Sunday, July 02, 2006

The MidEast Ablaze

This week the moderate governments of the MidEast are bracing for a wave of protests by their populations against the actions of Israel designed to destroy any govenment in the Palestinian Authority region. This wave of Muslim populist anger has the dangerous effect of further destabilizing more moderate MidEast governments such as Egypt and Jordan. But while there is much anger among the Arab populations, there is surprising little that the 22 members of the Arab League can do at this point other than declare an emergency session to offer a resolution in support of the Palestinian people, and voice support for their own right to self-determination by their own elected government. Certainly Hamas is not preferable by many. And Fatah ruled with corruption as the head of the Palestinian Authority government, and for many years before that as the PLO. But there are few other political alternatives than these two elements.

Unlike, the U.S., which has made great pains to co-opt moderate Muslims as friends and allies, Israel has made a very poor attempt to secure any better than lukewarm relations with nations like Egypt and Jordan, and only cold business negotiations with the Palestinians.

The U.S. truly values our Muslim world allies and respects them. There is great effort to treat them as full equals, even though some have very weak economies or governments to really show. Israel simply hasn't done enough to foster a mutual respect relationship and in turn Muslim radicals are able to exploit this cold relationship.

The U.S. has risked many lives in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan that have at least provided Muslim moderates the right to self-determination. The U.S. has at least proven a respectful foreign policy that values Muslims nearly as much as those in Israel. But Israel just has not done enough to secure their state self-survival or regional respect among it's Muslim neighbors.

The fact of the matter is that it is only Fatah or the far more radical Hamas elements that Israel has to work with politically in any dealings with the Palestinians. No new more moderate party is likely to emerge in the foreseeable future. And the excessive ongoing military actions by Israel only make the emergence of any new Palestianian moderate force less and less likely. In fact for whatever serious differences between Hamas and Fatah that have even led to fatal street clashes between their supporters, to a far more friendly alliance by Hamas and Fatah against Israel. Israel has achieved very little politically from this military over-reaction if it has only united two rival Palestinian elements.

The U.S. and world community really must show some courage very soon to publicly demand that Israel back off militarily and that peace be soon restored. Right now radical organizations such as Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood lack the strength to overthrow the government of Egypt. But these radicals are only strengthened by the actions of Israel. And Al Qaeda and other Muslim extremist groups can only feed off the populist anger against Israel at this point.

It is very disturbing that so little world community calls for retraint have been so far heard on this extreme military reaction by Israel. Certainly the official Palestinian government elements have done very poorly in their failure to contain Palestinian radical violence. And most likely Hamas may still have a clear connection to terrorism. Past parades of armed Hamas soldiers with black uniforms and green headbands is proof of their militantcy. But there still needs to be a geniune attempt by both Hamas and Israel to have a normal political relationship with one another. This continued conflict simply cannot continue. About the only good thing so far is that neither Syria or Iran have become directly involved so far. Other than that, there is little to feel good about with the new daily reports of violence between Israel and their Palestinian rivals.

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