Mixed Bag in the Middle East


As usual, both good and bad news from the Middle East. The good news, from Gaza, is that Palestinians are fast losing patience with their fundamentalist government, with a majority saying that Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah Party is the "legitimate Palestinian ruling authority." Perhaps Israeli (and Western) assistance to Fatah has had its desired effect, though it seems much more likely that, as this Near East Consulting poll suggests, Palestinians simply don't like being bullied by government thugs ("58 percent of respondents said they are now afraid to express their political views following the Hamas takeover, and 60 percent say Hamas' paramilitary police, known as the Executive Force, has done a poor job respecting individual rights.) From the AP, via the International Herald Tribune:

Most residents of the Gaza Strip are afraid to openly express their political views following Hamas' takeover of the area in June, according to a poll released Wednesday, the latest sign of public discontent with Gaza's Islamic militant rulers.

The poll found that a majority of Gazans oppose rocket attacks on Israel, favor a peace agreement with the Jewish state, and do not consider the Hamas authority in Gaza to be the legitimate Palestinian government. It also concluded that Hamas would lose elections if a new vote were held today.

And now for the bad news: The AP reports that one year after the Israel's war with Hezbollah the Iran-backed fundamentalist group has "regained strength" and is now "solidly entrenched across southern Lebanon":

When 30,000 U.N. and Lebanese troops deployed across southern Lebanon at the end of last year's Israel-Hezbollah war, the Islamic militant group's presence shrank in the zone bordering Israeli and its influence seemed likely to diminish as well.

But more than a year later, Hezbollah appears to again be solidly entrenched across Lebanon's south—looking, in fact, as if its fighters never really left but merely went underground.

The Shiite militia's banners hang everywhere, boasting of the "divine victory" over Israel and thanking its chief sponsor, Shiite-majority Iran, for helping with post-war reconstruction. Villagers report the militia's recruitment of young men is booming and its popularity is firm.

Full story here.

reason's Beirut-based contributing editor Michael Young James Joyner on why Israel failed in its 2006 war against Hezbollah.