Friday, January 27, 2006

DavosWatch: HamasTalk


(image via washingtonpost)

Senator McCain, speaking on torture at Davos, says, interestingly (via TheGuardian):

"'What I was concerned about and continue to be concerned about is interrogation methods,' McCain, R-Ariz., told The Associated Press on the sidelines of the forum.

"'Now, if they want to keep them in Guantanamo or Des Moines, Iowa, that's not a critical issue to me. What is critical is that we adhere to treaties that we are signatories to and observe basic human rights and obey the law that we just passed concerning cruel and inhumane and degrading treatment.''"

No doubt, What the Hamas win in the Palestinian Authority elections yesterday means to stability in the region is the question all the heavyweights in Davos, Switzerland are asking themselves. And, what's more, what appears to be the disintegration of Fatah, the moderate --perceived on the Muslim street as: puppetish -- Third Way. (Furrowed brow of concern) Amidst the deteriorating situation in the territories, the FT reports:

"A financial crisis will push the Palestinian territories into chaos in a matter of days if Israel and international donors cut financial ties with the Palestinian Authority following the surprise election win by Hamas, James Wolfensohn, the international community's special envoy to the region, warned on Friday.

"'The crunch time is next week,' said Mr Wolfensohn, the former head of the World Bank. 'The Palestinians are basically bankrupt.' He said there was no money to pay salaries of Palestinian security forces or civil servants. 'If you do not have the money to pay 135,000 Palestinians you are going to have chaos.'"

"European diplomats on Thursday indicated that the EU could maintain its role as the PA�s biggest donor if Hamas desisted from acts of violence."

Enter: Iran; Ahmadinejad, ironically, banned Beethoven today (Was there any musical genius more into the service of Universal Brotherhood than Ludwig Van?). Cash rich from the recent spike in oil prices, they are in the perfect position to give comfort the terrorist organization. Does this mean now that Ehud Olmert, in the grip of an campaign against the disgustingly opportunistic "Bibi" Netanyahu (Averted Gaze), falls back into an adversarial Sharon-Arafat deathroll with Hamas? Clearly, there can be no negotiations with Hamas unless they relinquish their adolescent refusal to recognize that which is already a reality, namely-- the state of Israel. But something tells The Corsair that Iran won't let Hamas pursue the road to peace. Still, curiously, a recent poll shows that half of Israeli's are willing to at least talk -- if not negotiate -- with Hamas. Could this provide political wiggle room for the perhaps overly idealistic Labor bloc?

There is one smidgeon of good news to come out of this -- that Hamas actually participated in a democratic election, and that the election went off without significant glitches. The two stated goals, by the way, of Hamas are: 1) To eliminiate the state of Israel, and, 2) To replace Israel with Islamic Law, not democracy. Nice, right? So, cynically, marginal headway has been made against the second tenet of Hamas if they are participating in a democratic election. Perhaps that will be History's judgement of the meager accomplishments of the presently useless Mahmoud Abbas -- he brought Hamas to the table. And now he can exit stage left.

Now it is Condi Rice's turn on the stage of the Middle East theater. But Rice operates in the worst of all possible political situations vis-a-vis gaining concessions from either side. Iran's smarmy President Ahmadinejad --doesn't that low-grade piece of ass smirkof his just make you want to reach into the teevee and paste him one? -- will, no doubt, extend the olive branch of friendship to the leadership of Hamas. The insertion of Ahmadinejad, a man already in the thick of international opprobrium over his stated goal to acquire nuclear technology, into the mix may, not inconceivably, be the proximate cause of a unilateral strike by Israel.

Israel is in a volatile campaign season (Israeli elections are notoriously volatile; switching momentum and direction virtually overnight, as the security situation changes); any pressure exerted from the United States on Prime Minister Ehud Ohlmert directly, in this moment of Israeli exigency, will be perceived as sheer puppetry and, without fail, be exploited by that slimy hawk Benjamin Netanyahu. (Exaggerated cough suggesting feigned detachment)

So, in fine, Secretary Rice's hands are tied in direct negotiations with Israel until after their elections take place and diplomatic candor is once again restored. And yet, while not interfering in Israeli's internal politics (Which any issued ultimatum would be perceived as), we must somehow -- somehow -- lead Hamas in the direction of negotiation with Israel, a nation that it has pledged to destroy, against Iran, who will, no doubt, come carrying blank checks and emotional appeals to Islamic brotherhood at the ready. (After a considerable pause ..) Hamas now has to chose between Israel and Iran; and, no doubt, we can see where the momentum is now, no? We certainly don't envy Dr. Rice's position.

But back to Davos, kids. According to the Washington Post:

"A scheduled discussion of the elections at the elite forum was titled 'A turning point for Palestinian statehood?' _ but few at the somber gathering seemed to expect such an outcome anytime soon, given the rise of a group that has been dedicated to Israel's destruction and is widely considered, in Israel and the West, to be a terrorist organization.

"Former U.S. peace negotiator Aaron Miller said Palestinian attitudes reflected 'the power of the weak, which is a very formidable power. (It's) the power ... to assume that 'Since we're under Israeli military occupation, we're the weakest party, we can acquiesce to just about any form of behavior including terror and violence.'

"'I see no way, given the circumstances that exist on the ground, that Israel and the Palestinians can negotiate a conflict-ending agreement' anytime soon, said Miller, a public policy scholar with the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars."

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