The Rise of «Revisionist» America

Uri Friedman

H. R. McMaster, Donald Trump’s former national-security adviser, used to warn of the dangers of “revisionist powers.” He had in mind countries like China and Russia that are newly ascendant and determined to amend to their advantage the global status quo: a decades-old, US-led international system of free trade, military and diplomatic alliances, and liberal rules and institutions that govern how countries conduct themselves.

But the US president’s recent Europe trip, which whisked him from a confrontational breakfast with the secretary general of NATO to a conciliatory lunch with the president of Russia, made one thing clearer than it’s ever been before: The call is also coming from inside the house. Trump is a revisionist, even if many of his advisers may still conceive of the United States as the world’s leading status-quo power.

Trump’s revisionist streak was on display in Belgium when the president reportedly threatened to reconsider America’s involvement in NATO if the military alliance’s members don’t spend far more on their own defense. When Fox News’s Tucker Carlson questioned this week why the United States should be obligated to defend another NATO member if it came under attack—the commitment at the very heart of the alliance—the president shook his head in disbelief and responded, “I understand what you’re saying. I’ve asked the same question … That’s the way it was set up. Don’t forget, I just got here a little more than a year and a half ago.” The implication was that he needed more time to shake things up.

The streak was on display in the United Kingdom, when Trump actively encouraged defection from the European Union by offering Britain a trade deal with the United States only on the condition that it make a clean break with the EU. “We are cracking down right now on the European Union,” he told The Sun, in reference to the raft of tariffs he has imposed or threatened to impose on the bloc. He argued, as he has since the 1980s, that in certain ways traditional US allies pose a greater threat to the country than longtime adversaries because they are essentially friendly pickpockets: exploiting America’s military protection and preferential treatment on trade to get rich at the expense of the United States. “The European Union is a foe” because it takes “advantage of us” on trade and “many of those countries are in NATO and they weren’t paying their bills,” Trump explained to CBS, before adding that “Russia is a foe in certain respects” and “China is a foe economically.”

And it was on display in Finland, when Trump tried to team up with Russian President Vladimir Putin to address the world’s top problems—from terrorism and nuclear proliferation to the nuclear threats from Iran and North Korea and the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine—without any apparent regard for history or concern about the challenges that Putin’s revisionism has posed to the international system. At a joint press conference, the American president refused to take Russia to task for interfering in democratic elections, or even to call out any specific instance of Russian bad behavior—be it committing and abetting atrocities in Syria or allegedly ordering the poisoning of a former Russian spy with a nerve agent in Britain. (In his interview this week with Carlson, Trump described NATO’s newest member, Montenegro, not as the victim of an alleged Russian-supported coup plot in 2016 but as an “aggressive” nation that could drag the United States and other NATO members into “World War III.”) Instead, Trump blamed rotten relations with Russia on “many years of US foolishness.” Remarkably, it fell on Putin, not Trump, to state at the press conference America’s policy that Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea was illegal. Trump “stands firmly by” that position, Putin said. If Trump does have a problem with the first seizure of territory by one European country from another in decades, he didn’t mention it in Finland.

While “American presidents since the 1940s have primarily sought to conserve the post-World War II order,” the international-relations scholar Walter Russell Mead recently observed in an article on the president’s revisionist tendencies, Trump “wants to alter the terms of the world system in America’s favor” and use “military and economic tools to persuade other powers to accept” his modifications. In Mead’s telling, these adjustments include leveraging China’s dependence on the US economy to rectify trade imbalances between the two countries; “disrupting the status quo” in Europe, and fashioning a “revised model” of the transatlantic relationship so that it stops being “more valuable to Germany than to the US, even as America contributes most to its upkeep”; and no longer placing the containment of Russia at the center of US strategy in Europe, since Trump does not consider Russia “a significant economic or military threat to vital US interests.”

