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Monday, January 30, 2006

Terrorists at the Gates

Who is to blame for Hamas coming to power? Michael Krauss and Peter Pham find plenty of blame to go around:

... How did it come about that a group listed as a terrorist organization by both the United States and the European Union finds itself the victor in a poll that the so-called Quartet (the U.S., E.U., Russia, and the United Nations) hailed as "free, fair, and secure"? While a lot of the responsibility is borne by the hopelessly incompetent and corrupt Fatah leadership which, despite being the recipient of billions of dollars of foreign aid since the Oslo Agreement, has yet to alleviate the misery in so much as one of the town under its control, some of the blame must placed on the international community, some on Washington.

Last year, in Lebanon, to Israel's north, political and sectarian bickering over cabinet posts delayed for months the unveiling of the country's first elected government since Syria's military was forced to withdraw in early 2005 — much to the chagrin of hundreds of thousands who poured into the streets of Beirut in Lebanon's "Cedar Revolution.". After lengthy and Byzantine negotiations, Prime Minister-designate Fouad Siniora finally announced the appointment of twenty-four ministers. For the first time, the cabinet contained representatives of the Shia group Hezbollah, a "specially designated terrorist group" according to Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Israel, and other Western democracies, as well as our own State department.

Hezbollah has been the de facto (totalitarian) government in southern Lebanon for years. Allied with, but operating largely outside the control of, Lebanon's longtime occupier, Syria, Hezbollah built villages, operated schools, and told people how to vote in southern Lebanon before and after the Syrian withdrawal. In the elections, exploiting its claim of having driven Israeli forces out of southern Lebanon in 2000, as well as its not inconsiderable powers of intimidation, Hezbollah swept up the votes of southern Shiites, winning fourteen parliamentary seats. In alliance with Amal, another Shia party, Hezbollah finished with indirect control of thirty-five seats, making it the second largest group in the Lebanese parliament. From this position of strength, Hezbollah Secretary-General Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah demanded at least two cabinet posts, including that of foreign minister. This wish was granted. Hezbollah parliamentarian Mohammed Fneish received the energy ministry, while Hezbollah-backed "independent" Shiite Fawzi Salukh was given the foreign ministry, and another Shiite from the Hezbollah-Amal group, Tarad Hamadeh, was appointed labor minister. Fneish is a veteran of Hezbollah's terrorist campaign who won notoriety in 1997 for holding hostage the remains of Israeli commandos killed in action, parceling their body parts out to Amal and the Lebanese military for "safekeeping" until Israel to agreed to release a number of imprisoned terrorists. Nor has Fneish's subsequent entrance into the political realm moderated his views: in a March 2004 interview, for example, he continued to describe the existence of Israel as "immoral and illegitimate."

The prospect of terrorists sitting in any government ought to send shivers down the backs of free peoples. Not surprisingly, however, some hailed Hezbollah's participation in the Lebanese government as "progress." For example, an editorial in The Economist, headlined "Mainstreaming Terrorists," argued that "turning these organizations into solid citizens would strike a heavy blow against al-Qaeda and Islamic terrorism in general." Likely, similar bromides will soon be published apropos Hamas in the PA.

Read it all.


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