Monday, June 18, 2007

Your fine: "Bow to God"

"Hamas has moved to restore law and order in Gaza, including putting traffic cops at busy intersections to direct traffic. ... To go from masked, gun-toting, rebel militant to whistle blowing traffic cop doesn’t seem like a very thrilling step up to me," notes Charles Levinson from Gaza.

Nothing follows.


Blogger desert rat said...

Hezzbollah tactics, to a "T"

Patience and discipine.
Fatah didn't have it.

Hezzbollah does
Hamas seems to.

6/18/2007 04:23:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

Hamas has been unable to govern for the past year in a coalition with Fatah. Their chances of governing now with no "legitimate" partner are slim to none. Further, I just don't see that they have the inclination to make the traffic flow smoothly or make the trains run on time.

One can ask "why now?" Why did Hamas choose this time to attack and attempt to control Gaza? There is no simple and obvious answer that I can see.

There are various theories making the rounds regarding the needs of Iran and Syria that attempt to answer this question (See and the Israeli press online.) If this action is part of an Iranian plan then there is much more to come this summer.

With the advent of Barak as defense minister in Israel things may change quickly. There are rumors, that have been denied, that he is readying plans to enter Gaza and destroy Hamas. He has many scores to settle, although his most hated enemy is beyond the grave.

If the IDF were to enter Gaza and severely damage or destroy Hamas that would put a crimp in any plans that Iran might have and would take the initiative away from the Islamists. We'll see what the summer brings.

6/18/2007 10:20:00 PM  
Blogger Sparks fly said...

An interesting comment heard today on Hugh Hewitt was that Hamas and Fatah are just playing good cop bad cop with us.

The joke goes like this: we decide that Hamas is the bad cop and arm and train Fatah; then when Fatah gets all they can from us they turn around and divide what they receive from us with Hamas. Ha Ha Ha. Lots of fun!

And the pictures I've seen do seem to have a staged look to them. The solution would be to round up all the Fatah members outside Gaza by telling them we are going to give them something and then tie them up and send them into Gaza under whatever duress it would take to get the job done. Then we watch and see if Hamas shoots them or welcomes them. It looks like a proverbial win/win situation to me.

6/18/2007 11:03:00 PM  
Blogger Barry Meislin said...

Well, it would give Gaza drivers more than a bit of an incentive to stop at red lights, use their turn signals, and, um, give right of way.

Hey, maybe....

6/18/2007 11:36:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

If it is a game of “good cop vs. bad cop” in Palestine then it sure seems to be working. It looks like Operation Trough is being launched to reward the guys playing the part of Vichy collaborators:

From the blog Missing Links ( which is something of an alternative Juan Cole site that specializes in translating articles from the Arab press. The following is a quote from an article in Al-Quds al-Arabia:

[We] learned from sources working for NGOs in Palestine yesterday that they have received from the USAID organization a request for them to present large-scale project proposals for financing [by USAID] in the West Bank on an accelerated basis. According to these sources, USAID ...requested, less than 12 hours after the appointment of Dr Salam Fayadh to form an emergency government, ideas for huge projects to be carried out in the West Bank, on condition that these projects be capable of showing quick results in the life of people in the West Bank and that they involve large numbers of Palestinian workers. The sources told [us] that these are [supposed to be] projects in which it will be apparent that there is large-scale American funding for improvements in the life of the people of the West Bank, and that this [American connection to the quick improvements] should be readily apparent to the eye and tangible on the ground....

The sources said what is being asked of them is to convince the people of the West Bank that they are fortunate having the government of Fayadh and the decision of Abbas to form this government, in contrast to Hamas which controls Gaza.

Concerning the possibility of carrying out any projects in the Gaza Strip, sources who asked not to be identified by name said they are being told it is not allowed to let even one dollar reach the Gaza Strip.

The sources said the USAID office in Tel Aviv will be busy with formulating details for this today and in the days to come. The reason these need to be projects with short-term tangible effects to influence the results of the elections Abbas and his handlers hope to call soon.

Traders are denying the rumours that the price for gold plated bathroom fixtures has blown through the roof as a result of Operation Trough. But the question is: Do the US and the EU really think that the average Arab is impressed knowing their government is being flooded with welfare checks by the US or EU? Surely the average Arab would ask what the US and EU are expecting in return?

Call me a simpleton but politically Hamas are going to win big on this one. Just think what would happen if Al Qaeda started cutting checks for Mitt Romney's campaign?

