US planned to defeat Hamas

By Ted Belman

I went out on a limb, based on circumstantial evidence, and suggested that the US ordered Abbas to take a dive..

In this post Dr Sarraj advised that last year Elliot Abrams “was blunt that the Hamas government, which was democratically elected, must be pushed out at any cost.”

There is no question that the US was attempting to bring this about. Wolfensohn resigned this week because he disagreed with this strategy.

Now The Guardian has a different take on events then I do, that is well worth reading. It argues that Hamas acted on a very real fear of a US-sponsored coup.

Reports have been circulating for months of a more sinister side to the boycott. According to them, the US decided last year on a plan to arm and train Mahmoud Abbas’s presidential guard in a deliberate effort to confront and defeat Hamas militarily. Israel has already locked up several dozen Hamas legislators and mayors from the West Bank. The next stage was to do the same in Gaza but have Palestinians, rather than Israelis, run the crackdown.

Now we know what was behind the US/Israel decision to train Fatah and supply them with arms. Fatah was being made ready to militarily defeat Hamas when everyone was ready.

Arming insurgents against elected governments has a long US pedigree and it is no accident that Elliott Abrams, the deputy national security adviser and apparent architect of the anti-Hamas subversion, was a key player in Ronald Reagan’s supply of weapons to the Contras who fought Nicaragua’s elected government in the 1980s.

This explains the odd pairing of Rice with Abrams.

Documents doing the rounds in the Middle East purport to have evidence for Abrams’s “hard coup” strategy. One text recounts Washington’s objectives as expressed in US officials’ conversations with an Arab government. These are, among others, “to maintain President Abbas and Fatah as the centre of gravity on the Palestinian scene”, “avoid wasting time in accommodating Hamas’s ideological conditions”, “undermine Hamas’s political status through providing for Palestinian economic needs”, and “strengthen the Palestinian president’s authority to be able to call and conduct early elections by autumn 2007”.

The document is dated March 2, less than a month after Saudi Arabia brokered the Mecca agreement under which Abbas finally agreed with Hamas on a unity government. The deal upset the Israelis and Washington because it left Hamas’s prime minister Ismail Haniyeh in charge. The document suggests the US wanted to sabotage it. Certainly, according to Hamas officials whom a depressed Abbas later briefed, Abbas was told to scrap Mecca at every subsequent meeting he has had with Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert or with US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and Abrams.

Most ominously, the document of US objectives outlined a $1.27bn programme that would add seven special battalions, totalling 4,700 men, to the 15,000 Abbas already has in his presidential guard and other security forces, which were also to be given extra training and arms. “The desired outcome will be the transformation of Palestinian security forces and provide for the president of the Palestinian Authority to able to safeguard decisions such as dismissing the cabinet and forming an emergency cabinet,” the document says.

Alastair Crooke, a former Middle East adviser to the EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, and current head of a research institute in Beirut, points out that Israel blocked some arms deliveries. It was wary of sending too many into Gaza for fear Fatah might lose them, as indeed has happened. In this sense, only part of the plan went ahead. (Britain has played a small part in helping Abbas’s security forces. It has provided about £350,000 of “non-lethal” equipment this year for protecting the Karni freight crossing between Gaza and Israel.)

The thrust of this analysis is that Hamas had no choice but to thwart the plans.

While Hamas has successfully blocked the US-Fatah plans for Gaza, Abbas is trying to implement them in the West Bank by forming an emergency government. The policy is doomed since the constitution says such a government can only last 30 days. Parliament has to renew it by a two-thirds majority, and parliament is controlled by Hamas. The only sensible policy for Abbas must be to end the effort to marginalise Hamas. He should go back to the Mecca agreement and support a unity government. Even now, Hamas says it is willing to do so.

Perhaps this explains why much of Europe supports Hamas.

This analysis sounds credible to me but it doesn’t explain why Fatah, who was girding for battle and had all the arms and munitions in place, didn’t fight. Why didn’t Israel help Fatah out when things went poorly. Hopefully the story will come out.

It seems to me that US credibility has been severely damaged. Many of us heaped criticism on the US and Israel for their policies since Hamas was elected but never dreamed about their real plans.

