Thursday, February 02, 2006

Sticky Gaza

or why the long silence.

Events that are happening in Gaza and surrounding geography are affecting my approach to future installments of the story. I have written a follow on piece but it has problems that some who saw it have commented on and that I am working on correcting. But a more fundemental problem still lurks just under the surface, that of lack of direction. I intended this to be a one shot but, like a siren calling sailors to their doom upon a rocky shore, I have this feeling I can write more about this squad. So now I have to go back and build a framework of where the story goes, an arc to follow until I reach a conclusion.

The very beginning of the arc is easy and is rooted in reality: the failure of the world to turn a sow's ear of a terrorist into a silk purse of a statesman by earnestly wishing for it to be fact.

Then there is the alleged Palestinian Authority, that has been run by Arafat's Fatah until the recent election, that has produced no new wealth but much anger and poverty even though billions of Dollars and Euros have been poured in. What many in Gaza and elsewhere wonder is where did that money go? How much is supporting Arafat's widow while she lives a royal life in France? Some sources indicate that half of the PA budget comes from donors.

Now that Hamas has been elected to run Gaza, that bountiful flow of money is being threatened because Hamas refuses to even mouth false words distancing themselves from destroying Israel like Arafat did to fool the gullible in the West. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are offering the new PA government some millions of dollars but in comparision of the hundreds of millions being threatened it is a mere drop in the bucket. Which raises another question, why are these countries doing this? The answer is they are hedging their bets, its a pretty symbolic gesture by coutries brimming with excess cash to toss a few at the underdog Palestinians to show solidarity while really risking nothing like angering the EU or the US by offering too much. Of course I am waiting to see how the PA/Hamas fund raisers in South America do. Will they get any money, will Hugo Chavez embrace them in solidarity, or will they get a cold shoulder from people who have realized they got nothing but fear and misery while living in Gaza?

There are those in Israel itself who could affect events. Even as Hamas postures and shakes its fist in defiance, Israel is still carrying out aspects of the Roadmap to Peace. They are still evicting Jewish settlers from their homes in the West Bank. So one has to wonder how the far right in Israel feels about this turn of events, the killer Arabs are getting frisky and Israel is still evicting people. Remember Rabin's fate? They are not along in possible trouble making, they are joined by the far left, where many ISM members reside, who can also be lethal stumbling blocks as they help Palestinians in various ways, perhaps even smuggling bombs in from Gaza.

Now lets look at Israel's neighbors. First lets look at Egypt. Egypt has created its own wall to keep the Arabs of Gaza contained but it has not really worked. Israelis have seen tunnels dug under this wall to allow weapons to be smuggled in. In recent weeks the Palestinians themselves have physically breached the wall with bulldozers and invaded Egypt. Egypt, under President Mubarak, has told Hamas it needs to change its charter but Hamas has no current plans to. Even if shooting happens in Gaza, I do not expect Egypt to play any active role since they have a peace treaty with Israel and almost $2billion/year coming from the US.

The major external monkey wrench, besides Iran, will be Syria. Syria still wants the Golan Heights back. Syria is under international pressure due to their masterminding the assasination of Hariri in Lebanon. But there are things that have to enter Asad's calculations: Israel still owns the Golan Heights where the Syrian Army broke in the Yom Kippur War and there is a whole mess of American armor and airpower in Iraq that can roll west if Asad does actively meddle.

I would still expect Asad to meddle but indirectly. Lebanon, as a cohesive country, is very fragile and Syria has much experience in breaking up Lebanon into factions. The classic Force Chicane approach, Asad will use willing proxies in Lebanon, angry at the expulsion of Syria and their loss of personal power, to support whatever happens in Gaza that in return Asad will help them retake power in Lebanon. What can stop this cold is if the Lebanse government calls upon its historical protector, France, to intervene by sending military forces to assist the Lebanese Army. Or those wild Americans roll in and run Asad up a lamppost with Iraqi help. Direct military confrontation by Syria with either France or the US or both will also force Asad to make a gut call. If his despotic rule is in dire peril will he use those alleged WMDs he got from Iraq even if in retaliation Damascus is turned to glass?

The indirect player is Iran. If they become pariahs by continuing with their nuclear quest, then they can not keep a Hamas government afloat because the international community will have frozen all of Iran's foreign assets. Or Iran manages to dodge the sanctions bullet, then yes Iran can keep Hamas afloat until Iran gets tired of paying the bill and getting nothing in return except more corruption. So Hamas, if they are logical beings [bwahahahahaha -I said logical beings and Hamas in the same sentence], can not even depend upon Iran for long-term support unless they do carry out their attempt to destroy Israel.

And who can be the final wrench in this over-complicated play? Why the people of Gaza. An ugly truth about Gaza is this: Gaza is an arms dump. If Hamas' rhetoric causes the milk&honey that flows from the UN, EU, US, and even Israel to dry up, it will drop those people right into abject poverty and because of 50+ years of being told they are not to blame for their misfortune and that the guilty Western nations will support them; they wont have a clue on how to survive except by using violence. And who will assist those angry Arabs? Why the out of power Fatah who crave to retake power. So in the end it may turn into something as intercine and vicious as what the Serbs/Croats/Bosnians have practiced.

The possible thing to save Hamas from an internal popular uprising is to provoke Israel into rolling into Gaza. And hope the Palestinians will pull together to fight someone they all hate and not keep bickering. Or for something truly profane, Fatah helping the Israelis root Hamas out.

This is a rich milieu and now that I have taken a stab at writing this all down - perhaps to clamber a bit inside some seriously deranged minds in the process, it shall help guide me with the writing. I guess I have created my writing bible with this post. What do you think?


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