Wednesday, August 22, 2007
By Ramzy Baroud, Aljazeera.net English
"The rash and self-defeatist behavior emanating from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his close circle in the West Bank cannot possibly be intended for the benefit of the Palestinian people or for their internationally-sanctioned struggle for human rights, freedom and equality. Abbas, and his self-serving Palestinian elites seem hell-bent on exploiting the unfolding Palestinian drama to further cement their status and position, even if such an attitude will lead to the total decimation of any little hope left of recovering denied Palestinian rights.......
Abbas, like every autocratic ruler, understands that any practical application of democracy in the Middle East — as in other parts of the world — must pass the American test, an old lesson that the region was forced to learn time and again. Whatever serves American interests represents true democracy; anyone who dares to challenge these interests is duly ostracized and removed. However, “friendly” regimes, from the US point of view, that fail to exhibit even a symbolic token of a democratic governance are viewed as “moderate”, as opposed to the “extremist” others who could be very much democratic, such as Hamas.
Indeed, Abbas understands the roles of the democratic game very well; well educated in political science and history, he has been immersed in the region’s tumultuous politics for over four decades. While Abbas has the right to deduce his own view of the world, he has no right to apply such deductions to eradicate the historic struggle of an entire nation. His actions are both unethical and unjustified, to say the least. The aging leader and the shady characters surrounding him will go down in history books alongside all the rulers and elites that sided with their occupier and tormented their own people in exchange for worldly profits and shallow status.
While corporate media across the world predictably fails to acknowledge the anti-democratic nature of the Abbas-managed government, Israeli politicians, policy advisers and commentators are hardly discreet about the role they expect Abbas to play: Abbas’ security forces must crack down on any dissent among Palestinians. In fact, Abbas’ apparatus has proved exemplary in meeting these objectives. Thus, the Palestinian leader and his prime minister, Salam Fayyad are being rewarded generously: Tens of millions of US taxpayers’ dollars, tax funds that Israel has illegally held from the elected Hamas government, military training for its weak security forces and, finally, an international platform to provide Abbas with the political validation he needs.
Abbas, in return, is throwing in a few extras, beyond the measures expected from him. A few of his government’s mouthpieces are disseminating inaccurate information to international media equating Hamas to Al-Qaeda terrorists and Taleban militants; some have gone as far as alleging an actual link between Hamas and Al-Qaeda, a charge that can only contribute further to the misery and isolation of Palestinians.
As a reward for Abbas’ active involvement in deepening the desperation in Gaza and widening disunity among Palestinians, he has been granted the privilege of meeting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert once every two weeks, and also the trust and confidence of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her boss. Any attempt at reconciliation with Hamas, which is supported by the majority of Palestinians, at least in the Occupied Territories, would most definitely lead to the withdrawal of some, if not of all of these advantages, a risk Abbas will not take.
But Palestinian disunity is disastrous, not only because it’s a diversion from the struggle for freedom and sovereignty and because it distracts the international community from Israel’s illegal occupations, it also presents Hamas and Fatah with very limited options: Hamas’ isolation will likely strengthen the more radical view among its members, which will make it difficult to find a common ground in the future; Fatah, which is losing its popular support by the day, would have to continue to rely on outside help and initiatives, notwithstanding the hardly promising international Middle East peace conference — aimed at solidifying the support for Abbas against Hamas, or at the revival of the “Jordan option”, linking the West Bank to Jordan through a confederation. Talks about the latter could become terrifyingly real because Abbas cannot maintain control over Palestinians without the active support of regional and international actors, such as Egypt and Jordan.
In the months leading to the November peace conference, Abbas is expected to further demonstrate his trustworthiness to Israel and the US, at the expense of the Palestinian people, who are now denied the only strong card in their six-decade struggle for freedom: Their collectiveness. The day this is no longer possible, Israel’s victory will be complete."