Now Israel will have to take on Hamas.

What peace process. No mention of it here. This puts the nail in the peace process. Its a dead end. Its a salvage operation until the end Bush’s term of office.

June 21, 2007 | 6 Comments »

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6 Comments / 6 Comments

  1. So according to the Guardian, the bottom line is that what happened in Gaza was the result of a plot by the neo-con Zionist Eliot Abrams. It always comes down to that.

  2. There are many good and qualified experts on hand in academia and think tanks that if tapped by an American administration could and might give them sound advice re: realities in ME Arab Israeli squabble. I have read Posts and comments of people more knowledgeable than the apparent incompetent and and non experts the Americans have used as envoys, negotiators, and so called personal reps of Presidents and those of the State Dept.In this and other on line forums. Most people forget the the US had nothing to do with Oslo and were as surprised as much as most of us here were when we first heard about the accord. One can say that here was a case of the tail wagging the dog. Before Oslo, Arafat and Bankrupt PLO were rotting in Tunis and even their tel, were cut off for lack of payment. Arafat was still considered a terrorist with the PLO and except forthe UN could not visit the US and Their offices in DC were shut down by the Americans. Our radical post Zionist left led by the insidious Peres Brought all of this on by ourselves with no preliminary knowledge or help from America. Not being Holier than the Pope;

    America quickly shifted gears and adjusted to new situation, that Israel had handed to them on a Golden platter. This all fitted in nicely with Clintons World outlook and he ran with it as only a committed Holy Warrior could and did. Bush in his first term seemed in the beginning to read this situation correctly but by his second term not only had reversed course but went all the way back to Bush #1 policies and even co- opting many of the same key players.

    What does all I have just said have to do with the topic? just this: America and most other western Democracies seem not to be able to chew gum and scratch their heads at the sametime. They are bad at predicting what will be, making and implementing any coheisive foreign policy. The situation on the ground at any given time and Americas interpretation does!

  3. Ted, things have happened very quickly in Gaza. I do not think either America or Israel could have anticipated just how quickly things happened and accordingly did not have enough time react to it. Alternatively, your theory is plausible that America had a hand in setting this up so it really didn’t matter how quickly it went down, so long as it did.

    I only injected R. Peter’s views into the discussion because his take on the situation seemed germaine to topic you and the Guardian article deals with.

    Discussion about if, why and to what extent America may have had a hand in orchestrating a Fatah defeat, which was may well have been intended to be a strategic retreat to isolate Hamas in Gaza, is certainly food for thought.

    This topic also provides an intriguing and useful excercise for those who take the time to marshall the facts and present their theories of what really happened and whether or not what is, is in fact the objective of Americans, Israelis, Fatah and/or others who are always doing something, for better or for worse, behind the scenes.

    All these views are plausible and aid in better understanding the intracacies and complexities of the situation, whther one ascribes to one theory or the other.

  4. The US has had over a year to train Fatah. Israel was part of these plans. I have no quarrel with the Guardian’s lead up to the clash but am left with a question. Either the US decided to instruct Abbas to take a dive or Abbas decided on his own against American wishes to do so. If US, Israel and Fatah were all in agreement they could have prevented the Hamas victory. At a minimum, Israel should have bombed the Fatah compounds where all the armaments were stored.

    If Abbas betrayed the US, then it stands to reason that the US wouldn’t be rushing to support him.

    Bill goes with Peters and suggests that Hamas was too strong and too motivated for Fatah to defeat. The US must have known this, so why did they put half a billion dollars worth of supplies in Gaza without the ability to defend them. Surely there must have been contingency plans for Israel to help out.

    I can’t escape the conclusion that at the last minute, the dive was decided upon

  5. I believe the article Why Hamas Won June 19th, 2007 New York Post by Ralph Peters posted here June 19th, 2007 has some bearing on this discussion. The article can be accessed at the following Israpundit link.

    Both Ted and the Guardian article Ted posts above, provides plausible scenarios as to what lay behind events in Gaza over these past weeks.

    Ralph Peters may however have it right as to why Fatah, a vastly larger and more heavily armed fighting force was defeated by Hamas forces and forced to turn tail for the West Bank.

