Monday, April 24, 2006
Is Abu Mazen Nuts?
I just have to wonder, after seeing this on CNN.com:
Abbas warns he can remove Hamas from powerI'll admit that I'm no expert on the Palestinian constitution, such as it is. (Follow the link, and have a look at Article 89: the President does indeed have the right to dissolve Parliament, but not during the first year after an election.) But I'm reminded powerfully of Secretary of State Alexander Haig, back in 1981, asserting on television that he was third in line for the Presidency... and thereby making a laughingstock of himself forever after. (Coming from a retired general, during a time when the President was incapacitated by a nearly-successful assassination attempt, this felt at the time like a power grab... and a spectacularly incompetent power grab at that. Haig was fifth in line, not third, and it's incredible to imagine that he didn't know that.)
"The constitution gives me clear and definite authority to remove a government from power, but I don't want to use this authority," Abbas said in an interview with CNN-Turk. "Everyone should know that by law this power is in my hands." The interview was recorded before he arrived in Turkey on Sunday.
As for Mahmoud Abbas, aka Abu Mazen, I'm not sure what he thinks he's doing. I do hope, however, that his life insurance is paid up. Hamas, as the saying goes, is not known for playing nice with others.
Asked about the possibility of Abbas bring down the Hamas government, a senior Hamas official in the West Bank said the group would "not leave in silence" and threatened to stop recognizing a truce with Israel.Okay, so now we have Abbas threatening to remove the popularly-elected Hamas government from power, although he "doesn't want to use this authority"... and Hamas, typically for a terrorist organization, threatens "a heavy price for everyone", although they "hope not to reach that".
"We will go, but we will not recognize the Palestinian political regime. We will not participate in any new election and we will go underground as we did before and we will not adhere to any commitments, any truce, by anyone. Being ousted from power will have a heavy price for everyone. We hope not to reach that."
Keep talking, gentlemen. You're doing fine. Let's hear more about all the things you hope the other side won't make you do. (Is threatening to hold your breath among them?)
The [Hamas] official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter with the media.Well, now, that's what I call a confidence-building measure...
"Hamas has to face the facts and establish communication with Israel," Abbas said. "I'm worried that the situation will turn into a tragedy in the near future. A short time later we could be up against a great hunger disaster in Palestine."Hmm, now that's interesting. Does Abbas really think that he can prop up his political career by supporting peace with Israel? (I don't recall a single Palestinian poll, not one, showing a majority in favor of ending the terror war against Israel.) Or is he simply trying to paint himself as the moderate -- not hard to do, when Hamas is your competition -- in an effort to gain foreign support for himself personally?
"Without help we can't stand on our feet long," he added.
Abbas said that he would work for a solution with or without Hamas.
"Hamas can support me or not. When I find a way to a solution with Israel, I'll present this to the Palestinian people in a referendum," Abbas said. "The Palestinian people are above Hamas and other politicians."
If that's his game, it might be good for him to remember that Palestinians, not foreign leaders, are the ones whose support he'd need. He might also like to recall that foreign leaders cannot save him from a Hamas assassination squad.
With Hamas in power, many Western nations froze vital aid to the Palestinian government, causing a financial crisis. The government is nearly three weeks late paying March salaries to its 165,000 employees, and Hamas officials say they do not know when they will have the money.Perhaps I'm naive... but does a provisional government, claiming authority over roughly two million people, really need that many government employees? (Particularly a government that cannot even prevent masked gunmen from storming a Cabinet session to demand better working conditions?)
I suspect that the barely-controlled struggle between Hamas and Abu Mazen's Fatah is reaching a flash point. For myself, I hope that Israel stays out of it, and lets them settle matters among themselves.