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A setback for the Bush doctrine in Gaza
The dramatic rout of the US and Israeli-backed Palestinian militias in Gaza by forces loyal to Hamas represents a major setback to the Bush doctrine in Palestine. EI co-founder Ali Abunimah examines how ever since Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections in the occupied territories in January 2006, elements of the leadership of the long-dominant Fatah movement, including Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his advisors have conspired with Israel, the United States and the intelligence services of several Arab states to overthrow and weaken Hamas.
Ever since Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections in the occupied territories in January 2006, elements of the leadership of the long-dominant Fatah movement, including Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his advisors have conspired with Israel, the United States and the intelligence services of several Arab states to overthrow and weaken Hamas. This support has included funneling weapons and tens of millions of dollars to unaccountable militias, particularly the "Preventive Security Force" headed by Gaza warlord Mohammad Dahlan, a close ally of Israel and the United States and the Abbas-affiliated "Presidential Guard." US Deputy National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams -- who helped divert money to the Nicaraguan Contras in the 1980s and who was convicted of lying to Congress in the Iran-Contra scandal -- has spearheaded the effort to set up these Palestinian Contras. (This background has been extensively detailed in a number of articles published by The Electronic Intifada in recent months). Abrams is also notorious for helping to cover up massacres and atrocities committed against civilians in El Salvador by US-backed militias and death squads.
Two recent revelations underscore the extent of the conspiracy: on 7 June, Ha'aretz reported that "senior Fatah officials in the Gaza Strip have asked Israel to allow them to receive large shipments of arms and ammunition from Arab countries, including Egypt." According to the Israeli newspaper, Fatah asked Israel for "armored cars, hundreds of armor-piercing RPG rockets, thousands of hand grenades and millions of rounds of ammunition for small caliber weapons," all to be used against Hamas.
From the moment of its election victory, Hamas acted pragmatically and with the intent to integrate itself into the existing political structure. It had observed for over a year a unilateral ceasefire with Israel and had halted the suicide attacks on Israeli civilians that had made it notorious. In a leaked confidential memo written in May and published by The Guardian this week senior UN envoy Alvaro de Soto confirmed that it was under pressure from the United States that Abbas refused Hamas' initial invitation to form a "national unity government." De Soto details that Abbas advisers actively aided and abetted the Israeli-US-European Union aid cutoff and siege of the Palestinians under occupation, which led to massively increased poverty for millions of people. These advisors engaged with the United States in a "plot" to "bring about the untimely demise of the [Palestinian Authority] government led by Hamas," de Soto wrote.
A setback for United States and Israel
The core of US strategy in the Southwest and Central Asia, particularly Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, and Lebanon is to establish puppet regimes that will fight America's enemies on its behalf. This strategy seems to be failing everywhere. The Taliban are resurgent in Afghanistan. Despite its "surge" the US is no closer to putting down the resistance in Iraq and cannot even trust the Iraqi army it helped set up. The Lebanese army, which the US hopes to bolster as a counterweight to Hizballah, has performed poorly against a few hundred foreign fighters holed up in Nahr al-Bared refugee camp (although it has caused death and devastation to many innocent Palestinian refugees). Now in Gaza, the latest blow.
Wise leaders in Israel and the United States would recognize that Hamas is not a passing phenomenon, and that they can never create puppet leaders who will be able to compete against a popular resistance movement. But there are no signs of wisdom: the US has now asked Israel to "loosen its grip" in the West Bank to try to give Abbas a boost. Although the Bush doctrine has suffered a blow, the Palestinian people have not won any great victory. The sordid game at their expense continues.