Just what Hamas needs–a friend like Osama bin Laden. As if they, and the Palestinians don’t have enough problems between imminent bankruptcy, malnutrition, economic stagnation and constant Israeli shelling. They need a friend like Osama like they need a hole in the head.
Nevertheless, there were some interesting aspects of bin Laden’s audio tape as reported in the NY Times. Apparently, he hardly mentioned Iraq at all. It’s almost as if bin Laden conceded that Iraq was a lost cause for America and that our departure was guaranteed. Almost as if bin Laden is saying he’s tired of toying with Bush as the latter has defeated himself in Iraq. Now, the former seems to feel the need to look to new domains for potential Al Qaeda “traction.” Those domains are, he now informs us, Palestine and Sudan. No doubt, he’s throwing some food against the wall to see what sticks.
Osama’s newfound support for Hamas (consider that he’s denounced the movement for participating in electoral politics) should be a lesson for the west in the price they pay if they continue their attempts to isolate and humiliate Hamas:
Mr. bin Laden sought to tap into the wide public support among Arabs for Hamas, which Israel, the United States and the European Union regard as a terrorist organization.
“The blockade which the West is imposing on the government of Hamas proves that there is a Zionist-crusaders war on Islam,” he said.
No doubt bin Laden is right. The bullying of Hamas and the Palestinians plays poorly (to say the least) in the Arab street. If we continue with such an open-ended policy of suffering, we WILL create a perfect opening for the jihadists, another Iraq in the making. However, if we see things more pragmatically and come to understand that there may be a way to test Hamas to determine its level of seriousness; and subsequently to bring Israel into dialogue and negotiation with Hamas, then we will have blunted the power of bin Laden’s message.
Thankfully, Hamas had the good sense (which they don’t always display in these situations) to reject bin Laden’s “good wishes” while sounding a note of warning to the west about their short-sided policies toward Palestine’s elected political leadership:
As in the past, Hamas sought to distance itself from Al Qaeda and its leadership. But Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman for Hamas, said Western financial penalties against the Palestinian Authority government it now leads were a source of anger for Muslims around the region.
“We have warned many times that the siege upon Hamas and the policy of hunger will create a situation of hatred in Arab and Muslim nations,” Mr. Zuhri said. “It will create the impression there is a Western war against the Islamic world.”
The CIA’s former bin Laden expert presents the keenest analysis, warning us that bin Laden’s work is made infinitely easier by the mess that is U.S. Mideast policy:
Michael Scheuer, former chief of the Central Intelligence Agency’s bin Laden unit, said the segments of the tape he had read about suggested that Mr. bin Laden “is at the top of his game” largely because of America’s own foreign policy. “We cut off Hamas after we had a fair election,” he said. “It looks like we are going to intervene in another Muslim country with oil, in Sudan; we followed Israel’s lead with Hamas. His most important ally is American foreign policy.”
That says it all, I’m afraid.
Leave a Reply