Saturday, June 16, 2007

Hamas / Fatah - What is Going on There?

I will be the first to acknowledge that I have not been following the Palestinian situation with any regularity or depth. My only defense being that apparently there are only so many strife & destruction areas my brain can handle at any one time and Iraq & Afghanistan tend to eat up my attention, leaving a little to peak over and see that no, things have not gotten any better in Darfur.

So with the latest news of further struggles between Fatah fighters & Hamas has driven me back to the news stories I've passed by lately, such as this article on BBC online. What really drew my attention was that the leading US official in the area, Jacob Walles, noted that the fighters overthrowing the elected Hamas government would "receive the backing of Washington," and there is also "speculation that the ban on direct aid could be lifted." Mahmoud Abbas, Fatah leader, is going to swear in an interim Prime Minister on Sunday. The ousted Prime Minister & Hamas leader Ismail Haniya, asked people not to retaliate even while he argued that his dismissal was illegal.

I have much more to read to catch up on this. But please correct me if I've got the basics wrong - there was an election. People freely elected Hamas as their government. A democratic voice led to leaders the US doesn't care for (apparently we only want democracy when they elect the guys we like). Now there is a coup going on (can you give me another word for it?) and the US has stated that we will support those who are overthrowing the democratically elected government by force. What am I missing?

*The BBC has included a useful guide to Fatah / Hamas that is useful to those of us who have let this story fade from our brains far too long.


Blogger moville said...

I think you've got the important parts down just fine there. Fatah is the successor to the Palestine Liberation Organization, the people who did those spectacular hijackings as well as the Munich Olympics massacre in l972. Yasser Arafat headed it until his death and pointed the organization in a mainstream direction, negotiating with Presidents Bush and Clinton the Oslo accords. President Abbas is the head of that group now.
Meanwhile Hamas, an Islamist group irrevocably opposed to the very concept of Israel, provided essential services to ordinary people that Fatah was unable or unwilling to provide and won a lot of cred for those efforts. They contested Fatah for control of the territories last time around, and despite warnings that Hamas would certainly WIN the elections, Condi Rice et al insisted that democratic elections proceed. Hamas being a "terrorist" organization that refuses to recognize the existence of Israel, the Palestinians would NEVER vote for people like that. right?!
Of course, Hamas won, and of course, the US promptly worked to cut off all aid to the Palestinians. In other words, we told the Palestinians they had to have elections, but then informed them they made the wrong choice, so they will now get their punishment--no salaries, no aid money, no nothing.
in other words, we have here the usual diplomatic fiasco we have come to expect from the bushies. We managed to look like hypocrites and incompetents simultaneously. 'nuff said.

11:46 AM  

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