6/19/2007 01:51:00 AM  
Blogger El Jefe Maximo said...

I wouldn't be so sure that Hamas cannot govern Utopia. Of course they haven't been able to for the past year, because like the Bolsheviks, they were concerned wtih (1st) getting supreme and sole power. There's no down in not being able to govern because you can blame the misery on the other side, and convince some dummies into supporting you just to see an end of the squabbling.

Now that they have obtained, at least in Gaza, the goal of a one party state, it will be interesting to see if Utopia's right.

I don't know if I buy the good cop/bad cop idea either. Fatah and Hamas have always been two different gangs, and I really don't think they have a program that acknowledges the other beyond wiping it out.

As for Fatah being Vichy, maybe. I don't think that will do them any harm in the short run. They're going to get access to scads of cash, the better to buy off dissent, and buy the means to crush it on the West Bank. The US and EU will hold their collective noses while Fatah crushes Hamas and anything even resembling dissent (the Palestinian democracy experiment is so oooover). The Israelis will probably give them, for awhile, whatever info they have on Hamas. As for whether Fatah is are anything like Vichy for long, I doubt it. I don't think they have the organizational skill, long run, to make much of a go of anything.

The Israelis may go into Gaza, but why? If Hamas plays rocket games, Israel cuts off the gas, electricity and water more than they have already, and uses Gaza as an artillery/air bombing range. The Egyptians have no interest in seeing a Hamas state make a go of it, soHamas has no friend on any border. Gaza's an ungovernable, unfeedable slum. An Israeli ground invasion would let Hamas back into the political game besides cause the Israelis some casualties.

The question left is what Hamas will do now ? I think they're trapped, and will look for means of stirring the pot and lashing out.

Short run though, I think Hamas's capture of Gaza is a win for Fatah

6/19/2007 04:42:00 AM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

First you said

I wouldn't be so sure that Hamas cannot govern

and then

Gaza's an ungovernable, unfeedable slum.

There are several reasons that H can't govern Gaza. They have no real friends, only Syria and Iran. Bringing in suitcases of cash illegaly over the border is no way to run a, whatever Hamastan is. Syria and Iran don't care about stability in Hamastan. Their goal is for H to attack Israel and keep their bad acts off the front pages.

I remember reading a quote about the Taliban before the US invasion of Afghanistan: The Taliban ruled Afghanistan like a village. Hamas has no ability or inclination to develop democratic institutions. Their only model for rule is based on their Islamic view of the world. I don't see how it can work, especially given their refusal to compromise sufficiently to gain aid.

Most likely they will resort to the one thing they do know how to do: attack Israel.

This article at Debka suggests that this is all part of a larger plan by Syria and Iran. This opinion piece by Caroline Glick, in its first section, also says that Hamas' action are part of a larger plan by Syria and Iran to destabilize Lebanon and attack Israel.

If that's true then there is more to come this summer.

6/19/2007 09:53:00 AM  
Blogger Dr. Ferris said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6/19/2007 12:27:00 PM  
Blogger Dr. Ferris said...

The Palestinian people are powerless pawns, used by regional terrorist gangs in a power game to coax and/or extort funds from global political players. Right now Fatah, which is affiliated with the old, secular, Marxian PLO, is losing support to the pro-Iranian, radical Muslim Hamas. Since the old terrorists don't want to give up their power to the new terrorists, the new terrorists are killing them all off.

Whether the US or even the EU funds either side is immaterial. The important sources of aid are the Russian government under Putin and, by proxy, the Iranians (and to a lesser extent the Syrians). Putin wants to punish the US for toppling the pro-Soviet puppet regime in Iraq, and for interefering in Ukhranian politics.

One need only go so far as to look at the cornucopia of weapons that Hamas has gotten their hands on. Virtually every one of them is of Russian make. The same is true in Afghanistan and especially Iraq - the explosives that terrorist groups use in Iraq, for example, comes from Russia via Iran and Syria, and some of the most advanced AT weapons the Russians have, such as the RPG-7V2, plus specially made, cheap IEDs with machined casings.

Basically, the old Left hasn't gone away - they've put out their worldwide terrorism business up for bit, and Hamas has won the anti-Israel contract. Hamas is just trying to impress their employers at the moment.

