Saturday, May 20, 2006

Palestine unraveling

All bets are off in the hopes that Hamas' participation in politics might offer a chance the effort to moderate the militant fundamentalist movement.

Recent moves show that Hamas is as bent on further Islamicizing and controling Palestinian society as its critics say it is. I still think the international community lost a chance to moderate the movement when it came to power, through a combination of political deals and compromise that would have given mulitple chances to influence the movement and begin the slow return of Palestinian society to its secular roots.

But the intense isolation of the movement since it came to power has strengthened the hand of the hard-liners and make them believe they have no choice but to fight to take full control of the Palestinian society. Friends in Gaza are saying things are not the same since Hamas came to power, that the movement is increasing its religious propaganda and that its hardline supporters are becoming increasingly bold in their attitudes and actions towards those they view as non sufficiently Muslim. The last small vestiges of Palestinian secular society are under siege.

Now Hamas has established a full-fledged government back religious militia that it has deployed like an army throughout the Gaza Strip. It's mission is ostensibly to fight crime and chaos, but it is a force designed to challenge the primacy of the secular Fatah movement, and specifically President Abbas throughout the Occupied Territories. The new force has already clashed with the established Palestinian security forces, and drive by shootings, assassination attempts and clashes between the groups increase everyday.

Again, the Washington Post has a good article on the new security force. If Hamas really had in mind doing something that was going to help Palestinians, it would instead take steps to professionalize and maybe streamline the Palestinian security forces. It would struggle, as Abbas does, to avoid a armed confrontations with its rival political movement. Instead it has taken a number of steps that indicate it wishes for an armed showdown with it's Palestinian opponents.

Palestine in starting to unravel. I really fear for the place.


Blogger Akram said...

I don't think the "Islamicization" of this historically secular society should be surprising. Socially and economically oppressed people tend to turn to alternatives and in this case, it is Hamas (although I still doubt that most Palestinians want an Islamic state). It's unfortunate that they have to choose between a corrupt secular faction and a radical religious one. In the long run, I doubt either will instill real changes for the good of the people.

9:28 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

Akram: I agree, the choices for Palestinians are dismal right now, and neither Fatah or Hamas has people's interests at heart. It's a very ugly power struggle, and, whoever ends up on top, it's the people who are losing.

5:02 PM  

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