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Saturday, July 7, 2007

Peace Paradox or wishful thinking?

In Peace Paradox , Sarah Kass tells us:

Short of an immediate and coordinated war against Israel -- a war that would require Saudi Arabia to collaborate with Iran, and Fatah to collaborate with Hamas; a war between the Arabs and Israel that would complicate the other on-going war between the Arabs and America -- Mr. Abbas has little alternative but to call for a peace with Israel. Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt have few plausible other means to put Iran in its proper place. And the Western Europeans could well exploit the moment to their advantage by cementing alliances with a more humble U.S. and a more energy-dependable and energy-rich Sunni Arab world, rather than banking their energy, and economic, future on a fickle Iran and a belligerent Russia, with China lurking in the wings.


An opportunity for peace? Might be, but so many others were lost just because everyone did the wrong things at the wrong time.  Abbas for his part, has been calling for negotiations with Israel (didn't anyone notice?) but the terms he is offering are not so good: he wants right of return for Palestinian refugees, so this "peace" looks like destruction of Israel, and on the other hand, he cannot really deliver more than the West Bank.

Kass is constructing an alternative Middle East for us:

Up to now, autocrats in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and much of the Arab world have demonized Israel in order to consolidate their own diplomatic and domestic power. Hamas's coup has changed the game. Suddenly, the autocrats realize that should Israel be defeated, the West Bank would fall to Hamas, helping revolutionary Iran secure its hold on the region while slicing in half the entire Sunni Middle East.

Kass has not been reading the Saudi and Egyptian statements, and those of others, calling on Abbas to negotiate with Hamas for a return of the "unity" government.

Here are a lot of supposes:

The clock is ticking. Hamas does not have much time, which means Fatah does not have much time either. Suppose, however, as all the polls have been saying for years, that ordinary West Bank Palestinians in fact favor peace with Israel so long as the Arab notables  --   in Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and particularly Saudi Arabia — bless the terms of the peace. Suppose, too, that despite its congenital inability in past situations to sort out the "logic of hope," today's Palestinian leadership has the Sadat-like cunning to sort out the present situation's "logic of power." Finally, suppose the Europeans --  especially now under the leadership of Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel and Gordon Brown  --   suspended their appeasement of their former colonies and attended to the Sino-Russian-Iranian oil cartel building up against them and their energy supplies. Then we could imagine the following scenario:

First, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas pre-emptively denounces any Hezbollah or Syrian saber-rattling against Israel as a precursor to a Hamas-led Iranian assault on the Palestinian people. Second, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt reframe the casus belli from Israeli to Iranian occupation, changing the subject from a few dusty settlement trailers on hilltops near Hebron to the violent Iranian proxies in Lebanon and Palestine. Third, Tony Blair links future European financial support of Fatah to the West Bank's negotiating an immediate and enduring peace with Israel.

On the heels of this one-two-three punch, the regional and international alliances could rapidly be redrawn. Mr. Abbas ends the state of war with Israel and declares a Palestinian state in the West Bank. Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia bless the terms of the peace after some proper diplomatic back and forth, with Mr. Blair taking the lead while the American president declares vigorous support. Before the year is out, Egypt and Jordan (with Israel's acquiescence) back Mr. Abbas in a military campaign to liberate Gaza from its Iranian proxy, proclaiming for Gaza's Palestinians (as well as for the Palestinians in all the refugee camps) their rightful citizenship in the newly established state of Palestine.

By next year Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel could be rolling back Hezbollah from southern Lebanon, and, with France's help, rolling back Syria from the rest of Lebanon. A Palestinian peace and a Lebanese rollback would materially compromise Syria's geopolitical situation and likely move it away from its flirtations with Iran. In the meantime, under the bright light of Palestinian statehood and some anti-terror momentum in Israel's and Palestine's environs, American troops could pull out of Iraq under the auspices of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and a non-Iranian, Iraqi Shiite majority, with a weakened Syria no longer jamming the works on the border.

In the first place, Hamas has all the time in the world. The Caliphate was not built in a day after all. Secondly, it is Israel and Abbas who have no time, because in a year or two the USA may be out of Iraq in the worst way possible, and a new president will have a very different attitude to the whole Middle East question. If there is a real Iraq debacle, which is likely, nobody in the USA will want to hear about the Middle East. The wall isolation of around Hamas is crumbling, and everyone knows it. If and when the US pull out of Iraq, the US will be powerless to stop the EU, the Arab countries and Russia from breaking the isolation of Hamas. Abbas's clock is ticking. He is an old man, and he has no support among the Fateh radicals. He cannot propose reasonable peace terms and stay in office. Probably, he cannot propose reasonable peace terms and stay alive. Olmert's clock is ticking. His government rests on shaky foundations. One false move and he is out of office. And there is one other clock ticking. Syria is threatening war. If there are any peace moves such as Kass describes, Iran and Syria are sure to seize the moment. Syria will lose a war with Israel in objective military terms, as Syria lost every other war with Israel. But Syria and Iran will win a great diplomatic victory as defenders of the Arab and Islamic (read: Islamist) causes and will unite the Arabs behind them. Perhaps an oil embargo -- a real one -- will follow.

Perhaps the otherwise conservative editors of the Wall Street Journal were smoking something good when they decided to publish this article by Kass.

Hat tip: Israpundit

Ami Isseroff

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.


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