The Problem with Mahmoud Abbas

(Boston Globe) Jeff Jacoby - The outcome of Sunday's election was never in doubt. Mahmoud Abbas, Arafat's longtime accomplice - the two men co-founded Fatah, the largest terrorist faction within the PLO, in 1965 - was always going to win in a landslide. Abbas, who spent decades at Arafat's side and who has been unyielding in his refusal to crack down on Palestinian gunmen and bombers, cannot be what Bush meant when he insisted that Palestinians "elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror." So why has the administration bent over backward to support the election and given its blessing to Abbas? Abbas is sometimes described as a "moderate" opposed to terrorism, but his opposition is purely tactical. He has no moral problem with blowing up buses and cafes, he simply thinks such methods are, for now, counterproductive. Abbas is no moderate. His election is not a step toward peace. What was true in Afghanistan and Iraq is true in the PA as well: without regime change, freedom and democracy are impossible. The dismantling of the corrupt Fatah autocracy is essential to Palestinian reform. President Bush got it right in 2002: The Palestinians need "new leaders...not compromised by terror." They still do.

2005-01-12 00:00:00

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