Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Puppeteers Pull Strings in Palestine

Free elections in the Palestinian Territories in January 2006 marked the acceleration of suffering for the Palestinian people. They voted against corruption by Fatah, the party in power. They voted for leaders with a track record of serving the people given Hamas’ success in establishing public health clinics & completing public projects.

However, the surprised world decided to ignore the people’s motivation and isolate the new government before it could get out the gate. In a move worthy of the British in Northern Ireland, resources were conditionally withheld, dangled in front of the now divided Palestinian people. But only one group could realistically get the prize, the party out of power.

For 11 months the situation deteriorated. A summertime bombing ensured significant damage to Gaza’s only power plant. The last few weeks find the Palestinians approaching civil war between followers of the two parties, a now common development in the Middle East’s fledgling democracies.

Since the British aren’t around to pit the oppressed classes against one another in competition for scarce employment, who are the puppeteers? The U.S. and Israel control the purse strings for the Palestinian authority by virtue of their donations or dispensing tax receipts. Access to food, medicines and basic services declined as a result.

Even under a modern day version of economic siege, people have a breaking point. It appears that happened the last several weeks as evidenced by outright violence between Hamas and Fatah.

Listen to the perpetrators of the siege describe the events as if they had no role:

U.S. State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said "He understands that the will of the Palestinian people is that they don't want to see the current situation continue. So he is taking steps that he believes are within his authority to try to resolve the political impasse."

(Never mind the will of the people in electing Hamas overwhelmingly last January. And be sure to ignore the will of the United States and other countries (including Israel) immediately severed all but humanitarian aid to the Palestinians, based on the militants' continued refusal to disavow terror, recognize Israel and accept Fatah agreements with the Jewish state under Yasser Arafat and Abbas. The political situation in the Palestinian territories has deteriorated steadily given the will of all parties involved, U.S. included.)

"We support President Abbas in trying to work through this current impasse, and we certainly hope that the steps that he is taking can lead to a reduction in the violence," McCormack said Monday.

"It's sad to see some of the innocent lives being lost as a collateral effect of the political impasse that you see right now. So hopefully some of the steps that he is taking can lead to a breaking of that impasse and hopefully a calming of the situation in the Gaza."

Never mind the innocent lives lost as a result of withholding funding, taxes and international assistance. Ignore that such violence is the predictable outcome of a divide and conquer strategy started shortly after those “surprising” elections.

So Sean, why are the three fledgling Middle Eastern democracies all boiling, at or near civil war status? What happened to the tonic, the elixir of democracy? Sometimes it has to operate awhile to catch hold. Take the Islamic Republic of Iran. Combative but relatively powerless within his own governmental structure, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently had a Bush like experience after the mid-term elections.

Mr. Ahmadinejad’s party suffered losses to a moderate reform group in Iran’s just completed elections. Will he pay any attention to the results? Will he adjust his behavior? Prognosticators think not with some predicting he will ratchet up his rhetoric. That rings familiar to the many Americans. Messages are sent via votes that elected leaders seem incapable of hearing. Bush and Ahmadinejad may just be two sides of the same coin...

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