With us or against us, ad absurdum

Jonathan Schanzer is the VP for Research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, the folks who think the Iraq War was so nice, they’d like to do it twice (just swap that “q” for an “n”). He’s got a new piece in Foreign Policy, which is often most useful as a window into what the nutters are on about today, called “Hamas’s BFFs.” It’s subtitled “It’s time to stop treating Turkey and Qatar like they’re anything other than proxies for terrorists,” which is interesting since both countries are, in fact, other things besides “proxies for terrorists.” One of them is a “NATO member,” which is still kind of a big deal with respect to American foreign policy, and the other is “home to the main forward operating base for CENTCOM,” which is also kind of a big deal. I assume somebody at FDD knows this stuff, but maybe I’m giving them too much credit.

Anyway, Schanzer’s main point is that Turkey and Qatar are Bad because they’ve allied themselves with Hamas. This means that they can’t “engage in honest statecraft,” as opposed to the Saudis or the Egyptians, who are bitterly opposed to Hamas because Muslim Brotherhood, or the US, which when push comes to shove will back Israel to the hilt. When it comes to Gaza, you can only be objective if you back the right side completely. Both countries are home to a couple of high level Hamas leaders, which is Bad, but then Turkey especially is home to a lot of foreign exiles, like, say, the Syrian National Council, which is Good, or the People’s Front of Judea Syrian National Coalition, which is also Good, so maybe you have to take the good with the bad? Nah, too nuanced. Fire up the Tomahawks.

Schanzer’s got more scandalous evidence, and it has to do with money:

Qatar is widely believed to be Hamas’s top sponsor. In 2012, then-emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani visited Gaza and pledged $400 million in economic aid. Just last month, Doha tried to transfer millions of dollars via Jordan’s Arab Bank to pay salaries to Hamas civil servants in Gaza. While that was blocked at Washington’s behest, support continues in other important ways.

Meanwhile, the Turkish government under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has emerged a strident proponent of Hamas. Erdogan’s AKP government has reportedly agreed to donate significantly to Hamas, mostly through public works projects like mosques, schools, and hospitals, but also through direct financial support, according to some reports.

Note how money earmarked for “economic aid” and “public works projects like mosques, schools, and hospitals” is “aid to Hamas” and not “money that the people in Gaza desperately need in order to put together some kind of existence for themselves.” If the argument is that this money will be redirected toward financing Hamas’s terrorist activities, then Schanzer ought to try making that argument, with, like, evidence and stuff (that shady “direct financial support” turns out to be money to cover Gaza’s budget after Iran cut its payments to Hamas, and in fact both of Schanzer’s scary links in that paragraph are talking about the same $300 million payment).

The fact that America hasn’t cut ties with both of these long-standing and strategically important allies on Israel’s account is disgraceful and it’s definitely messing up the peace process. We’d probably have a damn ceasefire already except for the fact that people keep insisting on looking at things from Gaza’s point of view.

It is therefore not surprising that the Israelis have been opposed to the role of these two Hamas patrons in the cease-fire negotiation process since the current Gaza conflict began last month. Israel was particularly irked about the participation of Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Qatari Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiyah in a high-profile diplomatic summit in Paris on July 26.

Yes, how dare any country that isn’t completely flacking for Israel actually have a role in ceasefire talks. Don’t people know how this diplomacy stuff is supposed to work?

In the current negotiations, Qatar and Turkey have been pushing a plan that benefits Hamas above all else. They have been angling for a one-sided deal that would ignore Israel’s security concerns, ease Israel’s blockade on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, and help connect the Palestinian terror group-cum-government to the global economy.

Well, that’s one way of looking at it. The other way would be that their deal would end Israel’s illegal, immoral blockade of Gaza and actually allow the people living there to maybe live as though they were in something other than a giant prison camp. And, you know, not for nothing, but actually ending Gaza’s solitary confinement might do wonders for moderating Hamas or even seeing them removed from power. I don’t know that for a fact, but I do know that isolation and violence have only entrenched Hamas, so more of the same isn’t very likely to succeed.

But it’s not only Israel that was offended by this dynamic. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) also ripped into Turkey and Qatar for “bypass[ing] the PLO as the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people” at the Paris summit.

Well gawrsh, Mickey, the PLO doesn’t like Hamas? Go figure. But that whole “sole and legitimate blah blah blah” routine isn’t actually backed up by the most recent election results. They may be 8 years old now, but they are all we have to work with. Oddly enough, the Hamas-PLO unity agreement in April was supposed to include new general elections within 6 months, but one of Operation Protective Edge’s “side” effects has probably been the end of that unity agreement, so, um, easy come, easy go, I guess.

Obviously this has all caused great angst with Israel, and in fact their distress over all of this is probably the reason why they keep blowing up UN schools in Gaza; it’s hard to target accurately through all those tears. KSA and Egypt are real mad too, again mostly because having any country at peace talks that isn’t there to represent Israeli interests (or to bury Hamas, which in the end is the same thing) is ipso facto illegitimate, apparently.

It’s only a matter of time, of course, before a diplomatic process gains steam again. But whenever it does, this last month has helped to clarify a few things about Qatar and Turkey. These two Hamas patrons should not be part of the negotiating team that brokers the next deal. They should be sitting alongside the terrorist group’s representatives, where they belong.

Again, I’m having trouble figuring out how countries that oppose Hamas and/or support Israel are allowed to be “brokers,” but countries that have ties to Hamas can only be “representatives.” I’m sure the reason is logical and sensible though.

I realize that the “Foundation for Defense of Democracies” would be better named the “Foundation for Defense of One Particular Democracy” (and no, I don’t mean the US), but I think it needs to explain how throwing a fit and refusing to engage in basic diplomacy actually helps that democracy. For that matter, it should probably explain why America should alienate both a NATO ally and the place from which it stages all its military adventures in the Middle East all in the name of supporting Israel’s temper tantrum.

One thought on “With us or against us, ad absurdum

  1. Brilliant! That first paragraph had me chuckling like a bowl of jello, especially “mostly worth reading just to see what the nutters are on about today” which is all too true of all to many once proud journals.

    On a more sober note, I simply can not believe how many people have repeated the propaganda point that Hamas forced Israel to act. Setting aside the weak mindedness of the notion that Hamas could force anyone to do anything, this operation has clearly been in planning for quite some time – a couple of years, even – and any particular incident in the perpetual border squabbling is obviously a pretext for launching an attack when the moment is deemed ripe. I remember a quote from the initial deployment to Viet Nam: Pleikus are like streetcars, if you miss one you just wait until the next comes along.

    And people accuse me of a ghastly calculus, but when one side controls the tempo of operations and routinely out kills the other by a factor of thirty to one I have a difficult time seeing that side in the role of victim.

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