Sunday, November 19, 2006

Great Islamist Expectations

Writing for the New York Post, Amir Taheri writes about the reaction of radical Islamists to the victory of the Democrats in taking control of Congress. Besides outlining the expectations of the extremists (Islamist, not Democrat) for Iraq and Iran, Taheri also describes what they think is in store for Israel:
Radical Islamists in both Iran and the Arab countries believe that the Democrats' victory indicates "growing American lassitude." They believe that, once it becomes clear that Americans don't want to fight for the Middle East, many in Israel would emigrate to America and Europe to escape the constant daily pressure from Islamist groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah.

In visits to more than a dozen countries in the past few months, Ahmadinejad has been vigorously promoting his "one state" formula for Israel-Palestine. He claims to have won the support of Syria's Bashar al-Assad, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Sudan's Gen. Hassan al-Bashir, and believes that, once it becomes clear that America wouldn't fight a war in support of Israel, most Arab states would rally along.

His "one state" plan turns on a referendum in which Palestinians, including those outside the region, will vote along with those Israelis who have chosen to stay to create a single state in which Jews and Arabs live together.

Taheri thinks that both expectations--that Israelis will flee en masse to the US and that there are prospects for a one state solution--are false.

This euphoria, too, may prove problematic. There is evidence that a majority of Palestinians wish to have a state of their own as quickly as possible, and see outsiders' quest for a single state as a chimera. Nor is there any reason why many Israelis would choose to flee, as Ahmadinejad expects, rather than stay to defend their country.

Also, most Arab states remain committed to the Bush "road map," a fact underlined last week by Saudi Arabia's call for a new peace conference based on the two-state formula.

The key of course is the President. The extremists expect President Bush and his Mideast policies to be completely immobilized by the Democratic majority in Congress, especially since Democrats have indicated they want to find the quickest way out of Iraq.

The mullahs and al Qaeda may soon find out that their celebration of "the end of Bush" was premature. Some Democrats may have promised cut-and-run. But, once in power, the party as a whole may realize (to its horror) that, this time, those from whom Americans run away will come after them.

One more fact for the mullahs and al Qaeda to take into account: Their nemesis, the reviled Bush, is around for another two years, and unlikely to dance to their tune, even if the new Congress demanded it. And two years is a long time in politics.

That major distinction between Vietnam and Iraq may sober up the Democrats in Congress and perhaps encourage them to see to it that Iraq be able to stand on its own--the fact that "this time, those from whom Americans run away will come after them."

We'll see.

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