Category Archives: Arab League

Arabs say Gaddafi must go, wary of Western action

Reuters reports:

Muammar Gaddafi’s appeal for Arab solidarity in the face of foreign air strikes fell on deaf ears across the Middle East on Sunday, but support for his opponents was mixed with deep suspicion of Western motives.

Western forces have unleashed their biggest military attack in the Arab world since the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, targeting Gaddafi’s air defences and armoured vehicles near the rebel stronghold of Benghazi in the east of the country.

A few hours after the first missiles struck, Gaddafi called on “citizens of the Arab and Islamic nations” and other developing countries to “stand by the heroic Libyan people to confront this aggression”.

But Arabs from North Africa to the Gulf, many demanding political rights for the first time, dismissed the appeal from a leader whose four decades of authoritarian and capricious rule have exhausted any reserves of sympathy.

“It is now clear and understandable that Arab people want to get rid of their leaders, so leaders should simply leave and not fight their people and force foreign nations to interfere,” said Mohamed Abdel Motaleb, a bank employee in Cairo, where mass protests toppled veteran president Hosni Mubarak last month.

“I am very much against foreign troops fighting in Libya, but Arab leaders should not let that happen through their stubbornness and refusal to quit power”.

A Libyan government official said 64 people died in the Western air strikes and the head of the Arab League, which supported Libyan no-fly zone, said the organisation had not endorsed attacks on ordinary Libyans.

“What is happening in Libya differs from the aim of imposing a no-fly zone, and what we want is the protection of civilians and not the bombardment of more civilians,” Amr Moussa said, announcing an emergency Arab League meeting to discuss Libya.

The overthrow of Mubarak in Egypt and Tunisia’s Zine al Abidine bin Ali — as well as mass protests against leaders in Yemen and Bahrain — have restored a dormant Arab pride which was crushed by decades of autocracy and foreign intervention.

But many people in the Arab world, while anxious to see the end of Gaddafi’s rule, felt that the resort to Western military action has tarnished Libya’s revolution.

“Who will accept that foreign countries attack an Arab country? This is something shameful,” said Yemeni rights activist Bashir Othman.


Support for military action was also muted by deep-seated suspicions that the West is more concerned with securing access to Arab oil supplies than supporting Arab aspirations.

“They are hitting Libya because of the oil, not to protect the Libyans,” said Ali al-Jassem, 53, in the village of Sitra in Bahrain, where protests by the Shi’ite Muslim majority against the Sunni ruling Al-Khalifa family have triggered military reinforcement by neighbouring Gulf Arab forces.

A spokesman for Bahrain’s largest Shi’ite opposition party Wefaq questioned why the West was intervening against Gaddafi while it allowed oil-producing allies to support a crackdown on protesters in Bahrain in which 11 people have been killed.

“We think what is happening in Bahrain is no different to what was happening in Libya,” Ibrahim Mattar said. “Bahrain is very small so the deaths are significant for a country where Bahrainis are only 600,000.”

In Iraq, where U.S.-led forces invaded eight years ago to topple Saddam Hussein, opposition to Gaddafi was tempered by the years of violence which Iraq endured after Saddam’s downfall, as well as anger at perceived double standards.

“Bombing Gaddafi’s forces is a step in the right direction but turning blind eyes to the slaughter of innocent protesters in Bahrain is a step in the wrong direction,” said Amir Ahmed, owner of a home appliance shop in Baghdad’s Karrada district.

The leader of Lebanon’s Shi’ite group Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, said many people had spelt out their support for the protests in Egypt and Libya, “but when Bahrain is involved… their ink dries up”.

“What is the difference between the Al-Khalifa regime and the regimes of (Hosni) Mubarak and Gaddafi?” he said in a televised speech on Saturday night.

But criticism of the West has not translated into support for Gaddafi, who has bemused or infuriated leaders across the Arab world during his four decades in power.


Arab League calls on UN to enforce no-fly zone over Libya

The Wall Street Journal reports:

The Arab League on Saturday called on the United Nations Security Council to enforce a “no-fly zone” over Libyan airspace, marking a decisive diplomatic victory for rebel forces opposed to Moammar Gadhafi, the Libyan ruler.

The announcement will bolster calls by some European leaders to intervene in the violent confrontation between rebels and Col. Gadhafi’s military.

The U.S. and the European Union had deferred to the 22-member league of Arab nations to determine whether outside military forces should intervene.

