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Monday, August 08, 2011

Why Honduras is voting for 'Palestinian' statehood

Two years ago, the United States backed Hugo Chavez-admirer Manuel Zelaya in his bid to become President for Life in Honduras. Now, the elected government of Honduras, led by Porfrio Lobo (pictured) has announced that it will back the 'Palestinians' bid for 'statehood' at the United Nations in September. This stunned Israel, because under the Obama administration, Israel, like Honduras, is a scorned American ally, and Israel believed that Honduras would stick with it.

Why is Honduras voting for the 'Palestinians'? Is it because Lobo wants to get back at Obama for supporting Zelaya? Probably not, says Marco Caceres (Hat Tip: Daily Alert).
On the other hand, a vote in favor of Palestine would have the effect of pleasing Arab countries which might be willing to consider new aid and loans to Honduras, and also increase trade. One of the big stories to come out of the "Honduras is Open for Business" investment conference in San Pedro Sula in May was that Sheikh Abdul Razzaq bin Dawood (who attended the conference) of Saudi Arabia expressed an interest in investing US$25 million in Honduran livestock. The Sheikh, who owns a chain of 13 supermarkets in his country, apparently wants to buy Honduran beef for sale in his stores.

Given Honduras' desperate demand for cheap oil these days, it would not be unreasonable to imagine some of the major oil-producing Arab countries coming up with preferential pricing agreements for the Lobo government. At the very least, the OPEC Fund for International Development might opt to sizeably increase its aid grants to Honduras. So might the government of Kuwait, which regularly loans money to Honduras.

Then, of course, there is Honduras' still delicate relationships with many countries in South America as a result of Mr. Zelaya's overthrow. Mr. Lobo's decision on Palestine automatically wins Honduras points with members of the United Nations of South America (Unasur), including Ecuador which was the only country to vote against Honduras' readmission to the Organization of American States (OAS). Unasur, as a block, votes in favor of Palestine.

Mr. Lobo is nothing if not a gambler. He knows that the US and the EU are not the only games in town. He's gambling that they will continue to play, even if he annoys them a little. He's betting that the risk is worth it if it means expanding support for Honduras from other less traditional friends.

Lastly, what many do not seem to appreciate is that, in many ways, Honduras has a more natural kinship to the Arab world than to Israel. Of Honduras' population of 8.2 million, an estimated 200,00 to 250,000 are people of Arab descent -- the great majority, Palestinian. The country's powerful business class is dominated by Arab-Hondurans, or Turcos. Former President Carlos Flores Facussé (1998-2002) comes from Palestinian lineage. Honduras' current Foreign Minister, Mario Canahuati is part Palestinian. The country's wealthiest individual, Miguel Facussé Barjum... Palestinian. Most well-known television personality and declared presidential candidate, Salvador Nasralla... Palestinian. Top coffee exporter Oscar Kafati... Palestinian. Victoria Asfoura, Juan Bendeck, William Handal... Palestinian. The Kawas, Larach, Panayotti, Sikaffy families... Palestinian.

Thus, what is surprisingly is not that Honduras has done an about-face on Palestine, but rather that it has waited so long to do so.
Isn't it great when Obama leads from behind? What could go wrong?

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At 5:08 PM, Blogger Moriah said...

Disaster coming their way....


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