Trump’s advisers have attempted to portray what the president is up to as a project of revitalization, not wholesale revision. In a recent interview with Mead, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo argued that Trump wants a “reset” of a world order in need of updating after decades of stasis—to reform aspects of the system “that no longer are fair and equitable” while preserving “the important historical relationships with Europe and the countries in Asia that are truly our partners.” The president is preoccupied not with how a given international rule or institution “may have impacted America in the ’60s or the ’80s, or even the early 2000s,” but rather how it benefits the United States “in 2018 and beyond,” Pompeo said. Last month in Brussels, Wess Mitchell, the assistant secretary of state for Europe who before joining the Trump administration issued dire warnings about the revisionism of countries such as Russia and China, asserted that the Trump administration is engaged in “strategic renovation” aimed at “shoring up and strengthening the West” politically, economically, and militarily. The objective is to ensure “that we don’t have to do so later on terms that are less favorable”—even if that requires controversial steps that shatter “the appearance of transatlantic unity.”

But whatever you call it—a reset, strategic renovation, or America First revisionism—Trump’s agenda of upending the international status quo is reorienting the United States as an actor in the world, even if the US president’s ambitious plans have often been frustrated by resistance from his own advisers, Congress, and the inertia of a global system that the United States has invested in for decades. (Note that, in the wake of Trump’s Europe tour, NATO members are still pushing back against Trump’s steep spending demands, the United Kingdom appears to be proceeding with only a partial break with the EU, and Trump is struggling mightily to translate his personal bond with Putin into the world-changing cooperation with Russia that he envisions.)

And if three of the world’s top powers—the United States, China, and Russia—are all acting like revisionists, that suggests the world is poised to change a whole lot, even as US allies such as the European Union, Canada, and Japan strive to uphold the status quo.

EU leaders are seeking to reconcile their “post-nationalism identity with the reality of a world that has grown more competitive,” Célia Belin, an expert on US-Europe relations, recently observed. “In a world of carnivores, [Europe] is the herbivore. It’s a power without teeth, basically. [While] big predators are preying on resources out in the world and playing zero-sum games, you have an entire continent that thrives under a win-win type of interdependence, rule of law.”

At the moment, Europe “is not strong enough to uphold this system by itself,” Belin continued. It “still needs big allies like the US”.

Source: The Atlantic, Edited by website team

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Saudi Arabia’s Mega-City Project Is Doomed to Failure

By Jerrod A. Laber

June 24 marked a historic occasion in Saudi Arabia, as the government finally granted women the right to drive a car. The change was announced in September 2017, and women started receiving licenses in early June. The reform is part of a larger modernizing agenda set by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), the heir apparent to the throne, who hopes to transform the country and diversify its economy.

Central to his agenda is “Vision 2030”, an initiative to transform the Saudi economy through privatization and restructuring, in the hope of lessening its reliance on oil production. Vision 2030’s main attraction is “Neom”, a 26,000 square kilometer city to be built on the coast of the Red Sea, near the border with Egypt.

The Saudi government is banking on Neom to transform the country into an economic powerhouse. An official press release says the city will help “the country develop into a pioneering and thriving model of excellence”. On its face, this all sounds very exciting and progressive. But previous efforts by the Saudi government, as well as economic and institutional constraints, cast serious doubt on whether the project will succeed.

What makes Neom, and Vision 2030 generally, problematic is that it’s a top-down, centrally-directed plan — an attempt by the Saudi government to steer the economy in a specific direction. Saudi Arabia will front $500 billion to support Neom’s construction, with the hope of attracting other investors from around the world. It will be a special economic zone (SEZ), with a unique legal and regulatory environment, autonomous from the rest of the country.

SEZs are most notably associated with China and the success they had in the 1980’s as part of the country’s economic reforms. One of the most stunning cases illustrating a SEZ’s transformational power is the city of Shenzhen, a small town of less than 30,000 in the late 1970s. In 1980, various districts of the city were designated as SEZs. Shenzhen’s population now exceeds 10 million and it is a major financial center. Not every economic zone is created equal though and emulating the Chinese success stories requires more than copying and pasting a low-tax regulatory environment in another region.

