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Al-Maliki's Party Calls for Boycott of Israel; Nasrallah Calls for Arab summit; Widespread Protests in Arab World
From a Tuesday, December 30, 2008 entry on Informed Comment a blog run by Juan Cole
Israel pursued "all out war" on Hamas in Gaza on Tuesday, as the death toll rose to 360, with wounded at over 1000. Already in the morning on Tuesday, 10 Palestinians had been killed.
AP reports that the Islamic Mission Party (Da'wa) of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki called on all Muslim countries to cut off relations with Israel in response to the air strikes on Gaza. Egypt and Jordan have formal peace treaties with Israel, but several other Arab countries have informal relations with it, such as Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
Hizbullah leader Hasan Nasrallah , according to al-Hayat reporting in Arabic, addressed an enormous crowd of thousands in the south Beirut Shiite slums on Monday afternoon in which he called for an urgent Arab summit on the issue, which he said some were attempting to stop. He also called for a third Intifadah or popular uprising. Nasrallah toned down his attacks on the government of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt for not removing the checkpoints that keep Gazans bottled up in Gaza. He had called for massive crowds to pour into Egyptian streets to protest Egypt's compliant attitude toward Israel. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit defended the troops at the Gaza border as guardians of Egypt and said they were capable of taking care of Nasrallah if necessary. Aboul Gheit strongly implied that Nasrallah is an Iranian agent seeking to stir up trouble for non-Arab purposes. Egypt as a relatively secular military dictatorship deeply fears Hamas in Gaza and Khomeinism in Iran as fundamentalist religious ideologies that, if they took hold in Egypt, might lead to substantial instability there.
Beirut, courtesy AP
AP adds, "In the southern Lebanese port city of Sidon, around 3,000 people also staged a demonstration, many of them chanting slogans insulting the leaders of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia for perceived complicity with Israel." Sidon is Hizbullah territory.
AP says that in the largest rally in Egypt, 3,000 Egyptians protested, mainly Muslim Brotherhood. The military regime in Egypt greatly curbs popular rallies, and the crowds would likely have been much bigger without these security restraints.
The Taliban in Afghanistan called on all Muslims to unite and wage war against Israel.
Farnaz Fasihi reports from Beirut on the building rage in the Arab public toward their political leaders, who have been complaisant toward the Israeli blockade of and strikes on Gaza. The implication is that the Israeli air raids are helping delegitimate moderate Arab governments and so destabilizing the Middle East.
A rally against the Israeli strikes on Gaza held in the northern city of Mosul in Iraq was itself attacked by a suicide bomber on Sunday, who killed one civilian and wounded 16 others. The rally was mainly attended by the Iraqi Islamic Party, which is part of the pro-American Nuri al-Maliki government in Baghdad. From the point of view of Sunni fundamentalist vigilantes, the IIP is just being hypocritical, since it is indirectly working hand in hand with Israel by working closely with the US, and so is itself implicated in the bombings of Gaza. Intra-Sunni conflict may intensify as the provincial elections approach on Jan. 31.
The BBC rounds up Arabic press reaction to the Gaza crisis.
Gershon Shafir examines the bad fit between Israeli policy goals in Gaza and the methods the Olmert government is deploying in an attempt to attain them.
Aljazeera English reports on the further Israeli airstrikes on Gaza: