By Barry Rubin
A reader asks: What is the West’s strategy regarding the Gaza Strip. Good question.
The strategy is to relieve the alleged “humanitarian” issue as soon as possible and quiet everything down. Without thinking through the consequences, the idea is to return the Gaza Strip to as normal a situation as possible in economic and social terms. There is broad recognition of Israel’s right to keep out arms and military equipment but doubts about extending the sanctions much beyond that.
To put it bluntly, Western countries are not becoming consciously favorable toward Hamas. They will continue to isolate it politically and deny it arms. The problem is that they do not understand how their policy will: strengthen it, ensure decades of totalitarian rule for Gaza and suffering of the people there under a repressive dictatorship; make future wars unavoidable; make an Israel-Palestinian peace impossible; and subvert Egypt, too.
Essentially, this is not an issue about Israel but one about Hamas, the revolutionary Islamist movement, and the Iranian regime’s ambition to dominate the Middle East.
The arguments here are so obvious that the only way to prevent people understanding them is to keep them largely out of the mainstream media.
If you give money to Gaza, even to non-Hamas recipients, it will benefit the regime. If you let in non-weapons’ equipment in many categories, the regime will take a large portion. If you let in luxury goods, the regime will use it to buy support.
There is no strategic dimension in Western thinking, no sense of what the West wants to happen in the Gaza Strip. Does it want Hamas to survive? Does it understand the implications of that?
There is no recognition of the following points:
–The best thing would be to allow Israel to overthrow the Hamas regime, and there was an opportunity to do so in January 2009. That government did not come to power by elections but by a bloody coup, and it holds power “illegally” since it has never recognized the Oslo agreement made by Israel and the PLO.
–Any push for a merger between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority will destroy any chance for peace since it would push the Palestinians in a violent and radical direction.
–There will be a terrorist, Islamist, client of Iran on the Mediterranean spreading revolution to other countries, and not just Israel.
I could go on with other points. But virtually none of these ideas or arguments are in the current international debate. That fact renders statements, articles, and government policies either useless or harmful for Western interests.
What will happen without any question if Hamas stays in power?
–More attacks on Israel leading eventually to war.
–The effort to indoctrinate an entire generation of youth to be terrorists carrying on an endless war.
–Gaza becoming an Iranian base.
–The competitive militancy of Hamas threatening to overthrow the Palestinian Authority, pullig it in a more militant direction, and possibly some day creating a Fatah-Hamas merger that would launch a new war. At minimum, it would make Israel-Palestinian peace impossible since you cannot make peace with half your opponent.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (PalgraveMacmillan). His new edited books include Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict and Crisis; Guide to Islamist Movements; Conflict and Insurgency in the Middle East; The West and the Middle East (four volumes); and The Muslim Brotherhood. To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books.
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