The air superiority of forces loyal to Col. Gadhafi has helped tip the balance of power against the antigovernment uprising based in the eastern part of the country. On Saturday, government forces tightened their grip on the coastal road linking government-held territory to the rebel-controlled east, the Associated Press reported.

Col. Gadhafi’s forces all but routed rebels in the coastal oil-refining city of Ras Lanuf earlier this week and completed their assault on Zawiya, a rebel stronghold west of Tripoli, Libya’s capital.

Deliberations will now go to the U.N. Security Council, where permanent members China and Russia are thought to oppose the proposed no-fly zone.

Abdel Hafeez Goga, the deputy head of the Benghazi-based provisional rebel government, the Transitional National Council, praised the Arab League decision.

“We welcome and salute their decision and look at it as a step forward to the imposition of no-fly-zone imposition,” he told a news conference in Benghazi.


The fight for Libya

Chris McGreal reports from Ras Lanuf, where thousands of young volunteers now provide the bulk of the rebel force that has swept along Libya’s eastern coast:

Gaddafi’s air force has bombed Ras Lanuf repeatedly, cutting off the town’s water supply on Tuesday and destroying housing. On Monday the victims included a civilian, Mohammed Ashtal, who was killed with three of his children when an air strike hit their car.

The bombing has put the inexperienced fighters on edge as they constantly scan the sky for planes. Every now and then a shout goes up. Someone claims there is a MiG jet. No one can see it but hundreds of weapons let loose in a futile wave of fire in every direction. Young men swivel anti-aircraft guns, letting go bursts of shells with a deadening thud. Kalashnikov bullets pop furiously.

Not long after one such false alarm, the young fighters raced out of town towards the front despite the pleas of their more experienced commanders to maintain their defensive lines and positions guarding a nearby oil refinery.

It was all very worrying for Fathi Mohammed, torn between admiration of young men willing to risk their lives in pursuit of freedom and despair at their lack of discipline. The 46-year-old former captain in Gaddafi’s special forces is trying to instil some organisation in the bands of fighters who have descended on Ras Lanuf.

“They’re not under control,” he said. “Some of these guys, they just took guns from the military camp in Benghazi and came here without anyone knowing what they are doing. We are trying to make them into organised teams but it’s not easy.”

Rajab Hasan, another former soldier tasked with training, chipped in: “They need a leader. We don’t have enough leaders.”

Mohammed expressed his concern at the implications of all this carefully. The rebel army has done well until now, advancing and then staving off attempts by Gaddafi’s forces to break through. But he acknowledged that the rebels could face a problem if its enemy is able to launch a sustained attack.

Mohammed does not want to concede that defeat might be a possibility, even though a rumour has swept the rebels that Gaddafi is amassing tanks for a frontal assault. But he does recognise that victory is not certain. “It’s not impossible to get to Tripoli. If God is with us,” he said. Still, Mohammed does not question the courage of the young fighters. “They are brave. They have the courage. It’s a popular war. There’s a lot of enthusiasm.”

The New York Times reports:

In less than three weeks, an inchoate opposition in Libya, one of the world’s most isolated countries, has cobbled together the semblance of a transitional government, fielded a ragtag rebel army and portrayed itself to the West and Libyans as an alternative to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s four decades of freakish rule.

But events this week have tested the viability of an opposition that has yet to coalesce, even as it solicits help from abroad to topple Colonel Qaddafi’s government.

Rebels were dealt military setbacks in Zawiyah and the on outskirts of Ras Lanuf on Tuesday, part of a strengthening government counteroffensive. Meanwhile, the oppostion council’s leaders contradicted one another publicly. The opposition’s calls for foreign aid have amplified divisions over intervention. And provisional leaders warn that a humanitarian crisis may loom as people’s needs overwhelm fledgling local governments.

“I am Libya,” Colonel Qaddafi boasted after the uprising erupted. It was standard fare for one of the world’s most outrageous leaders — megalomania so pronounced that it sounded like parody. It underlined, though, the greatest and perhaps fatal obstacle facing the rebels here — forging a substitute to Colonel Qaddafi in a state that he embodied.

“We’ve found ourselves in a vacuum,” Mustafa Gheriani, an acting spokesman for the provisional leadership, said Tuesday in Benghazi, the rebel capital. “Instead of worrying about establishing a transitional government, all we worry about are the needs — security, what people require, where the uprising is going. Things are moving too fast.”

“This is all that’s left,” he said, lifting his cellphone, “and we can only receive calls.”

