Monday, June 18, 2007
Hamastan and Fathia
As warned, the quasi-not-quite state of Palestine is no more. Hamas has managed to defeat Fatah and conquer the Gaza Strip. Hamas is celebrating by looting, murder, imposing Sharia (Islamic Law), and outlawing gunmen with masks unless they shoot at Israelis. Fatah has responded by storming the few Hamas outposts in the West Bank in an attempt to prevent footholds. The average Palestinian in Gaza is trying to come out of the situation in one piece. Some are even fleeing to Israel where it is possible to apply for citizenship. This is in stark contrast to the neighboring Arab countries, excluding Jordan, which do not grant citizenship to Palestinian refugees.
The conflict between Hamas and Fatah has brought down the government. The Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has fired Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and dismissed the government. Haniyeh is ignoring this and has become the de facto leader of the Gaza Strip (Hamastan). The government over in the West Bank is now full of Fatah, independents, and other minor parties (Fatahia).
The majority of countries are backing the Fatah-led government in the West Bank. The United States is even offering aid to Fatah in an effort to destroy or diminish Hamas. Iran and Syria are the two major exceptions. Jordan has gone as far to blame unnamed “regional forces” (Iran and Syria who fund Hamas) for the violence. With a Palestinian population above fifty percent, Jordan has cause to be alarmed.
Israel is weighing its options but it may be forced to act earlier than it wants. A Hamas-allied group launched rockets from Lebanon into northern Israel. Catholicgauze doubts the ability of the United Nation forces in Lebanon to prevent any more attacks. However, the new defense minister of Israel is former Prime Minister Ehud Barak. He withdrew Israeli forces from southern Lebanon. I doubt he would be he would be in favor of any major on the ground action which could result in Israeli holding any Lebanese territory.
As for Hamastan there are three possible choices with several combinations. Israel could invade itself, allow Fatah to invade, or have Egypt crush Hamastan in exchange for handing over the ghetto which is the Gaza Strip. The ball is once again in Olmert's court.