A New Security Paradigm Shift in the Middle East

International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES[1]) from Ljubljana, Slovenia, regularly analyses developments in the Middle East, the Balkans and around the world. Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh[2] is a President of VIIMES. In collaboration with Massoud Hedeshi, Editor-in-Chief, VIIMES he prepared the text entitled “A New Security Paradigm Shift in the Middle East“, in which he analyses the critical shifts in regional geopolitics following the Al-Aqsa Operation, emphasizing its broader implications for stability and security in the Middle East.

 Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh


A New Security Paradigm Shift in the Middle East



The Al-Aqsa Operation on 7 October was a turning point in the history of occupied Palestine and even the Middle East at large. As the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres emphasized: “the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum”. 76 years of occupation of Palestine under the pretext of religion is a unique, unprecedented, and dangerous phenomenon, since all followers of a certain religion are called upon to migrate to a certain limited location. An existential settler colonial threat to Palestinians in occupied West Bank and Gaza as well as to all countries in the Middle East. 


The Global order is changing faster than before the 7 October earthquake; business is not as usual anymore. The Axis of Resistance comprising like-minded popular movements and countries are a new emerging power alliance in the Middle East.

Following the Ukraine War, Russia moved eastwards, creating a strong Eastern bloc vis-à-vis the West. BRICS and SCO are attracting more eastern countries; A New emerging economic/security block is shaping up.


This article elaborates on a statement delivered by Ambassador Soltanieh, President of the Vienna International Institute for Middle Eastern Studies (VIIMES) and Former Member of Reference Group of UNIDIR on WMDFZ-ME, to the XX Security Forum, Kraków held over 16-17 May 2024. 

The discourse presented at the XX Security Forum in Kraków highlighted newly evolving security dynamics in the Middle East, particularly concerning the prolonged occupation of Palestine and the displacement of over 9 million of its population, as identified along chronological milestones in Figure 1 below. 

The following analysis delves into the critical shifts in regional geopolitics following the Al-Aqsa Operation, emphasizing its broader implications for stability and security in the Middle East. 

The Al-Aqsa Operation: A Game-Changer 

The Al-Aqsa Operation, which unfolded on 7 October 2024, serves as a pivotal moment in the history of occupied Palestine and the broader Middle East. This event, while catalysed by specific triggers, underscores deeper-rooted issues of occupation, settlement expansion, and political stagnation. The ramifications of this operation extend far beyond immediate casualties, resonating across geopolitical fault lines and reshaping regional power dynamics similar in direction to how the Ukraine-Russia war has revealed a transformation in the global order.


76 years of occupation of Palestine under the pretext of religion is a unique, unprecedented, and dangerous phenomenon, since all followers of a certain religion are called upon to migrate to a certain limited location; Not on a short pilgrimage, but to be settled down permanently. Simple calculus and the rule of thumb indicate that the occupied land of 1948 is not enough for Jews encouraged to migrate from all over the world, now or in the future. Therefore, occupation and colonialisation shall expand to more lands, inevitably with ever greater numbers of dispossessed and displaced Palestinians[3]

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Figure 1- Displaced Palestinians, Source: BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights

In a nutshell: There is an existential settler colonial threat to Palestinians in occupied West Bank and Gaza as well as to other countries in the Middle East. 

Though this bitter fact is “trivial”, regretfully it has been taken for granted by some governments forced to recognize this unique form of occupation. Palestinians demanding their inalienable right to existence have been expelled from their homeland, massacred or imprisoned for decades, and last but not least, very sadly, scholars have kept silent or expressed sorrow only in private!

The source of this threat relates back to Europe’s millennium-long civilisational struggle with its unique and puzzling “Jewish Question” problem also known as Anti-Semitism. Europe suffering from War War-II, following the human tragedy of the Holocaust, expelled local Jews or otherwise encouraged them to migrate, to put it diplomatically, to the Middle East, instead of dealing with the root cause to resolve Europe’s internal problems and assure European security. 

