After a week of rockets and missiles crisscrossing in the skies over the Gaza-Israeli border, a cease fire has been agreed between Tel-Aviv and the Hamas administration in Gaza. This was despite a bomb detonating on a passenger bus in Israel, close to the Ministry of Defence. It was the first such blast in six years.
It had been feared that Israel would have had to launch a ground assault, with huge losses expected among the civilian population. The ceasefire brokered by the US and Egypt allow both side to save face. Hamas can claim to have attacked mighty Israel and survived, whereas Israel can claim to have stopped the rocket attacks through the threat of overwhelming retaliation. Although the halt in violence has been welcomed, there still exists no framework for restarting peace talks.
Many have pointed to the election of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt as a determining factor in bringing the violence to an end, with Cairo keener to at least be seen to support the Palestinians in a way that Mubarak seldom was. The Cairo agreement has been tempered, however, by Hamas demands that the continuation of the ceasefire is conditional on the opening of the borders on the Gaza strip, something Tel Aviv is unlikely to countenance.
Britain joined France, Germany and Italy in recognizing the Syrian National Coalition as the sole legitimate representative of Syria. Although a blow to the Assad regime, it is unlikely to alter the situation on the ground. Anti-Regime rebels dealt themselves a blow as one of the largest jihadist rebel groups refused to join the latest attempt to form an umbrella group, which would be better able to coordinate military actions against Assad’s still formidable forces. Also this week a Syrian defector who had previously worked in military intelligence, has claimed that China is providing the Assad regime with listening devices and phone tapping bugs. As so often in the conflict, the claims are unverified.
Nigeria has earmarked 600 troops to join in an intervention in Mali if the operation gets the green light from the UN. Algeria has been massing forces near its border with Northern Mali, where a coup this March led to the collapse of government power and the creation of a brutal Sharia state.
Credit ratings agency Moody’s downgraded France, citing “persistent structural economic challenges”. The new government of President Hollande plans to push ahead with a socialist inspired program of legislation, even as the Eurozone slides back into recession. Meanwhile EU leaders again failed to reach agreement on the latest Greek bailout. the FTSE closed down, while the price of gold rise on release of the news.