, 2024).

Israel’s absolute dependency on the US partly reflects its desire to maintain military superiority in the region.

In the eyes of the world, military superiority is about deterring concerted intervention to halt Israel’s on-going impunity in ethno-religious cleansing on the one hand and the perpetual subjugation and repression (under an apartheid system) of the same group indigenous group of people on the other.

Therefore, it’s Israel which needs to be deterred.

The time has now come for a MIDF – which will play the strategic role in restraining and constraining the Zionist entity.

May the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), inter alia, summon the political will and take decisive action on the basis of the doctrine of R2P as intertwined with the sacred obligation to defend the sanctity and integrity of the third holiest sites in Islam.

And, not least, stop the Zionist pathology from spreading any further with consequences that’ll engulf not only the wider region in a conflagration but may potentially escalate into World War 3 (WWIII) also.

Jason Loh Seong Wei is Head of Social, Law & Human Rights at EMIR Research, an independent think tank focussed on strategic policy recommendations based on rigorous research.

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