The question of the opposition’s capabilities is likely to prove decisive to the fate of the rebellion, which appears outmatched by government forces and troubled by tribal divisions that the government, reverting to form, has sought to exploit. Rebel forces are fired more by enthusiasm than experience. The political leadership has virtually begged the international community to recognize it, but it has yet to marshal opposition forces abroad or impose its authority in regions it nominally controls.

The Guardian reports:

Nato has launched 24-hour air and sea surveillance of Libya as a possible precursor to a no-fly zone, amid signs of growing Arab support for western military intervention to stop the bombing of civilians.

British and French diplomats at the UN headquarters in New York have completed a draft resolution authorising the creation of a no-fly zone which could be put before the security council within hours if aerial bombing by pro-Gaddafi forces causes mass civilian casualties.

“It would require a clear trigger for a resolution to go forward,” a western diplomat said. In such an event, there would be pressure on Russia and China not to use vetoes. Western officials believe support for a no-fly zone from the Islamic world, as well as from the Libyan opposition and Libyan diplomats at the UN, would put Moscow and Beijing on the defensive.

The Gulf Co-operation Council, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference and the secretary general of the Arab League have called for the protection of Libyan civilians while rejecting the intervention of western ground troops. Turkey, the most reluctant Nato member state, has relaxed its opposition and allowed contingency planning to go ahead.

The decision to step up air and sea monitoring was taken on Monday by the North Atlantic Council, a meeting of ambassadors from Nato’s 28 member states.

Foreign Policy reports:

The State Department believes that supplying any arms to the Libyan opposition to support their struggle against Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi would be illegal at the current time.

“It’s very simple. In the U.N. Security Council resolution passed on Libya, there is an arms embargo that affects Libya, which means it’s a violation for any country to provide arms to anyone in Libya,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said on Monday.

Crowley denied reports that the United States had asked Saudi Arabia to provide weapons to the Libyan opposition, and also denied that the United States would arm opposition groups absent explicit international authorization.

Pressed by reporters to clarify whether the Obama administration had any plans to give arms to any of the rebel groups in Libya, Crowley said no.

“It would be illegal for the United States to do that,” he said. “It’s not a legal option.”

Crowley’s blanket statement seemed to go further than comments on Monday by White House spokesman Jay Carney, who said, “On the issue of … arming, providing weapons, it is one of the range of options that is being considered.”

The New York Times reports:

As wealthier nations send boats and planes to rescue their citizens from the violence in Libya, a new refugee crisis is taking shape on the outskirts of Tripoli, where thousands of migrant workers from sub-Saharan Africa have been trapped with scant food and water, no international aid and little hope of escape.

The migrants — many of them illegal immigrants from Ghana and Nigeria who have long constituted an impoverished underclass in Libya — live amid piles of garbage, sleep in makeshift tents of blankets strung from fences and trees, and breathe fumes from a trench of excrement dividing their camp from the parking lot of Tripoli’s airport.

For dinner on Monday night two men killed a scrawny, half-plucked chicken by dunking it in water boiled on a garbage fire, then hacked it apart with a dull knife and cooked it over an open fire. Some residents of the camp are as young as Essem Ighalo, 9 days old, who arrived on his second day of life and has yet to see a doctor. Many refugees said they had seen deaths from hunger and disease every night.

The airport refugees, along with tens of thousands of other African migrants lucky enough to make it across the border to Tunisia, are the most desperate contingent of a vast exodus that has already sent almost 200,000 foreigners fleeing the country since the outbreak of the popular revolt against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi nearly three weeks ago.

Libya’s Interim Transitional National Council now has a website with this introductory statement:

In this important historical juncture which Libya is passing through right now, we find ourselves at a turning point with only two solutions. Either we achieve freedom and race to catch up with humanity and world developments, or we are shackled and enslaved under the feet of the tyrant Mu’ammar Gaddafi where we shall live in the midst of history. From this junction came the announcement of the Transitional National Council, a step on the road to liberate every part of the Libyan lands from Aamsaad in the east to Raas Ajdair in the west, and from Sirte in the north to Gatrun in the south. To liberate Libya from the hands of the tyrant Mu’ammar Gaddafi who made lawful to himself the exploitation of his people and the wealth of this country. The number of martyrs and wounded and the extreme use of excessive force and mercenaries against his own people requires us to take the initiative and work on the Liberalization of Libya from such insanities.

To reach this goal, the Transitional National Council announced its official establishment on 5th March 2011 in the city of Benghazi, stating its perseverance towards the aim of relocating its headquarters to our capital and bride of the Mediterranean, the city of Tripoli.

