Friday, June 15, 2007

Hamastan, Hamastan, Hamastan...

Big up Hamas, innit? Apparently, some people are a little upset about this: these are the people for whom a 'radical' is an elected Palestinian MP, and a 'moderate' is someone trying to effect a putsch. The bulk of those now complaining didn't have much of a problem with the deliberate and sustained efforts by the US and Israel to produce civil war in Palestine, by shipping weapons to Fatah troops, then training their men and sending them into Gaza in the first place. When it started to become clear that Fatah was going to lose this one, Mahmoud Abbas decided to declare a state of emergency and dismiss the elected Hamas-led government not only in Gaza, but in the West Bank (hat-tip). That won't hold: Fatah will have lost all political sympathy in the West Bank by now, and it has certainly lost the entirety of Gaza. Fatah's Preventive Security goons have now fled for their lives. Preventive Security is one of the four Fatah run bases under the charge of an acolyte of Mahmoud Dahlan, whose claims to fame include being one of the most right-wing pro-Israeli Fatah leaders and also being the guy who has repeatedly used Palestinian security services to attack political opponents. He has thus been Washington's point-man in this recent upheaval.

One of the most interesting quotes in the recent leaked UN report on the Middle East is highlighted by David Wearing:

"...the US clearly pushed for a confrontation between Fateh and Hamas -- so much so that, a week before Mecca, the US envoy declared twice in an envoys meeting in Washington how much 'I like this violence', referring to the near-civil war that was erupting in Gaza in which civilians were being regularly killed and injured, because 'it means that other Palestinians are resisting Hamas'."

Well, they don't like it now. Time Magazine's Tony Karon reports on the utter cynicism of the White House spokesperson in all this:

Coming, as he does, from Fox News, Tony Snow is obviously a deeply cynical fellow, but this takes some beating: Asked to comment Wednesday on the bloodbath in Gaza, he answered: “Ultimately, the Palestinians are going to have to sort out their politics and figure out which pathway they want to pursue — the pathway toward two states living peaceably side-by-side, or whether this sort of chaos is going to become a problem.”

Everyone following the conflict in Gaza knows full well that the reason for the violence is not that Palestinians have not “sorted out their politics” — they’ve made their political preferences abundantly clear in democratic elections, and later in a power-sharing agreement brokered by the Saudis. The problem is that the U.S. and the corrupt and self-serving warlords of Fatah did not accept either the election result or the unity government, and have conspired actively ever since to reverse both by all available means, including starving the Palestinian economy of funds, refusing to hand over power over the Palestinian Authority to the elected government, and arming and training Fatah loyalists to militarily restore their party’s power. Unfortunately, after three days of some of the most savage fighting ever seen in Gaza, that strategy now lies in tatters. Fatah is, quite simply, no longer a credible fighting force in Gaza, where it has long been in decline as a credible political force.

He also points out some of the salient political background to Dahlan's operations: like a Palestinian Pinochet in the making, he has been anxious to effect a coup and get backing from the Israelis and Americans. His plans, and those of the US, lie temporarily in ruins. Hamas has won, which means that the forces of coup and pro-Israeli reaction have lost. The bulk of Fatah's activists and supporters will not have approved of the way the lumpen elements around the warlord Dahlan have behaved, and so peace can be made and basic unity restored. Dahlan is now in Cairo, "recovering from knee surgery", and he probably isn't coming back: as Johnny Cash once sang, "the general, he don't ride well any more".