Thursday, March 23, 2006

Hamas May Find Money Isn't Everything

There appear to be no real surprises as Hamas works its merry way toward assuming power, along with the necessary backing. Hamas of course made clear that it was not that desperate for the money that is normally provided by the EU:
The Palestinian territories could survive without aid from the
European Union and would find funding elsewhere if necessary, the German press reported the Palestinian finance minister designate as saying.

If the EU makes good on recent threats to suspend funding to the Palestinian territories "the consequences will be serious but not catastrophic", minister designate Omar Abdul Razeq told the Financial Times Deutschland.
Hamas has been making the rounds in the Arab world on its little road show, to good reviews. The headline on Yahoo News reads: Hamas assured of continued UAE aid for Palestinians. Such aid would go directly to Hamas, though other aid from the UAE would go for infrastructure such as rebuilding homes. Then there is the required:
The UAE's official WAM news agency said Sheikh Mansur also stressed the importance of continuing "political negotiations" to reach a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Nice touch that: continuing "political negotiations".

Not only has Hamas received the backing of the UAE and of course Saudi Arabia, but it has a 'partner' as well. From Le Mont de Sisyphe:
The Swiss governement considers the terror gang Hamas to be a "partner". While the U.S. and the European Union have put Hamas on their respective terror lists, the Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey tries - once more - to aggrandize herself through questionable means. She was the one who laid down flowers on Arafat's grave, an act which was heavily criticized in Switzerland at the time. Socialist Calmy-Rey is also the one who gave birth to the "Geneva initiative", a project which was supposed to promote peace in that region but which none of the relvant actors in the Middle East ever took seriously.
Clearly, Hamas has nothing to fear from Europe and while Tuesday morning there were reports of Hamas insisting it was not dependent on EU money, by the end of that same day CNN was reporting:
The European Union will sign a deal Monday with the United Nations granting euro64 million (US$78 million) in urgent aid for Palestinians, but much more in future funding is under threat after the formation of a government by Hamas, a group the Europeans consider a terrorist group.
While it was nice of the EU to give lip service to the consequences Hamas would supposedly suffer for continuing to do what they do best, their real priorities are clear:
"We'll look at what (Hamas) adopts as its program, what it says about key issues" such as recognizing Israel and Middle East peace, said the official, who asked not to be named given the sensitive nature of the EU-Palestinian relations.
The key is what Hamas says about "key issues"--there is no obligation and no action is required.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch things are apparently going well too: Hamas on course to govern despite PLO objections:
Hamas said on Wednesday the Palestinian parliament would meet next week to vote on its new cabinet despite the Palestine Liberation Organisation's rejection of its governing agenda.
With all the pieces of financial and political support abroad and its agenda at home falling nicely into place, Hamas is sitting pretty.

Except of course for the gunfights:
Eyewitnesses said most of those wounded in Monday's fighting in the Gaza Strip were policemen who tried to prevent Fatah gunmen from taking over government buildings and security installations. The two sides exchanged gunfire for several hours in scenes that many Palestinians said were reminiscent of the civil war in Lebanon in the 1970s.
Civil war? So why is the media so quiet about this? According to Transterrestrial Musings:
Probably because they can't figure out a way to pin it on America, and George Bush. They're probably even having trouble fingering Israel for it, though that's usually a piece of cake for them.
Meanwhile, as if Hamas does not have enough tzuris with its family problems, guess who's moving into the neighborhood? al-Qaida:

Hamas, struggling to avert an international aid boycott in the wake of its Jan. 25 victory in parliamentary elections, is particularly sensitive about being associated with al-Qaida, despite sharing core beliefs such as the rejection of a Jewish state in the Middle East.

When Ayman-al-Zawahri, al-Qaida's No. 2 leader, appeared in a video earlier this month urging Hamas not to renounce its violent struggle, a Hamas official in Gaza shrugged him off.

The Hamas official said the group had no links to any outside group. He spoke on condition of anonymity, saying the movement did not want to respond formally to al-Zawahri.

By all accounts, Hamas, set to form the next Palestinian government, is not likely to further harm its international standing by joining forces with al-Qaida.

But al-Qaida itself is making an effort "to operate both in the Palestinian territories and inside Israel proper," said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev. A Palestinian security official in Gaza agreed that al-Qaida "is in the process of organizing cells and gathering supporters."

So Hamas could get all the money and political backing abroad it wants and still find itself with major problems at home.

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