Monday, July 2, 2007

Subverting democracy

Pious words about promoting democracy in the Middle East are belied by the long history of US machinations

A Great Piece
By Joseph Massad
Al-Ahram Weekly

"As the enemies of the Palestinian people have been attacking them on every front.....the latest attack came from Palestinian collaborators with the enemy: the Fatah leadership abetted by the United States....American policy has not been limited to the overthrow of liberal and democratic governments in the region but of actively supporting if not planning and abetting dictatorial rule in its place and training and supplying those rulers who have instituted regimes of extreme repression and tyranny. Its current role in subverting Palestinian democracy and imposing a corrupt collaborator class on the Palestinian people is therefore anything but novel.

.....The Palestinian situation is indeed the rule and not the exception. The only exception that the Middle East offers to world politics is the disproportionate imperial interest that its oil has attracted, and the unprecedented international support given to its Jewish settler colony, the two being intrinsically connected. It is not the Arab world that is exceptional but American strategy in the region and the anachronistic nature of its Jewish settler-colony. The resistance of Western pundits and their Arab servants to learn this is their resistance to any analysis that aims at resisting imperial rule.

.....In the case of the Palestinian putschists (or Lahdists, as they are now known in the Arab world) and their US sponsor, however, their projection of all their crimes onto Hamas is a conscious strategy that is part and parcel of their overall strategy to destroy Palestinian democracy.

.....Central Palestine was renamed the West Bank and declared as part of Jordan as a step on the way to Arab unity and in support of the Palestinians. Opposition to the annexation was portrayed by the king as opposition to Arab unity and Palestinian liberation. This is precisely what the Fatah putschists and their president are hoping to achieve in the West Bank today, except that the unity they are seeking is an ideological one between the Fatah putschists and their American and Israeli and Arab sponsors.

The recent Fatah-executed putsch has been sometime in the making. Abbas, the Palestinian Pinochet, has been groomed for his new role for at least a year and a half -- longer, if you add the period when the US imposed him as a prime minister against Yasser Arafat, whose cooperation with US and Israeli plans was deemed insufficient......These included the economic siege and strangulation imposed by the US and the EU on the Palestinian people; Israeli re-invasion of the West Bank and Gaza and the kidnapping of scores of Hamas parliamentarians and ministers, and the burning of the prime minister's offices by Fatah thugs, who also attacked individual ministers and actively sabotaged the work of the ministries; and the active help of the Egyptian and Jordanian intelligence services who are the major consultants and advisors to Abbas at the behest of the Americans, and sometimes, the Israelis.

.....Open preparation for the putsch was in full swing with the soliciting of US military aid and training (which was received), Israeli help in facilitating these efforts (also generously offered), and the provision of an Arab diplomatic cover (always readily available). The plan, whose details I discussed in an article in Al-Ahram Weekly last November (see "Pinochet in Palestine" in the 9-15 November 2006 issue) is now finally being executed with all the fanfare fit for Augusto Pinochet himself.

The Fatah putschists, in the tradition of all unelected Arab regimes who have also staged their own coups against democratic forces in their societies over the last six decades, have declared their democratically elected enemies as the "putschists" who are the ones leading the Palestinian people into a "dark" abyss! Pinochet was not kinder to Allende.....Indeed the Palestinian putschists have outdone Israel and the United States in their fabricated accusations against Hamas.... Abbas's rhetoric, no doubt dictated to him by Condy Rice and Ehud Olmert, is matched by the rhetoric of Palestinian "intellectuals" on the payroll of Oslo and their Lebanese supporters (who are in turn on the payroll of Hariri Inc, and Al-Nahar newspaper)....

....As for the illegal coup government convened by Abbas with the technocratic Salam Fayyad as prime minister, it, like its Chilean predecessor, will receive all kinds of aid, economic, military, diplomatic, and ideological. Let us not forget that the "Chicago school" technocratic economists, disciples of Milton Friedman, were the ones given charge of the Chilean economy under Pinochet and almost brought it to a halt. It is the Chilean example which popularised the term "technocrats" in government, which would become commonplace after the 1980s and which the Palestinian people are promised now as their salvation.

.....In the meantime, Hamas members, including elected officials, have had to go into hiding in fear for their lives with hundreds being rounded up by Israel and Fatah. Reports of disappearances are rife. And all this is fully endorsed by the "international community" in the name of supporting "democracy." Indeed the very rhetoric used by Abbas and his Fatah junta is borrowed from US rhetoric in the "war on terror," especially the linking of Hamas to Iran.

.....Perhaps Mahmoud Darwish's recent poem in support of the coup published on the front page of the Saudi newspaper Al-Hayat, can be explained by the monthly checks he receives from the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority; and he is not alone.....That the "secularists" are the ones collaborating with theocratic Israel to destroy democracy coded as "Islamism" is represented as a force of Western modernity and enlightenment. What is lost on Darwish and his ilk is that it is those "dark forces" of Islamism in Palestine that are the ones defending democracy.

..... What we are witnessing is nothing less than the overall collapse of Palestinian secular example of resistance to the Israeli occupation. The only antidote to these forces of true darkness is to continue to support and mobilise for Palestinian democracy and to expose the anti- democracy coup leaders and their apologist intellectuals for what they are: collaborators with the enemy."

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