Ambassador Abdelshafi of Palestine to the United Nations and other international organizations in Vienna eloquently analysed and identified this phenomenon as “antisemitism policy by the EU” during the 8th Event organized by VIIMES on 19 April 2024. 

Based on scientific logic and impartial strategic analyses, some independent scholars were of the strong view that the trend could not be sustained, and that an explosion would likely occur sooner or later. Some did not dare to openly reveal their concern, afraid of being accused of antisemitism and thus being eliminated from the public discourse.

On October 24, 2023, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres emphasized:

“It is important to also recognize the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum. The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation. They have seen their land steadily devoured by settlements and plagued by violence; their economy stifled; their people displaced, and their homes demolished. Their hopes for a political solution to their plight have been vanishing. But the grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas. And those appalling attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people”.

As a matter of fact, and as we know from the laws of physics, chronic exertions of continuously rising pressure inevitably lead to saturation points and create explosions with blast waves that can reach far and wide. In addition to decades of occupations, humiliation, living in the largest open-air concentration camp, thousands being humiliated, imprisoned, tortured, and massacred, including women and children, the following specific developments also helped trigger the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on 7 October 2023. These are grouped along events with Direct and Indirect immediate impacts. 

A - Events with Direct Immediate Triggering Impacts

Perhaps the most important trigger with immediate impact was the Oct 4th storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, holiest place for 2 billion Muslims, by Zionist settlers attacking and humiliating Palestinian worshipers, as shown in the photo of the act shared here. This provocation was one among many during the week-long Jewish Sukkot holiday (20 Sept – 6 Oct) that saw repeated attacks against Muslims and Christians in Jerusalem in particular.[4]

Figure 2 - Storming of Al-Aqsa, Oct 4th.

This was compounded by relentless expansions of settlements, and settlers attacking and killing Palestinians with full protection of Israeli armed forces in Jerusalem and the West Bank. The US and EU have orally condemned some of such actions but implemented no preventive measure.

On the regional level, and with a probable view to ‘pivot to Asia’, US leaders persuaded some Arab governments to sign the Abraham Accords with Israel in recent years. Saudi Arabia, was widely expected to be next in line to join the Accords just before 7 October 2023, as attested to in a recent statement of President Biden. The Accords presented a serious and mounting threat to the Palestinian cause. 

Figure 3 - Bypassing the Suez Canal

Israel too had clear incentives for intensifying the siege and Palestinian suffering under open prison conditions in Gaza. The situation was aggravated by Israel’s “Ben Gurion canal” plans to bypass the Suez Canal from the Red Sea through the Gulf of Aqaba, Israel and northern Gaza. 

This new trade corridor would boost Israel’s global trade position at the direct expense of Gaza and Egypt while making itself the hub of all regional trade. In order to realize it, Gaza has to be occupied and over 2 million Palestinians have to be displaced to Egypt and Jordan.

The plan is similar in intent to another proposal referred to as the India-M.E.-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC), which also aims to place Israel at the centre of regional trade routes stretching from India to Greece, as shown in the figure here[5]

Figure 4 - Figure 2 - India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC)

Similarly, Israel’s pre-existing plans for sabotaging and usurping Gaza’s proven natural gas fields, land and other natural resources would have incentivised Israel’s current efforts to wipe out Gaza’s Palestinian population.

Figure 5 - Netanyahu in the UN General Assembly

These existential threats to Palestine were reaffirmed unequivocally by Netanyahu in the UN General Assembly when he held a provocative “new Middle East” map that excluded any mention of Palestine altogether.[6]

B – Related Events with Indirect Immediate Impacts:

Several factors and events can be identified under this category pertaining to notable changes evident in the world order. Among these, US’ withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years of occupation that ended in handing over the country back to the Taleban is recognised as a humiliating failure for both the US and NATO. This is complemented by other strategic failures by US after its military invasion of Iraq under a false WMD pretext. NATO failures in Syria and its central role in the ongoing human catastrophe in Libya are other examples of strategic failures of western powers.