What made the Chinese SEZs successful was their more decentralized, bottom-up nature, according to Lotta Moberg, a macroeconomic analyst at William Blair and author of The Political Economy of Special Economic Zones: Concentrating Economic Development. “What you had in China were business interests and others who wanted to do business between China and Hong Kong,” she told me in an interview. “They managed to lobby the right people who would reach the upper echelons of the government to grant these kinds of concessions.”

Shenzhen’s reforms were not driven by the central state, instead, it was a product of local interests and local lobbying. “The institutional foundations of the Chinese examples created different dynamics from what is likely to occur in Neom, which is largely directed by the government,” said Moberg. Shenzhen was a response to demand, whereas Neom is an attempt to solve the ruling family’s political problems.

We’re already seeing signs that should give the Saudis some pause. Foreign direct investment, which is essential to financing Neom in the long term, is at a 14-year low. It shrank to $1.4 billion in 2017, from $7.5 billion the year before.

King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) offers another warning. It was the only one of six mega-city projects announced in 2005 that actually ended up being built, but has struggled to bring in foreign investors and is described by the FT’s Ahmed Al Omran as “eerily quiet and empty”. By 2035, the Saudi government wants KAEC to be home to 2 million people. According to Omran, its population currently sits at just 7,000. KAEC will need to add roughly 120,000 people a year consistently to hit its target.

Neom represents a “hail Mary pass” by the Saudi government, says James Gelvin, a professor of modern Middle Eastern history at UCLA. “There is a sense of insecurity on the part of the Saudi ruling family,” he told me. “One reason for that is the collapse of the price of oil between 2014 and 2016. Although that is rising at the present time, the Saudis see the writing on the wall”, with regard to the long-term ability to rely on oil revenue.

More than half the Saudi population is under 25, and economic prospects for the young are grim, according to Gelvin.

“There are not enough jobs for them, the educational system is not very good and there has to be revitalization, particularly at a time when the future of oil is insecure,” said Gelvin.

Ultimately, Saudi Arabia is not well-equipped to transform into a market economy, which means Neom’s lofty goals look unattainable.

“80 per cent of the economy is dominated by the government, and obviously the largest revenue is oil,” said Gelvin, and “on top of that, corruption is already legendary in Saudi Arabia”.

Although MbS recognizes the need to transition away from the economic status quo, development requires more than a lax regulatory environment and tax breaks. Business climates have to be complemented by institutions conducive to growth, both formal and informal, which Saudi Arabia sorely lacks. The state-driven nature of Neom also makes it ripe for under-performance. MbS can’t eliminate decades of institutional path-dependence, history and basic economic reality just by carving out some land in a scenic locale and saying “we’re open for business.”

Source: CAPX.com

Lebanon Welcomes 6 Hezbollah Fighters Liberated from Fua, Kefraya

Local Editor

Lebanon welcomed on Friday 6 of Hezbollah resistance fighters who returned from the task of defending the oppressed people in Kefraya and Fua.

“The convoy of Hezbollah fighters arrived in Lebanon at around 4 pm.

“The resistance fighters arrived in Beirut’s southern suburbs where Wissam Doulani is from. The other five headed towards their villages in south Lebanon,” War Media Center said.

After leaving the two besieged towns, the six fighters had arrived at Sayyeda Zainab’s Holy Shrine south of Damascus, the statement added.

In Haret Saida, Aida Saleh stood alongside hundreds of locals awaiting the return of Ali Saleh Friday. Ali’s return was delayed, but he came back victorious and to his family. “If Sayyed [Hasan Nasrallah] called for my nephew … to go to Syria, Palestine or Yemen,” he was prepared, Aida said.

Saleh, who returned to his hometown Friday afternoon, was greeted by MP Mohammad Raad and a welcoming crowd. His daughter Zeinab was 13 months old when Ali left for Syria. She spent the last three years often in tears as her mother showed the girl her father, who she does not know. “I have returned, but I have brothers who fell as martyrs throughout these years and to them I pay tribute today,” Ali said from the podium, speaking to the crowd.

