A Risky Bet on Fatah

[U.S. News] Mortimer B. Zuckerman - The brutal Hamas coup is the first Islamic takeover of an Arab country in the past 35 years and the first in that period by military putsch. It was not a conflict waged or won by a majority of the population but one fought by a tiny armed faction with the political will to destroy a fragile government. The fear is that it is a harbinger of turmoil affecting Egypt, Lebanon, and Jordan. The takeover has already destroyed the Mecca agreement mediated by Saudi Arabia between Fatah and Hamas, undermined the moderating role of Saudi Arabia, and sabotaged the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Hamas-controlled Gaza is now an "Islamist emirate," a new power center for Iran and Syria. Gaza is a new location for every brand of radical Islamist from al-Qaeda to Hizbullah. The radical extremists are on the march, and the West is in retreat. Just think how imperiled the West Bank now would be if Israel had gone along with Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton's U.S. plan of several months ago to allow truck convoys carrying Hamas fighters to connect Gaza and the West Bank. Fatah is a broken reed and Abbas is a pathetic figure. At the time of the Gaza crisis, he was about to leave for Qatar where he carries on his multiple lucrative private businesses. He has never proven himself as a leader in easier situations, so why should we suddenly expect him to display strong leadership now? Throwing money at Fatah will not give it a missing spine. Abbas' words are cheap. It is doubtful that he has it in him to be what he should be for the sake of the Palestinians - a strong leader willing and able to take a stand for peace and confront Hamas. The militias and thugs associated with the PLO's 13 security services control Abbas, not the other way around. To cede financial and military assets to an unreformed Fatah is to take the huge risk that they will end up in the hands of the terrorist groups associated with Fatah or eventually in the hands of Hamas, just as they did in Gaza.

2007-07-16 01:00:00

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