Why It's Dangerous to Talk to Armed Islamists

[The National-UAE] Michael Young - You know an idea is making headway when the New York Times finally picks up on it. The head of Hamas' political bureau, Khaled Meshaal, was afforded space in the paper recently. Hamas' primary goal is to become the leading interlocutor on all matters related to the Palestinians. Meshaal knows that once the West engages Hamas it will undermine the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, a key step in allowing Hamas to fulfill its dream of taking control of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinians. No wonder Assad wants the U.S. to deal with Hamas. What the movement gains, Syria and Iran gain too, as both have substantial sway over Hamas decision-making. Is that an objective Western states should help to advance? Recently the British government resumed a dialogue with Hizbullah at a moment of dangerous polarization in Lebanon before elections in June. Forget that a dialogue existed several years ago and led nowhere; this latest step implied that Hizbullah's Lebanese political adversaries, who are closer to positions the British government advocates, were losing ground. In fact, engaging Hizbullah made that outcome more likely. The foolish decision caused an angry reaction, irritating the U.S. especially, which may be why the UK has now backtracked. The writer is opinion editor of the Daily Star newspaper in Lebanon.

2009-05-15 06:00:00

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