Egypt + Guns + Fatah = Trouble
News from the Occupied Palestinian territories gets more depressing and more interesting by the hour. The latest are reports that Egypt has sent a hefty arms shipment to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah affiliated security forces, with the approval and support of the US and Israel. Abbas had met with Israeli PM Ehud Olmert a few days earlier.
These steps seem to follow an expected route since the coup that Abbas attempted last week when he announced his intention to call for early presidential and legislative elections in the territories, effectively sidelining the ruling Hamas party. Since then, it has been clear that Abbas was given the green light for this by the US as American officials expressed support for his declaration. It is no coincidence either that Abbas was hosted by Israeli PM Olmert a week later for some unexpected and somewhat secretive discussions.
Egypt has sent a large quantity of arms to the forces of moderate Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah party with the help of Israel, an Israeli official said.
"In coordination with Israel, Egypt delivered a large quantity of guns and munitions to the Abbas forces," the official told AFP, asking to remain anonymous.
The Haaretz daily meanwhile reported that "a load of 2,000 Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifles as well as 20,000 cartridge clips and two million bullets were transferred to Fatah's armed groups in the Gaza Strip, in coordination with the Israeli army."Israeli public radio reported that there would shortly be another delivery of weaponry to Abbas's forces in the West Bank, this time from Jordan. [AFP]
Abbas's Fatah affiliated security forces are known to have been heavily involved in much of the violence that has been taking place in Gaza and the West Bank for the past two weeks between various Palestinian factions, armed groups, and criminal gangs resulting in a shameful display of Palestinians shooting and punching one another. The shipment of arms to a corrupt security apparatus like Fatah's can only cause more trouble for the already instable territories.
Instead of calling on Israel to stop its settlement expansion, incursions, wall construction, and the occupation altogether, Egypt has gone on attacking the democratically elected government which Hamas now heads. So much for the "only democracy in the Middle East" and the "champion of democracy around the world."
It is very amusing to see how the Israeli government flip-flops with regards to its relationship to Fatah, condemning them when they want, and supporting them when they want. These days, Fatah represent the "forces of peace":
Amos Gilad, head of political military policy at the Defense Ministry, told Israel Radio on Thursday that the assistance provided to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' Presidential Guard is aimed at reinforcing the forces of peace in the area.I guess this is what they call "democracy promotion."
"The assistance is aimed at reinforcing the forces of peace in the face of the forces of darkness that are threatening the future of the Middle East," Gilad said, commenting on the news of an arms transfer from Egypt to Palestinian security forces, first published in Haaretz Thursday morning. [Haaretz]
All together now, D-E-M-O-C-R-A-C-Y!
On a side note, I wasn't pleased when I heard that Palestinian PM Ismail Haniyeh was going on a trip to preform the Hajj. I'm pretty sure he's already preformed this religious duty, and even if he hasn't, right now is not the time to be leaving your people to fend for themselves for personal trips. Let's not take the Fatah route, shall we? Just because you're going to Hajj, doesn't make it different from Fatah officials' trips to Paris and Milan, even though we know you won't be going to splurge in Mecca.
God I wish I could go train these politicians. I'll give you a discount, what do you say?