Middle East

Brits Gorge on Ottomans

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In the Palestinian territories, the Bush administration's push for more "democracy" in the Middle East resulted in a landslide victory for Hamas (surprise!). After nearly two years of backroom deals and street battles between its fighters and Fatah, Hamas is in firm control of Gaza and its security agencies. Now, according to Britain's Daily Telegraph, the West Bank too "could soon fall to Hamas":

The lawlessness that led the moderate Fatah faction to lose control of Gaza is repeating itself in the West Bank, a senior Palestinian official has claimed.

Unless something is done to neutralise unofficial armed militias, part of the region could fall to Hamas, the hardline Islamic faction, dooming any chance of an independent state in the near future.

Taysir Nasrallah, an electoral officer, also cautioned the international community not to rely on the weak leadership of Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian national authority.

"Mr Abbas's leadership is not strong enough to stand up to the armed factions here in the West Bank," Mr Nasrallah said in his home town of Nablus.

"He is also not strong enough to stand up to the Israelis or to win the confidence of the Palestinian people that Israel will end its occupation and remove the reason for the armed factions to exist. So we have more chaos here, more criminality and more lawlessness—just as there was in Gaza before Hamas took over.

"Unless the security situation improves there is a chance that what happened in Gaza could happen here too."

Also via the Telegraph, this video of a London-based Islamist Hani al-Sibai debating—maybe 'haranguing' is the right word here—a brave Egyptian liberal who patiently explains, using Gaza as an example, that "The ballot box alone doesn't constitute democracy" and that Hamas must follow through by ruling democratically. Note al-Sibai's hilarious/bizarre digression on why the English eat turkey on Christmas. (And yes, there is an Atatürk connection.)