Wednesday, 27 September 2006

Egypt loses patience with Hamas

Maclean's is reporting that Egypt has sent a letter to Hamas - which has been acknowledged - demanding that they form a unity government with President Abbas and release the Franco-Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit.
The Egyptian demand came in a "strongly worded letter" from Egypt's powerful intelligence chief Omar Suleiman to the Syrian-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, they said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the letter.

The letter also demanded Hamas co-operate fully with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in forming a national unity government, a step that has been stalled by the militant group's refusal to form an administration that recognizes Israel.

The message reflected increasing impatience with Hamas by Egypt, which has been mediating for months, trying to reach a deal on a prisoner swap for the release of Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit, who is being held by Hamas-allied militants in Gaza.

An adult has arrived on the scene! I'm not sure that even Egypt can grap Hamas by the scruff of its neck and haul it into reality, but they've got as good a shot as anybody else on the planet. It would take some pretty intense pressure over an extended period of time to have any lasting result, it seems to me. Cognitive therapy always works better with a willing participant.

Up until now, I think the majority of the Arab world was perfectly content to let the Palestinians moulder. In the last 60 years, they have only paid lip service to solidarity with the Palestinians, who were never very popular with their Arab brothers anyway. A perpetually needy, "oppressed" Palestine enabled them to turn the eyes of their own discontents toward Israel, instead of looking toward reform at home. A festering Palestine was highly useful.

It is Nasrallah and Ahmadinejad who shook up this cozy arrangement. The Arab states are deeply worried about an aggressive Iran actively seeking to become a major player beyond its borders. Muslim solidarity would not be able to handle that kind of strain. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan in particular can only view with alarm Persian incursions through its unruly proxy Hezbollah.

Egypt finds itself in the position, not for the first time, where its interests coincide with Israel's. A strong Israel, undistracted by Palestinian troublemakers, could put Hezbollah in its place better than anyone else, particularly since UNIFIL is obviously not going to accomplish anything meaningful.
Members of the international force sent to Lebanon under the terms of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 have said that they cannot set up checkpoints, search cars or trucks, homes or businesses, or detain suspects.

Commanders of the force, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, or Unifil, say the resolution places Lebanese sovereignty paramount - meaning they first must be authorized by the Lebanese Army to take such actions."

So Egypt has obviously decided that new tactics are necessary. Hamas is "studying" the letter. I imagine they're in a state of shock. If this doesn't wake them up, only total collapse of the Palestinian Authority to the point that both Fatah and Hamas are rejected by the Palestinian people in favour of someone willing to deal with Israel could bring about any real change.

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2 comments:

Fern said...

I've turned into quite the cynic in my "old" age, especially when it comes to Israeli-Arab peace, but I'm all for Arab countries demanding that Hamas act like rational human beings. Especially when their demands don't come with any strings attached that involve things that Israel supposedly has to do first before Hamas has to act like a RHB.

Janet said...

I'm considerably older (yes, I saw your birthday post...) and that much more cynical. I have very little hope that anything at all will break into Hamas' violent fantasy world. But this was certainly one of the more interesting items to come trucking along the news wire in a long time. Every now and again, paradigm shifts actually do happen, just to keep us off balance.

 

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