Abbas, Hamas, Flirting With Syria's Assad
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's gestures toward Syria's President Bashar Assad will only bring him closer to Iran, Hizbullah and radical Palestinian groups that oppose any peace with Israel.
Recently, both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas seem to have changed their policy toward the Syrian conflict.
Neither Hamas nor the Palestinian Authority wants to be seen as siding with Al-Qaeda-affiliated groups, most likely out of fear that such support would cost the Palestinians Western sympathy and funding.
Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, relations between the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad regime and the Palestinian Authority and Hamas have been tense.
Hamas's public support for the opposition forces led to the expulsion of its leaders from Syria; and the Palestinian Authority's failure to support publicly the Assad regime resulted in tensions between Damascus and Ramallah.
After losing faith in the Syrian opposition, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are now trying to mend fences with the regime of Syria's President, Bashar Assad.
The two rival Palestinian parties are hoping that Assad will forgive them for failing to support his regime against the rebels – a move that has resulted, since the beginning of the civil war, in the displacement and death of tens of thousands of Palestinians living in Syria.
More than 200,000 Palestinians have been forced to flee their homes in several refugee camps in Syria, while another 2,000 have been killed in the fighting between the Syrian army and the opposition forces.
The shift in the Palestinian Authority's stance became evident during Mahmoud Abbas's recent speech at the United Nations General Assembly.
Referring to the Syrian crisis, Abbas said, "While we condemn the crime of the use of chemical weapons in Syria, we have affirmed our rejection of a military solution and the need to find a peaceful political solution to fulfill the aspirations of the Syrian people."
The Assad regime did not conceal its satisfaction with Abbas's comments, especially his opposition to a "military solution." That Abbas refrained from holding the Assad regime responsible for the use of chemical weapons was also received with a sigh of relief in Damascus.
In his September 26, 2013 address to the UN General Assembly, PA President Mahmoud Abbas tried to improve damaged relations with Bashar Assad's regime, stating "while we condemn the crime of the use of chemical weapons in Syria, we have affirmed our rejection of a military solution and the need to find a peaceful political solution to fulfill the aspirations of the Syrian people." (Photo credit: UN video)
After Abbas's speech, Assad agreed to meet with senior PLO official Abbas Zaki, who relayed to him a letter from the Palestinian Authority president.
The Syrian news agency Sana quoted the PLO envoy as telling Assad that the Palestinians support Syria in the face of "aggression." This statement means that the PLO has decided to support Assad against the various opposition groups fighting against his regime.
Meanwhile, Hamas's efforts to patch up its differences with the Assad regime have thus far been less successful.
In the context of these efforts, Hamas leaders and spokesmen have stopped their rhetorical attacks on the Assad regime. In addition, Hamas has been working hard to distance itself from the Syrian "rebels," particularly those affiliated with Al-Qaeda.
In a speech in Gaza City last weekend, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh assured Syria and other Arab countries that his movement does not meddle in their internal affairs. "We never sided with [Arab] country against the other," Haniyeh declared. "We are keen on a unified Arab and Islamic position toward the Palestinian cause."
Like Abbas, Haniyeh also called for a "political solution and national understandings" in solving Arab disputes.
But while a rapprochement between Hamas and the Assad regime would only serve the Islamist movement's interests and help it rid itself of its growing state of isolation, especially in the aftermath of the downfall of the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt, the renewal of ties between the Palestinian Authority and Damascus does not bode well for the future of the peace process.
The Assad regime is not going to change its position toward peace with Israel to appease Abbas and the Palestinian Authority. Abbas's gestures toward Assad will only bring him closer to Iran, Hizbullah and radical Palestinian groups that oppose any peace process with Israel.
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by Khaled Abu Toameh
The "Arab Spring" did not erupt as a result of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Rather, it was the outcome of decades of tyranny and corruption in the Arab world. The Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans and Yemenis who removed their dictators from power did not do so because of the lack of a "two-state solution." This is the last thing they had in mind.
The thousands of Muslims who are volunteering to join the Islamic State [IS] are not doing so because they are frustrated with the lack of progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
The only solution the Islamic State believes in is a Sunni Islamic Caliphate where the surviving non-Muslims who are not massacred would be subject to sharia law.
What Kerry perhaps does not know is that the Islamic State is not interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at all. Unlike Kerry, Sunni scholars fully understand that the Islamic State has more to do with Islam and terrorism than with any other conflict.
by Steven J. Rosen
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"You smuggle weapons, explosives and cash to the West Bank, not for the fight with Israel, but for a coup against the Palestinian Authority. The Israeli intelligence chief visited me two weeks ago and told me about the [Hamas] group they arrested that was planning for a coup... We have a national unity government and you are thinking about a coup against me." — Mahmoud Abbas, PA President, to Khaled Mashaal, Hamas leader.
According to Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, if the IDF leaves the West Bank, Hamas will take over, and other terrorists groups such as the Islamic Jihad, Al-Qaeda and Islamic State would operate there.
In recent months, Abbas has been making a series of threats against Israel. If Abbas becomes another Arafat, it could be the Israeli side that loses interest in security cooperation.
by Burak Bekdil
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But the Turkish rhetoric on "solidarity" with our Palestinian brothers often seems askew to how solidarity should be.
by Raheel Raza
One blogger writes that Malala hates Pakistan's military. I believe it is the other way around.
I would so like to see the day when Malala is welcomed back in Pakistan, with the whole country cheering.
by Francesco Sisci
Democratic evolution in China was being seriously considered. The failures of U.S. support for democracy in Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt and Libya gave new food for thought to those opposed to democracy. Lastly, the United States did not strongly oppose the anti-democratic coup d'état that overthrew a democratically elected government in Thailand.
On the other hand, Russia -- dominated by Vladimir Putin, a new autocrat determined to stifle democracy in Russia -- provided a new model.
The whole of Eastern Europe and most of Latin America, formerly in the clutches of dictatorships, are now efficient democracies. This seems to indicate that while democracy cannot be parachuted into a country, there is a broader, longer-term global trend toward democracy and that its growth depends on local conditions.
As economic development needed careful planning, political reforms need even greater planning. The question remains: is China preparing for these political reforms?