    If Peters is right, that just speaks to yet another mis-calculation in a long series of miscalculations by America. This time America failed to appreciate just how powerful religious inspired extremist fanaticism can be to empower a much smaller group of Hamas fanatics to overwhelm Fatah, a force superior in numbers and armaments but not driven by the fanaticism of Hamas. Israel too, appears to have underestimated the power of Hamas in that regard.

    There is no doubt however that vis a vis Israel, Abbas/Fatah is every bit as dangerous to Israel as is Hamas. In spite of differences in style, both Hamas and Fatah are equally empowered by their Jew hatred that is akin to religiously inspired extremist fanaticism.

    There are concerns that America is pushing Israel to the brink of disaster by pressuring Israel to renew her peace talks with Abbas/Fatah. It is difficult to know whether Olmert has declared Abbas/Fatah as a partner for peace discussions because of that American pressure, because he did so of his own accord or a bit of both.

    Nonetheless, I would offer this observation. Though Israel has been pushed, prodded and pressured by the U.S. over the last few years and Olmert has engaged in peace talks and expressed willingness to give Israel away to achieve that peace with the Palestinians, Israel has really not given much of substance away at all in this past while.

    Talks seem to really go nowhere. I would also remind readers that they have been saying, especially since January 2006 when Hamas was elected by Palestinians to govern, that the Road Map was moribund, if not dead soon thereafter.

    True this new turn of events seems to have resurrected Road Map thinking, but that thinking was going pretty much nowhere before Hamas came to power and the odds are that thinking will go nowhere fast for the foreseeable future.

    Abbas/Fatah will not be able to leave the Gazan Palestinians to Hamas and claim to represent only the West Bank Palestinians. At some point soon, it looks like Abbas is going to have to strike some kind of deal with Hamas, because Hamas is well entrenched in Gaza.

    There is of course ongoing concern with the pressure America puts Israel under. There is obviously ongoing concern with America’s concerted efforts to empower Palestinians to move towards peace with Israel, which efforts invariably only empower Palestinians to make war with Israel. There is obviously concern with Olmert’s leadership being that he appears to be serving his own political interests over the interests of Israel.

    In spite of that Israel has not as I mentioned not really given away much if anything of significance over the last few years to the Palestinians. By the same token they have not gained much if anything from the Palestinians either.

    The situation is still stalemated and it appears that is the way it is going to be for some time yet.

  6. Ted, your hypothesis is much more credible than this analysis. If Fatah had wanted to keep Gaza it would have deployed its tens of thousands of men to put up a fight. Granted, Hamas has a slightly greater appetite for brutality; however, they are equals when it comes to employing terrorism to gain power. The fact that Israel did not join in when the chips were down for Fatah does not surprise me at all. It is much better for Israel to have a self-contained area that can be bombed without the possibility of hurting a future “partner in peace” or further inflaming world opinion. What Israel knows is that Fatah is just as bad as Hamas but Hamas does not have the PR superstar status of a Hamas. That might change and the world is likely to establish normal relations with Hamas very soon.

    The US has never offered anything other than words and pressure on Israel (not pressure on Arab states) to solve the conflict over the years. If we take a hard look at the history of the US role we would understand that they would never have done anything to cause the overthrow of Hamas other than giving Fatah weapons. The harder I look at the US role, the more I realize that they are weak due to their attempt to be evenhanded and the good guy. Their intelligence is very flawed and they are divided along many different lines when it comes to the Middle East. As a result, the situation grows worse and they are constantly hurting their real and natural ally, Israel.

    The biggest mistake that is being made in all of this new mess is for Israel and the US to automatically jump on the Abbas bandwagon. The fast track to statehood for Fatah will still leave Israel with too many problems and still have the terrorism coming from Hamas. The Palestinians always point the finger at their radical factions (uncontrollable so they say) whenever terrorism happens and refuse to take any blame upon themselves. The Palestinians must first fight it out among themselves to establish who is in power and what direction they want to go. If all these years of terrorizing their children and the children of Israel has not left them feeling morally and physically repulsed by what they have become, then no designation of statehood is going to solve what seems to be psychological insanity on a mass scale.

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