Palestinians' Islamist Spring
In the absence of a credible and organized Palestinian opposition in the West Bank, Hamas will most likely hijack the "Palestinian Spring," paving the way for Hamas to seize control over the West Bank.
After the recent wave of protests and clashes with Palestinian Authority policemen in the West Bank, the Palestinians are asking if the "Arab Spring" might be finally knocking on their door.
The protests, organized by young Palestinians through Facebook and Twitter, are a reflection of increased discontent with the Palestinian Authority leadership.
Recent public opinion polls have shown that the popularity of Abbas's ruling Fatah faction has declined and that Palestinians are eager for change.
Most Palestinians would like to see new faces among the top brass of their leadership. They are fed up with the fact that the same leaders have been in office for decades.
Many Palestinians feel that under Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority has joined the club of corrupt Arab dictatorships that suppress the opposition and crack down on freedom of speech.
Hundreds of angry men and women continued to demonstrate in the city against police brutality. The protesters accused the Palestinian Authority of ordering the police to use excessive force to stop the demonstrations.
At least five Palestinian journalists were injured when Palestinian security officers and Fatah activists beat them in the center of Ramallah. Many protesters, including women, were also beaten during the demonstrations.
The clashes erupted last weekend in protest against a planned visit to Ramallah by Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and former IDF Chief of General Staff, Shaul Mofaz, Mofaz's planned visit to Ramallah was used an excuse to vent out frustration and anger with the Palestinian Authority leadership.
The protests forced Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to call off the visit, but the cancellation of Mofaz's visit did not calm things down, especially in Ramallah, the de facto capital of the Palestinians.
In March last year, thousands of Palestinians, inspired by the "Arab Spring," launched their own protests in the West Bank to demand reforms, democracy and regime change. But the Palestinian revolt was short-lived.
Abbas's security forces, backed by Fatah thugs, attacked the young men and women who were protesting in the center of Ramallah, torching their tents and beating them with clubs and rifle butts.
But now the Palestinian youth groups appear to have reorganized themselves and are preparing for another wave of protests in the West Bank. In recent days, the protesters have even begun chanting the same slogans that Egyptians used against Hosni Mubarak and the Supreme Council of the Egyptian Armed Forces.
The Facebook and Twitter protesters say they have no political affiliations and that their only goal is to replace the old-guard leaders in Ramallah with young and charismatic faces.
The Palestinian Authority, however, says that the protests are part of a foreign conspiracy designed to undermine the leadership of Abbas and harm the interests of the Palestinians. Some Palestinian officials in Ramallah have gone as far as claiming that the US, Israel and even Hamas are behind the unrest.
These accusations are similar to those that were made by Arab dictators in the past year, including Mubarak, Muammar Ghaddafi and Yemen's Ali Abdullah Saleh. Arab dictatorships often try to discredit their opponents by accusing them of being Israeli and American spies and agents.
Yet in the absence of a credible and organized Palestinian opposition in the West Bank, it is most likely that Hamas will hijack any "Palestinian Spring." Unfortunately, the young men and women who are leading the anti-Palestinian Authority campaign in the West Bank do not represent the majority. That is why a Palestinian Spring could quickly turn into an Islamist Spring, paving the way for Hamas to seize control over the West Bank.
The only way this outcome might possibly be avoided is if International community immediately demands reforms from Abbas: the end to corruption, and the end to repression of free speech.
Comment on this item
by Bassam Tawil
What is sad is that the Gazans have not yet been able to free themselves from the yoke of Hamas.
The world seems not to understand that Hamas, like ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood, does not exist in a vacuum. It is one cog in the radical Islamist wheel that threatens the Arab and Muslim world and the major cities of Europe.
The Western world also seems not to understand that it has to incapacitate or totally neutralize the countries funding terrorism, such as Iran, Qatar and Turkey, for whom the Palestinian problem is only a pretext on the way to destroying the Western world as we know it and replacing it with only Islam.
by Burak Bekdil
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu-Zuhri said: "All Israelis are legitimate targets." What would the Palestinian death toll have been if Mr. Netanyahu's spokesman declared all Palestinians as legitimate targets?
Underdog-nation romanticism tells us Israel should not respond when under rocket attack because it is capable of intercepting the rockets.
That there are fewer Israeli casualties does not mean Hamas does not want to kill; it just means, for the moment, Hamas cannot kill.
by Soeren Kern
Austria figures prominently in a map produced by the IS that outlines the group's five-year plan for expanding its caliphate into Europe, and has emerged as a central hub for jihadists seeking to fight in Syria.
"The spectrum of recruits for the conflict in Syria is ethnically diverse. The motivation, however, appears to be uniformly jihadist." — Austrian intelligence agency BVT.
"Allah also gives you the opportunity to wage jihad in Austria." — Austrian jihadist Firas Houidi.
"We are proud that Allah has chosen us. We feel like lions." — Austrian jihadist Abu Hamza al-Austria.
by Khaled Abu Toameh
What Khaled Mashaal forgot to mention was that Hamas and the Islamic State do have at least one thing in common: they both carry out extrajudicial executions as a means of terrorizing and intimidating those who stand in their way or who dare to challenge their terrorism.
According to Hamas's logic, all members of the Palestinian Authority government are "traitors" who should be dragged to public squares to be shot by firing squads. According to the same logic, Mahmoud Abbas himself should be executed for maintaining security coordination with and talking to Israelis.
As for the two executed women, the sources said that their only fault was that they had been observed asking too many questions about Palestinians who were killed in airstrikes.
by Stephen Blank and Peter Huessy
It now appears that the plan was for these terrorists to shoot down a Russian passenger flight over the Ukraine in order to create a casus belli [cause for war].
Putin repeatedly claims that Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons as a "de-escalatory measure" even against non-nuclear states.
The evidence that this war was preplanned is overwhelming. The planning for this Ukrainian operation started in 2006, when Putin offered to "guarantee Crimea's territory."
The forces fighting in Kiev consist not mainly of "separatists" or rebels, but of trained Russian army, intelligence and paramilitary officers, as well as Russian and some Ukrainian "volunteers" recruited by Moscow.
Putin would incite disturbances in Crimea, then graciously offer to take over Crimea to solve the problems.
For the Russians, and particularly for Putin, Ukraine can have no future other than as a Russian colony. This is indeed a phased invasion of Ukraine. The U.S. did not accept Russian aggression before; it should not accept it now.