Friday, January 16, 2009

qou vadimus?

(please read or browse through the precedent post as well)

some obvious points that nevertheless might require a little belaboring:

* the arab and muslim world has reached a bifurcation. theirs is no longer an expedient choice between the warring cliques of philistines. the arab and muslim world now has to choose between israel, no less, and the militant factions/states that currently rally behind hamas [or hizbullah, or islamic jihad or al kaida (1) at some time or other]. the real choice lies deeper than that, of course. israel is the representative of modernity.

* there is no way the divide of philistines will heal in the near future. the abbasi half will receive more of what is getting, while gaza will be allowed to sink back into poverty and misery, less because of israel than that it suits hamas better. after cease-fire, there will be a flood of relief material into the strip, which hamas and its administering officers will usurp, abuse, waste or steal; leaving the populace sick and hungry again.

* the divide among arabs is not transitory. in another age, say, the late 20th century, it could have been manipulated into an all-out armed confrontation among the cliques, similar to iraq's invasion of kuwait, that would result in even more effective subjugation to the west, of the sort saudi arabia has gone under after kuwait. no such threat today although that does not mean unity, concord and consent are closer to the arab world.

* the arab divide is mainly representative of the position the sides adopt vis-a-vis modernity and its outcasts. the "moderate" arab-muslim world has managed to progress (regress?) into more wealth and less modernity (2) in the last half decade, thanks to dubious dubya on his way out. so, they can hardly be an essential component or a deciding agent in the modern camp they must adhere to. there, of course, is no likelihood of throwing their stock in with hamas alias iran. in all cases iran is too great a threat and all their viable assets are invested in the west anyway. furthermore, oil is not drinkable or edible. you have to sell it if it is to do any good..

* as a corollary, do not put much stock in qatar's gambit to adopt a role as slightly pro-hamas-because-it-is-from-palestine spokesman in the middle east. it is adversely influenced by iran's proximity and dubai's rise to prominence without even any oil to speak of. it has to tread carefully. tit comes to tat, qatar has to cling to the west, no choice!

* for that matter, algerian and libyan support for hamas is more rhetoric than brawn. negligible.

* as can be expected, syria still is the forerunning advocate of the hamas - irani position (if you discount tayyib efendi, rosy and co., who, supposedly in the name of islamic solidarity are a step short of declaring war on israel!..). with iran's fortunes down though, and syria the only nation in the world whose wealth is stagnant for decades, bashar assad can be said to be mainly blowing smoke. once the clouds clear and he can maintain a face saving defiance, he will again welcome talks with israel.

* even among the so called militant arabs, there will never be a common position that goes beyond rhetorical condemnation of israel and unavailing international moves, say in the u.n. whatever resolution or joint declaration comes forth will simply re-chew the 40-odd year old spiel against israeli occupation. the doha arab summit and similar future meetings are and will be to an extent, to blow some wind off iran's sails after all.

* the non-modern moderate arabs are not necessarily anti-modern. so once dubya goes out and hussein obama begins to wring them into a more malleable shape, they will have to issue political changes and buy their place into some modern fora. they will also have to finance palestine into a moderate existence, until israeli favors to the zone can be accepted and open up a chance of coexistence again. keep in mind though, that is solely at the discretion of israel.

* soon, before or around hussein's 21 january inauguration, there will be cease fire. israel will not of course, have been able to eradicate all origins of paramilitary action against it but is likely to have established some channels of control for the aftermath of its occupation. the military ends will have to be at least 80 percent realized before truce if the incursion is to serve any goal.

* now laugh if you will but "true" relief to gaza can only be managed effectively and at least partly supplied by israel. it should be remembered how israeli jobs helped feed palestine for years until the epidemic of human bombs began. israel has the largest stake in a fairly satisfied gaza public, more in providing their satisfaction right now. however, to do that with hamas entrenched there is impossible. gazai philistines are therefore doomed to more suffering in the hands (also because) of their leaders.

* negotiations will begin. israel's main concern is the militant arabs' and iran's rejection of its right to existence. even if the anti-israeli authorities of hamas etc. officially concede that, militant outlaw bands they feed and support will not fold in. in that case, israel will seek other guarantees from other sources.

* israel has to and probably will ensure the cooperation of some moderate arabs with clout, at least of egypt in guaranteeing its borders and security against hamas and the like. for instance, the gaza border will have to be policed by egypt against contraband likely to be used against israel. obama's currently rampant popularity will help that.

* the sad fact is that hamas has no real case to argue at the time except dead children. heart breaking as it is, that position will practically be a matter of the past as soon as negotiations open. sooner or later, it will be forced to accept the major conditions israel advances, not without open or secret pressure from its newly vocal allies as qatar for example. however, a pacifistic and passive hamas is a dead duck. it will be disrobed even of its rhetoric of "murdered children and bereaved mothers". worse, the funds channeled to it for buying arms will not be flowing as generously for food and medicine. the people of gaza will be taken care of by the west, instead. hamas will either escalate its aggressive discourse and "terrorist" acts or fade away.

* unless the iranians are so fond of stoning women who are supposed to be adulteresses and therefore vote in mahmoud ahmadinajad again, expect changes in that direction after dubya.

* whatever happens, a deep gash will separate the modern world from its fringes, both physicallly and mentally. even turkey, closest in all aspects to the west, has already forfeited its chance of joining the eu prefering to harp on its islamic orientations, for instance. the arabs will be kept proximal but happy enough (2).

* time has come for the world to change speech habits as well. the politically correct will have to fade and give way to harsh realities exchanged in feverish but non-violent communication. tolerance that grew rank with indifference is likely to alter a course toward productive clash to reach better consensus and taking responsibility for the other. and that might be the only way to bridge the m odern - non modern gap.

(1) just as a reminder, the attack on the twin towers on 9-11 was popularly celebrated in many arab countries as a victory over sionists and their allies. governments quickly banned such festivities for fear of worsening their world image and relations with washington. however, the number of newborn boys named osama exploded. if that is not public support for al kaida...
(2) which is not synonymous with owning or being able to afford most expensive modern toys, gadgets and weaponry or even modern factories, as is the custom in the middle east.
(3) more to come on this.

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