Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Post-Gaza: It's Either Hamas Or The PA--You Can't Support Both

Robert Satloff notes two differing approaches supported by The Washington Institute on the one hand and a CFR/Brookings paper on the other--one supports strengthening the PA while the other supports engaging Hamas.
Each approach has a certain logic, but it is important to recognize that these are "either/or" options. It is not possible to engage Hamas and build up the PA at the same time. Engaging Hamas would undermine whatever popular support remains for the Mahmoud Abbas-Salam Fayad government, bring an abrupt end to the Dayton (U.S. security coordinator, Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton) effort to "train and equip" PA security forces, compel Egypt and Jordan to change course in terms of their own approach toward the PA, and buoy radical actors from Gaza to Beirut to Tehran.

Given both personnel choices and strategic imperatives, it is unlikely that the Obama-Clinton team will choose to engage Hamas. Indeed, even tactically, if the new administration is committed to a wholly new approach toward Iran, it makes little sense to waste capital and credibility -- both here and abroad -- on an early tilting at Hamas's windmills.
Read the whole thing.

Too bad the guiding assumption remains that you have to engage or strengthen at least one of them.

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