Tuesday, March 4. 2008
I'm nowhere near up to date on what's going on in Israel these days. Time is an issue, but the actors and dynamics have gone way past the point of ridiculous lately. Bush was talking today about how now he's got a timetable to settle the whole thing -- how Clintonian to wait to the last minute then fuck it all up! Saw a clip of Rice and Abbas, where Rice is trying to talk Abbas into resuming "negotiations" (whatever those are) that broke off when Israel killed 100 Palestinians in the latest offensive. I should probably read Charles Enderlin's The Lost Years: Radical Islam, Intifada, and Wars in the Middle East 2001-2006, but it's already in need of a major update. As the Vanity Fair article below demonstrates, the Bush years in the Middle East have been way stranger than fiction.
David Rose: The Gaza Bombshell. Major piece: with access to confidential documents, Rose reveals how Bush, Rice, and Elliott Abrams hatched a coup attempt where Muhammad Dahlan attempted to seize control of Gaza, and failed, leaving Hamas more firmly in charge of Gaza, more heavily armed than ever. Much of this had been previously reported, although the extent of Rice's direct control is better documented. Also noteworthy that neocon David Wurmser resigned over the operation. While the operation failed to secure Gaza for Fatah (Dahlan, and Rice), it did manage to push Hamas away from their nonviolent political path back to armed resistance, and it greatly amplified the divisions between Fatah and Hamas, both having much more blood on their hands. This is ultimately Bush's fault, not just for egging Israel's hawks on and for identifying Dahlan as "our guy" -- Bush's initial faith in the clarifying power of a show of force underlies everything he's done in the Middle East.
Helena Cobban: Condi's Anti-Hamas Plot: The Vanity Fair Version. More comments on the David Rose article above.
Arthur Neslen: Inside a Failed Palestinian Police State. Whereas Gaza is currently more in the news, Neslen reports from Ramallah on how Fatah has managed to cling onto power -- one common comparison is to "France's Vichy regime under German occupation." Likudniks are no doubt chuckling at the sight of Fatah tainted as collaborationists and Palestinians killing each other, but anyone with the slightest interest in promoting peace ever should realize that peace can only be made by leaders who enjoy the respect of their people. (On the other hand, that's probably why Olmert, with his 0% approval rating, has managed to cling to power.)
Uri Avnery: Israel in Deadly Denial. Simple, sane Q&A piece, in contrast to all the madness flying around.
Tony Karon: U.S. Policy is Gasoline on the Gaza Fires. The best piece I know of on where this all sits, probably because Karon's previously covered every wretched step along the road (cf. his links in the piece). On Rice's explanations as to why no one should talk to Hamas:
Also some sharp lines about Martin Indyk's reasoning about why no one should talk to Hamas. Ties back into the Vanity Fair article. Karon singles out the part where Rice orders Abbas to dissolve the Hamas-led government: "And they think talking to Hamas is going to erode this man's legitimacy!"