6/19/2007 12:27:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Hamas, in Gaza, now having accomplished all the military goals that they are likely to achieve, will go quiet on the southern front in much the same fashion that Israel’s northern border has been calm since the war last summer. In the end what military option does Hamas have anyway? The doctrine of 4GW is limited to defeating occupying forces. The moment Israel withdrew from Gaza it turned the conflict back to the third or second generation and Hamas does not have a whiff of an offensive option in such a war. They may in their wildest dreams slow down an Israeli advance back into Gaza but the Israeli’s aren’t that stupid. The futility of launching more glorified bottle rockets from Gaza into the desert is clear and would only play into Israeli and Fatah hands.

No all the military options are in the West Bank where Hamas still has formidable forces and popular support – at least in the cities. Their likely military strategy will be to either make the colonies untenable with mortar fire, raids and cutting off roads forcing Israel to retreat or, more radically, to destroy the whole concept of the PA (outsourcing Israeli occupational duties to Palestinians) and force Israel to fully reoccupy the West Bank and face the full wrath of united Palestinian 4GW forces.

But in Gaza and in the wider Arab world Hamas’ main task will be political. Due to the sheer impossibility of actually running Gaza (Peter Ueberroth would struggle to make Gaza a success) Hamas will try to succeed at a few targeted projects to show the viability of their organizational model. Their main opponents will not be Israel but instead their autocratic neighbors, Jordan and Egypt, who clearly recognize the threat a Hamas success in Gaza would pose to thier own regimes.

Because that is what it all comes down to, Hamas represent a new, call it a third way, between the two very unappealing models to choose from if you what to run an Arab state. The first is the autocratic, corrupt but usually Western-friendly style of the Arab dictators such as we find in Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Libya, etc which in Palestine would be Fatah/PLO. In the Cold War these would be roughly analogous to the authoritarian dictators we so loved. The other model is obviously militant Islam represented by Al Qaida and the Taliban and their various offshoots in which an ideological furor blinds all reality in much the same way that Communism used to and all they are able to deliver to their people is death and misery.

Hamas and Hezbollah to some extent play the role of that the Social Democrats played during the Cold War who compromised by incorporating the egalitarian values of socialism while remaining comfortably within the wealth producing locomotive of capitalism, while at the same time rejecting the extremist utopian, reality-denying aspects of Communism. Look for Hamas, much as Hezbollah already has, to attempt to harness the universalist aspects of Islam to push towards a new ethic of humility and competence in local governance while trying to stay within the global framework of capitalism and at leat semi-democractic, while being constrained from going too far towards sharia law and other absurdities by the example of the Wahhabi extremists.

We see an analogous tripartite situation in Iraq. There the three major players are: the collaborators, playing the role of puppet authoritarians, who work directly with the Americans; Al Qaida who are murderous thugs obviously playing the Stalinist commie role; and the Sunni insurgent groups playing the middle role of Social Democrats, who are fighting injustice on the one hand while on the other hand recognizing the dangers of the extremists. Now in Iraq the two Islamist groups are in a bloody standoff. It mirrors in some ways the standoff between the early Bolsheviks and the Social Democrats.

To continue the Cold War analogy, the situation in Palestine somewhat mirrors what occurred in Latin America during the conflict with the Soviets. The US, while happy to accept Social Democrats in Europe where the Soviet threat was quite serious, were loath to have to deal with them in their own backyard were profits were the main concern and the Social Democrats just wanted to raise wages. In Iraq, where the situation is so grave that ignoring reality is no longer an option, the moderate Islamists are becoming allies. In Palestine, where fluctuations in the waves of reality are still allowed due to obsessions about Israel -- fantasy still reigns and only the authoritarians are allowed to have power.

In the end a healthy Arab society would be one that swung somewhere between a toned down version of the autocrats and the moderate Islamists, much as in modern Europe we find Social Democrats and Liberals fighting it out, albeit on the electoral battle field. Al Qaida should be fought wherever it exists jsut as Communism was. But many allies will be won in the fight against Al Qaida by recognizing that some of the injustices claimed by the moderate Islamists are valid and need to be dealt with.

I guess what I am saying is that in the end you have to do what General Petraeus is doing in Iraq and bring the Muslim Brotherhood types on board and turn them loose on the Wahhabis. In that case it might be a little too soon to write off Hamas.

6/19/2007 02:23:00 PM  
Blogger El Jefe Maximo said...

Hmmmm, you do have a point utopia.

I suppose "govern" is a relative term. I meant that Hamas could remain in the saddle and keep the streets in Gaza relatively free of dissenters and the people cowed. Whether it can do more than that, I seriously doubt.

6/19/2007 03:48:00 PM  

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