The Hamas Blitz

Whalid Phares:

Hamas' blitzkrieg in Gaza was "ordered" by the Tehran-Damascus "axis" to make the peace and democratic processes in Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Palestine crumble. These putsches (as well as Hezbollah's) were parallel to the perceived weakening of America's resolve against the two regimes. Last year's congressional elections were read by the axis not in terms of partisan results but in terms of divisions affecting U.S. foreign policy.

The offensives led by Hezbollah and Hamas immediately after publicizing the Baker-Hamilton report are the evidence. When advice to the U.S. president recommended "talking" to Iran and Syria about the "future of the region," followed by a visit to Damascus by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the axis gave the green light to the spring offensives.

Hamas' putsch pre-empted its opponents. The brutality was part of psychological deterrence: beheadings, torture, executions and other horrors. These repugnant images were never seen by Palestinians before, even at the hands of whom they believe were worse enemies in Israel, Jordan and Lebanon over four decades. The jihadist massacre of Palestinians created shock among the civilians in Gaza and beyond. Hamas wanted this Talibanesque-style to serve as a deterrent, but no one can guarantee future reactions. However, the Gaza "Taliban" will consolidate its grip as a prelude to destabilizing the West Bank and transform the enclave into a bastion for jihad....


Hamas will consolidate its "acquisition" with Iran and Syria, moving to protect the new status quo and to waste as much time as possible. Two games will go on: One is to deepen the defenses of Gaza; two is to deny the threat. Khaled Mashal, the Syrian-based boss of Hamas, used generous al Jazeera airtime to assuage fears. "Yes, we are Islamists, but we aren't establishing a religious state (yet)," he said, repeating what the Islamic Courts said in Mogadishu earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Rudy Giuliani says it is pointless to negotiate with Hamas and we should strengthen Fatah. In a choice between terrorist organizations, going with a weaker Fatah seems to be the default position for the administration and Israel as well as Egypt and Jordon. I am skeptical that Fatah is up to the job. It is unlikely that it will stop being a corrupt terrorist organization. Getting Egypt and Jordon to take responsibility for the Palestinians is a solution with more promise.

Austin Bay looks at the choice between the crooks and kooks.


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