1) War with Hamas
Barry Rubin writes about why there will be a war between Israel and Hamas.
And so, Hamas knows that it now has an ally, rather than an enemy, at its back. Moreover, there is no incentive in Egypt–or among its nationalist and Islamist-sympathetic officers–to block arms smuggling into the Gaza Strip. As a result, Hamas is stronger and more confident, and hence arrogant and reckless. It is better able to launch rockets, mortars, and cross-border attacks, and far more eager to do so. Hamas is also able to get longer-range missiles and other new types of weapons.
As for U.S. policy, while supporting some sanctions on Hamas and refusing to deal directly with the group, the U.S. government has not supported overthrowing the Gaza regime, though any serious assessment of U.S. interests show this should be a priority. A policy to destroy Hamas should be part of the war against Iranian hegemony in the region, revolutionary Islamism, terrorism, and instability. Even more, doing so would aid the moribund Israel-Palestinian peace process and keep the Palestinian Authority in power.
But there is no appreciation for these points in Washington. When it comes to fighting revolutionary Islamism, U.S. policy sees the Middle East as a no-try zone.
I would add that the Bush administration deserves some blame for this state of affairs.
Back in 2005 Dore Gold wrote about America’s Hamas Dilemma: Spreading Democracy or Combating Terrorism?
Originally, the realpolitik thinking underpinning the Bush administration’s support for democratization of the Middle East was based on the assumption that democracies are inherently peaceful and will not encourage extremist political systems that might host terrorist groups. Non-democratic regimes need to produce an external enemy as a control mechanism over their populations. What happens if democracy empowers a political movement like Hamas, whose core ideology is based on belligerency, regardless of whether it needs a control mechanism or not?
Westerners engaging in a dialogue with Hamas have also been speaking with the Muslim Brotherhood, the original Egyptian fundamentalist organization, founded in 1928, from which Hamas grew as its Palestinian branch. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has the status of being “illegal but officially tolerated.” Some have observed that voter participation increased in the 2005 Egyptian presidential elections because the Muslim Brotherhood called on voters to go to the polls. Organizations like the International Crisis Group have already recommended that the Muslim Brotherhood be decriminalized and permitted to take a more active role in Egyptian politics. In the Middle East, however, both intellectuals and officials, like Egyptian President Husni Mubarak, have warned against legitimizing the Muslim Brotherhood. A former Kuwaiti education minister reminded his readers in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat in July 2005 that all of al-Qaeda’s terrorism started from the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood.
This was at a time when the administration was openly arguing against the Sharon government to allow Hamas to participate in the upcoming Palestinian elections. Just prior to the election, a Washington Post editorial lauded the openness that Hamas’s electoral participation heralded.
Already, too, democracy is showing its benefits. Faced with the possibility of defeat by Hamas, Fatah has been forced to overhaul the aging and corrupt cadre left behind by Yasser Arafat and install young reformers at the top of its legislative list. Their leader, the Israeli-imprisoned Marwan Barghouti, published a remarkable letter in Palestinian newspapers Friday apologizing for Fatah’s mistakes and asking voters for another chance. Hamas itself is showing some pragmatism: Its newly elected council members supported the election last week of a Christian woman as mayor of Ramallah, the most important West Bank town. A senior Israeli army official recently predicted that if Hamas did win the elections it would continue to curtail attacks on Israel.
The Bush administration prepared a “quartet” statement with the European Union, United Nations and Russia last week that strongly supported the elections and urged Israel to allow voting in Jerusalem. At the same time, the statement reiterated a previous statement calling on Hamas to disarm and recognize Israel’s existence, and it added that the future Palestinian cabinet “should include no member who has not committed”to accept those principles. That was the right place to draw the line. Hamas should be given the chance to become a democratic movement, but Palestinians should understand that any retreat from recognition of Israel will mean the loss of vital international support.
At the time, Soccer Dad took issue with the Washington Post editorial: Post pre-election stress syndrome
It didn’t take long for the Bush administration to acknowledge that it misjudged the Hamas situation, as the New York Times reported:
“I’ve asked why nobody saw it coming,” Ms. Rice said, speaking of her own staff. “It does say something about us not having a good enough pulse.”
