Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Hamas Should Keep Up the Pressure

A Comment by Tony Sayegh

It did not take long and it should have surprised no one. While some innocent souls thought that the Pharaoh in his old age might still have a soft spot for the Palestinians, and that the breaking of the ghetto wall finally made him see the light, the truth was otherwise.

The Pharaoh, like all Arab regimes, doesn't give a damn about popular forces and public anger. He throws hundreds of his own opposition in jail where they are routinely tortured; so why would he be more responsive to the Palestinians?

The truth of the matter is that he, as most opponents and enemies of the Palestinians, was stunned by the audacity, swiftness and determination of the Palestinians in Gaza. However, he allowed the Palestinians in for a couple of days only to absorb the anger and to try to claim some credit for "helping" the Palestinians. Typical behavior of the cowardly Arab regimes when they get cornered. In a way similar to those same regimes who had been cheering for Israel to destroy Hizbullah, having to change their tune a bit when it was Hizbullah who triumphed, while they cowered in their holes.

After only four or five days we saw the real old Pharaoh in action again. His security goons were interdicting Palestinians in their search for food and other supplies and sending them back to the concentration camp. The security thugs were busy resealing the walls of the prison tight, alas working side-by-side with Hamas. How could that be? How could Hamas which toppled the wall and launched this magnificent, biggest jail break in history, be helping reseal it?

The answer lies in an illusion. Hamas thought that the Pharaoh has finally seen the light and that he has no choice but to deal with Hamas to run the crossing; that is why Hamas was cooperating with his forces. Big mistake.

While the old fox bought a few days to calm things down and to order stores in Rafah and Al-Arish closed so that the starving Palestinians can’t find the supplies they came for, he was agreeing to his masters in Tel Aviv and Washington about the need to re-impose Israeli control over the crossing.

While the Pharaoh went through the motions of inviting Hamas and Fayyad to Cairo to presumably discuss how to operate the crossing, the decision has been made for him: Israel will control the crossing according to the same old agreement which Dahlan signed on behalf of the Palestinians. Through European monitors and Palestinian quisling, USrael wants to reassert tight control. Fayyad has been already told, by the Pharaoh, that the Ramallah gang, together with Israel, will be the ones to run the Rafah crossing. So, what is the point of inviting Hamas to Cairo on Wednesday? It is a fait accompli.

Hamas made a mistake by de-escalating public anger and mobilization. It thought that it could work with the Pharaoh, just as it still thinks that it is possible to work with the House of Saud. This should be a lesson: the strength of Hamas comes from the people, Palestinian and other Arabs, not from the regimes.

However it is not too late; Hamas has already said that it will not go back to the old agreement which choked off our people in Gaza. Hamas has also said that if a new agreement is not reached between Hamas and the Pharaoh, then all bets are off.

It was a mistake to deescalate popular momentum; it is not easy to re-ignite it to the same level. There is only one first time break. But it is still possible to continue to challenge the prison wall and to continue blasting it. Let it be guerrilla war of the wall. Every time the Pharaoh plugs a few openings, many more are blasted away. Hopefully pressure on the Pharaoh can be intensified from the Egyptian street while this war of the wall goes on.

Stay tuned, this is far from over.

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