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FILE PHOTO: Fatah and Hamas officials wait for a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and representatives of Palestinian groups and movements as a part of an intra-Palestinian talks in Moscow, Russia February 12, 2019.

Pavel Golovkin/Pool via REUTERS

Rival Palestinian factions try to make nice in Moscow

Hamas and Fatah, rival Palestinian factions with a bloody history, were in Moscow on Thursday for reconciliation talks.

Why is this significant? The jihadists of Hamas and the secular nationalists of Fatah are Palestine’s most powerful factions. They fought a war in 2007 that left Hamas in control of Gaza and Fatah running the occupied West Bank. Reconciliation would be crucial for establishing any stable Palestinian state in the future.

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A convoy maneuvers near the Israel-Gaza border, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Israel, January 24, 2024.

REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Are Israel and Gaza considering a cease-fire?

Israel and Hamas have agreed that in principle an exchange of Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners could take place during a month-long cease-fire.

The glimmer of hope came after a month of mediation efforts led by Qatar, the US, and Egypt in recent weeks. The talks have focused on releasing Israeli hostages in return for a break in hostilities, the release of Palestinian prisoners, and more aid to Gaza.

However, there is reason to doubt this deal will come to fruition.

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Houthi fighters and tribal supporters hold up their firearms during a protest against recent U.S.-led strikes on Houthi targets, near Sanaa, Yemen January 14, 2024.

REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

Playing with fire: Is retaliation the new normal in the Middle East?

The region was already a tinderbox, and now the adversaries are playing with matches.

Tehran takes aim: Iran launched an unprecedented – and unprovoked – attack on nuclear-armed Pakistan. The missile and drone attack was aimed at Jaish al-Adl, a Sunni militant group operating along Pakistan’s border and marks a massive escalation from Iran’s previous military exchanges with the group as Iran continues to retaliate for the suicide bombing that killed 86 people this month at a memorial procession for Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani. Pakistan has vowed that the attacks will have “serious consequences.”

The attack comes the day after Iran launched ballistic missiles into Iraq and Syria with claims it was targeting Israel’s “headquarters of spies” and other places used to plan the bombing. The last two days have been Iran’s most direct show of force since January 2020, when it responded to Washington’s killing of Suleimani with missile strikes on US troops in Iraq. Ten of Monday’s missiles landed near the US consulate in northern Iraq, reflecting the escalatory risk involved with such strikes.

And don’t forget about Israel: Palestinian militants on Tuesday fired 25 rockets out of Gaza at the Israeli city of Netivot, which lies about six miles from the Gaza border. Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system generally intercepts rockets, and although there were no casualties, the attack exacerbates fears of Hamas’s enduring threat.

The attack is being used by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s war council as an excuse to backtrack on rhetoric that Israel is shifting to a more targeted campaign in Gaza. But many were already skeptical of this amid escalating attacks in North Gaza. More likely, the announcements and troop withdrawals aimed to bolster the economy and placate international criticism – particularly in the US, where Sen. Bernie Sanders has called for a Tuesday night vote to require the Biden administration to report on Israel's human rights practices.

However, Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel’s far-right national security minister, has said that the attack in Netivot “proves that conquering Gaza is essential to realizing the war’s goals,” and that Israelis should prepare for the war to continue for months as support for retaliating for Oct. 7 and rescuing the hostages remains high domestically.

The rub: Whether it's Iran, the US, the Houthis, Israel, or Hamas, all sides see their attacks as retaliatory, which could quickly evolve into a cycle of escalation.

Ian Explains: 2023: A good year for warmongers
Ian Explains: 2023: A good year for warmongers | GZERO World with Ian Bremmer

Ian Explains: 2023: A good year for warmongers

2023 was a rough year for people who want peace in the world, whether it was the war in Ukraine, Gaza, or the one Americans seem to be fighting against each other.

Looking ahead to 2024, one phrase may be coming back to you: The wheels are coming off.

