Thursday, June 21, 2007

In search of justice in the Middle East

Ali Abunimah, The Chicago Tribune, 21 June 2007

"......Some have portrayed, Hamas' takeover of Palestinian Authority security compounds in Gaza as a "coup." But many Palestinians do not view it that way. In January 2006, Hamas decisively won legislative elections, giving it the right to form an administration. The US, despite its rhetorical support for democracy, decided to crush Hamas rule, imposing sanctions that have harmed ordinary Palestinians in the hope that Hamas would be forced out.

When it won the elections, Hamas had already observed a one-year unilateral truce with Israel, and had suspended the suicide bombings against Israeli civilians that had made it notorious. It tried to enter mainstream politics through the front door, to play by the rules of the game, but was undermined at every step. The bitter conclusion for many Palestinians is that the US is not interested in supporting real democracy, and will intervene relentlessly to overthrow leaders it does not support, regardless of the will of the Palestinian people.

The militias that Hamas took on and defeated in recent weeks were particularly hated in Gaza because they had abducted, tortured and killed many Hamas members and were widely seen as thoroughly corrupt. It so happens that these militias received arms and funding from the United States and had vowed to take on and defeat Hamas in a violent showdown, overturning the result of the election.

We have seen this strategy before. Does anyone remember the Nicaraguan Contras? Is it a coincidence that one of Israel's most ardent supporters, US Deputy National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams, who illegally channeled money to the Contras, has been the architect of the US strategy to support anti-Hamas militias?

Despite the power-sharing deal Fatah and Hamas signed in Mecca last February, key Fatah leaders refused to place their militias under the control of an independent interior minister. He resigned in frustration, and the US continued to funnel in weapons......"

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