“Life and dignity cannot be achieved without blood. We were where we were, and where we were assigned to defend the oppressed, we were defending our people against those that behead people,” Ali said. He added: “Sayyed Hasan, we return and we wait for our orders again.”

For his part, Raad called those who besieged Ali and the people of Kefraya and Fua “stupid people.” He went to say that the aggressors did not know that “we were sons of the besieged with the Prophet Mohammad in Mecca.”

“Today Ali Saleh and his brothers, including a martyr who returned, were defending the oppressed and the Syrian people,” Raad said.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

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ISRAEL EVACUATES 800 MEMBERS OF WHITE HELMETS AND THEIR FAMILIES FROM SYRIA TO JORDAN

South front

22.07.2018

Israel Evacuates 800 Members Of White Helmets And Their Families From Syria To Jordan

FILE PHOTO: A member of the Syrian Civil Defence (known as the White Helmets) walks near buses as a convoy carrying opposition fighters and their families from rebel held areas south of Damascus on May 6, 2018. © Rami al SAYED / AFP

Israel is working to hide the evidence of special propaganda operations carried out by the US-Israeli-led block against the Damascus government in Syria.

According to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), Israel transported several hundred of the White Helments and their families from the southwestern part of Syria to Jordan overnight Saturday. The IDF described it as “a humanitarian effort” at the request of the US and European countries.

The IDF claimed it engaged in the “out of the ordinary” move due to the “immediate risk” to the lives of the civilians in the area. The move came as Syrian government forces, backed by Russia, were finishing their operation to defeat Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) and its allies in the southern provinces of Daraa and al-Quneitra.

The “civilians” evacuated by Israel were evacuated from the militant-held area.

According to Jordan’s official Petra state media outlet, the number of evacuated persons included 800 White Helmets members and their families.

Paul Ronzheimer

@ronzheimer

Evacuation of white helmets plus families still ongoing here at syrian israeli border. Plan is to drive asap to jordan. @BILD

Germany’s Bild newspaper reported that a convoy of dozens of buses crossed the contact line between the Israeli-controlled area and Syria late Saturday. Then the convoy was escorted to the Jordanian border by Israeli police and UN forces.

The White Helments is an infamous Western-backed organization, which according to Syrian, Russian and Iranian governments as well as to multiple independent researchers, has been involved in staging chemical attacks and other propaganda actions in order to assist the US-led block in its attempts to overthrow the Assad government.

One of the most prominent cases if the “Douma chemical attack” on April 14, 2018. MORE ABOUT IT HERE

According to Syrian experts, the key goal of the evacuation of the White Helmets members is to not allow forces of the Syrian-Russian-Iranian alliance from questioning members of the organization over their acitivites and to prevent further leaks and failures how the mainstream narrative on the conflict has been created through special propaganda operations.

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Creeping annexation of the West Bank and wanton cruelty in Gaza: israel’s March of Folly

Creeping annexation of the West Bank and wanton cruelty in Gaza: Israel’s March of Folly

Israeli settlements occupying dominant position over Palestinians

By Uri Avnery

One can look at events in Gaza through the left or through the right eye. One can condemn them as inhuman, cruel and mistaken, or justify them as necessary and unavoidable.

But there is one adjective that is beyond question: They are stupid.

If the late Barbara Tuchman were still alive, she might be tempted to add another chapter to her groundbreaking opus, The March of Folly: a chapter titled “Eyeless in Gaza”.

The latest episode in this epic started a few months ago, when independent activists in the Gaza Strip called for a march to the Israeli border, which Hamas supported. It was called “The Great March of Return”, a symbolic gesture for the more than a million Arab residents who fled or were evicted from their homes in the land that became the State of Israel.

