A coup d’état by an elected government

The recent developments in Gaza have set off panic in Washington to such an extent that Condoleezza Rice was forced to resort to pretending that the 2006 election of Hamas never happened.

“President Abbas has exercised his lawful authority as president of Palestinian Authority and as leader of the Palestinian people. I’d remind everyone, he was elected in 2005 by a large margin and we fully support him in his decision to try and end the crisis for the Palestinian people and return to peace and a better future.”

What authority might Condi be referring to?

Clearly this delusional statement is incumbent upon the idea that the American public has not been paying any attention to the Middle East over the past year and a half, and was clearly intended for domestic consumption in the US. No one in the rest of the world would buy it. The statement of course is justification for the Bush White House policy of boosting aid to Abbas while allowing Gaza to slip into further despair in order to weaken Hamas’ popular standing. In other words, Washington is working to stifle democracy, not facilitate it”¦..as is usually the case.

None of this is new after all.

And so today, we are supposed to talk to our faithful policeman, Mr Abbas, the “moderate” (as the BBC, CNN and Fox News refer to him) Palestinian leader, a man who wrote a 600-page book about Oslo without once mentioning the word “occupation”, who always referred to Israeli “redeployment” rather than “withdrawal”, a “leader” we can trust because he wears a tie and goes to the White House and says all the right things. The Palestinians didn’t vote for Hamas because they wanted an Islamic republic – which is how Hamas’s bloody victory will be represented – but because they were tired of the corruption of Mr Abbas’s Fatah and the rotten nature of the “Palestinian Authority”.

We love Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, whose torturers have not yet finished with the Muslim Brotherhood politicians recently arrested outside Cairo, whose presidency received the warm support of Mrs – yes Mrs – George W Bush – and whose succession will almost certainly pass to his son, Gamal.

We adore Muammar Gaddafi, the crazed dictator of Libya whose werewolves have murdered his opponents abroad, whose plot to murder King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia preceded Tony Blair’s recent visit to Tripoli – Colonel Gaddafi, it should be remembered, was called a “statesman” by Jack Straw for abandoning his non-existent nuclear ambitions – and whose “democracy” is perfectly acceptable to us because he is on our side in the “war on terror”.

Yes, and we love King Abdullah’s unconstitutional monarchy in Jordan, and all the princes and emirs of the Gulf, especially those who are paid such vast bribes by our arms companies that even Scotland Yard has to close down its investigations on the orders of our prime minister – and yes, I can indeed see why he doesn’t like The Independent’s coverage of what he quaintly calls “the Middle East”. If only the Arabs – and the Iranians – would support our kings and shahs and princes whose sons and daughters are educated at Oxford and Harvard, how much easier the “Middle East” would be to control.

Will the solution will be the tried and tested one that has worked with such spectacular success all these decades.

So what will we do? Support the reoccupation of Gaza perhaps? Certainly we will not criticise Israel. And we shall go on giving our affection to the kings and princes and unlovely presidents of the Middle East until the whole place blows up in our faces and then we shall say – as we are already saying of the Iraqis – that they don’t deserve our sacrifice and our love.

But all is not black and white. There are signs that the realists in Washington may be having some influence.

Bush administration officials said Thursday that they had been discussing the idea of largely acquiescing in the takeover of Gaza by the militant Islamic group Hamas and trying instead to help the Fatah party of the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, retain its stronghold in the West Bank.The State Department insisted that the United States had no plans to abandon Palestinians living in Gaza.

This may not amount to any measurable progress on this occasion, but the mere fact that Washington may be contemplating the acceptance of the Hamas government is significant. It would have been unheard of a year ago.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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