Immediately after the election, Bush administration officials said the results reflected a Palestinian desire for change and not necessarily an embrace of Hamas, which the United States, Israel and the European Union consider a terrorist organization sworn to Israel’s destruction. But Ms. Rice’s comments seemed to reflect a certain second-guessing over how the administration had failed to foresee, or factor into its thinking, the possibility of a Hamas victory.
Indeed, Hamas’s victory has set off a debate whether the administration was so wedded to its belief in democracy that it could not see the dangers of holding elections in regions where Islamist groups were strong and democratic institutions weak.
Interesting that a Times reporter would write that last paragraph, given how the Times has largely ignored that very same danger in Egypt.
Subsequently we’ve seen Hamas strengthened and emboldened. It is odd to read articles about a potential rapprochement between Hamas and Fatah portrayed as a necessary step for peace. If winning the election didn’t result in Hamas’s moderating, why would it moderate when it gains even more power as a partner of Fatah? In fact such a rapprochement would indicate that Fatah is moving closer to Hamas rather than the opposite.
2) UNHRC Oh, I see
The UN’s Human Rights Council will be voting on 6 anti-Israel resolutions.
The UNHRC has agreed to send a special rapporteur to Iran. Iran has declined to allow him to inspect the country.
No word if the UNHRC will be taking any action against current council member Bahrain for having its troops fire on demonstrators.
Elder of Ziyon points out that Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) made some changes in how the UNHRC operates.
Solomonia writes that it is no surprise, of course, that the OIC was behind getting Goldstone to investigate Cast Lead.
Given how many OIC members treat their own people, this is just one more example of what a bad joke the UNHRC is.
3) Now you see them …
A New York Times editorial praises the changes going on in Egypt.
The editorial also offers words of caution.
We share the unease of young protesters who made the revolution happen and worry their demand for democracy could be hijacked by the highly organized groups who campaigned hardest for the amendments: allies of the old regime and the Muslim Brotherhood.
This is the only mention of the Muslim Brotherhood in the editorial. Mostly it is the “old regime” mentioned as a possible spoiler.
However a news story finally acknowledges Islamist Group Is Rising Force in a New Egypt
It is also clear that the young, educated secular activists who initially propelled the nonideological revolution are no longer the driving political force — at least not at the moment.
As the best organized and most extensive opposition movement in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood was expected to have an edge in the contest for influence. But what surprises many is its link to a military that vilified it.
“There is evidence the Brotherhood struck some kind of a deal with the military early on,” said Elijah Zarwan, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group. “It makes sense if you are the military — you want stability and people off the street. The Brotherhood is one address where you can go to get 100,000 people off the street.”
Guy Bechor welcomes us to the New Middle East
A terrible thing happened to the Middle East: The only glue that brought together all the sects, religions, tribes, nationalities and minorities – who all hate each other – was Israel, yet this glue no longer works.
Ever since Israel was established, we got accustomed to hearing global experts and the Arabs themselves claiming that Israel is at fault for the Mideast’s sorry state, that the Arabs are preoccupied with the struggle against Israel to the point of having no time for themselves, and that should Israel’s conflict vis-à-vis the Arab world be resolved, cosmic tranquility will sweep through the region, ushering in progress, prosperity and happiness.
This doctrine allowed Arab world leaders to make a living and also allowed Western states to blame us for all the region’s ills. This is the outdated doctrine that still guides Obama’s close associates. For example: The need to press for the establishment of a Palestinian state, as though that would bring stability to the Middle East.
There are those who still will insist that this is the most opportune time for Israel to make peace. Or most critical time.
5) Little terror attacks
An editorial in YnetNews Killing Jews in small doses and ‘limited terror’ is unacceptable
The recent string of terror attacks against Israel may indicate that the Palestinians learned the lesson, and may be engaging in a more sophisticated – yet no less dangerous – terror campaign against the Jewish state.
The murder in Itamar, as shocking as it was, as well as Wednesday’s bombing in Jerusalem were not perceived by the world (and for the time being by Israel too) as “equivalent” to the suicide bombings of the 1990s and 2000s that left dozens of fatalities. As such, the response to them, both in the global media and by the IDF, was limited as well.
This quickly became apparent following the Itamar massacre, with global media largely downplaying the attack. Despite some coverage and international condemnations, the tone and ferocity were far weaker than the response to previous “major” attacks. A similar pattern followed the Jerusalem bombing, with many media outlets burying the story while focusing on other issues, such the Libya campaign or Elizabeth Taylor’s death.