The Israeli authorities pretended to take this seriously. A frightening picture was painted for the Israeli public: 1.8 million Arabs, men, women and children, would throw themselves on the border fence, break through in many places, and storm Israel’s cities and villages. Terrifying.

Sharpshooters vs unarmed protesters

Israeli sharpshooters were posted along the border and ordered to shoot anyone who looked like a “ringleader”. On several succeeding Fridays (the weekly Muslim holy day) more than 150 unarmed protesters, including many children, were shot dead, and many hundreds more severely wounded by gunfire, apart from those hurt by tear gas.

The Israeli argument was that the victims were shot while trying to “storm the fences”. Actually, not a single such attempt was photographed, though hundreds of photographers were posted on both sides of the fence.

Facing a world-wide protest, the army changed its orders and now only rarely kills unarmed protesters. The Palestinians also changed their tactics: the main effort now is to fly children’s kites with burning tails and set Israeli fields near the Strip on fire.

Since the wind almost always blows from the West to the East, that is an easy way to hurt Israel. Children can do it, and do. Now the minister of education demands that the air force bomb the children. The chief of staff refuses, arguing that this is “against the values of the Israeli army”.

At present, half of our newspapers and TV newscasts are concerned with Gaza. Everybody seems to agree that sooner or later a fully-fledged war will break out there.

“A picture of total misery”

The main feature of this exercise is its utter stupidity.

Every military action must have a political aim. As the German military thinker, Carl von Clausewitz, famously said: “War is but a continuation of politics by other means.”

The Strip is 41 km long and 6 to 12 km wide. It is one of the most overcrowded places on earth. Nominally it belongs to the largely theoretical State of Palestine, like the West Bank, which is Israeli occupied. The Strip is in fact governed by the radical Muslim Hamas party.

In the past, masses of Palestinian workers from Gaza streamed into Israel every day. But since Hamas assumed power in the Strip, the Israeli government has imposed an almost total blockade on land and sea. The Egyptian dictatorship, a close ally of Israel and a deadly enemy of radical Islam, cooperates with Israel.

So what does Israel want? The preferred solution is to sink the entire Strip and its population into the sea. Failing that, what can be done?

The last thing Israel wants is to annex the Strip with its huge population, which cannot be driven out. Also, Israel does not want to put up settlements in the Strip (the few which were set up were withdrawn by Ariel Sharon, who thought that it was not worthwhile to keep and defend them).

The real policy is to make life in Gaza so miserable, that the Gazans themselves will rise and throw the Hamas authorities out. With this in mind, the water supply is reduced to two hours a day, electricity the same. Employment hovers around 50 per cent, wages beneath the minimum. It is a picture of total misery.

Since everything that reaches Gaza must come through Israel (or Egypt), supplies are often cut off completely for days as “punishment”.

Alas, history shows that such methods seldom succeed. They only deepen the enmity. So what can be done?

Defiance of commonsense

The answer is incredibly simple: sit down, talk and come to an agreement.

Yes, but how can you sit down with a mortal enemy, whose official ideology totally rejects a Jewish state?

Islam, which (like every religion) has an answer to everything, recognises something called a hudna, which is a lasting armistice. This can go on for many decades and is (religiously) kept.

For several years now, Hamas has been almost openly hinting that it is ready for a long hudna. Egypt has volunteered to mediate. Our government has totally ignored the offer. A hudna with the enemy? Out of the question! God forbid! Would be terribly unpopular politically!

But it would be the sensible thing to do. Stop all hostile acts from both sides, say for 50 years. Abolish the blockade. Build a real harbour in Gaza city. Allow free trade under some kind of military inspection. Same for an airport. Allow workers to find employment in Israel, instead of importing workers from China and Romania.Turn Gaza into a second Singapore. Allow free travel between Gaza and the West Bank by a bridge or an exterritorial highway. Help to restore unity between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Why not? The very idea is rejected by an ordinary Israeli on sight.

A deal with Hamas? Impossible!!! Hamas wants to destroy Israel. Everybody knows that.

