Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Against "Throwing Good Money After Bad"

Since the days of Arafat, we have been waiting for the 'moderates' to take matters into their hands, disempower the radicals in the West Bank & Gaza, demilitarize the gangs, warlords, and militias, and establish a monopoly on the use of violence; in short, for the Palestinians to have their 'Altalena' moment and earn international recognition in the family of civilized nations.
Sadly, Arafat never seized the moment when he still had the opportunity, preferring to divide his people so that he could continue pulling the marionette strings at his discretion. With his death and the ascension to power of Mahmoud Abbas, hope abounded that finally a true moderate would take action against all the divergent militia and terror groups, foremost among them Hamas.
But Abbas always had excuses for inaction. As Michael Oren points out below, Fatah has squandered most of the funds and good will provided by the U.S. and the international community over the past 14 years. Furthermore, Abbas could not assert himself when his party actually was in control of the Palestinian government. What should make us believe that 18 months after losing power to rival Hamas, that he now has any ability whatsoever to rein in the forces of radicalism and anarchy? Well-intentioned as he may be, he has proven to be an impotent leader with little capacity to garner grass-roots support.
david brumer

Fatah Isn't the Answer
Michael Oren
from the Wall Street Journal
June 20th, 2007

The green flags of Hamas are unfurling over Gaza and the Fatah forces trained and financed by the U.S. have ignominiously fled. Fears are rife that Iranian-backed and Syrian-hosted terror will next achieve dominance over the West Bank and proceed to undermine the pro-Western governments of Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and the Gulf. To avert this catastrophe, the U.S. has joined with the Israelis and the Europeans in resuming the flow of hundreds of millions of dollars in financial aid to the PA under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas, and accelerating talks for the establishment of a West Bank Palestinian state.
But the policy ignores every lesson of the abortive peace process to date as well as Fatah's monumental corruption, jihadism and militancy. Indeed, the unbridled corruption of the PA and its Fatah headmen served as a principal cause of Hamas' electoral victory in 2006, as well as its takeover of Gaza.

Though Fatah originally aspired to replace Israel with a secular state, it refashioned itself in the 1990s as an Islamic movement, embracing the lexicon of jihad. Hundreds of mosques were built with public funds, and imams were hired to spread the message of martyrdom and the hatred of Christians and Jews. These themes became the staple of the official PA media, inciting the suicide bombings that began in 2000 and poisoning an entire generation of Palestinian youth.
Fatah has never fulfilled its pledges to crack down on terror. Though Mahmoud Abbas routinely criticizes Palestinian terrorist attacks as "contrary to the Palestinian national interest" - not an affront to morality and international law - he has never disavowed the al-Aqsa Brigades, a Fatah affiliate responsible for some of the bloodiest attacks against Israeli civilians.
In view of its performance over the past 14 years, the Palestinian Authority under Fatah can be counted on to squander most or all of the vast sums now being given to it by the U.S. and the international community. More gunmen will be hired and better weapons procured, but in the absence of a unified command and a leadership worth fighting for, PA soldiers will perform no more credibly than they did in Gaza. Abbas will continue to denounce terror while ignoring the terrorist units within his own organization, while PA imams will persist in preaching their jihadist sermons.
Clearly no progress toward Palestinian statehood can be made before Fatah has reformed itself financially, ideologically and structurally. This process is certain to take many years - longer if economic aid and political support are provided to the PA unconditionally.
The U.S., together with its Quartet partners, can work to establish areas of extensive Palestinian autonomy in the West Bank. Security, however, will be jointly administered by Israel and Jordan. The Jordanian involvement is crucial to convincing Palestinians that the status quo of occupation has ended and they may in the future assume full responsibility for their internal defense. Such an arrangement will benefit Jordan as well, by facilitating its efforts to fight radicalism and stem the flight of Palestinians over its borders.
The writer is a senior fellow at the Shalem Center and the author of Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present (Norton, 2007).

1 comment:

Lao Qiao said...

My wife, Carol Jochnowitz, says, "A person who is up for sale needn't be all bad." Hitler was incorruptible and was all bad. So was Pol Pot. So was Mao Zedong. Fatah is up for sale. Hamas, on the other hand, cannot be bought. It is all bad.