To connect with our people at home and abroad, and to deliver our voice to the outside world, we have decided to establish this website as the official window of communication via the world wide web.

May peace and God’s mercy and blessings be upon you
Long live Libya free and dignified

Map of the revolution:


Is a no-fly zone what Libyans want?

Jerry Haber observes:

[L]iberal interventionists are highly selective in their moral outrage, and … suffer from a “Saving-Private-Ryan” complex – they will intervene to save people with whom they identify, people on their side. But if the civilians happen to be on other the side of their tribal divide, they become silent.

Indeed. None of those now calling for a no-fly zone over Libya have called for a no-fly zone over Gaza. The difference clearly hinges on whether one has a greater affiliation with those dropping the bombs or those getting bombed.

But does this shed any light on the question of whether a no-fly zone should be enforced over Libya? Not really.

If we reduce such questions to questions of affiliation then all we will ever do is look to see where “my people” stand. If enough progressives start calling for a no-fly zone, then suddenly it becomes the right thing. But if its advocates are all neocons or neo-liberals, then it can’t be right.

This isn’t analysis — it’s politics reduced to the expression of allegiance.

So, turning back to the question of a no-fly zone, let’s forget about whether Charles Krauthammer or Sarah Palin think it’s a good idea, and let’s at least expose the array of questions embedded in what is falsely being presented as a single question. The question is not simply, do you favor or oppose a no-fly zone being imposed over Libya?

The first question is: who, if anyone, has the capability to effectively impose a no-fly zone?

I can’t give an authoritative answer to that question, but I would assume that a combined NATO force would have the capacity — though I might be wrong, given the commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Arab League now backs a no-fly zone. If some of its members also contributed forces, this might diminish the perception that a no-fly zone was strictly a Western intervention.

The second question is: would a no-fly zone have a desirable impact on the civil war?

So far, Gaddafi does not seem to have relied heavily on his ability to bomb or fire missiles on his opponents, so even if a no-fly zone was already in place, it’s not clear that it would have had much impact on the fight thus far. Even so, if Benghazi ends up getting flattened, no one will be served by the hindsight that a no-fly zone could have prevented that from happening.

The third question is: on whose authority could a no-fly zone be implemented?

This can be viewed as a legal question but it’s really a question of political legitimacy.

As with so many good intentions, there is a narcissistic current underlying many of the current calls for intervention:

  • the perceived need that “we must do something” even when it’s not clear that the proposed course of action can be implemented or will be effective
  • the need to promote the image of the United States as a force for good in the world
  • the need to show the world that the US is capable of limiting the power of tyrants
  • the need for prominent figures to assume a proactive political posture in order to sharpen the contrast with their political opponents

None of these serves well as a lens for focusing on the actual needs of the Libyan people.
In an editorial, The Guardian notes:

Some Libyan rebels have called for a no-fly zone, but until now – and this may change – the mood of the Libyan uprising is that this is their fight and their fight alone. Quite apart from the unwarranted legitimacy a bombing campaign would (once again) confer on the Libyan leader among his rump support in Tripoli and the damage it would do to attempts to split his camp, a major western military intervention could have unforeseen political consequences for the very forces it would be designed to support. A no-fly zone saved lives in Kurdish northern Iraq, but failed to protect the Shias in the south under Saddam Hussein. The moral strength of the Libyan rebels and their political claim to represent the true voice of the people both rest partly on the fact that, like the Egyptians and the Tunisians, they have come this far alone. The revolt is theirs, they are no one else’s proxy, and the struggle is about ending tyranny rather than searching for new masters. Even if Gaddafi’s forces succeed in checking the advance of rebel forces, and the civil war becomes protracted, it is the home-grown nature of this revolt that contains the ultimate seeds of the destruction of Gaddafi’s regime. Thus far, it is Gaddafi and his sons who have had to import hired guns from abroad.

The need to maintain a self-reliant revolution can be overstated. I doubt that any of the weaponry of any value that either side is using right now was manufactured in Libya. This is a fight engaging Libyan hands and hearts but using foreign arms. What those outside the fight must attend to above all else is the Libyan voice.

President Obama has already said that Muammar Gaddafi has lost his legitimacy as Libya’s leader, so an important and necessary precursor to the whole debate about providing military or non-military assistance to Libya’s revolutionaries, is formal recognition of their leadership: the Interim National Transitional Council in Benghazi.