As Ian Bremmer explains, for years, he has been warning that our GZERO world – characterized by a lack of global leadership and the geopolitical conflict that grows as a consequence – was gathering speed. That acceleration is only increasing today while channels of international cooperation – multinational institutions, traditional alliances, and global supply chains – are losing their ability to absorb shock.

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Overlooked stories in 2023
Overlooked stories in 2023 | GZERO World with Ian Bremmer

Overlooked stories in 2023

In 2023, a war in Ukraine got worse and new one erupted in Gaza, but there also were many other stories that didn't capture the world's attention.

2023 has been a rough one, hasn't it? From a war in Ukraine that lurched into its third year with mere kilometers of territory traded on the battlefield to a new chapter in an old conflict in Gaza with no end in sight, it's enough to make a person want to dig a bunker in the backyard. Or at least get into yoga...

In this episode, Ian Bremmer takes stock of the state of the world in 2023. Be warned: no sugar shall be coating said thoughts! Then, we'll bring you a fascinating conversation with sociologist Zeynep Tufekci about the one thing everyone is overlooking in the AI conversation. Hint: it has nothing to do with Elon Musk (thank goodness!).

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Iran is protecting itself through restraint in Israel-Hamas war, says Kim Ghattas
Iran is protecting itself through restraint in Israel-Hamas war, says Kim Ghattas | GZERO World

Iran is protecting itself through restraint in Israel-Hamas war, says Kim Ghattas

Will Iran use Hezbollah fighters to help Hamas in Gaza?

On GZERO World, Ian Bremmer spoke with Beirut-based journalist Kim Ghattas about the rising tensions on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, as Israeli Defense Forces and Hezbollah fighters exchange daily rocket fire and thousands of people on both sides flee their homes. Like Hamas, Hezbollah has an eradicationist ideology that calls for the destruction of the state of Israel, a position that could be untenable if the border clashes continue to escalate. Hezbollah is Iran’s most powerful proxy, but Ghattas doesn’t think it’s in Tehran’s interest to use the militant group to further Hamas’s goals.

“For 44 years Iran has claimed that is a supporter of the Palestinian people,” Ghattas explains, “I think Iran has come to realize that its use of the Palestinian cause has bumped up against the limits of what’s possible.”

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Will Israel's mistakes with Hezbollah be repeated with Hamas?
Will Israel's mistakes with Hezbollah be repeated with Hamas? | Kim Ghattas | GZERO World

Will Israel's mistakes with Hezbollah be repeated with Hamas?

Is Israel doomed to repeat the mistakes from its Lebanon invasion in Gaza?

For Lebanese people, it’s difficult not to see the current war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza through the lens of Israeli occupation. On GZERO World with Ian Bremmer, Beirut-based journalist Kim Ghattas explains why the history of Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon is incredibly relevant today: it led to a two-month siege where the city was cut off from food, water and fuel and killed 17,000 people. Now, a similar situation is playing out in Gaza and Israel is at risk of repeating the mistakes of the past. Ghattas reminds Bremmer that despite the thousands of civilian casualties, Israel failed to accomplish its strategic goals during the Lebanon invasion and is at risk of the same in Gaza.

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Israel, Hamas, and Hezbollah: Fears of escalation grow
Israel, Hamas, and Hezbollah: Fears of escalation grow | GZERO World with Ian Bremmer

Israel, Hamas, and Hezbollah: Fears of escalation grow

Could clashes with Hezbollah on the Lebanon border lead to a wider war in the Middle East?

How likely is it that the Israel-Hamas war escalates throughout the Middle East? On GZERO World, Ian Bremmer sits with Beirut-based journalist Kim Ghattas for the on-the-ground perspective from across Israel’s northern border with Lebanon. With clashes between Israeli defense forces and Hezbollah, the Iran-backed militant group, increasing on the border and Houthi rebels attacking commercial cargo ships in the Red Sea, tensions in the region are extremely high. Lebanon has a long history of Israeli invasion, which has a huge impact on how people there view the events in Gaza, where over 18,000 people have been killed since October 7th.

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