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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 22-Jun-07
Hamas' stunning Gaza victory shocks entire Mideast

Web Log - June, 2007

Hamas' stunning Gaza victory shocks entire Mideast

A major realignment of unknown proportions is occurring throughout the Mideast.

Fatah should have won last weekend. Fatah is considered the "moderate" of the two major Palestinian political groups. Fatah recognizes the existence of Israel and has renounced violence. Fatah leader and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) is favored by the West as someone who is willing to work for a two-state solution, a Palestinian state side-by-side by Israel. Israel and the West like Abbas for that reason. Fatah has more men, and more weapons, thanks to supplies from the US and Israel.


Palestinian Territories <font face=Arial size=-2>(Source: Der Spiegel)</font>
Palestinian Territories (Source: Der Spiegel)

Hamas should be a lot less powerful. Hamas is a terrorist group committed to using any violence necessary to bring about the destruction of Israel. Israel and the West don't Hamas.

And yet, Fatah's larger forces simply crumbled under Hamas's lightning attack. Mohammed Dahlan, head of Fatah's security forces in Gaza, was out of town and was in no hurry to return. Hamas showed enormous energy in battle. Fatah showed little. Hamas even committed the atrocity of throwing Abbas's cook to his death from the 18th floor of his apartment block in Gaza. By the time Abbas and Dahlan called for any real action, the war was over and Hamas had won.

The fact that an attack was coming could hardly have been a surprise. That Hamas was preparing for a summer war has been rumored for months; in fact, I've mentioned it on this web site several times.

When the fighting was over, it was quite clear that the attack had indeed been planned for months, as was shown the particularly spectacular attack on a Fatah security headquarters building, blown up by a bomb planted in a tunnel beneath the building, dug from a nearby home over a period of months.

Now that the fighting is over, there are many people who are not only shocked, but furious, starting with Mahmoud Abbas himself.

Abbas, who was formerly committed to getting along with Hamas, both on the ground and in a "unity government," immediately dismissed the Hamas ministers in the Palestinian Authority, and replaced them with new people.

In a speech following the Hamas victory, Abbas lashed out at Hamas, calling them "murderous terrorists, and accusing them of trying to build an "empire of darkness" in Gaza. He described in great deal a tape of Hamas members planting bombs under Gaza's main road, preparing to blow him up as he travels to his office.

The increasingly harsh rhetoric marks a turning point in the attitudes of Israelis, Arabs and West Bank Palestinians, as the magnitude of the Hamas victory is beginning to sink in.

Long time readers of this web site will recall that ever since Yasser Arafat died, I've been watching to see when the Palestinians would be so infuriated at the Israelis that they would be ready to smash down Israel's security wall and pursue a full scale crisis war. On several occasions I've mentioned that I simply hadn't seen anything approaching that kind of fury yet. For example, if Israeli Prime Minister had called the Palestinians sleazebags to a crowd of cheering Israelis, or if Mahmoud Abbas had called the Israelis scuzzbags to a crowd of cheering Palestinians, that would have made me sit up and take notice. But that simply hasn't happened.

But it IS happening between the two Palestinian groups, Fatah and Hamas. Those who still believe that some sort of Middle East peace agreement is possible should understand that a line has been crossed, and it will not be possible to go back across that line.

The Hamas victory last weekend was an enormous shock to Fatah, since they were totally unprepared for it. It might be compared to the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

A crisis war is catalyzed by exactly this kind of shock, as described by William Strauss and Neil Howe, the founding fathers of generational theory:

"The catalyst can be one spark or, more commonly, a series of sparks that self-ignite like the firecrackers traditionally used by the Chinese to mark their own breaks in the circle of time. Each of these sparks is linked to a specific threat about which the society had been fully informed but against which it had left itself poorly protected. Afterward, the fact that these sparks were foreseeable but poorly foreseen gives rise to a new sense of urgency about institutional dysfunction and civic vulnerablity. This marks the beginning of the vertiginous spiral of Crisis."

This is a perfect description of the Hamas victory last weekend. The Hamas attack was foreseeable, but Fatah made no particular attempt to protect itself against it.

What sometimes happens in cases like this, in generational Crisis eras, is that the society panics and overreacts. That's what happened last summer when two Israeli soldiers were kidnapped near the Lebanon border and and Israel panicked and launched the Lebanon war within four hours, with no plan and no objectives.

