Saturday, January 28, 2006

Hamas, the Mussolini Test and Iran

Here are some excerpts from a detailed article
by Richard Baehr:

...Will Hamas now moderate its views given its new role in government? This is not a tough one to answer.

If the role model is Hizbollah, the answer is no. Radical Islamic parties are driven by their God and their holy book, and a Jihadist mindset. This does not really allow for a lot of compromise. Sure they may say some things to make it easier for the international community to keep writing checks (as former President Carter encouraged them to do). Hamas’ leadership is not dumb, even if they are ruthless murderers.

Look to the founding DNA of the organization. Hamas is not on the scene today because it was needed to fill a social service vacuum (even if this may be a part of the reason for their electoral success). Hamas, since its inception, has existed to end the occupation of Palestine. But unlike Yassar Arafat, who tried at times to finesse the meaning of his desire to destroy Israel by calling for an to end to Israel’s occupation of territories captured in the 67 war (and, wink, wink, from the rest of Israel later), Hamas was always more direct. Tel Aviv was occupied. The Galilee was occupied. Haifa was occupied.

Hamas may now indicate a willingness to deal with Israel in an administrative fashion, as some Palestinian mayors who are Hamas already do, to ensure there is electricity, and water, and perhaps more importantly, to get tax revenues refunded. And there is talk of continuing the ceasefire, which helps Hamas in two ways: allowing them to consolidate their power without Israeli retaliation for any new attacks; and also signaling to the West the new leaf Hamas may be turning over that ensures the financial spigot remains open from Europe...

The Mussolini Test

...Hamas, of course, has been a major contributor to that madness and the near total breakdown of authority. But now it needs an accomplishment, like Mussolini’s supposed ability to get the trains running on time. Passing the Mussolini Test is much easier in the absence of armed opposition.

Hamas has a reputation for enforcing discipline (at the point of many guns) in some parts of Gaza. But now they will have to deal with disgruntled Fatah gunmen and officials, who cannot be thrilled to have lost their power base.

A state of nature consisting of powerful tribes and local militias and gunmen is not a state or a state-in-waiting. So Hamas must fear that it will fail the Mussolini test...


...The most important implication of the Hamas electoral victory may not be in terms of Israeli or Palestinian politics, but with regard to Iran. The recent unrestrained Iranian talk of wiping out Israel and their many years of playing the Europeans for fools with their nuclear program have changed the equation a bit in terms of how the West may choose to deal with their nuclear program. Waiting for the IAEA to recommend that the Security Council consider action against Iran may seem too tame, now that Hamas, another sworn enemy of Israel committed to its destruction, has become its direct neighbor.

I think this confluence of events will free Israel’s hand if it chooses to move militarily against the Iranian nuclear program. There was growing talk of the military option even before Hamas’ victory. But such talk will increase even more now, and if Israel moves against Iran, the reproach from the international community, given the new situation vis-a-vis Hamas, might be a bit more restrained than after the Osirak bombing in 1981, when Israel took out Saddam’s nuclear weapons facility...

You can read the complete article HERE.

Related Link:

Living With Hamas's Victory by Jim Hoagland of the Washington Post.

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