Rumblings of a truce in Gaza came to fruition this week, wherein Hamas and Israel agreed to a halt in fighting in order to exchange hostages and prisoners. The ceasefire was to be for 4 days, with Hamas releasing 50 hostages and Israel, 150 Palestinian prisoners. Israel would also allow at least 200 trucks for humanitarian aid into Gaza. Brokered by Qatar and Egypt with the aid of the US, some view the deal as a potential opening to a broader ceasefire or peace.
In the broader Middle East, the US had been engaging in skirmishes with Iranian proxies in Iraq and Syria, retaliating with airstrikes. There was intel that the Wagner Group, an unofficial paramilitary of Russia had been preparing to supply Iranian proxies in the region with air defense equipment. More recently, the Houthi rebels in Yemen targeted a Japanese ship and attempted to attack an American ship. This could prove harmful to the Pivot to Asia, wherein the US has to return to the Middle East when the strategic threat remains in the Asia-Pacific.
In other news, the EU has been plotting its own course for defense spending, independent of reliance on the US. In other words, Brussels is seeking to enhance Europe’s defense industries but also export equipment. This would be beneficial in which the EU continues to step up aid to Ukraine, in lieu of American domestic political paralysis halting potential aid to the country.
The UK, a part of one of the Pillars, has been contributing to humanitarian aid in the region too via Egypt. Germany, another corpus of the EU Pillar, has signed a deal on gas and renewables with Nigeria, one of Africa’s most populous and also the top oil-producing country on the continent. Nigeria would supply Germany with LNG, while Germany invests in renewable projects in the country. This is helpful as the EU continues to move away from Russian gas, and the coming winter means more energy is spent.