Beyond Gaza: the humanitarian fallout of Middle Eastern conflicts

Concerned about unrest both at home and abroad amidst multiple growing crises stemming from the Gaza conflict, King Abdullah II of Jordan warned that the Middle East “is on the brink of falling into the abyss.”

The Israel-Hamas war and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza dominate headlines, while other crises in the region are escalating. The Gaza conflict is complicating relief operations, exacerbating crises across the Middle East, and increasing fears of further escalation. This conflict is negatively impacting the humanitarian situation in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen.

Egypt has repeatedly blocked its border, preventing international aid from reaching Palestinians in need. Cairo is protecting its border to prevent a flood of refugees, which would burden the Egyptian government's capacity to support up to 1.1 million Gazan refugees. Egyptian officials also want to avoid admitting terrorists and believe that an empty Gaza would weaken Palestine’s claim to statehood due to the lack of a permanent population. These concerns are so pressing that Cairo has maintained its refusal even after offers of aid money and concessions from the US and Gulf Arab states.


After witnessing the situation in Gaza, Jordan is concerned that West Bank Palestinians will be forced into Jordanian territory. King Abdullah has warned Hezbollah and Iran not to interfere in the worsening crisis, which he believes could escalate and engulf the entire region. His Majesty has stated that accepting refugees from Gaza would be a “red line.” He opposes accepting refugees on similar grounds as Egypt and fears that Jordan, with its small population of just over 11 million, could become the new Palestinian State.

Lebanon is one of the countries most likely to wind up in a full-scale war with Israel due to the presence of Hezbollah, an Islamist militia designated as a terrorist organization. As a political party, Hezbollah holds significant power in Lebanon and has a core anti-Israeli ideology. Hezbollah, along with Hamas, Iran, Syria, the Houthis in Yemen, and various militant groups in Iraq and Syria, considers itself part of the “axis of resistance.”

Following the October Hamas attack on Israel, Hezbollah began intermittent shelling and rocket attacks on Israel, leading to Israeli casualties and displacement. The international media has largely ignored these events due to the scale of suffering in Gaza. Israeli retaliatory fire has also caused casualties in Lebanon, adding to the death toll.

Hezbollah is using the Israel conflict to rally Sunni militia leaders in Lebanon, though many resist due to the Shia-Sunni divide. This situation could potentially trigger a civil war within Lebanon, a country already facing a severe humanitarian crisis due to economic collapse, food shortages, poverty, and lack of access to services. The combination of an Israel-Hamas war, an Israel-Lebanon war, and an internal civil war would create a situation where millions of people urgently need aid.


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Iraq is another country where the humanitarian situation is already dire, with over 1 million displaced people. Iran-backed groups in Iraq are now threatening this already delicate situation. Groups calling themselves the Islamic Resistance (Muqawama Islamiya) have been initiating drone and rocket strikes against US forces in various locations, including Erbil, Kurdistan, and across the border in Syria, adding to the suffering. If fighting escalates, the need for aid will skyrocket, and global aid agencies may find themselves spread thin or unable to help.

The humanitarian situation in Yemen is already dire due to nine years of war and instability. Displaced people number 4.5 million, and 21.6 million are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection. Hunger and malnutrition are persistent problems, with tens of millions living on the brink of famine. The Houthis continue to attack vessels on the Red Sea, prompting airstrikes from the US and coalition forces. They are recruiting and absorbing other militias, expanding their reach. An escalation of war with the West or internal conflict would push the country to total collapse.


Iran is perpetuating the crisis by continuing to support terrorist groups like the Houthis, Hezbollah, Hamas, and Shia militias in Iraq, Yemen, and Syria. In contrast, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) — comprising Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, and Bahrain — has divided positions on the Israel-Gaza war.

Some members, like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain, have moved toward normalising relations with Israel. Qatar, however, remains a close ally and economic supporter of Hamas, prolonging the war and worsening Gaza's humanitarian situation. Despite offering various forms of help, Qatar's support for Hamas undermines its commitment to peace and improving the humanitarian situation.

Across the entire region, there are currently 117 million displaced people. Forty million face food insecurity, and more than 100 million face threats to their physical security. The escalation of the Israel-Hamas conflict is diverting attention from these other crises and complicating the provision of aid. If the conflict escalates and engulfs other countries, these numbers could multiply.

Is there any way out of this terrible situation? Discuss below.

Antonio Graceffo, PhD, China-MBA MBA, is a China economic analyst teaching economics at the American University in Mongolia. He has spent 20 years in Asia and is the author of six books about China. His writing has appeared in The Diplomat, South China Morning Post, Jamestown Foundation China Brief, Penthouse, Shanghai Institute of American Studies, Epoch Times, War on the Rocks, Just the News, and Black Belt Magazine.

Image credit: Pexels


Showing 2 reactions

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  • Maryse Usher
    commented 2024-06-30 13:42:31 +1000
    Very informative. The reluctance to call out destructive ideologies must be based on fear of retribution.
  • Antonio Graceffo
    published this page in The Latest 2024-06-27 22:58:14 +1000