I hear this many times, and always wonder about the stupidity of people who repeat this.

How does a group of a few hundred thousand “destroy” one of the world’s most heavily armed states, a state that possesses nuclear bombs and submarines to deliver them? How? With kites?

The Israeli government wants to annex the West Bank. It wants to get the Arab population out, and replace them with Jewish settlers. It conducts this policy slowly, cautiously, but consistently.

Both Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin pay us homage, the world’s fascist dictators and liberal presidents come to visit. How can Hamas pose a mortal danger?

Why doesn’t Hamas stop hostilities by itself? Hamas has competitors, which are even more radical. It does not dare to show any sign of weakness.

Some decades ago the Arab world, at the initiative of Saudi Arabia, offered Israel peace under several conditions, all of them acceptable. Successive Israel governments have not only not accepted it, they have ignored it altogether.

There was some logic in this. The Israeli government wants to annex the West Bank. It wants to get the Arab population out, and replace them with Jewish settlers. It conducts this policy slowly, cautiously, but consistently.

It is a cruel policy, a detestable policy, yet it has some logic in it. If you really want to achieve this abominable aim, the methods may be adequate. But this does not apply to the Gaza Strip, which no one wants to annex. There, the methods are sheer folly.

This does not mean that the overall Israeli policy towards the Palestinians is any more wise. It is not.

Binyamin Netanyahu and his hand-picked stupid ministers have no policy. Or so it seems. In fact they do have an undeclared one: creeping annexation of the West Bank.

This is now going on at a quicker pace than before. The daily news gives the impression that the entire government machine is now concentrating on this project.

This will lead directly to an apartheid-style state, where a large Jewish minority will dominate an Arab majority.

For how long? One generation? Two? Three?

It has been said that a clever person is able to extricate himself from a trap into which a wise person would not have fallen in the first place.

Stupid people do not extricate themselves. They are not even aware of the trap.

Ayatollah Khamenei: Talks with US ‘useless’ but should continue with EU

Ayatollah Khamenei: Talks with US `useless` but should continue with EU

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei speaks at a meeting with ambassadors, chargé d'affaires and staff of Foreign Ministry in Tehran on July 21, 2018. Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei speaks at a meeting with ambassadors, chargé d’affaires and staff of Foreign Ministry in Tehran on July 21, 2018.

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says talks with the US are “useless,” adding while negotiations with the Europeans should continue, Iran should not count much on their package of proposals.     

“I have long pointed out that it is not possible to count on the words and even the signatures of the Americans, so negotiations with the United States are of no avail,” the Leader said in a meeting with Iranian ambassadors and diplomats in Tehran Saturday.

Ayatollah Khamenei touched on “deep-rooted” US animosity with the Iranian nation, saying Washington’s opposition to Iran’s nuclear capabilities and role in the region is rooted in its hostility with “the elements of the authority of the Islamic system.”

The Leader said the Americans want to return to the position they were in Iran before the Islamic Revolution in 1979 when the former Shah was a key ally of the United States, adding “they will not be satisfied with anything less.”

Ayatollah Khamenei said it is a “blatant mistake” to believe that negotiating with the US would help Iran solve its problems.

“There are many countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America that have ties with the US but are still suffering from problems,” the Leader said, adding the US has “a fundamental problem with the nature of Iran’s Islamic establishment.”

With the Europeans, talks should continue to guarantee Iran’s interests under the 2015 nuclear deal which the bloc wants to preserve despite Washington’s withdrawal in May.

“Negotiations with the Europeans should not be cut off, but we should not wait too long for a European package and instead, we should do a lot of work inside the country,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.

Earlier this month, Iran said it had rejected the European Union’s so-called package of proposals for the future of the 2015 nuclear deal. Details of the proposals were never made public.

However, Tehran said it had returned the package for revisions, saying the bloc’s proposals did not guarantee that the Islamic Republic would benefit from the nuclear deal if it stayed in the agreement.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Ayatollah Khemenei echoed his support for Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani who had warned that no oil cargo would be exported in the region if Iran’s oil exports were to be halted.