The Council has formed an executive team headed by Dr Mahmoud Jebril Ibrahim El-Werfali and Dr Ali Aziz Al-Eisawi who will represent Libya’s foreign affairs and have been delegated the authority to negotiate and communicate with all members of the international community and to seek international recognition.

The Transitional Council’s third decree dated March 5, ends: “we request from the international community to fulfil its obligations to protect the Libyan people from any further genocide and crimes against humanity without any direct military intervention on Libyan soil.”

That seems to leave open the question about whether a no-fly zone is being sought.

If Obama want to show he’s a man of action, the most decisive thing he could do right now is recognize the Transitional Council and send an official US representative to Benghazi to find out exactly what forms of assistance the revolutionaries seek and see what kinds of assistance the US and its allies might be able to provide.


The fountainhead of global strife

If the Obama administration had been as visionary as Obamamania promised it might be, Chas Freeman might not have merely been briefly offered the post of chair of the National Intelligence Council; he could have become a fine Secretary of State. Instead, the Israel lobby made sure he gained no position at all, but by doing so ensured that he would retain the freedom to speak with more candor than any government official ever dares.

In a speech he delivered yesterday in Norway, Freeman laid out the US role in seeking and obstructing Middle East peace, with a clarity and style rarely found in foreign policy discourse.

Islam charges rulers with the duty to defend the faithful and to uphold justice. It demands that they embody righteousness. The resentment of mostly Muslim Arabs at their governing elites’ failure to meet these standards generates sympathy for terrorism directed not just at Israel but at both the United States and Arab governments associated with it.

The perpetrators of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the United States saw it in part as reprisal for American complicity in Israeli cruelties to Palestinians and other Arabs. They justified it as a strike against Washington’s protection of Arab governments willing to overlook American contributions to Muslim suffering. Washington’s response to the attack included suspending its efforts to make peace in the Holy Land as well as invading and occupying Afghanistan and Iraq. All three actions inadvertently strengthened the terrorist case for further attacks on America and its allies. The armed struggle between Americans and Muslim radicals has already spilled over to Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and other countries. Authoritative voices in Israel now call for adding Iran to the list of countries at war with America. They are echoed by Zionist and neo-conservative spokesmen in the United States,

The widening involvement of Americans in combat in Muslim lands has inflamed anti-American passions and catalyzed a metastasis of terrorism. It has caused a growing majority of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims to see the United States as a menace to their faith, their way of life, their homelands, and their personal security. American populists and European xenophobes have meanwhile undercut liberal and centrist Muslim arguments against the intolerance that empowers terrorism by equating terrorism and its extremist advocates with Islam and its followers. The current outburst of bigoted demagoguery over the construction of an Islamic cultural center and mosque in New York is merely the most recent illustration of this. It suggests that the blatant racism and Islamophobia of contemporary Israeli politics is contagious. It rules out the global alliances against religious extremists that are essential to encompass their political defeat.

Freeman went on to say:

Vague promises of a Palestinian state within a year now waft through the air. But the “peace process” has always sneered at deadlines, even much, much firmer ones. A more definitive promise of an independent Palestine within a year was made at Annapolis three years ago. Analogous promises of Palestinian self-determination have preceded or resulted from previous meetings over the decades, beginning with the Camp David accords of 1979. Many in this audience will recall the five-year deadline fixed at Oslo. The talks about talks that begin tomorrow can yield concrete results only if the international community is prepared this time to insist on the one-year deadline put forward for recognizing a Palestinian state. Even then there will be no peace unless long-neglected issues are addressed.

Peace is a pattern of stability acceptable to those with the capacity to disturb it by violence. It is almost impossible to impose. It cannot become a reality, still less be sustained, if those who must accept it are excluded from it. This reality directs our attention to who is not at this gathering in Washington and what must be done to remedy the problems these absences create.

Obviously, the party that won the democratically expressed mandate of the Palestinian people to represent them — Hamas — is not there. Yet there can be no peace without its buy-in.

Peacemaking must engage those who are willing to use violence. Yet this assertion — whose truth is so obvious — is still being treated as a bold idea.

The narrative of peace promoted through the Bush era and still being propagated by Obama, suggests that peace is somehow produced by rallying together everyone who is willing to denounce violence — as though those who are willing to use violence will lose that capacity if they can be sufficiently marginalized. But on the contrary, political marginalization invariably has the opposite effect as those whose grievances are ignored, look for increasingly extreme means to make themselves heard.


