Friday, October 27, 2006

America's new proxy, Palestinian Fatah..and why it's a mistake

One of the oldest sayings when it come to strategy is `the enemy of my enemy is my friend.'

And it's generally true - unless the enemy of your enemy is also your enemy, might demand an impossible price for some very limited assistance, and constitute a strategic error of major proportions.

Kind of like using a shotgun to deal with a splinter in your hand - it's the wrong tool for the job and the cure might be worse than the disease!

I'm convinced that this is the new position the Bush Administration is taking regarding Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah.

In the last month, we've seen a major racheting up of the clashes between the elected Hamas government of the Palestinian Authority and the armed wing of Abbas' Fatah. We've seen President Bush and Condi Rice lionize Mahmoud Abbas, reiterate their call for a second Arab Palestinian state, appear at pro-Palestinian functions in Washington, block congressional legislation designed to cut off most American aid to the Palestinians for the very good reason that there's little or no accountability on where the money is spent, provide training, fresh arms and ammunition to Abbas private army of terrorists, Force 17.

On the other hand, we've seen Iran and Syria increase their support militarily and financially for Hamas, providing money, arms and tactical training.

Abbas went public today that `the time of dialogue is ended' as far as a unity government is concerned. Both Abbas and Hamas have been gathering forces in the others' territory, with Abbas ordering the deployment of thousands of Fatah gunmen and PA policemen in the streets of the Gaza Strip and Hamas marshalling troops in Judea and Samaria.

There have been a number of rumors floating around about Abbas making an attempt dissolving the Hamas government, and of a `Black Saturday' battle between the the two factions.

It's obvious that we're looking at the beginnings of a proxy war with the US backing Abbas and Fatah and Iran and Syria backing Hamas.

Even assuming Abbas wins (something that's by no means certain), it's a severe mistake for the US to back a dog in this fight on several levels.

First of all, we should make no mistake that an American attempt to destroy a popularly elected Arab government, no matter how loathsome, racist and violent it might be does not go unnoticed by the Muslim world, and feeds into the Islamic fantasy world of Zionist driven conspiracies and Crusader interference.

Second, even if Abbas wins, he's going to want a reward that the US in no position to guarantee.

A democratic, prosperous peace loving Arab Palestinian state next door to Israel might have worked at the time of the Oslo Accords, when people were prepared for a new start and a whole generation of Palestinians hadn't yet been poisoned and brainwashed by their mosques, schools and media. At this point, it's not going to be possible for years. And `moderate' Abbas, who's graduate thesis at Moscow University was on how the Holocaust was a myth and who was along for the entire Arafat ride has done nothing to make it so.

The best deal the Palestinians could expect at this point in terms of a settlement with Israel is something considerably less than Arafat turned down at Camp David.

Unless the US is planning to attack, invade and defeat Israel, deport the surviving Jews elsewhere and hand over all of Israel to Abbas and the Palestinians, there's no cultural, historical or economic basis for a viable second Palestinian Arab state - which means that `Palestine'will remain an economic basket case for the forseeable future.

The main `export' of Palestine for many years now has been terrorism, along with sidelines of weapons smuggling, prostitution and human trafficking, and drug sales. People reared on that lifestyle are not exactly going to have much incentive to change. Some goombah used to carrying the romantic aura of a `freedom fighter' along with his AK47 and making a comfortable living smuggling or shaking down shopkeepers is not going to go to work at the Palestinian equivalent of McDonalds anytime soon.

In addition, one thing Fatah has proven itself efficient at is corruption. The Palestinians themselves estimate that at least 60% of the humanitarian aid that was supposed to go to the Palestinian people ended up being diverted and stolen. Other estimates are even higher.

Part of the reason, aside from the basic venality of the Palestinian leaders is that the Palestinians clans and `families' have first call on the loyalty of their `soldiers' and affiliates in an almost feudal sense, and any loyalty they might have to a centralized Palestinian government is based strictly on patronage, criminal fiefdoms and territory and insider deals. Arafat bought their loyalty by parceling the spoils out and it's a given that Abbas is going to have to do the same.

Also, if we help someone like Abbas depose the Hamas government, we will be committed to helping an Abbas led state survive against the will of a majority of its own people, with all the baggage that implies, something is guaranteed to come back and bite us at some point just as it has done elsewhere.

The majority of Palestinians are already Islamist and anti-American, as proven by the recent elections. Imagine how anti-American they'll be if we're helping to support a dictator they'll view as a tool of the Zionists and Crusaders!

Abbas, of course, will have to deflect the frustration with the corruption, the lack of freedom and the economic dysfunction just as Arafat using all those weapons we've given him and those soldiers we're training for him in a war against the hated Jews..which puts everything back to square one again, except for those Israeli and Palestinian civilians unlucky enough to be caught in the crossfire.

The US needs to think very, very carefully about this course of action. It strikes me as a lose-lose situation no matter what, and I think we'd be much better off simply admitting that supporting a second Arab Palestinian state was a mistake and an obstacle to real peace in the region.

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