He described President Rouhani’s remarks to that effect as important and emphasized that Iran’s Foreign Ministry should take the adequate measures to follow up the president’s position.

Before Ayatollah Khamenei’s remarks, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said his ministry had devised a comprehensive plan to help expand the country’s economic bonds with neighbors as well as others.

Zarif said Iran’s Foreign Ministry had also been able to successfully foil what he described an Israeli project to portray Iran as a threat.

He recalled efforts by US President Donald Trump and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to scare the world away from Iran, calling such efforts as “cheap theatricals” that had resulted in nothing but their own isolation.

Zarif further said that “war rooms” had been created in certain countries to pressure Iran, but those efforts were futile.

He said Iran had told other countries including America’s allies that confronting the American bullying should go beyond political commitments and involve practical measures.

“We have gone through hard times,” the Iranian minister said. “We will be able to overcome problems through cooperation and unity without suffering any harm under the guidance of the Leadership and the help of the people.”

Home as hospital: Gaza families struggle to care for the wounded

Home as Hospital: Gaza Families Struggle to Care for the Wounded

by Alyona Synenko
Omar was wounded on May 14. He is now waiting for follow-up surgeries. The healthcare system in Gaza is overwhelmed by the scope of the needs and until now doctors have been unable to say when the surgeries will take place. [Alyona Synenko/ICRC]

Omar was wounded on May 14. He is now waiting for follow-up surgeries. The healthcare system in Gaza is overwhelmed by the scope of the needs and until now doctors have been unable to say when the surgeries will take place. Alyona Synenko/ICRC
The pain is unbearable, but I try not to scream because I don’t want my family to spend more money on drugs,” said Omar, a 25-year-old fisherman wounded in the recent upsurge of violence in Gaza.Omar’s bandaged leg is propped up against two pillows. Metal rods and pins protrude from the bone. A plastic bag filled with pills is hanging on a window latch next to the bed. A simple room in the family house has been turned into a makeshift hospital ward. It’s an improvisation that has become a familiar sight in many houses in Gaza.

Violence escalated in the border area of Gaza at the end of March, resulting in dozens of deaths and thousands of wounded, many by live ammunition.

Hospitals, overwhelmed by a series of injured people, have already reached the limit of their capacity. Medical staff are constantly faced with the dilemma of either discharging patients early or having no space to receive new ones.

The burden that hospitals could not handle fell on the shoulders of the families, adding emotional, financial and logistical stress to already difficult lives.

“Somebody has to be with him 24 hours,” said Abdallah, Omar’s brother.

Abdallah earns a living as a construction worker, but has been spending most of the time caring for Omar since a bullet hit his leg on May 14. He shares the task with Asmaa, Omar’s twin sister, who had to make her own sacrifices.

Omar, who looks thin and exhausted, said he knows the burden he is placing on his family: “I feel like I have paralysed the lives of two people.”

While Omar’s family is struggling to give him the best care they can, the financial hardship is becoming more pressing. Gaza is experiencing the worst economic crisis since the war in 2014 and almost half of its population is unemployed.

Meanwhile, injured and handicapped men have now become part of the urban landscape in Gaza. They sit in front of hospitals, but also in the street and at the markets. The surgical device used to stabilize fractured bones of many young men is now referred to as “Gaza leg” locally.

Dr Gabriel Salazar, health coordinator in Gaza for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said there are over 1,300 with health complications due to injuries, while some 400 remain with a temporary or permanent disability.