Today the potential for overreaction is certainly present. The Israelis are extremely alarmed over "the emergence of Hamastan on the border fence."

(There are a few joking phrases being thrown around. Some people ironically refer to a brand new "two-state solution," but this time the two states are Gaza, now called "Hamastan," and the West Bank, now called "Fatahstan." The joke's names are based on names of other Muslim states, such as Pakistan or Afghanistan.)

Even more significant is the fact that many Western states are now openly siding with Fatah against Hamas, and even see the current situation as an opportunity.

The US and Europe had ended aid to the Palestinians when Hamas won the parliamentary elections early in 2006, on the grounds that Hamas is a terrorist organization, committed to the destruction of Israel.

Now that Abbas has thrown Hamas out of the government, the West is resuming aid to the Palestinians again -- only targeted exclusively to Fatah.

As one commentator described the situation, "One of the more remarkable features of the past few days has been the almost indecent haste with which the key Quartet players - America and the EU - have rushed to restore ties with the newly formed government of Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas. Suddenly everyone - the Israelis, the Americans, Britain, Brussels - wants to talk to the Palestinians and give them support."

So Israel and the West have clearly and openly taken sides with Fatah against Hamas, but so have major Arab governments in the region.

Over Hamas's objections, Egypt's President, Hosni Mubarak, will be hosting a summit meeting this weekend, inviting Abbas, Olmert, and Jordan's King Abdullah. Abbas is reportedly insisting that the summit will be fruitless if it does not set in train a process aimed at a final resolution of the key issues in the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

That kind of resolution is, of course, completely impossible, as we've been discussing on this web site for the last few years. But Abbas's demand reflects the fact that there does not exist such a resolution, and that the region will continue to descend further into chaos.

In fact, the support for Abbas from some Arab quarters goes much deeper. Gaza is a very poor region, with not enough food or medicines, Hamas had tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in weapons stashed away for this war. These weapons had to be supplied and smuggled by outsiders, and most people assume that the perpetrators were Iran and Syria. This is extremely worrisome to Arab governments who fear that they will be targeted.

An op-ed titled "The Gaza Earthquake," appearing in the Qatar newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat editor Tariq Al-Humayd wrote:

"The preparedness of the Hamas fighters... proves that while Hamas and its leaders were crying out about lack of funds, Hamas was [actually] amassing arms and ammunition. Someone is providing it with regular funding, and as a result it appeared to be better prepared [for fighting] than the legitimate authorities."

The Jordanian journalist Raja Talib wrote in the government daily Al-Rai:

"Reality has shown that even if Hamas was originally a Palestinian [movement], it is now completely [committed] to the ideological agenda of Tehran -- in terms of its perception of the enemy and of the struggle against the enemy; in terms of its political priorities; and in terms of its financial and material backing. Thus, Hamas is setting back -- by decades -- the Palestinian cause, the development of the military and political struggle [for Palestine], and the PLO plan [for liberating Palestine], so that they will [all] serve Iran's needs."

The result is that the possibility of a Western attack on either of those two countries is becoming more evident, and such an attack may even be tacitly supported by Arab countries.

This level of fury in the Mideast is a step up from what we've seen before. The expectation is that the mutual hatred can only increase. As we said, a line has now been crossed, and it cannot be undone without a genocidal crisis war.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the region is headed for a new genocidal war between Arabs and Jews, refighting the genocidal war that was fought in the late 1940s when Palestine was partitioned and the state of Israel was created. In 2003, when the world was euphoric about the new "Roadmap to Peace," I predicted that the Roadmap would never succeed, and that the disappearance of Ariel Sharon and Yasser Arafat would be part of a generational change that would lead to exactly that kind of genocidal war between Arabs and Jews. Since Arafat died 2 years ago, the situation in the Palestinian territories has gotten measureably worse almost every single day.

As usual, Generational Dynamics tells you your final destination, but not how you'll get there. What we're seeing now, day by day, is the series of steps, shocks and surprises that are leading the Mideast to a new massive war. We can't predict how long it will take, but we can predict that it's coming soon, with complete certainty. (22-Jun-07) Permanent Link
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