Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Politically, Hamas May Have Won

Analysis by Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani

CAIRO, Feb 3 (IPS) - Despite declarations of victory by Israel, the military assault on the Gaza Strip failed to achieve its stated aims, many analysts say. The assault, and even its exceptional brutality, may only have vindicated the notion of resistance among the Arab public.

"The steadfastness of the resistance in Gaza in the face of Israeli military power has resuscitated the idea of armed resistance," Gamal Fahmi, political analyst and managing editor of opposition weekly Al-Arabi Al-Nassiri told IPS.....

"Victory in war isn't determined by casualty rates but by the achievement of war aims," Abdelhalim Kandil, political analyst and editor-in-chief of independent weekly Sout Al-Umma wrote Monday (Jan. 26). "And Israel failed to achieve its stated aims after more than three weeks of punishing Gaza."

He said Israel's ‘unilateral ceasefire’ - for which Israel received nothing in return from the Hamas-led resistance - was unprecedented in the history of Israeli war-making. "The resistance called its own ceasefire one day later, but not before demonstrating that its capacity for launching rockets at Israel remained intact," Kandil wrote.

Gamal Mazloum, former Egyptian Army general, said Israel's stated war objectives changed more than once mid-campaign. "Over the course of the conflict, Israeli officials went from saying that the goal of the operation was 'removing' Hamas, to 'degrading' its rocket-launching capacity, to 'teaching Hamas a lesson’," Mazloum told IPS. "But the unexpected steadfastness of the resistance forced them to conclude operations without achieving any of these. Now Israel says its chief aim is to 'cut off weapons smuggling' to Gaza.".....

Several commentators agree that both campaigns had the same objective - namely, the obliteration of Hamas. "Both the Dayton Plan and Israel's recent war aimed - and failed - to remove Hamas from power in Gaza," said Mazloum......

"There was an unprecedented explosion of popular rage in the Arab world, which put most Arab governments under tremendous pressure and could have led to serious regional escalations," said Mazloum. "The blatant carnage also eventually led to pressure on Israel by the international community to stop the aggression."

Both domestically and regionally, he said, Hamas was already reaping the fruits of what amounted to a political victory. "Both in Gaza and the Fatah-controlled West Bank, the people have rallied around Hamas as defender of the Palestinian cause," said Mazloum. "And on the regional level, Hamas proved its staying power and showed it cannot be simply removed from the equation. Egypt, for one, will now have no choice but to deal with Hamas as a political reality." According to Fahmi, the most notable outcome has been a resurgence of the notion of armed resistance to Israel - after some 30 years of fruitless negotiations......"

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