Asmaa, Omar’s twin sister, has been spending her days by her brother's bedside since he was wounded. [Alyona Synenko/ICRC]

Asmaa, Omar’s twin sister, has been spending her days by her brother’s bedside since he was wounded. Alyona Synenko/ICRC
An aspiring photographer, Asmaa used to participate in youth projects and take photography classes. She now dedicates all her time and effort to her brother. 'I watch over him at night. He hardly falls asleep because of the pain. When he does he wakes up from nightmares. I am afraid he can hurt himself.' [Alyona Synenko/ICRC]

An aspiring photographer, Asmaa used to participate in youth projects and take photography classes. She now dedicates all her time and effort to her brother. ‘I watch over him at night. He hardly falls asleep because of the pain. When he does he wakes up from nightmares. I am afraid he can hurt himself.’ Alyona Synenko/ICRC
Asmaa keeps the family's children away from Omar's room out of fear of the trauma seeing him may cause. But the house is small and it is difficult to contain Omar's screaming to a single room. [Alyona Synenko/ICRC]

Asmaa keeps the family’s children away from Omar’s room out of fear of the trauma seeing him may cause. But the house is small and it is difficult to contain Omar’s screaming to a single room. Alyona Synenko/ICRC
Omar’s brother and nephew sitting on his fishing boat. Omar is a fisherman and one of the main breadwinners for the family. After his injury, the family’s earnings went down and expenses increased. They have to purchase medicine and hire an ambulance to take him to hospital for outpatient treatment. Everybody’s dream, to send Omar for medical treatment outside Gaza, is beyond the family’s financial means. [Alyona Synenko/ICRC]

Omar’s brother and nephew sitting on his fishing boat. Omar is a fisherman and one of the main breadwinners for the family. After his injury, the family’s earnings went down and expenses increased. They have to purchase medicine and hire an ambulance to take him to hospital for outpatient treatment. Everybody’s dream, to send Omar for medical treatment outside Gaza, is beyond the family’s financial means. Alyona Synenko/ICRC
Since Mahmoud was injured in the border area and released from hospital, his family cares for him at home. 'We try to help him the best we can,' Mahmoud's mother said, 'but everybody is confused and we don't always know what to do.' [Alyona Synenko/ICRC]

Since Mahmoud was injured in the border area and released from hospital, his family cares for him at home. ‘We try to help him the best we can,’ Mahmoud’s mother said, ‘but everybody is confused and we don’t always know what to do.’ Alyona Synenko/ICRC
A father of three, Mahmoud is the main breadwinner for his family. Since he was injured, Mahmoud cannot work and he worries he will not be able to pay the rent for his barbershop next month and his family will lose their main source of income. [Alyona Synenko/ICRC]

A father of three, Mahmoud is the main breadwinner for his family. Since he was injured, Mahmoud cannot work and he worries he will not be able to pay the rent for his barbershop next month and his family will lose their main source of income. Alyona Synenko/ICRC
Mahmoud’s young assistant has been running the barbershop alone. The business has lost many clients. Doctors have forbidden Mahmoud to work. His standing job may compromise his recovery. He still goes to his barbershop to lend a hand to his assistant and try to bring his customers back. [Alyona Synenko/ICRC]

Mahmoud’s young assistant has been running the barbershop alone. The business has lost many clients. Doctors have forbidden Mahmoud to work. His standing job may compromise his recovery. He still goes to his barbershop to lend a hand to his assistant and try to bring his customers back. Alyona Synenko/ICRC
Baha had been working in his brother's mechanic shop until he was injured in recent violence. He still needs follow-up treatment and may face additional surgeries in the next six months. [Alyona Synenko/ICRC]

Baha had been working in his brother’s mechanic shop until he was injured in recent violence. He still needs follow-up treatment and may face additional surgeries in the next six months. Alyona Synenko/ICRC
Raad, Baha's brother, is now running the mechanic workshop alone, while caring for his brother and trying to cover all the medical expenses. [Alyona Synenko/ICRC]

Raad, Baha’s brother, is now running the mechanic workshop alone, while caring for his brother and trying to cover all the medical expenses. Alyona Synenko/ICRC
A client brings a car to the mechanic workshop for repairs while Baha sits outside. [Alyona Synenko/ICRC]

A client brings a car to the mechanic workshop for repairs while Baha sits outside. Alyona
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