Saturday, January 28, 2006

Hamas and Fact on the Ground

Call me an optimist, but I actually think that the recent development with the Palestinian Legislative Council is a good thing. There is absolutely no reason to be fearful about Hamas electoral victory. Much of alarms that generated both from the Left and Right are the failure to see thing as it is – to see the reality instead of the illusion. I agree with Dave Price at Dean’s World that “between incompetent, corrupt terrorists and somewhat more honest, less corrupt terrorists. Frankly, given their options, I think they made the right choice.”

Before we go on, we need to see the real situation on the ground prior to January 26, 2006. I find headline such as this, “Hamas win heralds new reality” (BBC), ridiculous. It is not a new reality; it is a same old reality. Hamas electoral victory changed nothing, it only makes thing clearer.

Fatah (and the Palestinian Authority controlled by Fatah) was not a negotiation partner – at least not a viable one. I am not questioning their willingness to negotiate or desire to compromise. It is the ability to deliver that is in question. It is delusional to think that Fatah had control of the situation on the ground. It never had any control of the Palestinian territories and it certainly never had any control over the political and military actors within the Palestinian territories – to include it own factions. Therefore the whole peace process involving Fatah was an absurd idea. It is akin to business negotiation, but instead of negotiating with the majority stock holders, one negotiates with the minority stockholders. Fatah lack the ability to deliver peace – so peace with Fatah in charge was wishful thinking.

With Hamas in control, the situation is closer to reality in the Palestinian Territories than it was before. Hamas was the entity that controls the situation on the ground (politically and military) – it is naturally that they should be in charge. Their ascendancy allows for more realistic assessment of political situation and allows the US and Europe to arrive at more realistic foreign policy decisions. This is especially true for Israel. Israel now knows exactly what it is dealing with – clear, concrete, and without ambiguity. So whatever it is that Hamas decide to do, it is easier to counter. If Hamas decides to moderate it position, one can guarantee that it can and will deliver its end of the bargain. If it decides to escalate the conflict, there is an identified address for Israeli Hellfire missiles. The fact that the controller is now in the light and not in the shadow is a good thing.

The last few years, Israel military options were limited. It could not strike the Palestinian Authority after a suicide attack. Since the entity (PA) is not the direct author of those attacks. And when attack PA, such as destroying PA police stations; it was condemned by the world. The only viable military option for Israel was striking Hamas which was illusive. This time, striking PA itself is an option.

Of course, I was merely describing the worst case scenario – not what will likely happen. The reason I am optimistic is because I believe that Hamas entry into politic will limit it severely. Hamas political platform was political governance. Hamas asserts that Fatah was corrupt and incompetent, and that Hamas can govern more effectively. It must now prove it to the electorates or loose the next Legislative Council election. Hamas will soon find out that governing is not an easy task. It is one thing to criticize; it is another thing to actually deliver. Therefore, if Hamas can govern wisely and effectively, it does not matter who is in charge. Hamas leadership did not anticipate their own victory; therefore I doubt that they have a plan to govern the Palestinian territories. So Hamas either has to adjust quickly – which will result in realistic and pragmatic policies; or the problem of Hamas will be a temporary one.

This has an impact on Hamas policy toward Israel. I doubt that Hamas will change its charter and rhetoric – for instance the destruction of Israel. But it will certainly reconsider its military option and weight it more carefully than it did before. Hamas is radical, but not irrational. It would not waste its military resource in a fruitless confrontation with Israel – especially a confrontation that it knows it will loose.

The electoral victory of Hamas will likely cause a split within its rank – between the leadership in exiles and the leadership in the Palestinian territories. Facing with the reality of governing, the leadership in the territories will be more pragmatic. Living in exiles, the leadership in Syria will stay true to its idealistic and radical vision. This split will come as it did within Fatah.

2 Comments:

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11:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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Billig WoW Gold being wishful thinking.

12:19 AM  

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