Friday, January 27, 2012

27-Jan-12: Reality bites and the Palestinian Arab future is not what it used to be

The double-headed world of Palestinian Arab politics
has gotten one-head more complicated, and that's just the start
[Image source]
We wrote recently about the triumphant tour of Middle East capitals by the "prime minister" of the Hamas terrorist regime, Ismail Haniyeh. His speeches in Ankara and such Arab capitals as Tunis, Cairo and Khartoum were filled with threats of the destruction to shortly rain down on Israel's head and promised "difficult days" for Israel.
"We are saying to the Zionist enemies that times have changed and that the time of the Arab Spring, the time of the revolution, of dignity and of pride has arrived."
But what's actually happening to Hamas, though, is more interesting than their bombastic war talk. Because inside Hamas, and in its immediate surroundings, things have changed, are changing and are certain to lead to even larger changes. Gay Bechor, an Israeli political commentator, lays some of this out in a Ynet op ed article today entitled "Hamas in deep trouble: Op-ed: Despite pompous declarations, terror group faces problems on multiple fronts

Bechor points out that Haniyeh has lately been rousing the crowds with pretentious calls for the establishment of a Palestinian jihadist army of liberation, but reality is imposing some real challenges on him and his organization.

For instance, the mutually-productive alliance of terrorists between Sunni Moslem Hamas and non-Arab, non-Sunni, Shi'ite Iran has come to an end, at least for now. In mid 2011, Iran ordered the Hamas leadership to throw its extremely-well-armed support behind the flailing, blood-drenched Syrian despot Bashar al Assad. But this was more than Hamas was willing or able to do. Consequently, Bechor says,
"the flow of money used by Hamas to pay some 50,000 officials and troops in Gaza has ended. So where will Hamas get money? This is why the organization is engaged in bitter disputes with the Palestinian Authority and Arab League over funds supposedly owed to the group. Hamas was also forced to leave the capital of its external leadership in Damascus. Where will it go now? There were hopes that Jordan will take in Hamas’ headquarters, until the group’s leadership was stunned last week to hear that Jordan is imposing limitations. Jordan’s prime minister made it clear that the country will host senior group figures and their families as “individuals,” banning them from any political activity. Hence, the Jordan option is no longer viable in furious Hamas’ view.
Bechor makes an interesting observation about the Egyptian option:
With the Muslim Brotherhood aiming to portray itself as pragmatic and realistic in the eyes of the world, moving the headquarters of a terror group to Cairo would be an embarrassment. Haniyeh himself visited Egypt and spoke at length about Israel’s demise, yet Brotherhood representatives kept silent, and this silence should worry him. The Muslim Brotherhood now needs to care not for 50,000 people, but rather, for 88 million.
Haniyeh's victory tour was said to be predicated on the changes wrought by the mis-named Arab Spring and the conviction that newly empowered Islamic political parties would embrace Hamas. Not so much, as it turns out. Says Bechor:
We certainly saw lip service, but establishing a Jihad army against Israel? Every Arab state is currently contending with deep domestic problems; this existential trouble dwarfs Hamas’ problems.
Bechor's article also deals with the increasingly complex battle for control and influence within the world of the fractious Palestinian Arabs. The stop-start-stop-again "reconciliation" with Fatah (which Haniyeh opposes). The stop-start-stop-again road to Palestinian elections. And, most troublesome for them, the way in which
the double-headed Palestinian politics has now become tripled-headed: The domestic Hamas, external Hamas and Abbas. Each leadership has its own political agenda and its own senior figures.
And that's before we start to factor the newest edition of the Palestinian Arab national past-time - vicious infighting - into the equation. A well-documented Jonathan Schanzer article, "When Palestinian Politics Get Personal" in latest Weekly Standard lays out the contours of the Mahmoud Abbas witch-hunt to bring down Mohammad Dahlan:
It underscores the fact that Abbas has consolidated power, and that he will abide no challenges. Abbas’s whims bode poorly for the Palestinian Authority, which may now expend more energy settling scores than resolving the long-standing conflict with Israel.
Abbas and Dahlan: "The PA president last week requested
three different countries to freeze fixed and liquid assets belonging
to former Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan amid
ongoing corruption charges" [Source]. Dahlan meanwhile has been
making corruption charges of his own against Abbas and family. 
The whole Weekly Standard article is worth reading for the sharp light it shines on the sea of money the Palestinian Arab leadership has looted from international aid agencies and from its own subjects over the past three decades.

Guy Bechor wraps up his analysis with a glance at the fleeting moment in the sun achieved by the Gazan Palestinian Arabs during the blockade-busting glory days of the last two years.
Now, when the siege is no longer in place [he notes] with the border crossing to Egypt open to people and goods, how will the organization survive on the public relations front? This may be the worst problem faced by a group that lives off anti-Israel slogans and now finds itself crashing against the rocks of reality.
Rocks of reality? Now there's an image to have in mind when the next choreographed, media-coordinated  rock-throwing attack on Israelis appears in your newspaper or evening TV.

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