In the realm of diplomacy, the collapse of existing Arms Control treaties between US and Russia specially after the Ukraine War reflects deteriorating relations. The political shock of Russia’s military attack against Ukraine continues today with a notable realignment of the global South against western powers and NATO.

Concurrently, China entered into a new domain: low profile diplomacy in one the most delicate security-oriented issues, an intermediary role between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which successfully led to a reconciliation deal in Beijing. This was a beginning of a Security Paradigm Shift in the Middle East[7]

Russia has been effectively pushed into closer ties with China and other BRICS countries that together have emerged as a formidable force, in particular in relation to the question of Palestine. BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation are attracting more countries of the global South, and new emerging economic/security blocs are shaping up.[8] This trend has also been noticeable in the Saharan region of Africa where Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso have downgraded their ties with the west in recent months. 

Rather importantly, the global South led by Russia and China has confronted western sanctions by collaborating in developing alternative modes of trade that exclude western territories, financial institutions and SWIFT in particular. It would be expected that this transition would also be accompanied by more frequent political challenges to western power as well[9], as was evident in the November 2023 BRICS Emergency Summit on Gaza.

A reflection of the above trend is evident in increasing challenges from the governments of the global South to western institutions such as the International Criminal Court, and the application of universal values by international institutions to hold to account the actions of western powers and their allies.

Israel’s Reaction since 7 October

Israel had portrayed itself as the most humane and powerful army with the most sophisticated intelligence/security. On 7 October 2023, an unprecedented Political/ Security/Intelligence earthquake shook Israel, triggered by a group of Palestinians, called Hamas. 

Over the 8-month period since, bombardments with 40,000 tons of explosives including phosphorus bombs and collective punishment by Israel have led to:

  • Total siege and blockade of food, water and electricity for over 2 million living in what many have referred to as the world’s largest concentration camp inevitably leading to mass starvation, disease and death
  • 90% of children in Gaza experiencing “severe food poverty” according to UNICEF
  • Over 37,000 Gazans slaughtered, 75% of whom are women and children
  • Over 85,000 injured
  • Over 20,000 children are orphans with acute trauma
  • Over 15,000 estimated to be buried under the rubbles
  • Almost 1.7 million displaced

Humanitarian aid is allowed to trickle into Gaza, though only a drop in the ocean as compared to the needs of Palestinians in desperate need of medicines, water and food to survive.

Among the most outrageous existential threats to Palestine by Israel is the latter’s threat of use of nuclear weapons against Gaza, not by its minister of war, but by its minister of culture, revealing the extent to which this danger to global peace is institutionalized in the mindset of its rulers.

Global reactions since 7 October

The United Nations Security Council was for over 8 months paralyzed by US vetoes until yesterday’s (10 June) UNSC resolution that finally called for an immediate ceasefire[10] following the Nuseirat Massacre[11] committed by Israel two days earlier. However, several resolutions already passed by the General Assembly have not been implemented, and it is not clear, based on experience, whether the recent UNSC resolution is likely to be enforced at any time in the near future. 

The resolutions of the OIC/LAS have been ignored, despite millions of peace-loving people of the world, including Jews, Christians and Muslims demonstrating against and condemning Israel’s crimes against humanity, and calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. 

On the other hand, South Africa has led a successful campaign to cause the International Criminal Court to issue a request for arrest warrants for Israeli leaders for several war crimes on 20 May 2024[12]. However, as of the time of writing, none have been issued. Instead, the U.S. government has issued threats and sanctions against the ICC and its staff, thus formally and openly dismissing existing International Law and its institutions as ‘irrelevant’ to the sovereignty of both USA and Israel.

In response, global public support for the Palestinian cause has increased dramatically with a particularly vociferous participation by anti-Zionist Jews of the world as well as the youth. Student Movements starting from US Universities have expanded to other countries. Similarly, social media platforms’ level of popular sentiment against Israel has become a major cause for concern to western leaders. Regardless, and as a direct consequence of the genocide in Gaza, the ‘Holocaust card’ has run out of much of its credit, and western media’s credibility is facing a difficult challenge.