Turkey is the new Palestinian champion

Noting a historic shift in the regional balance of power, Alastair Crooke says:

The cause of the Palestinians is gradually passing out of the hands of Mubarak and King Abdullah bin Aziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia. It is the leaders of Iran and Turkey, together with President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, who recognize the winds of change. Mubarak appears increasingly isolated and is cast as Israel’s most assiduous collaborator. Here in the region, it is often as not the Egyptian embassies that are the butt of popular demonstrations.

Mubarak’s motives for his dogged support for Israel are well known in the region: He is convinced that the gateway to obtaining Washington’s green light for his son Gamal to succeed him lies in Tel Aviv rather than Washington. Mubarak enjoys a bare modicum of support in the United States, and if Washington is to ignore its democratic principles in order to support a Gamal shoo-in, it will be because Israel says that this American “blind eye” is essential for its security.

To this end, Mubarak has worked to weaken and hollow out Hamas’s standing in Gaza, and to strengthen that of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Indeed, he has pursued this policy at the expense of Palestinian unity – his regular “unity” initiatives notwithstanding. Egyptian one-sided peace “brokering” is viewed here as part of the problem rather than as part of any Palestinian solution. Paradoxically, it is precisely this posture that has opened the door to Turkey and Iran’s seizing of the sponsorship of the Palestinian cause.

Meanwhile, Associated Press reports:

The Arab world’s top diplomat declared support Sunday for the people of blockaded Gaza in his first visit to the Palestinian territory since Hamas violently seized control of it three years ago.

The visit was latest sign that Israel’s deadly raid on a flotilla trying to break the blockade of Gaza has eased the diplomatic isolation of the Islamic militant group.

Israel, meanwhile, appeared to grow more isolated in the fallout over the May 31 raid as Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak abruptly canceled plans Sunday to visit Paris.

Barak’s office said he canceled his trip while Israel forms a committee to investigate the raid. The statement denied that the decision was connected to attempts by pro-Palestinian groups to seek his arrest.

George Mitchell, having been President Obama’s so-called Middle East peace envoy for a year and a half and during that time having engaged in tireless and fruitless shuttle diplomacy, has yet to visit Gaza.


Listen to the Arabs

Parag Khanna writes:

If Arabs are supposed to be lining up with the United States and Israel to contain the hegemonic ambitions of Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, then why did Syria host a “war council” of Iran and Hezbollah in Damascus last month? And why is Qatar exploring gas fields jointly with Iran?

The fact is that most Arabs prefer a modus vivendi with Iran — just as many tacitly collaborate with Israel on matters of mutual interest.

Rather than seeing themselves as trapped between Israel and Iran, the most common Arab objective seems to be to limit excessive American influence in their region.

Americans widely believe that the Arab world was elated by the election of President Obama over a year ago. That is so, but not because the Arabs want strong American leadership in their region; they’d prefer to run their own affairs with minimal American interference. From engaging Hamas to negotiating with Iran, Arab states are taking matters into their own hands. And that’s good.

In the run-up to the Arab League summit this weekend, the organization signaled to the Palestinian leadership that it backs direct talks with Israel on final status issues, and is moving toward creating an Arab peacekeeping force to stabilize Gaza and re-integrate Hamas into the Palestinian government.

Dealing with the Palestinians’ internal divisions in this way achieves America’s objective of subduing Hamas in a far better way than any American efforts to date.


Regional impact of the war on Gaza

Gaza attack strengthens Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood

Rarely do Egyptian demonstrations see thousands of people take to the streets. But, put together anti-Israeli and anti-government sentiments spearheaded by the powerful Muslim Brotherhood, and the result is the country’s largest street action since the first anniversary of the American invasion of Iraq in 2004.

With Israel vowing a “long” siege against the Gaza Strip, there are concerns that the already strong opposition Brotherhood could become even stronger in the face of Israel’s military action against Palestinians.

On Monday, thousands of Egyptians marched in downtown Cairo, chanting phrases such as, “Off to Gaza we go, martyrs by the million,” and “We all belong to Hamas.”

The government and the military were as much to blame as Israel, activists said. “Where is the Egyptian army?” was another slogan chanted by the throngs of demonstrators.

“It is disappointing that while our Palestinian brothers and sisters are being killed, [President Hosni] Mubarak and his cronies sit by and do nothing. Only the Brotherhood is leading this country on the right path,” says Ahmed Said, a university student who is supporting the efforts of the Brotherhood. [continued…]

Al Jazeera: Arab League inaction (part one)

Al Jazeera: Arab League inaction (part two)